MLB attendance trending down for the 4th straight season

Discussion in 'Fugu's Business of Sports' started by LeHab, May 31, 2019.

  1. MNNumbers

    MNNumbers Registered User

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    Baseball playoffs in general suffer from this fact:
    The post-season has many more off days than the regular season. This has been the case for maybe 40 years. It affects pitching rotations and bullpen use in a BIG way. The 'series' in the postseason really bear little resemblance to the regular season.

    It is also true that the American culture has changed since the 50s and 60s, when there was little else in sports and people were loyal to their cities and things like season long statistics mattered to people. In that world, people would attend the games because there was nothing else, and life seemed slower-paced. It is very true that now, few people have interest in a team (even a local team) which has no chance of playoff success. September call-ups are not exciting. The media has too much to say about everything, so the narrative has already been spun, and as Americans (spoiled, usually), we just lose interest.

    I'm not sure there is a fix for these things. What would be curious would be a question like this: How much $$ do owners really make on the last 3 weeks of the regular season in their home markets? What I mean is....

    Suppose you changed the system, and did this:
    Regular season ~ 140 games (I'll leave the detailed numbers to someone else, but this is about 3 weeks)
    Cost of doing so: Well, the last few home series are still the last few home series. The opening day thing is still the opening day thing, so what you lose, effectively, are 10-12 home games in late July/August - the dead middle of the season.
    Playoff changes: Since the regular season is now going to end on Labor Day (Isn't that a great idea?).....We have about 7 weeks or 49 days to use for playoffs. That equates to 4 series of 12 days each, so we have 16 playoff teams, And, we do something like this (Remember, we want to replicate the regular season as much as possible)
    Round 1 - since there are 8 series, there is plenty of action for TV, so each series will have 1 off day. Just 1. The series will be played on the following schedule:
    W-Th-Sa-Su-M-T-W or Thu-Fri-Su-M-T-W-Th. Off day after game 2.
    Round 2 - We will give the teams either Th or F as an off day. 4 series, played in this schedule:
    (For those who began on Wednesday): F-Sa-Su- T-W-Th-F (off day after game three, in the middle of the home series of the 'road' team to accommodate TV scheduling)
    (For those who began on Thursday): Sa-Su-M-W-Th-F-Sa (Same as above) (Except that one of these series will have their off day on Monday so that there will be only 1 game played on Monday)
    Now there are 4 teams left. Precise scheduling of which series is which will depend on how long the prior series lasted, but at least one series is available to start Sunday night:
    Su-M-W-Th-F-Sa-Su (Off day after game 2)
    M-T-W-F-Sa-Su-M (Off day after game 3) - because Wednesday night might be better for TV than Thursday night.

    That leaves only the WS. At this point, we consult the networks and ask their preferred schedule. My idea would be to begin Thursday or Friday, which gives both teams room to adjust their pitching rotation. The World Series should be played in 7 successive days. Every team does that a few times during the regular season. Accounting for rain outs during the WS, this is a 6 week playoff schedule.

    I'm not going to defend the details. The concepts are:
    1- Reduce the regular and expand the playoffs, thus gaining revenue because league wide playoff revenue surely is greater that mid-season local revenue (league wide).
    2- Adjusting the playoff schedule to minimize off days, and make it resemble the regular season - 1 off day scheduled for each round
    3- Because of the first two, the champion can be determined in mid-October, which is 2 weeks better for northern cities without domes (NY, Bos, Chi, Clev, Minneapolis, Det, etc)
     
  2. NCRanger

    NCRanger Bettman's Enemy

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    Nobody mentions the loss of the print media as a major part of why the sport isn't followed as closely.

    The biggest thing I miss about getting a daily newspaper was sitting for 5 minutes at breakfast and looking at the box scores. Even if you followed the sport casually, you could see who had a big night quickly, plus get an idea of each team's starting players. Plus, you could follow the standings daily.

    Yes, you can still do that online, but it actually takes LONGER. Significantly longer.

    You can pay for the entire MLB TV package and still not be able to follow the whole league, as most folks will watch one or two games a night.

