In this Thanksgiving Holiday season, we step back and look at five reasons that Major League Baseball fans are thankful for the current state of the game.
1) Small Market teams can still win the World Series
The San Francisco Giantsand St. Louis Cardinals have won the last three World Series. These teams aren’t the ones targeting all the $20M free agents (Pujols, Fielder, Sabathia, Darvish, AdGon). They quietly build around resident pitching, add some
2) Attendance is at the highest since 2008 (pre-recession)
Bud Selig should probably be most proud of this, but 2012 had the highest attendance since the recession hit in October 2008. We, as a country, are not out of the woods, but the relative affordability, good stadiums for fan experience, what we can say is a more clean game than before, and really close competition has all fed into high fan interest in attending games, despite tighter personal budgets and most games available on TV. Fans still seem willing to attend games in person, despite many other alternatives, and it doesn’t look like this will change in the near term.
3) The additional Wild Card team
I wasn’t sure about this one, but now I’m convinced. Having the extra Wild Card teams keep half a dozen extra markets in play, which then makes for more key series in September, and more interest overall. I recognize that it waters down the playoffs a bit, but the one game play in set up adds value to Division titles while still preserving a reasonable number of rounds. To think Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Arizona were pretty much trade deadline sellers, then found themselves in the mix, shows that teams except of the worst of the worst will find themselves still in the mix.
4) No labor strife on the horizon
The other three major team sports have had significant labor strife in the past 16 months. Not MLB. The current agreement with the MLBPA goes through 2016 (yes, we will elect a new President before the next contract) and it seems most parties are not too upset about the revenue distribution. Anything can happen, but it seems that baseball learned its lesson in 1994, while the NHL didn’t, and the NBA and NFL came dangerously close to hitting a wall. And I feel like those two still have major differences the next go around. I recognize that any labor situation is tenuous, there are so many dollars at stake that nobody can give an inch, but MLB seems to be in a place that we won’t be seeing a stoppage anytime soon.
5) Mike Trout and Bryce Harper
These guys are amazing. And only 19 and 21. The newly crowned and reigning Rookies of the Year have all five tools plus. Fans can’t wait to see what these guys do next, their attitude seems to be good, they play the right way with hustle, and are on teams that are likely to contend in the near term. These are the kinds of guys you buy tickets to see play, you hate to throw around comparisons like Mantle, Griffey, Kaline, Robinson, Cepeda, but these guys fit the bill.
So all baseball fans should give thanks for the good things going on. There are still challenges and things that need to be fixed, but the game is in a good place. Happy Thanksgiving all!
- Dave (@lhd_on_sports)
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