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The Athletic: The Pressure is Mounting - MLB cannot afford to lose games this year


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A Rosenthal article in The Athletic.

"If it happens, the outcome will be inexcusable for Major League Baseball, a sport competing for market share in an ever-expanding entertainment universe. Fans will gladly turn to other leagues and outlets if what was once a $10 billion industry cannot get out if its own way. And the antipathy toward baseball will be particularly acute in the middle of a pandemic that has lasted for nearly two years, exhausting the patience of millions of people in the process."

https://theathletic.com/3078169/2022/01/19/rosenthal-the-pressure-is-mounting-mlb-cannot-afford-to-lose-games-this-season/?source=user_shared_article&fbclid=IwAR0cegpm8r-vP50KzIDJJpoXZqXTkpT8gHTGLc_bEcuqZT8rYP65vsfXDGc

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23 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

The sport is really making it easy for those "one sport" HS kids to choose another option.

I'm not to sure about that one.  I understand your sentiment and even share it for the most part.  However, while MLB may be hell bent of destroying itself in a blood orgy fueled haze of hate and self loathing... HS kids don't necessarily feel that way, they just want to play ball (I can speak from personal experience, my son is a Senior pitcher on his team).

Regardless of what the league does to itself, he still has HS and starting in the fall, college ball.  You may see, and probably rightly so, many kids in HS and college who are eligible for the draft this year (if there is one 🤷‍♂️) skip it to go play or stay in college.

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It would be a big help for the development and health of those "one sport" kids to play multiple sports. There's a big push to recognize the dangers of repetitive stress and overwork injuries on kids who are growing up. Though, I imagine you mean to say they'll just switch to another sport altogether. 

Well, they may switch anyway. Baseball isn't popular anymore, especially among high schoolers. As popularity wanes, so will interest.

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Baseball is waning rapidly among kids.  And those that do care about baseball don't care about MLB.

Baseball's fandom is literally dying off with no one to replace them.  A strike and lost games, with no pandemic to blame, are going to be another body blow to the future of this league.

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Baseball looks to be at a crossroads. The PA had real strength for a long time, but the owners have control currently. Meanwhile, neither side seems real interested in the future of the game. Missing regular season games would cause harm to the sport, for sure, but missing Spring Training would also turn off a significant number of fans. Look at the attendance of MLB over the last 25 years for a clue to the future. A quick resolution to the CBA is feasible and absolutely necessary for the financial gains for both players and owners.

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2 hours ago, bean5302 said:

It would be a big help for the development and health of those "one sport" kids to play multiple sports. There's a big push to recognize the dangers of repetitive stress and overwork injuries on kids who are growing up. Though, I imagine you mean to say they'll just switch to another sport altogether. 

Well, they may switch anyway. Baseball isn't popular anymore, especially among high schoolers. As popularity wanes, so will interest.

Based on Joe Ryan's success, I'd suggest young HS and college pitchers take up hiking and water polo.

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If the lockout remains in place, will I be able to see some games at Spring Training between teams using players who are not on the 40 man rosters? I have reserved an AirBNB Mach 5-March 12 in Ft. Myers and I can only spend so much time at Ding Darling wildlife refuge and searching for sea shells and eating BBQ at Mission BBQ.. I need some BASEBALL !

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38 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

If the lockout remains in place, will I be able to see some games at Spring Training between teams using players who are not on the 40 man rosters?

I've been wondering if there will be minor league ST if the lockout is still in place but suspect they won't do it because they're sticking to the lockout. If anyone has any information on this, it's gonna be @Seth Stohs. I actually meant to ask him about this last week and forgot.

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10 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I've been wondering if there will be minor league ST if the lockout is still in place but suspect they won't do it because they're sticking to the lockout. If anyone has any information on this, it's gonna be @Seth Stohs. I actually meant to ask him about this last week and forgot.

The minor league players do not have a dog in this fight. There is absolutely no reason to delay development of the future

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9 minutes ago, old nurse said:

The minor league players do not have a dog in this fight. There is absolutely no reason to delay development of the future

But that doesn't mean the owners won't do it.

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1 hour ago, old nurse said:

The minor league players do not have a dog in this fight. There is absolutely no reason to delay development of the future

Correct. Only players unable to participate are 40 man roster players.

In fact, minor league pitchers are in at the complex for a camp this week.

