Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Take Me Out To The Gray Game

The Core Demo: Trump and O'Reilly
The average 2013 World Series viewer was 54 years old. - Wall Street Journal

In addition to this little bit of fun, there's the fact that the percentage of young'uns going to games has now dropped into rare event status -- less than 5% is what I saw quoted, though I'll confess that I wanted to be all about the olds in this little note.

And on some level, isn't this just what baseball, and much of our current economy, demands? Old people have money and these amazing things called jobs. They make money at places that are not retail or fast food, and draw better than the outdated minimum wage. The average new car buyer is in their mid '40s, because new cars are generally in the $20-30K range, and the youngs take it in the neck on auto insurance, so much so that auto buying is also graying with speed. Concerts are where musicians have to make their money in the age of nonstop theft, so they are priced out for any band with a catalog or history. The supermarket is filled with better for you foodstuffs that go beyond commodity pricing. And more, more, more. 

So what is MLB to do? They've already lost the main source of domestic breakout talent, as great African-American players are becoming more and more rare. The game's saturation point has been reached in Latin America and Asia, and while there's been more players coming from Australia in recent years, the population density down under isn't going to spark a lot more. Every year, people talk about speeding the game up, and every year, the AL East is decided in games that take four hours. The national media talks about the need for a national figure to get on television ads, as if the only difference between the MLB and the NFL is that Peyton Manning is an unrepentant ad slut with dozens of johns.

But, um, MLB?

Getting Mike Trout on a bunch of ads is not going to make your sport more than a regional play. And even if this sport wasn't a persistence game that is always more local than national, there's one itsy bitsy little thing that you have never done, and never will, despite the fact that the NFL and NBA do it, and are slowly but surely ending you from the practice. It's called actual, meaningful and constant revenue sharing, so that each franchise has the same basic payroll, and you don't have a third or more of the league dismantled every off-season because they are not an MLB Plus market. Young people see that, think baseball is bullsquat (assuming, of course, that they aren't in a plus market), and go find better stuff to do with their time and money. If their local team lucks into a contending year, they join the bandwagon in July, when nothing else is on, and they drop off again as soon as the NFL gets close to Real Games.

 But hey, it's not all bad news, right? Plenty more seats available at the park for your graying form, less chance of someone calling you out for hate speech, and the eventual replacement of the 7th Inning Stretch with the Fourth Inning Nap. More soft food at the concession stand, too!

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