    Length of games is a major problem. This can be somewhat mitigated on television or radio with entertaining commentators. However, the national games are now insufferable with Joe Buck putting America to sleep.

    Though, the game length is directly related to the three true outcome game that baseball has become. No pitch clock, rules on pitching changes, mound trips, eliminating shifts, automatic intentional walks, etc, is going to change the length of the game. Shortening the game to seven innings is just plain dumb.

    Want to beat the shift? Bunt. Go the other way. Start a runner.

    Want to get guys off the plate? Eliminate the football equipment hitters wear to bat.

    Bring back one gate Sunday doubleheaders. This also has the effect of "shortening" the season. Playoffs could start a little earlier and the World Series would end before Halloween instead of Election Day.

    Mid-afternoon playoff games should be implemented, and no idiotic starts after 7:30 pm anywhere.

    The only "non-traditional" change I'd endorse is limiting pitching staffs to 10 roster spots. Starters have to be able to go more than 5 innings. The "analytics" around pitching can be made to say anything, and I feel the "analytics" are being manipulated here.
     
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  3. NCRanger

    NCRanger Bettman's Enemy

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    Don't know what happened there.
     
  4. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    This is very true. Near-identical home run highlights on Twitter does not have the same engagement potential as opening your paper and seeing a whole page of box scores. 21st century media encourages people to think about the game in terms of specific plays that happen 2-3 times per game, rather than in terms of a slowly developing picture.

    The theme across all of this is that baseball appeals to 20th century sensibilities and is best represented through 20th century media. Golf has a similar quality and is in a similar crisis, poised to fall off a cliff when the Boomers age out. Baseball is poised to survive as a spectator sport, while golf is poised to survive as a participation sport... but both at lower levels than they have enjoyed over the past century.
     
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  5. Olliemets

    Olliemets Registered User

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    Totally agreed on all points...and especially limiting the number of pitchers on the staff. That would go a long way towards stunting the pitching changes. I'll even give them an 11 man pitching staff. Teams are carrying 12-13 pitchers and 3 bench players in some cases. But this would limit changes, force pitchers to pitch longer, send the bottom 15% back to AAA ball and put more offense back in the game.
     
  6. MNNumbers

    MNNumbers Registered User

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    There is lots of offense in the game. The problem is that it's the wrong kind of offense. Very unfortunately, all the stat-heads show that playing the game towards the 3 true outcomes is the best strategy. Therefore, all the players, who want to maximize their worth, will try to do that.

    How much money could a guy make if he forced teams to abandon the shift against him because his OBP went to .600? Not very much, really.

    So, it's kind of stuck. Swing for homers. Pitch for K's.
     
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  7. NCRanger

    NCRanger Bettman's Enemy

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    Even hockey, albeit to a lesser degree, has similar issues in the following of players. Though, even local broadcasts tend to do a pretty good job of informing their home viewers about other players on hot streaks, etc.

    The last MLB game I went to was at the new Braves stadium. I could not find a scorecard anywhere. I love keeping score at a game. Doesn't seem like anyone does it anymore. Even announcements, like a new pitcher to start an inning, or a pinch hitter were not emphasized at all. Everything was up on the giant board, but very little was announced to the crowd, until promotions, of course, or silly gimmicks.

    Golf? I don't even know if it hangs on as a participation sport outside of recreation for the elderly and/or wealthy. I'm a Gen Xer. I started playing golf in the mid-90's. By the mid-2000's, I didn't have the time, the money, or the desire to spend an entire Saturday on a golf course. It seems like I wasn't the only one. Just got back from the Myrtle Beach area (family has a house in Sunset Beach, NC). Used to see golfers all the time on the hundreds of courses down there. Hardly see anyone out there now. Courses are closing. Everything except cutting greens fees (of course...)

    Back on baseball...when we're down at the beach, we always catch a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game usually for the fireworks. I know it's Advanced A, so I'm not expecting to see high quality play. That said, even my wife said, that the pitchers had slightly better than high school stuff. Yet, very few hitters were at the level to make solid contact. Maybe the top young guys stay in college now? We've noticed the quality at A level over the past 10 or so years has decreased.
     
