CultureSaturday 01.29.22

MLB Lockout Or No, Baseball Is Still Thriving

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If baseball’s fans seem the grumpiest, it’s because they are. According to the Athletic’s recently published annual MLB fan survey, 63% of the almost 12,000 subscribers who responded are either “disappointed” or “angry” with the state of baseball right now, and only 2.8% are “happy” (the other options in that multiple choice question were “hopeful” and “indifferent”). Baseball has drawn sharp criticism in recent years for slow pace of play, the continued tanking of some teams, and game action losing out to increasingly common strikeouts.

But Will finds enough evidence to suggest baseball is still insanely popular. Even when stadiums weren’t at full capacity until mid-season last year because of COVID-19, over 45 million people still went to see games. Baseball’s local TV ratings are substantially higher than the NBA’s. The World Series brings in more viewers than any entertainment programming it competes against. And the sport took in almost $11 billion in revenue in 2019.

LZ and Will also talk about the uniquely local nature of the game, as well as the ongoing lockout — the two sides are apparently far apart in their negotiations, and it’s anyone’s guess whether the 2022 season will start on time.

The Long Game