Major League Baseball has been trying to fight a long lasting battle that many sports have not had to deal with throughout the years: making new fans. With commentators blasting the sport during broadcasts, a bunch of advanced analytics running the game, and a need to make things happen faster, it is tough to say the sport is thriving.
While baseball and baseball betting is on a decline, Rugby betting is gaining more and more traction in the United States as the sport begins to break through to an American audience. However, there are still sure-fire ways to make an existing sport continue to grow and evolve with time.
Understand that Sports are Entertainment
Baseball is a long and arduous 162-game regular season to determine which teams make the postseason and which go home. However, there are a lot of mini battles that go on that you can entice a casual fan with. Ballparks do this in between innings with their in-house entertainment, but even television broadcasts can do this.
Just imagine you are watching a baseball game, and there is a game you can play on your phone that coincides with what is happening on the field. Depending on what happens, you can win prizes for guessing the outcome, pitch location or sequence, or who will hit a home run in the inning.
This could be a fun way to engage fans as they can win discounted tickets or signed memorabilia for winning.
Sports are entertainment, and that goes the other way as well. I understand managers and front offices are just trying to win games but having a pitcher being pulled while attempting history because of a pitch count stinks. Also, speeding up the game to a degree will help, but not the way MLB wants to do it.
Speeding Up the Game
The minor leagues have implemented a pitch clock where the pitcher has 14 seconds with empty bases and 18 seconds with runners on base. Otherwise, there’s a penalty for whoever is causing it to not happen.
This could be a ball in the count if the pitcher causes it or a strike in the count if a hitter causes it. That is actually speeding the game up well. However, there is another way to speed the game up.
This will sound like an “old man yells at the clouds” opinion, but contact-hitting is a skill that needs to re-emerge in baseball. Getting on base is important, whichever way you can do it, but getting a single with two strikes or slapping the ball the other way will make the game more enjoyable as there would be active throughout the game.
This is definitely easier said than done because it is extremely difficult to hit a baseball thrown at 95 miles an hour with movement from 60 feet six inches away, but that has been a lost tool in the game. More action will make the game go faster and be more entertaining. There has been an increase in steals this season, and that is making games more enjoyable to watch, so contact-hitting should also help.
There are a lot of things that can be done to help baseball continue to grow in popularity, and these are just touching the surface. However, there is a good chance that baseball can thrive, specifically during the “dog days” when no other major sport is going on daily. This can help create hockey, basketball, or football fans to enjoy some Major League Baseball as well.
The game is beautiful, and there are a bunch of battles to help a fan understand what is going on. However, it feels tough for new fans to understand, so let’s make it fun again, enjoy some celebrations without repercussions, and enjoy those three words to kick off a game, “let’s play ball.”