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Fewer baseball games to be aired in '07


wdm1219inpenna

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Hi folks,

According to Colin Cowherd, host of "The Herd" on ESPN Radio, post-season baseball ratings are lower than ever. According to his report, ESPN and FOX are scheduling fewer games to air in the 2007 regular season.

It really saddens me that what was once a really sound and fun game to watch has been declining in ratings over the past 15 seasons. People complain that the "same teams" get there every year. From 1998 - 2005. the NL has had 8 different champions (Padres, Braves, Mets, Diamondbacks, Giants, Marlins, Cardinals & Astros). In 2006 we're guaranteed to have our first repeat NL champ since 1998.

The AL now have it's 5th different champion in the past 5 seasons (2002 - 2006), Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers.

MLB is guaranteed to have it's 7th different World Series champion since 2000 (Yankees, Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Red Sox, White Sox, and this year will be Tigers, Mets or Cards).

So despite having all these differences in recent years, and people complaining that the "same teams always get there", the same teams do not always get there.

Colin argues on his program that college football has more games aired now than ever before, and their ratings continue to go up. The NFL ratings continue to soar as well. Ditto NASCAR. But consider what time most of these events are shown.

For me, part of the reason I do not watch post-season baseball is because I work 6am - 2pm on weekdays, and am usually asleep by 8:30 or 9pm, since I need to get up by 4:30 or 5am. And since most of the World Series games don't begin until about 8:30pm EST, I am unable to watch. Yes, I could videotape it (no I don't have TIVO, I'm still stuck in the 1980s), but that is not the same as watching it live. The games HAVE to start earlier. And when they say the game starts at 8pm, the first pitch isn't until 8:30 half the time it seems.

Another gripe I have is the FOX broadcasters. Having to cope with them is tedious and excrutiating at best. The revving of the car engine sound effect is annoying, the 37 different camera angles are annoying as well. Whoever produces the baseball games at FOX, and with all the nonstop camera angles, needs to be fired. The games are practically unwatchable, that is when I AM able to stay awake TO watch! And while sometimes when I do have the rare ability to watch a post-season game, I will watch it on mute, it is not the same. Not being able to hear the crowd, or the crack of the bat, it's just not the same experience. TV, specifically FOX, has ruined baseball's watchability factor for me.

I don't know if starting the games earlier and having a different network would help or not. All I know is I rather enjoyed CBS' coverage (McCarver wasn't quite as annoying back then). Jack Buck & Sean McDonough were fine I felt. Then they had "The Baseball Network" thing which totally sucked, and made baseball tank, coupled with the 1994 strike, steroids, too much expansion. It's very very disheartening for me, because I do still have a love and passion for MLB baseball and its rich history.

What can be done to improve this? Too many teams, but contraction is not on the horizon. Shorten the regular season? I know to do so would be deemed sacrilige to many baseball fans, but as Colin said on his program, who wants to watch baseball teams and fans freezing in Detroit and New York during the World Series? I mean in 1997 Cleveland had SNOW during the World Series as I recall. What would happen should Colorado ever get to the World Series? The added layer of playoffs extends the already long season a bit longer, and it's very unfortunate to see that baseball, especially post-season and televised post-season baseball continue to head where it's headed, into oblivion.

With a heavy heart,

Bill McD.

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Start the damn games earlier. While they start at a comfortable time for me on the West Coast, there's no reason for Little Johnny to stay up after midnight to watch baseball on the East Coast. Forty percent of the US population lives in the Eastern Time Zone, so maybe Fox and ESPN should try catering to that 40 percent.

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I love baseball and I love watching games. But, c'mon it gets tiring seeing scoreless innings and if not scoreless than not a lot of runs. I mean c'mon, I could watch just switch the channel and I have hockey from either VS. or Comcast. Plus, after every pitch the hitter has to try and mess up the pitcher's timing by fiddling with his gloves or straightening his batting helmet or practicing his swing. It gets ANNOYING fast. I've seen the commercials for the post-season try to get all fans of MLB to watch the games. I like the commercials, I think they're effective, but it's not enough. Something needs to be done to advertise the game a lot better than it is. It seems that NASCAR has taken baseball's top spot within the last few years. Baseball is falling and falling fast among sports fans. The season runs too long as well. I think MLB needs to go back to the way things were when the post-season started in September, NOT October. The fact that the World Series doesn't even start until the near end of October or early November is ridiculous. It's too cold to play baseball IMO. And games every single day of the season is a bit stupid to me as well. Guy's need a break, even in baseball. I think maybe every other day or every two or three days play a game. Sort of how the NHL and NBA do it. A LOT needs to be done for baseball to win back it's spot. But, I don't see this happening any time soon. As soon as Selig is booted out of there. MLB needs a more quality and credible guy to be commissioner of baseball. Cuz in my opinion, Selig is a joke.

