God, it was such a good week here in Minneapolis. A fun All-Star Game. Big stars. Streets, seats, bars and train cars filled with excited baseball fans. The nation’s attention turned, as always, to the Midsummer Classic.
But, sadly, none of us were aware that this was actually a wake, not a celebration. Because [altogether now], baseball is dying, you guys:
Major League Baseball has never been better — at least that’s what somebody will tell you and sell you.Except it’s untrue . . . Baseball is losing its luster. As ticket prices get higher, interest goes lower. As options on television expand, baseball’s grip on the American public gets ever more slippery.
Seventeen of the game’s 30 teams have poorer attendance than a year ago at this time. World Series television ratings get more disappointing year after year.
Household-name players — I mean popular and scandal-free ones like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter — have come to the ends of their careers, with no clear heir-apparents.
Is there a star player of today you’d go out of your way to see?
“Hey, Felix Hernandez is in town!” “You wanna go to the ballpark tonight and see Adam Wainwright?”
Those are your All-Star starting pitchers. Would you recognize either one if you saw him coming toward you on the street?
This is just pure old-man/back-in-my-day-ism. If you can’t look around baseball and not see who the big young stars are, you’re just not paying attention. Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, Felix Hernandez, Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, David Wright, Matt Harvey, Carlos Gomez, Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Arolidis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Troy Tulowitzki, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jose Altuve and any number of other amazing players may be somewhat hard to make out immediately if they’re wearing a suit and tie, but I feel like not at least giving one of them a nod as, perhaps, an exciting player says far more about Mr. Downey than it says about the state of baseball.
Ultimately, though, Downey’s criticism boils down to (a) World Series TV ratings; and (b) the fact that there is not another Derek Jeter waiting in the wings. We’ve talked so much about TV ratings in the past here that I won’t rehash it. As for the Jeter thing: I’m curious as to how many people thought Derek Jeter was going to be Derek Jeter back in 1994 or 1995.
Oh well. Now I’m getting angry and that could lead to me being disrespectful. But I won’t do that. This is a funeral, after all, and no one should make a scene at a funeral.