  8. garnetpalmetto

    garnetpalmetto Global Jerk

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    That's a near constant frustration of mine. I think too many teams take for granted that portions of the crowd don't care about the game on the field. I think I'm lucky in that the Durham Bulls PA announcer, Tony Rigsbee, is *very* good about announcing pinch hitters and runners, pitching changes, and defensive substitutions. Contrast that to a game I went to over in Zebulon a month or two ago to see the Carolina Mudcats where a defensive substitution and a couple pitching changes went unannounced.

    I wonder how much of that is due to the changes in affiliations the Pelicans have had over the last decade? 10 years ago they were with the Braves and in the interim they've had the Rangers and now the Cubs. Looking at where Myrtle Beach is in the standings the last couple seasons, the Cubs affiliation hasn't worked out well for them as it looks like they haven't made the Mills Cup playoffs since 2016 and the first half of this season they were a League-worst 21-46.
     
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  9. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    As a teenager I used to sit at hockey games and fill out the scorecards that came with the programs (this was low minor leagues, mind you!). I did this because I would turn around and post those box scores on the old ECHL listserv, which was the only place you could find that info on the early internet. Bunch of fans sharing boxscores before posting them on the internet (the World Wide Web) had occurred to anybody. That culture is tied up in how hockeydb.com got its start, compiling simple numbers which weren’t widely available.

    Today, my pre-teen kids don’t know how to read a box score let alone fill one out. Gameday programs don’t even exist, let alone include blank scorecards. We just don’t follow the game that way any more. The whole notion of following box scores day-by-day has disappeared. It’s about bigger data now. Long term collection of real-time data to plug into formulas... the important stats aren’t even observable events. If you want to know what happened in a specific game, that’s what highlights are for.

    The 2019 method better for producing reliable analysis, for sure. But for following a team closely from a fan point of view? Not so much. I get the feeling a lot of today’s hardcore fans literally don’t bother watching games... their fandom is more like an obsession with a math project, where there’s outright contempt for getting excited over the dreaded Small Sample Size.

    And that’s in hockey, a game where stats barely even function. I can’t imagine how much more pronounced this must be in hardcore baseball fandom.

    Apparently golf participation has plunged, hard. I only see it persisting because it was exclusive to begin with, and exclusive things tend to have staying power. But the mass-market experience of golf appears to be headed toward TopGolf, the equivalent of a batting cage plus social extras. To me that is a sign of a sport that is about to become VERY niche outside of the wealthy demographic.

    Interestingly, both golf and baseball have notoriously conservative cultures when it comes to changing with the times. Basketball and football, the two most popular spectator sports, have changed dramatically to stay current with consumer preferences, and nobody seems to think it would have been better for them to stay stuck in the mid-20th century.
     
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  10. NCRanger

    NCRanger Bettman's Enemy

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    Some organizations are much better than others with the announcements. When I lived up there and would occasionally go over to a Bulls game, I noticed that the in-game presentation was much more professional than that of the Mudcats.

    They did win the League Cup in 2015 and 2016. They had some top level talent there (Gleyber Torres was there and we saw him right before the trade to the Yankees.) It's possible as the Cubs have made moves at the higher levels to stay in contention, they've traded the younger talent.

    The game we were at, they were playing the Mudcats.

    This year, they are not good. There are no 40 man roster guys there. Although they're .500 so far in the second half.

    My wife is a Cubs fan, so we like the "Chicago feel" to the ballpark.
     
  11. DecadeofDarkness

    DecadeofDarkness my debt is over..

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    the major reason to me MLB attendance is dropping is cause the games are too darn long....no one wants to sit at the ballpark for 4 hours in the middle of July

    that and simply watching walks and homeruns have completely neutered the excitement...I miss bloop singles and plays at the plate...or doubles scoring guys from first
     
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  12. MNNumbers

    MNNumbers Registered User

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    The above post about changing with the times is very telling, and baseball is going to need some of that. As a list....

    NBA: Defensive rules, 3-pt shooting, and a sort of constant moving of the needle about fouls, etc....
    NFL: QB protection, WR protection, coaches' challenges, OT rules....