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The game built really quality momentum in recent years. Lots of young, fun stars to build a future fan base around. I hope MLB doesn’t blow their opportunity to showcase people like Tatis Jr, Soto, Vlad Jr, and many others. But Rosenthal is right… If games are missed due to this labor dispute, they’ll miss their opportunity.

The diehards will quickly return to the game. But I’m sure I’m not alone having casual baseball fans who will move on from the sport if it’s not easy to watch or available during the time frame it’s normally on TV/in person. 

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The question about Spring Training is a good one. It is doubtful that the owners would close off all facilities for those minor leaguers not on the 40 person roster, but also unlikely to have games. Perhaps teams will have some areas open to the public to watch prospects work out, but seems unlikely. Bring a few books to Ft. Myers.

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13 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

If the lockout remains in place, will I be able to see some games at Spring Training between teams using players who are not on the 40 man rosters? I have reserved an AirBNB Mach 5-March 12 in Ft. Myers and I can only spend so much time at Ding Darling wildlife refuge and searching for sea shells and eating BBQ at Mission BBQ.. I need some BASEBALL !

Great question.  I will be there a few days after you arrive.  I'd love to know how your first few days work out if you still go.  Thanks

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There is a new football league starting up again in April.  I am sure they would love no baseball going on so they only have to compete with Hockey and Basketball at the time.  

Overall, I fully expected missed games.  I think both sides still believe they can win the fan base on their side, not understanding the fans do not care.  In the end both sides will lose out on money because fan will stop watching out of principle or just found other things to watch. 

Both sides are set for mutual destruction. 

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16 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

If the lockout remains in place, will I be able to see some games at Spring Training between teams using players who are not on the 40 man rosters? I have reserved an AirBNB Mach 5-March 12 in Ft. Myers and I can only spend so much time at Ding Darling wildlife refuge and searching for sea shells and eating BBQ at Mission BBQ.. I need some BASEBALL !

You're totally welcome to come down to South Georgia and watch some ball.  Lot of really good players in this neck of the woods. :) 

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11 minutes ago, Trov said:

There is a new football league starting up again in April.  I am sure they would love no baseball going on so they only have to compete with Hockey and Basketball at the time.  

Overall, I fully expected missed games.  I think both sides still believe they can win the fan base on their side, not understanding the fans do not care.  In the end both sides will lose out on money because fan will stop watching out of principle or just found other things to watch. 

Both sides are set for mutual destruction. 

it's not just the traditional NHL, NBA NFL, All of the professional football/soccer leagues that the MLB has to compete with. eSports are also growing rapidly. Approx 340m people went to or watched an MLB game in 2021, down 13% from 2019. 728 million people streamed eSports in 2021 a 10% CAGR from 2020 and is expected to see 10-18% CAGR over the horizon. The revenue for eSports hasn't caught up to MLB yet, but Microsoft just announced acquisition of Activision for $68 billion. eSports is a big part of the appeal for that acquisition. The revenue is coming.

Competition is fierce and MLB/MLBPA can't afford to let their competitors eat their lunch for them.

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2 hours ago, Sconnie said:

it's not just the traditional NHL, NBA NFL, All of the professional football/soccer leagues that the MLB has to compete with. eSports are also growing rapidly. Approx 340m people went to or watched an MLB game in 2021, down 13% from 2019. 728 million people streamed eSports in 2021 a 10% CAGR from 2020 and is expected to see 10-18% CAGR over the horizon. The revenue for eSports hasn't caught up to MLB yet, but Microsoft just announced acquisition of Activision for $68 billion. eSports is a big part of the appeal for that acquisition. The revenue is coming.

Competition is fierce and MLB/MLBPA can't afford to let their competitors eat their lunch for them.

Giant caveat here is that, according to the articles you shared, the eSports number of viewers is a global one, while also mentioning that China is the global leader in eSports.  China is not a market that matters to MLB, essentially at all, so if eSports growth is being driven by China, that's less of a concern.

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21 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

Baseball looks to be at a crossroads. The PA had real strength for a long time, but the owners have control currently. Meanwhile, neither side seems real interested in the future of the game. Missing regular season games would cause harm to the sport, for sure, but missing Spring Training would also turn off a significant number of fans. Look at the attendance of MLB over the last 25 years for a clue to the future. A quick resolution to the CBA is feasible and absolutely necessary for the financial gains for both players and owners.

