Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

An Open Letter to MLB America: Embrace the 2020 Season, Be All In

Baseball’s back, and we should embrace it.
Baseball’s back, and we should embrace it.
Graphic: Eric Barrow

Don’t listen to them.

Don’t let them steal your joy.

The 2020 baseball season is within our grasp. MLB players are reporting to their makeshift “spring training” facilities all over Baseball America today.

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If all goes well, or at least as well as it can given the circumstances, the season will start in earnest on July 23. Teams will play 60 games, not 162, and have a regular postseason before crowning a World Series champion in late October.

It isn’t much. But it’s all we got.

You should be thrilled, excited.

Few love baseball more than I do. Not only as a reporter who has covered the sport since 1986 — I’m a proud Baseball Writer of America Association member and I have a coveted Hall of Fame vote — but as a fan of the sport.

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And to be honest, I can’t wait for the games to start — even with no fans in the stands.

For sure, there are a lot of naysayers out there in the weeds, bashing baseball and its abbreviated season. They want you to believe the season is a mockery of the sport and both the season and the championship aren’t legit.

Don’t buy it.

It all counts. It will be the real McCoy. All 30 teams will have to compete under the same circumstances. That makes it legitimate.

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The only people who don’t support the idea of baseball this summer and aren’t embracing this fast-and-furious regular season are people who simply don’t love the game.

It can’t be anything else.

Hello, is this on, can you hear me out there.

There’s a pandemic going on in this country. Nothing is as it was. Life has been altered, changed big time.

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How in the world are people bashing baseball for trying to put a season on during these turbulent times. The easy way would be to tell all the players to take their balls and bats and go home and come back in 2021.

And this idea about the amount of games…

There was never going to be a full season. It was either going to be a half-season, something like 82 games or this. So what’s the difference? Either way, it wasn’t going to be the season we have grown to love.

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And yes, love.

There’s a crazy false narrative when it comes to MLB. The people who don’t love the sport will tell you it’s a dinosaur and the sport is dying.

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They have been saying that for 50 years now. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.

MLB has never been healthier, in better shape, especially financially.

Here are the facts:

Last year, MLB set another revenue record with $10.7 billion hauled in, according to Forbes. For the 17th year in a row, MLB set a record for league-wide gross revenue, up $400 million from 2018.

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Yes, the attendance has gone down, but that has been a trend across all sports, movie ticket sales and music concerts. For sure, it isn’t tied to baseball alone.

And as popular as the NFL is, its attendance was down in 2019, the lowest, in fact, since 2004. And it was the first time in 10 years that the average attendance dropped below 67,000 per game.

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College football’s attendance is in the tank, hitting a 24-year low according to the NCAA’s official numbers. The average attendance in 2019 was 41,477, the game’s lowest since 1996.

And for all the love football gets, we saw not one, but two upstart football leagues fold in the past 15 months — first, the AAF in April of last year and then Vince McMahon’s XFL, which was done in by the pandemic.

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And when you are challenged by a hater about this country’s love for baseball, remind that loud naysayer that MLB (68 million) basically out draws the NBA (21 million), NFL (17 million), MLS (8 million) and NHL (22 million) combined.

That’s pretty remarkable when you think about the fact that every MLB game is on TV. And before you point to mediocre national TV ratings as proof about the game’s popularity, understand there are just too many games to get viewers juiced up about a particular one. But locally, MLB is killing it on TV.

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In 2019, when you look at just cable TV, 24 regional sports networks that air MLB teams ranked No. 1 on cable TV in their market in prime time. Yes, MLB is drubbing CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox on a nightly basis.

Which gets us back to this upcoming baseball season. We want our baseball season. We need a baseball season. It’s a part of the fabric of this country, our pastime. It’s something that will give us a sense of normalcy in these dire times.

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When it comes to the 2020 MLB season, don’t hate, appreciate.

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