    What baseball needs is something more than what they are doing, but less than a major overhaul. The problem with the single game is that there is more intrigue in what "Might" happen than is what "Is" happening. A rally builds through several at-bats, whereas in every other sport a whole lot can happen in 10 seconds.

    Here are some ideas:
    Pitch clock (I prefer this to limiting pitching changes)
    Strict interpretation of batters calling time out. For example, if you don't swing, you don't get to call time out before the next pitch.
    As has been mentioned, 11-man pitching staffs. (Although, interestingly, starters have a better ERA than relievers this year.)
    Move fences 10 feet back. (I know this is more difficult in modern parks. But 10 feet would give you more doubles and triples, and maybe a few more outs. I'm looking for a way to make the base paths exciting.)

    Things that go too far:
    Changing the distance between the bags (this would be equivalent to raising the BB hoop)
    Changing the strike count rules (although I would listen to proposals to make it 3 balls= walk and 2 strikes=out, as long as pitching staffs got smaller, too).
     
  13. garnetpalmetto

    garnetpalmetto Global Jerk

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    That's the norm, though. Among all players currently assigned to High-A there's only 13 players that are on their respective MLB team's 40-man roster and of those 5 are there on rehab stints while 3 are on the 7-Day IL.
    • Kyle Barraclough (Potomac Nationals (WSH)) - Rehab
    • Kevin Gausman (Florida Fire Frogs (ATL)) - Rehab
    • Grayson Greiner (Lakeland Flying Tigers (DET)) - Rehab
    • Javy Guerra (Lake Elsinore Storm (SD)) - Active
    • Tayron Guerrero (Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA)) - Rehab
    • Jordan Holloway (Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA)) - Active
    • James Kaprielian (Stockton Ports (OAK)) - Active
    • Ryder Jones (San Jose Giants (SF)) - 7-Day IL
    • Jean Carlos Mejia (Lynchburg Hillcats (CLE)) - 7-Day IL
    • Julian Merryweather (Dunedin Blue Jays (TOR)) - Active
    • Franklin Perez (Lakeland Flying Tigers (DET)) - 7-Day IL
    • Corey Seager (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (LAD)) - Rehab
    • Ramon Urias (Palm Beach Cardinals (STL)) - Active
    Good point about the Pelicans winning the Mills Cup in 2015 and 2016 though - I misremembered that as being their last two years with the Rangers as opposed to their first two with the Cubbies.
     
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  14. BigBadBruins7708

    BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    average MLB game is 3:00:58, last year it was 3:05:11

    average NFL game is 3:12:00 and averages just over 11 minutes per game of actual play
     
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  15. DecadeofDarkness

    DecadeofDarkness my debt is over..

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    NFL is 16 games
    MLB is 162 games

    massive difference
     
  16. NCRanger

    NCRanger Bettman's Enemy

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    And people do complain about the length of the Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night NFL games.

    Not to mention, there is a lot of noise about NFL games in general taking too long.

    Both have a massive problem with replay taking up time, football especially.
     
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  17. AdmiralsFan24

    AdmiralsFan24 Registered User

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    Home runs and walks in 2019: 4.63

    In 2009: 4.46

    In 1999: 4.82

    These things still happen. Maybe you just don't like baseball?
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  18. DecadeofDarkness

    DecadeofDarkness my debt is over..

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    except they're on a record pace...shattering the 2017 total:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/spor...ojections-are-bonkers/?utm_term=.14a614fd3da0

    at a lower rate than ever before:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/spor...1a79c2551bf_story.html?utm_term=.5139c0661883

    but I "hate" baseball cause I wanna see less homers and walks and strikeouts ...

    maybe you just hate reality?
     
  19. AdmiralsFan24

    AdmiralsFan24 Registered User

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    Yeah, hitters are better, stronger and teams realize that having to string together 3 singles to get a run isn't as efficient as just having a guy hitting a home run. Plus, the ball has changed. Still doesn't change my point. You said seeing home runs and walks neutered the excitement. Were you excited 10 years ago when there were only slightly less home runs and walks per game? How about 20 years ago when there were more?



