Well, when I read the article on MLB.com that I was quoted in, there was another quote in the article that got me thinking. Without naming names, the quote was, “I went to my first baseball game with my dad there and my son came with me, but it was time for something new and something clean. They needed something more state-of-the-art, something with more to do than to just come and sit in the seats and watch a baseball game.”
That quote encapsulated what has become the problem with the direction about baseball. At the risk of starting to sound like my father (or for that matter, my grandfather), things were better in the good old days. Yes I know that baseball has always been a business and a big one at that. But, why would anyone go to a baseball game to NOT WATCH a baseball game. However, that is what is happening and what MLB is endorsing with all of these theme park attractions available during the game. Whatever happened to going to watch and enjoy the game. It seems that the circus surrounding the game is becoming more important than the game.
This reminded me about my visit to Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. There were empty seats next to us and in about the 3rd inning, we decided to spread out a little. That was until the top of the 7th inning, when a family of four came to claim their seats. So we politely gathered ourselves back into our seats, no problem there. I had just assumed that they had trouble getting to the game since it was so late. The interesting thing was the comment that the father made when he sat down. He said that it was finally his chance to do his thing and watch the game (the last 2 1/2 innings anyway). I found it hard to think that people are willing to pay today’s prices to go to not watch a baseball game.
I understand that ticket prices are increasing thanks to the ever increasing player salaries – it’s the price that you have to pay to win. However, do I really need to pay for a 5-star restaurant, pool tables, etc? If I want to play pool, I’ll go to a pool hall and watch the game on the TV – it’s much cheaper that way.
Are the fans that want to go and watch the whole game becoming a minority? I always watch the entire game, period. I have sat through rain delays, 16-inning MLB and minor league games since as Yogi said, it’s not over until it’s over. I’m afraid that it’s going to become, I went to a theme park and a baseball game broke out.
We used to have a minor league team in New Haven, the Ravens. They were a Double-A team in the Eastern League and were affiliated with the Rockies, Cardinals, Mariners and Blue Jays and played in historic Yale Field. It wasn’t a flashy stadium with all of the modern amenities but it was a great place to see a game. The game was the focus! I can’t tell you how many games we went to, often getting out of work and deciding on the spur of the moment to go see a game.
So, the question I have is “If you are trying to develop your fan base – shouldn’t the game be the primary focus?”. Baseball seems to be alienating the true fans that want to just enjoy the games. At this rate, the average fan may be a fan of the theme park, but not the game of baseball.
So, let me know what you think. Am I out of step with the times? What’s more important the game itself or the things I can do at the stadium rather than just watch the game?