Major League Baseball in the Fall: Fans Today, Gone Tomorrow...

Holly BannerContributor ISeptember 30, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 27:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox on September 27, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It’s that time of year again, where football begins to saturate every possible media source. Many baseball fans have long given up on the season and have moved on to football.

To me, this is one of the most disappointing times during the year. Too many people have given up on one of the most thrilling aspects of Major League Baseball, October baseball. 

It is understandable when you live in a town where the baseball season is over almost before it begins.

Trust me. I get it. I am from Cincinnati. 

This is the city where professional baseball started; a city with a substantially rich history of playoff baseball. It is depressing to see the lackluster attendance and careless faces in a place where, at one time, the city lived by the game.

October baseball has a special feel regardless of whether your team is in the playoffs. Every pitch becomes more critical than the one before, and the passion of the players truly shines through.

Magic happens in a way that can only be present in playoff baseball. This magic has been depicted throughout the years, from the first World Series between the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903 to the Tampa Bay Rays’ dramatic run and eventual heartbreak in 2008. October baseball has provided fans of every age memories to last a lifetime, including:

·         Babe Ruth’s Called Shot in Game Three of the 1932 World Series

·         Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in Game Five of the 1956 World Series

·         Carlton Fisk’s Home Run in Game Six of the 1975 World Series

·         Mr. October’s three homers in Game Six of the 1977 World Series

·         Kirk Gibson’s Home Run in Game One of the 1988 World Series

·         Aaron Boone’s walk-off Home Run in the 11th inning of the 2003 ALCS

·         The Boston Red Sox’s incredible comeback in the 2004 ALCS, including Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.

So, why is baseball losing its fervor among Americans?

For fans of teams such as the Cincinnati Reds, who have not truly been competitive for the past 10 years, a lack of interest in October has become expected. Fans are excited for a new sport after a long season of their team performing poorly, but what about fans where teams are successful?

In 2007 and 2008, ratings for both Fox and TBS dropped significantly during the playoffs from past years, including some of the lowest ratings ever for the playoffs on prime-time television.

Will this downward spiral continue, and if it does, will it become a detriment to MLB? It seems that only the big contenders can foster significant interest in playoff baseball in light of the growing football industry.

As a Cincinnati fan, why should I want to watch the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series when I can turn my attention to other sports? This is a terrifying mindset for baseball fans of all ages.

It is clear that people do not wish to continually watch losing teams, so all too quickly they move on. They dismiss one of the most magical times in a baseball season. Yes, many will tune in to a game or two, but that is where the interest quickly ends.

Sadly, football is quickly taking over baseballs position as the national pastime. Playoff baseball desperately needs to be revitalized to show the world that it can still be America’s favorite pastime.

With the 2009 regular season coming to a close, the playoffs are quickly approaching and football fever is in full-swing. We will see how significant this trend in October baseball has truly become.


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