Can baseball survive a changing world?

Major League Baseball is no longer America’s Pastime. What does that mean for the future of the game?

The folks who run Major League Baseball are scared. Really scared.

First, kids aren’t playing the game anymore. Gone are the days when children would organize a neighborhood game, pretending to be their favorite players, policing the rules themselves, without parents scrutinizing everything from their playing time to their batting and fielding stats and coaches who often care more about winning than nurturing young people. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you noticed a child walking down the street lovingly clutching a baseball glove. See what I mean?

Don’t get me wrong. Some kids do play baseball. A lot. They participate in travel leagues, sometimes year-round, a practice that often guts youth and high school teams and leads to baseball burnout because the “season” never ends. Children, some even at the pre-teen level, are being convinced they are Major League prospects. While there are certainly a handful of such children, for the most part, Mom and Dad, your kid is not one of them, no matter how much money you throw at their training.

I was an amateur baseball umpire for almost 25 years and I’ve seen participation at youth levels drop precipitously over the years.

Speaking of money, kids in poorer communities can’t afford the baseball gloves and bats and shoes necessary to play, not to mention the fees needed to pay for uniforms, field facilities, and umpires. And often in the inner city their are no baseball fields on which to play.

The other problem is the changing dynamics of childhood. Before digital electronics, kids couldn’t wait to change into their play clothes after school and head outside. I know some of you remember those days fondly, but many of today’s kids simply wouldn’t understand why anyone would want to leave the house. After all, with their unfettered access to social media, video games, and streaming services to distract them, there’s almost no reason to ever venture off the couch.

Another one of baseball’s big problems is the game itself. Unlike football, basketball, and ice hockey that have a lot of action, baseball is slower and much more cerebral. At least it was before scoring became the most important aspect of the game. The preponderance of and importance placed on home runs is killing all those beautiful fielding plays that made baseball brilliant.

So many pitches are going yard, Major League Baseball is altering the ball to make it less bouncy. The new ball will be tested in the low Minors. The league is also tinkering with rules to shorten games.

As a former TV sportscaster and an amateur umpire of almost 25 years, I don’t think there’s anything more exciting than a runner going for a triple. Though a triple play is damn close. And yet for years baseball executives tinkered with the ball to increase scoring. Yes, I know they swear the balls were never juiced, but I don’t believe them. Home runs have soared to ridiculous numbers, which leaves all those fielders standing around doing nothing. That gets pretty boring after a while. By the way, if you’re not sure homers are an issue note that in 2014 4,186 pitches resulted in home runs. In 2019, that number exploded to an all-time record 6,776.

So now, baseball’s bosses are trying something new, albeit at the Minor League level. They are once again changing the ball. Rawlings has “loosened the tension of the first wool winding,” according to a memo from the commissioner’s office. That will slightly reduce the weight of the ball and make it less bouncy, the hope being a reduction in home runs.

But that won’t help solve baseball’s biggest problem: Time. Unlike other sports there is no clock on the diamond. An average MLB game lasts almost three hours and ten minutes. By comparison, an NBA contest averages just two hours and 15 minutes. As our attention spans dwindle, our ability to stay engaged is declining, a situation that is doubly difficult for young people who Major League Baseball needs to survive.

Baseball has already lost its status as America’s Pastime, having been supplanted by football. And, as in all sports, fewer kids are coming out to play. That does note bode well for the future of the games, especially baseball.

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Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here:

6 thoughts on “Can baseball survive a changing world?

  1. C.D. Hersh says:

    Can only disagree with part as in the Cincinnati area, home of professional baseball ⚾️, the Reds support the knothole leagues. Providing gloves and other equipment to those who have a need. Hope your prophecy is wrong.


    • annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

      There isn’t enough of that going around, Donald. Especially when kids should start baseball young. Once kids hit high school it’s very hard to learn those defined skills needed to play the game: hitting, fielding, catching, throwing, pitching. Older kids are too embarrassed to try. I suppose that’s for another blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda Moore says:

    I no nothing about baseball but do know that I love books. This one sounds great. I have it on my calendar to read/review. I do a lot of arcs so it is posted on a month that I have some free spots to read what I have bought.

    I love the cover.


    • annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

      I have tried to like soccer, Tony, but all the theatrics when some player is nudged seem ridiculous. I’ll probably stick with American football. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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