Maury explains the challenges that MLB faces in attracting young and minority fans.
Whether it was the release of the movie“42,” the anniversary of Hank Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth as the all-time home run leader, or one of many articles each year telling baseball it has an “issue,” Major League Baseball decided recently it was time to create a task force to deal with the decline of African-Americans at the highest levels of the game. Baseball, like other professional sports leagues, likes to create this type of task force. It shows that the league cares, and well meaning be damned, is often stocked with people that likely aren’t difference-makers. Recommendations will be made, but they will be around things that don’t get at the heart of the matter, because those things are difficult—if not impossible—to fix.
The “problem” isn’t really a problem in the way that MLB’s task force is likely to look at it. It’s about the change in society, the growth of other sports, the power of television, the internet, how fast players can transition, the growth of other minority groups now playing the game, and, yes, marketing.
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A look at what the Brewers' rotation options offer from a stuff (and beer) perspective.
I like the old cliché, “You go as far as your starting pitching takes you.” It's best to have about seven to nine arms handy to get through the season, because pitchers often get hurt or fail to meet expectations.
Brewers fans may recall a recent season where they barely used six starters. Then, of course, there's last year, when they needed 11. Somewhere in between is normal. For the 2013 Brewers, the question is not if they will go deep into their rotation, but when. And as the summer nears, manager Ron Roenicke will be handing the ball to quite a few young arms.
Maury looks at 2012's attendance winners and losers as well as some early postseason ratings.
With the 2012 regular season in the books, it’s time to look at how clubs did at selling tickets. Yes, they call it “attendance,” but it’s really “paid attendance,” a showing of tickets sold and rarely reflective of actual butts in the seats. The league’s 30 clubs drew 74,859,268 over 2,423 games this year: an increase of 2 percent. While this wasn’t as good as I projected before the season started, it was the league’s largest year-to-year growth since the 2007 season total rose 4.6 percent over 2006. Nine clubs drew more than three million in paid attendance this season, while 13 clubs eclipsed the 2.5 million mark. In addition, this is the second consecutive season that total attendance increased over the previous year and marks the highest attendance since 2008. When things are all said and done, 2012 will rank as the fifth-best single-season in MLB history in terms of attendance.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that attendance between 2010 and 2011, while technically up, was basically the same. The league sold 397,715 more tickets last year than 2010, or an increase of less than one percent. Let’s call that what it is: flat. In fact, over the last four years, the league has seen attendance pretty much remain flat. When you factor in new ballparks for the Mets, Yankees, Twins, and Marlins over the period, this tells us that either the sour economy still holds its grip on America’s discretionary income or MLB’s true “golden era”, as Selig likes to call it, was really 2004-2008 when attendance soared. Still, the league has to be happy; last year, the Dodgers’ attendance cratered during Frank McCourt’s tenure, and there were a considerable number of rainouts. This season, rainouts weren’t as high, and with the two additional Wild Card teams added in, the races for a postseason berth were more compelling.
Ratings for the MLB All-Star Game were up this year, but does that really tell the whole story?
Television ratings are a funny thing. The spin that can come out of the numbers can drive reports in wildly divergent directions. In sports, ratings can be spun to say that the popularity of a given league or club is high or low, depending on those feeding the information. Of course, leagues and clubs love to tout growth, while detractors can spin numbers negatively. For Major League Baseball, ratings have been used to show that the game’s popularity is on the rise, while others have pounded keys to say that it’s a “dying sport.”
So, which one is it? As is often the case in data analysis, the truth can lie in the middle. Before we get started, let’s give a quick primer on what the ratings numbers mean.
With the 2012 baseball season finally upon us, it's time to announce BP's full slate of interactive events...designed to bring you, our fans and readers, closer to all the action.
Beginning on May 5, we launch our 2012 ballpark tour in St. Petersburg, Florida with the Tampa Bay Rays. From there, the tour continues with confirmed stops in San Diego, New York, Anaheim, Arlington, Minnesota, Kansas City, and Houston. We've partnered with Major League Baseball teams across the country and other great organizations like the Negro League Baseball Museum, The Newberg Report, The Royalman Report, and Royals Authority to bring you a fabulous experience every step of the way. Each event includes a one to two hour pregame discussion and Q & A session with members of Baseball Prospectus, special guests, and baseball operations representatives. Additional activities will be planned for All-Star Sunday in Kansas City.
In Part One of this series on MLB’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the focus was on the changes to the draft system. Today, we look at changes to minimum salaries and the soft-cap via a luxury tax on total player payroll.
Each time a new labor agreement is reached in professional sports, there is invariably the question of, “Who came out on top?” You might be able to say the needle swung slightly one way or the other, but in the end the only real winner is “compromise.”
Our first look inside the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement
On November 22 of last year, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA did something that the NFL and the NBA could not: reached a new labor agreement without a work stoppage. For those that follow baseball’s labor history, it has become a miraculous run. By the time the current five-year Basic Agreement (read here) expires on December 1, 2016, it will have been 21 years of uninterrupted labor peace.
A look at the teams that have begun uncharacteristic spending and why this could be a trend we continue to see
I’m not saying this in a Chicken Little way. I’m saying it as a reality that some fans may not fully be grasping: MLB is hitting the mother lode, and that’s translating into player contracts that see greater average annual values (AAV), lengths, and total dollar amounts.
Case in point: USA Today recently released their annual Opening Day salary numbers, and the league will see a 5.55 percent increase in total dollars allocated to 25-man rosters from last year—a jump from $2,786,163,302 on Opening Day in 2011 to $2,940,659,204 this year. This represents the largest year-to-year increase since 2007.
Does the newest edition of The Show deliver on its promise of an interactive baseball broadcast?
MLB 12: The Show aspires to be an interactive baseball broadcast—it says so on the box. Ergo, the developers designed the game to be a made-for-television event made for Playstation.
The baseball-broadcasting staples are present. Close-ups focusing on the pitcher or hitter’s face depend on the result of the previous pitch. Should Roy Halladay struggle to throw strikes then the simulation is a poor one, but your unreal Halladay will fidget with the baseball or wipe his brow in between offerings. Walk the leadoff hitter in a tight spot and Charlie Manuel will appear troubled. Have Shane Victorino gun down a runner and you might see him flex afterward; similarly, expect Placido Polanco to glare at his glove after committing an error. Emotional response from the actors is a key piece of a baseball broadcast. The Show understands and employs this as well as any game has before.
Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.