Once again the discussion was on my radio. How can baseball make itself more exciting? How can they get it to appeal to the kids? Do they need new uniforms? Do they need more elaborate celebrations? What can they do?
All these discussions miss the obvious answer. How do you make games more exciting?
Stop telling people that they're boring.
I've never seen an entity do such a complete job of telling their customers how lousy they are. I can't turn around without MLB telling me the games are too long. Or there is too much downtime. If the Commissioner thinks that, who am I to argue?
Because you know what other sport has long games? You know what other sport has lots of downtime? Football games. Have you ever watched a football game? I mean watched, not eat nachos and check your fantasy team while the game is on in the background. Tom Brady takes the snap and hands the ball off for a two yard gain. After those four seconds of action, the team huddles up, comes to the line, goes, in motion, and 45 seconds later the ball is snapped again for another four seconds of action. Thats more downtime than a baseball game between actions. But, does the NFL talk over and over about all the downtime they need to eliminate from the game? No. The closest they get is calling it "hurry up" when a team doesn't huddle up first, but instead stands like statues at the line for 45 seconds. Otherwise, no complaining. Actually, the opposite. They made waiting around a "thing." "Look at Peyton Manning calling his plays!" "Isn't it funny when he calls out "Omaha!"? Watching players stand there for forty seconds was turned into something you should watch, not avoid. Amazing.
And the games still run three hours plus.
Imagine if baseball did that. What if instead of announcers saying "This long time between pitches really puts his fielders to sleep" they said "Look at Sale here trying to read the hitter's body language to determine which pitch to throw." What if instead of interviewing a player in the dugout mid inning, the tv broadcast implied that the game on the field was at least as interesting as whatever Justin Verlander has to say.
What if baseball stopped saying things other than the game are a lot more interesting. Football doesn't do that. They just let the game be, and let the fans make up their own mind.
And they're the most watched sport around.
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