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I love baseball and I love watching games. But, c'mon it gets tiring seeing scoreless innings and if not scoreless than not a lot of runs....

personally, i find it ridiculous when people complain of a lack of scoring in baseball. if you think games are too low scoring, i'd venture to say you really aren't a fan of the game at all. you'd be better suited to watching highlight shows and homerun derbies.

give me a 3-2 pitcher's duel over an 12-10 slugfest any day of the week. close, low scoring games are when you see the true strategy of the game come into play.

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Here's my .02. I'm a baseball fan, rec player, and HS coach just so you know. I'm just trying to write what I feel the public sees for the most part.

1. The season is too long. 162 regular season games, 20+ exhibitions, 20+ playoffs.

2. The weather pattern is changing. Nobody wants to be playing in the snow or freezing watching baseball in some cities in April and October.

3. The games are long and boring. There is no time limit or way to hurry it. Things like 10 pickoffs or 10 fouls bore the average person. They don't know there's reasons for this stuff.

4. TV High Def doesn't do much for baseball because it isn't played rectagularly left to right like the other big sports.

5. Same old teams. Yes, there have been different champs over the last few years, but the fact remains that if you're not from NY, Boston, and a few other ones, your season is done before it gets going.

6. What to do with the "rest" Go to a Pirate game in September. Your team is 20+ out, all good guys have been traded, you're playing with mostly nobodies, and the whole town is focused on football. How do you stay motivated both as players and fans? I think this goes along with too long of a season.

7. Times have changed. No more do kids go out and play a game. They have computers, Playstations, cars, etc. They aren't going to sit by the "radio" and listen to the old ball game.

8. Other sports. NASCAR and other "lower tier" sports are taking fans away.

9. Football. Football has taken over America. People like the controlled violence and the short and sweet season. You have to excel at a high level in football. You can't be a "great" for doing good 30% of the time like a really good hitter can. Football has went from Sundays to Sunday night, monday night, some Thursdays, and college games on almost every day.

10. Bad image. Who isn't failing or getting accused of performance enhancers right now? What's killing it is there are so few "stars" that can be a household name and change a game. Ask the average kid who Pujols is? He's probably the best hitter in the game and they probably won't know.

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I love baseball and I love watching games. But, c'mon it gets tiring seeing scoreless innings and if not scoreless than not a lot of runs....

personally, i find it ridiculous when people complain of a lack of scoring in baseball. if you think games are too low scoring, i'd venture to say you really aren't a fan of the game at all. you'd be better suited to watching highlight shows and homerun derbies.

give me a 3-2 pitcher's duel over an 12-10 slugfest any day of the week. close, low scoring games are when you see the true strategy of the game come into play.

Just because I hate low scores during game that means I am not a fan of baseball? That's a bit absurd. What happened to the 30s, 40s, 50s, even 60s. The scores were a higher in games than they are now. Sure, there has been games this year, but not many. If they were, they were blowouts. I love to watch pitching during games and I love to see more action in baseball involving runs scored. For example, the last few games between the Cards and the Mets have been exciting. If there is scoring because the pitching has been fantastic and the team has been on there game, then it's exciting. But, if there is no runs scored because the pitching is dull, the bats are weak, and the nothing is going on at the bases or in the outfield. Then yes, I believe it's boring.

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I love baseball and I love watching games. But, c'mon it gets tiring seeing scoreless innings and if not scoreless than not a lot of runs....

personally, i find it ridiculous when people complain of a lack of scoring in baseball. if you think games are too low scoring, i'd venture to say you really aren't a fan of the game at all. you'd be better suited to watching highlight shows and homerun derbies.

give me a 3-2 pitcher's duel over an 12-10 slugfest any day of the week. close, low scoring games are when you see the true strategy of the game come into play.

And theres another reason why pitching duels are so much better. Slugfests take about double the time to complete. You think pitching duels are bad, try going to a game where one team changes pitchers two or three times in an inning.

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If you don't mind, I'd like to respond to a few of your observations. Please infer no disrespect for your positions; I wish only to share what I believe are some counter-points.

1. The season is too long. 162 regular season games, 20+ exhibitions, 20+ playoffs.

The regular season has only increased by 8 games since the 1960's. Spring training, to my knowledge, hasn't changed in length during the modern era. The playoffs have gone from a max of 7 games in 1968 to the potential for a max of 41 if all series go the distances. However, selling playoff games generally isn't a problem, so that's practically automatic revenue the team's aren't going to give up. Teams probably aren't going to want to take regular season games off the docket either, as that will reduce revenue. What I would suggest, in order to shorten the timespan in which the regular season takes place is to mandate that every team plays a Saturday day-night doubleheader every other weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That will peel eight days off the regular season and allow the playoffs to start (and finish) a week earlier than they do now. There was a time when doubleheaders were actually scheduled rather than saved for rainout scheduling. Arguably, if the scheduling is done right, every team will host four such events. With the day-night format, teams could make the games into daylong festivals with activities and music and whatnot between games. They could charge a slightly higher ticket price for the twinbill to recoup a portion of the revenue they'd give up for forgoing four full-blown home games and would likely recoup even more revenue from concessions between games. It's also giving each team four opportunities to promote their team and the game of baseball in a somewhat unique fashion.