In 1996, total baseball attendance was just over 60M (higher than any other year in MLB history except 1993, so there's no post-strike-related hangover there).  Since then, baseball has never been below 63M in attendance (with the exception of 2020 and 2021, for obvious reasons).  While there is a definite fall-off from the peak attendance of 2007/2008, and 2018 did break a 14 year streak of greater than 70M in attendance, to claim MLB attendance has been on a steady decline for 25 years is just not factual.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/majors/misc.shtml

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19 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Exactly. It wouldn't surprise me in the least for owners to completely lock out baseball until an agreement is reached.

I'd be marginally surprised, as doing so is taking a bullet out of the owners gun that could be an absolute killshot to the MLBPA (but could also be a suicidal killshot to the owners)--that is to use all non-40 man players to have the season, and insert lines in the contracts of said players that they will not join the MLBPA, and agree to a 10 year CBA.  The owners could easily save $1.5B to $2B in playroll, and put all that towards reducing the prices of tickets, parking, concessions, etc.  If attendance and viewership stays relatively steady, or at least declines in only the single digits, you'll see droves of pre-arb players leave the MLBPA, cross the line, and the MLBPA is done as an organization.  If there are large declines, then the owners will have to agree to just about everything the players want, so in that sense, that's a big risk.

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40 minutes ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

to claim MLB attendance has been on a steady decline for 25 years is just not factual.

Did I claim that? No, I did not. In fact, I didn't even think that. Look for clues. Look at percentage attendance of NHL, NBA, NFL, and look at the growth of soccer. Baseball needs to pay attention to their consumers. Read.

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Just now, tony&rodney said:

Did I claim that? No, I did not. In fact, I didn't even think that. Look for clues. Look at percentage attendance of NHL, NBA, NFL, and look at the growth of soccer. Baseball needs to pay attention to their consumers. Read.

Here's your quotation--" Look at the attendance of MLB over the last 25 years for a clue to the future".

Sounds an awful lot like you think baseball's attendance is in decline (which it's not, the 2018 and 2019 seasons excluded).  Or are you saying that baseball attendance is not in decline over the last 25 years?  Even if you want to argue that baseball is not keeping pace with the NFL/NBA/NHL, you'd still be wrong.  Since the 2006-2007 season (chosen to give one year of space from a work stoppage, same as MLB), the NHL has a -0.6% CAGR for attendance.  Since the 2001 season (chosen to give one year of space from a work stoppage), the NBA has a 0.3% CAGR for attendance.  Since the 1996 season, the NFL has a 0.6% CAGR.

MLB is at 0.5% since 1996--clearly MLB is not hurting compared to it's North American sports peers (soccer would be an exception, but that's entirely due to the vast expansion of MLS, combined with the almost non-existent popularity of non-USNT soccer before 2005-2010).  Further, if you add the total attendance of MLB in 2019 (about 67M), it's still more than the NFL, NHL, and NBA COMBINED (about 56M), despite having 40% FEWER games.  In 2019, MLB averaged 27.5k fans/game, while the other 3 leagues combined to average 13.6k.

You closed your response with the advice to me to read.  I'll return the favor and advise you to think.

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High school baseball for over 70 years baseball has never been a high revenue or a crowd attention sport. Many times only the players, coaches and umpires are the audience. It’s a sad situation. It’s amazing that baseball has survived as well as it has.

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2 hours ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

Giant caveat here is that, according to the articles you shared, the eSports number of viewers is a global one, while also mentioning that China is the global leader in eSports.  China is not a market that matters to MLB, essentially at all, so if eSports growth is being driven by China, that's less of a concern.

If you want to limit the market to US, population growth is regressing, 1% growth or less. That’s a hell of a business to hang your hat on

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17 hours ago, Sconnie said:

If you want to limit the market to US, population growth is regressing, 1% growth or less. That’s a hell of a business to hang your hat on

Saying China is not a market for MLB does not mean MLB's market must be confined to the US.  Japan, South Korea, the Caribbean, and Venezuela are all markets MLB would care about.  My larger point was that if the majority of eSports' growth is coming from China, then eSports' growth is not particularly concerning to MLB, as opposed to if all of the sudden football or basketball or lacrosse started growing 20% annually.

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