MLB definitely wants to die like horse racing

Barstool partnership would ensure years of racism, misogyny, scandals and/or irrelevance

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MLB and Dave Portnoy... say it ain't so.
Image: Getty Images

Either MLB’s PR people are locked in a room with no escape, no windows, and all communications shut off to the outside world. Or it’s just a team of koala bears stoned to the bejesus and lying on the floor. That’s the only conclusion you can draw when, on the same day it looks like MLB ducked a major racism controversy in one of its parks (still TBD), the league went ahead and virtually ensured it will have one in the future. Sometimes someone else says it better:

I’d like to believe that it does say something about BarfStool, and that MLB knows exactly what it’s doing, and that MLB simply had nowhere else to go. The Wednesday night games on ESPN go away next year in the new TV deal, and TBS will move their games to Tuesdays. And I just want to believe that simply no one else wants anything to do with midweek baseball, a sport that seems intent on dying anyway while it’s 30 Money-Borg teams and the head of their collective Rob Manfred suck it dry of every last dollar before it’s left deflated and torn on the side of a road somewhere for someone’s dog to chew. But this being MLB, and knowing their world awareness is almost always nil, we all know that this decision is or was probably near the top of the list.

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So you just had what we thought was open slurs tossed at a player? Align yourself with the most racist possible organization in sports. Hey, remember a couple months ago when one of your former female reporters and brilliant journalist Kat O’Brien heartbreakingly detailed her rape by a former player and felt she had nowhere to turn in baseball? Or the myriad stories about Mickey Callaway and Jared Porter and how they made women around them feel completely uncomfortable and unwelcome in the game? Remember all the calls that MLB didn’t value its female employees and fanbase because of the league’s head-in-the-sand approach to all of it? why not align yourselves with an organization that has no problem joking that some women deserve to be raped.

And if you didn’t know, women currently represent one of the fastest growing demographics in baseball viewership, according to reports. Why jeopardize that by partnering with these assholes?

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MLB will try to argue, assuming they don’t slink away from this partnership after the public reaction, that BarfStool is on the cutting edge of the gambling bent that sports is on, and will continue to bend toward, with its own sportsbooks and betting site. That these broadcasts will be especially geared to those wagering on games. I couldn’t begin to tell you the breakdown of those who gamble on sports. I’m sure there are women who bet on sports. I’m sure there are minorities who do, too.

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What I do know is that almost anyone who follows BarfStool, or so desperately wants to be a part of it to get back at that girl junior year who wouldn’t go to homecoming with their unshowered ass, bets on sports. If there’s anything overgrown frat boys love more than being hateful thumbdicks and blaming everyone else for their problems, it’s betting on sports to prove they’re right. It started with daddy’s money, and now it’s... well, daddy’s money from whatever investment bank or law firm he got them a job in. If they’re winning actual cash, it must mean they’re right, which means they’re smarter than you are, and that’s the whole purpose of these things. Fuck you if you care about anyone’s feelings, I have cash. America.

I also know that a broadcast geared to gambling during a game would be totally unwatchable. You already get the live odds and prop bets. What more do you need?

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Again, maybe MLB has nowhere to turn. Turner already has games. ESPN already has games. Fox already has games. And a pivot to Amazon or YouTube full time is always something of a tough sell, especially for a sport that already skews old and would have to convince those altacockers to learn how to sign on to a digitally broadcast game.

BarfStool would have that, too, but it also has a dedicated base of fuckwits and ass-pimples who will do anything Captain Shitstain says. If his instruction is, “Watch baseball on Wednesdays and bet on it!” then that’s what they will do. MLB will get a more turn-key audience than they would with YouTube or Amazon.

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And that’s all the league can see. What they can’t see, or are ignoring, is how other fans might react to them being in bed with an organization like this:

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MLB is hardly the only league that can’t seem to recognize what its fanbase is and what it’s changing to, which is more away from scum like this than toward it. It’s having its head spun by gambling and perhaps cranky tweets from someone living in his homemade bunker with a book on his head (that he’s never read). Or perhaps it fears losing that crowd and is just going to run to the fascist one and play on “What America Used To Be!” and how baseball fits into that. It’ll be a grand look for them.

But if MLB wants to fade into the same relevance as horse racing did for the same reasons, that’s their business. Racing never bothered to try and appeal to anyone under the age of 50 years ago, nor anyone who doesn’t sunburn easily, and hence you might hear about it two to three days per year. If it weren’t for outrageous state subsidies, the entire industry very well may have collapsed years ago.

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It’s probably what baseball deserves. Hope it enjoys the company it elected to keep on its way there.