    So if teams were to hit two more singles per game you would somehow think the game is fixed and everybody would start watching again? I somehow doubt that. :laugh:

    I don't think you understand why this is happening more often (walks are down from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, almost the same as they were 30 and 40 years ago, down from 50, 60, 70 and 80 years ago and the exact same as 90 years ago) so you wanting to see less of them doesn't really make sense because you are for the most part and you definitely aren't seeing more.

    And it's pretty easy to explain why strikeouts are up. 11 starters average at least 95 on their fastballs in 2019 compared with only 3 10 years ago. Only 16 relievers averaged 95 on their fastballs in 2009, 56 do this year. So not only do you have to try to catch up to 95 but you also have to try to hit 88 mph sliders or a 90 mph changeup. You see why teams have decided it's better to try to hit one out of the park than try to string a few hits together against that arsenal? ​
     
  20. MNNumbers

    MNNumbers Registered User

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    AdmiralsFan24,

    Since you seem to have all the stats at hand....How many balls in play (batted ball leading to out, or base hit that is NOT a home run) are there per game this year? How does that compare over the decades?

    I understand the emphasis on power, and that the game necessarily evolves to that, because it's the best strategy. The question is whether this makes the game more or less appealing in attracting the next generation of fans. It's similar to noticing the neutral-zone trap and other defensive refinements in hockey. Those things are the game's evolution because they increase the win probability, but they don't make the game itself better from the fan's perspective.
     
  21. DecadeofDarkness

    DecadeofDarkness my debt is over..

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    yes of course lol...more balls in play = more excitement




    I think it's somewhat a factor (as well as time of games like I mentioned in a previous post)...consider the article:



    that's your theory, not the facts

    my theory is players are selling out more than ever for the homerun (knowing balls are different)...with that comes more strikeouts
    there's a reason Babe Ruth (1330) and Hank Aaron(1383) struck out more WAY more than Pete Rose (1143) Tony Gwinn (434) or Ted Williams (709)
     
  22. AdmiralsFan24

    AdmiralsFan24 Registered User

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    There are on average 14.5 hits per game that are not home runs and 8.72 strikeouts per team. So around 27 outs on average and 8.72 strikeouts mean 18.28 balls put in play that are outs plus the 14.5 hits for 32.78 balls in play that aren't home runs.

    15.84 hits in 2009 and 20.09 balls in play for 35.93 balls in play that aren't home runs.

    16.38 hits in 1999 and 20.59 balls in play for 36.97 balls in play that aren't home runs.

    It's really not that big of a difference and it's easily explained as I said earlier by pitchers throwing harder and managers not being afraid to use their relievers early instead of letting a starter go through the lineup 3 or more times. It may not seem like much but the difference between 92 and 97 is huge. Even 94 and 97 is a huge difference. So there's not really any way to fix it other than moving the mound back which creates a whole new set of problems.
     
  23. robert terwilliger

    robert terwilliger the bart, the

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    velocity plays a pretty big factor in strikeouts as well.

    gone are the days where you had your flamethrower for the ninth who threw -- are you sitting down? -- upwards of 96 mph

    starters throw 96 now. it's cause for concern when a starter's velo is "only" 92.

    if the balls aren't different (lmao manfred) then they need to either lower the mound or move it back. hitters are overwhelmed by velo and it's only getting worse. sure, attrition happens to guys like hicks and kopech but they'll be back and hitting 105 again soon and there'll be more like them in no time.
     
  24. AdmiralsFan24

    AdmiralsFan24 Registered User

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    I literally said players are selling out to hit homers because the analytics say trying to hit a homer is a lot easier than trying to string together 3 straight singles against someone like Max Scherzer. :laugh:
     
  25. robert terwilliger

    robert terwilliger the bart, the

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    btw, specialization is killing the game as well. the rays were the first to really cotton onto the idea that "****, teams shorten games from the 9th and up, what's to stop us from doing the same in reverse?" have a split guy start, work his way through the split and then turn it to either a long man or just bullpen the game to the middle innings and see where the leverage is.

    is it fun to watch? lord no! but since they implemented it, they've taken off and been able to roll a pitching staff full of guys with options back and forth to durham. what do they care?
     

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