2. The weather pattern is changing. Nobody wants to be playing in the snow or freezing watching baseball in some cities in April and October.

I would venture to guess that very few parks have no-shows in October since that's when the playoffs take place. And most fans are still eager and full of hope during April, so they don't mind it too much if the weather's still a bit chilly. Baseball season has always opened in April, although it has been a bit earlier in the month since the first round of expansion in the 60's.

3. The games are long and boring. There is no time limit or way to hurry it. Things like 10 pickoffs or 10 fouls bore the average person. They don't know there's reasons for this stuff.

That's baseball's part for not insisting that their broadcast partners do more to educate fans on the finer points of the game.

4. TV High Def doesn't do much for baseball because it isn't played rectagularly left to right like the other big sports.

As a recent convert to high-def, I must respectfully dissent. Baseball and its (mostly) majestic stadia have never looked so beautiful as when played on a high def screen.

5. Same old teams. Yes, there have been different champs over the last few years, but the fact remains that if you're not from NY, Boston, and a few other ones, your season is done before it gets going.

Every sport at every level goes through dynastic periods. Baseball recognized that issue and very wisely expanded its playoff field. Look at the NL wild card race this year. There were quite a few teams in the mix until very late in the year.

6. What to do with the "rest" Go to a Pirate game in September. Your team is 20+ out, all good guys have been traded, you're playing with mostly nobodies, and the whole town is focused on football. How do you stay motivated both as players and fans? I think this goes along with too long of a season.

Perrenially bad teams are an exception, not a rule. Even the Cubs get in the postseason every now and then. The Colorado Rockies have been to the playoffs in the last 12 years. The Diamondbacks and Marlins have 3 rings between them. Most cities don't go too long these days without at least one or two seasons where they're legit contenders for the postseason well into September.

7. Times have changed. No more do kids go out and play a game. They have computers, Playstations, cars, etc. They aren't going to sit by the "radio" and listen to the old ball game.

But they can follow it online with mlb.com. They can listen to any MLB game they want to on satellite radio. If they have cable, they can see a number of different teams every night on the regional cable systems. I think baseball has done a pretty good job of establishing a presence in the new media.

8. Other sports. NASCAR and other "lower tier" sports are taking fans away.

NASCAR takes 3-4 hours away and is only on the weekends. Baseball is there every other night of the week. Baseball can find ways to coexist with other sports and attractions. Matter of fact, baseball uses NASCAR to promote itself.

9. Football. Football has taken over America. People like the controlled violence and the short and sweet season. You have to excel at a high level in football. You can't be a "great" for doing good 30% of the time like a really good hitter can. Football has went from Sundays to Sunday night, monday night, some Thursdays, and college games on almost every day.

Again, football only works its way into the picture during the last couple of months of baseball season when pennant races and playoffs are in full swing (no pun intended). For that relatively brief time arc, there's room for both.

10. Bad image. Who isn't failing or getting accused of performance enhancers right now? What's killing it is there are so few "stars" that can be a household name and change a game. Ask the average kid who Pujols is? He's probably the best hitter in the game and they probably won't know.

I agree that baseball needs to do more to promote its stars and to do what it can to drown out the negative hype with positive hype for its most exciting and promising players. That said, if you look at the great players of the past, there are certainly a number of folks with less than stellar personal resumes - Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Pete Rose. The difference is that the media do a much more thorough job of airing the personal issues of our sports heroes now than they did back then. Hero worship isn't accepted in the 21st century, so that's just one of those things we have to chalk up to changing times and not fault baseball for it.

Again, I don't wish to cast any of your observations and opinions as "wrong." I merely wish to offer a different perspective. Cheers!

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I have a novel concept schedule the game times for when people on the appropriate coast can watch them. Example scheduling the bulk of the ALCS or other games involving the A's to start at 10AM or 1PM here will not get ratings from those fans because the game is on when they are at work. Conversely, having games involving east coast teams ending at midnight does not help ratings out there because most casual viewers would not stay awake to watch the end of the game.

