Solving Baseball's Ratings Crisis
One of today's topics on ESPN radio's "The Herd" with Colin Cowherd was the television ratings crisis in Major League Baseball. The crisis is apparently so bad that it has prompted a meeting between the commissioners office and the executives at Fox.
How could this be?
In my 24 years on Earth, the on-field product hasn't been any better than it has over the past few years. We are almost a third of the way through the season and other than the Dodgers, nobody looks like a lock for the postseason. There are a zillion young superstars playing in just about every Major League City. Heck, with Steven Strasburg, even the MLB draft is intriguing. How could my favorite professional sport be suffering?
The problem has little to do with the sport itself and more to do with the way its packaged.
I have to admit, I am more likely to watch Monday Night Football or a random NBA game than Sunday Night Baseball. Between games that last over three hours and awful announcing, it is almost impossible to watch a baseball game if you don't have a rooting interest.
What would make me sit down and want to watch Dodgers at Cubs this Sunday Night?
Simple. Change the announcers. Does anybody really enjoy Joe Morgan? How about Steve Phillips? Tim McCarver, anybody?
Let's face it, we do not have a single good announcing crew calling nationally televised games.
Monday Night Football has always been famous for their willingness to tinker with the announcing booth. They were the first to go with a three man booth. They were the first to go with a comedian as a color man. Their experiments have had varying degrees of success—but at least they tried!
No sport is more reliant on the announcers than baseball. Baseball's slow pace lends itself to conversation. If you can't sell fans on the game, why not sell them on the conversation?
My idea—turn the game over to the fans.
The English Premier League has a show called "Fan Zone," which broadcasts a match with a fan from each team calling the action. While I have trouble picking up on the accents, it appears to be wildly popular in England.
Why not try this with baseball? Wouldn't Yanks/Sox be more entertaining if it were called by Vinny from the Bronx and Sully from Charlestown? What about a Mets/Braves game called by Ira from Queens and Billy Ray from Macon? Wouldn't you give this a shot?
My idea could be a colossal failure, but how much worse could it be than what we have in place? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If MLB and Fox don't make any changes then consider their meeting a meeting of the insane.
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