Putting a runner on base in extra innings, limiting the amount of trips to the mound, and different clocks have been implemented by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred over the last few seasons in an effort to speed up the game of baseball. While we here at Twins And Losses didn’t mind the pace of play before Manfred’s time-saving chang… What’s that? The average length of a MLB game hasn't really gotten shorter? Huh, that’s odd.
Actually it isn’t in my humble (and slightly ill-informed) opinion. According to SI dot com, “It took a record 3 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds to complete a baseball game, up from 3 hours and 42 seconds last year.” In fact, the average game length back in 2014, the season before Manfred replaced known douchecanoe Bug Selig; was around 3 hours, 8 minutes. While Manfred may have shaved a whopping 2 minutes, 49 seconds off of a baseball, the fact remains that Manfred’s crusade to shorten baseball games in the most tedious way possible isn’t really working.
Today I’m going to propose a better way to tackle pace of play and the dwindling numbers of MLB fans tuning in to watch games: market the sport better. On tomorrow’s Twins And Losses Supershow, we talked about how marketing the game better could drive more fans to stadiums and purchasing cable subscriptions to watch their favorite baseball teams play.
One way to improve the fan base is by marketing to each specific region, as opposed to marketing 8 to 10 superstars to an entire country. If the goal is to attract younger fans, then market Brian Dozier in the midwest, Mike Trout on the west coast, and Aaron Judge in one half of New York. Instead of filming 3 commercials feauting the top ballplayers in America; spend the time, and money to market to every single team in the United States and Canada.
Younger fans aren’t going to convince their parents to stay up late on a school nice to watch Mike Trout hit a dinger, especially if the game is starting at 8 or 9PM out west. Get younger fans excited about Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton, players they can watch 162 games a season. Work out deals to put these marketable young stars in high visibility locations. Don’t just air MLB commercials on FSN; air them on Cartoon Network, Disney XD, and other channels young fans are going to watch. Parents will be resistant at first, but it’s amazing how they slowly erode over a week of their kids screaming to go to Target Field on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
If there’s no local flavor, or a reason to watch a Twins game, what do you think is going to happen to the attendance and TV ratings? If you want to try to shorten the average game, that’s fine. But you should also be working on other ways to increase the fan base. If 162 3 hour long games is too many, then shorten the numbers of games played. If the only changes you’re willing to make are implementing a thousand new rules to shave off 3 seconds at a time, you’ll kill the spirit of baseball that the die-hard fans grew to love. How can you not love an at-bat with this much suspense and intrigue?!
Baseball isn’t for everyone. There are some people who love the fast pace and big hits of football and hockey, and will never find the chess match of baseball to be exciting or worth watching for an entire season. Tobacco companies nailed marketing of their cancer causing products, and maybe MLB should follow suit; hook ’em young so they grow up wanting more, and stop worrying that a baseball game takes 3 hours to play.
Originally posted on TwinsAndLosses.com