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First off for the thing about there will be fewer national games next year, I'm going to venture a guess and say that probably won't be true. I'm sure Cowheard, conviently failed to mention that next year starts new tv packages. So yes ESPN will be airing less games but those game will instead be airing on TBS (for the record I don't count the current Braves TBS games a national because they only cover 1 team). Also note that the other LCS package has not even been rewarded yet. That will probably go to VS. or FX and will include regualr season games which means there wouls actually be an increase in the nymber of national tv games next year.

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First off for the thing about there will be fewer national games next year, I'm going to venture a guess and say that probably won't be true. I'm sure Cowheard, conviently failed to mention that next year starts new tv packages. So yes ESPN will be airing less games but those game will instead be airing on TBS (for the record I don't count the current Braves TBS games a national because they only cover 1 team). Also note that the other LCS package has not even been rewarded yet. That will probably go to VS. or FX and will include regualr season games which means there wouls actually be an increase in the nymber of national tv games next year.

I just read that TBS gets one of the LCS each year between 2007 and 2013, rotating ALCS and NLCS with Fox. Also, Fox is actually increasing its regular season coverage, starting off in the first weekend of the season, instead of the usual late-May/early June start. And if I'm not mistaken, all of Fox's games will begin at 3pm ET, instead of the early game at 1pm ET and the late game at 4pm ET.

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First off for the thing about there will be fewer national games next year, I'm going to venture a guess and say that probably won't be true. I'm sure Cowheard, conviently failed to mention that next year starts new tv packages. So yes ESPN will be airing less games but those game will instead be airing on TBS (for the record I don't count the current Braves TBS games a national because they only cover 1 team). Also note that the other LCS package has not even been rewarded yet. That will probably go to VS. or FX and will include regualr season games which means there wouls actually be an increase in the nymber of national tv games next year.

I just read that TBS gets one of the LCS each year between 2007 and 2013, rotating ALCS and NLCS with Fox. Also, Fox is actually increasing its regular season coverage, starting off in the first weekend of the season, instead of the usual late-May/early June start. And if I'm mistaken, all of Fox's games will begin at 3pm ET, instead of the early game at 1pm ET and the late game at 4pm ET.

Yeah, I just read that. It was news that just came out today. But still there will actually be more games next year.

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I've always held the belief that ratings for play-off series' in the NHL, the NBA and MLB have steadily declined in the last 20-25 years because of the growth of cable and satellite TV. Think about it 30-40-50 years ago there were what 3 networks? Not much of a selection. But these days the average home has what 70-200 channels depending on the provider. The NFL play-offs are single game elimination played on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. It's easy to see why ratings are so high.

As for the coverage, Fox does a terrible job. Buck and Brennamen have become more analysts than play-by-plays guys. Especially Brennamen I can't stand that prick. He has to state is annoying opinion on everything and sometimes misses plays while he's ranting. All the close-ups of players and the crowd is annoying. ESPN, does a fantastic job with the Division Series. Different camera views and Jon Miller and real PBP guys, not talking heads.

I def agree with those who say games need to start earlier. How about a 7:30 pregame with a 7:45 start? I think that's a decent compromise for those on the West Coast.

I laugh at those the baseball is long and boring. They want high scoring games but complain about 4 hour games. Guess what, these high scoring games are the ones that last 4 hours. I don't watch anymore Red Sox-Yankees games because the games are excruciatingly long.

In my opinion, the strike zone has become to small. Yes, the high strike is being called, but the outside and especially the inside corners are not being called. It seems like the strikezone is oval shaped. If they increased the size of the strike zone the hitters would stop having such a big advantage and games would be shorter.

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In my opinion, the strike zone has become to small. Yes, the high strike is being called, but the outside and especially the inside corners are not being called. It seems like the strikezone is oval shaped. If they increased the size of the strike zone the hitters would stop having such a big advantage and games would be shorter.

Uh, around 2000, they increased the strike zone.

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In my opinion, the strike zone has become to small. Yes, the high strike is being called, but the outside and especially the inside corners are not being called. It seems like the strikezone is oval shaped. If they increased the size of the strike zone the hitters would stop having such a big advantage and games would be shorter.

Uh, around 2000, they increased the strike zone.

Yes, I know that, but the corners aren't being called. The low strike and the high strike are being called, but the corners aren't.

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I know this may sound weird, but could it be that personal tastes are changing?

Take for instance the sports of the ancient civilizations. Many are still around, but not all of those are. What happened to the ones that died out? Will the sports we have today stand the test of time?

Right now football is the big numero uno. It hasn't always been that way. Could it be that baseball, which was for so long the undisputed king, is slowly fading?

If so, does the game need to change? People put a lot of blame on short attention spans and the like, but is it really the consumers' responsibility to adjust for the sake of the product?

Some of these are obvious rhetorical questions, but others are there to provoke thought - I don't have the answers, but it's an interesting idea to think about - how sports may die.

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