Did the MLB Really Make Enough Rule Changes to Keep the Sport Alive?
May 1, 2023
The MLB (Major League Baseball) viewership and game attendance have steadily declined ever since the late 2000s. In 2007, in-game attendance was at its peak, but since then, attendance has decreased by 14%. More and more people gravitate towards sports like basketball and football, as baseball is becoming less popular. From my experience, not many teenagers really care about the MLB, as they’d rather watch the NFL or NBA. Without young, new fans wanting to watch baseball, the MLB is poised for future failure.
Deciding to act on their declining viewership, during the 2023 season, the MLB made a couple of rule changes to increase game pace. They added a pitch clock, only giving the pitcher 15-20 seconds to make a pitch, whereas in previous years, pitchers didn’t hesitate to take their time. Along with the pitch clock, the MLB has also implemented larger bases, making games more exciting because of more frequent scoring. Even with these additions, I feel that the MLB hasn’t done enough to really gain new fans and keep their sport alive.
By no means would I call myself a baseball fan, but I do occasionally check in on scores and follow major MLB news. Despite the rule changes, I am still not moved or inclined to turn on a baseball game, because honestly, it’s still pretty boring. Nine innings is a lot of time for plays to happen, and baseball is a pretty passive sport. Although the average game time has been cut down by 30 minutes, I’d still rather watch a three-hour basketball game because I know there will be a guarantee of constant action. Just by talking to people my age, they tend to feel the same way about professional baseball: it’s an outdated, boring sport.
In my opinion, the MLB just needs to make one groundbreaking change if they truly want to thrive for decades to come. Changing each game to seven innings would certainly draw many more viewers’ attention, and potentially bring in new fans. Seven innings would allow the games to be shorter, and more intriguing, as there’s less waiting around, and a much higher urgency to score. In other sports where scoring is the only option, the games are incredibly entertaining. If the MLB made the change to seven innings, certainly each game would have more energy, would be less boring and would be faster.
For many people like me, seeing shorter, more electric and fast-paced baseball games would almost undoubtedly make us want to watch the sport. Despite this, baseball is still the oldest of the popular sports in American history, and old sports tend to stick to tradition. Trying to convince the MLB to make groundbreaking changes while the people in charge are baseball traditionalists probably won’t turn out too well. However, if the MLB wants to continue to thrive, cutting down on the number of innings they play might have to be necessary.