Here’s Proof Of Baseball’s Decline

I wasn’t lying earlier when I said this sport is dying a slow death.  Remember when I said this upcoming generation of kids is the most impatient group of people to ever exist?  Turns out it’s true.  American youth are playing baseball in smaller and smaller numbers every year.  The biggest reason?  It’s too slow.  From the Wall Street Journal:

Hank Crone is the grandson of a major leaguer and the son of one of the top scouts for the Detroit Tigers. Growing up in north Texas, one of the world’s great breeding grounds for baseball talent, there was no question he’d play the family game.

But after a few seasons, the athletically gifted 13-year-old said he found himself absent-mindedly kicking the outfield grass during travel-team games. The problem: he was bored. “I like baseball,” he said, “but it’s just too slow for me.”

Two years ago, Hank dropped baseball for hockey, a game that feeds his love for speed and constant movement. He now plays wing and center for a Chicago-based select team that has traveled to tournaments in Russia and Sweden. “Look, if anyone would want him to play baseball it would be me,” said Hank’s dad, Ray Crone, Jr. “But you’ve got to follow your heart in this sort of thing, so let him do what he wants.”

As the 2011 Major League Baseball season begins Thursday, the national pastime has a problem. Too many kids like Hank Crone are choosing to dedicate themselves to other sports.

With 11.5 million players of all ages in the U.S., baseball remains the fourth-most-popular team sport, trailing only basketball, soccer and softball.

But over the last 16 years, numbers for Little League Baseball, which accounts for about two-thirds of the country’s youth play, have been steadily dropping. And there are signs the pace is accelerating.

From 2000 to 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, the number of kids aged 7 to 17 playing baseball fell 24%, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, an industry trade group. Despite growing concerns about the long-term effects of concussions, participation in youth tackle football has soared 21% over the same time span, while ice hockey jumped 38%. The Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, another industry trade group, said baseball participation fell 12.7% for the overall population.

Time to fix something MLB.

[Wall Street Journal]


The BCS Backed Off The Threats To Eliminate The Fiesta Bowl Last Night

And it’s for exactly the reasons you would think.  Remember how one of the committee members I told you about yesterday had received a free cruise from the Orange Bowl?  It turns out another one of these “investigators” let the Fiesta Bowl pay his resort golf habit.  The committee is basically sticking the finger to the American public and the IRS, daring them to come after them.  Check out this remarkable arrogance, from the Arizona Republic (still doing the damn thang):

A top official of the Bowl Championship Series softened his stance Wednesday on expelling the Fiesta Bowl amid disclosure that he and other members of a BCS task force accepted gifts from the Fiesta and Orange bowls.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the coalition of college football’s top bowls, said in an interview that discussion of eliminating the Fiesta Bowl from the BCS was “way premature.” He called it “irresponsible” for media to speculate which bowls, if any, would replace the Fiesta Bowl in the four-bowl BCS.

Earlier, in reaction to an internal Fiesta Bowl report detailing misconduct by bowl executives, Hancock had told The Arizona Republic that “the BCS group takes this matter very seriously and will consider whether they (Fiesta Bowl) keep a BCS bowl game, and we will consider other appropriate sanctions.”

The BCS created the task force Tuesday to examine a 276-page report by Fiesta Bowl investigators detailing a culture of excessive spending on Fiesta Bowl employees, politicians and business associates. The BCS will review the report and decide whether and how to punish the Fiesta Bowl.

Its seven-member task force includes a member who for years let the Fiesta Bowl pay for his golf at a resort, and another who took a free Caribbean trip last year from the Orange Bowl, The Republic has learned.

In addition, Hancock said Wednesday that for at least five years, while attending Fiesta Frolic, he let the Fiesta Bowl cover his golf tab and accepted free gifts from Nike.

The Frolic is an annual, multiday spring gathering the bowl stages for college-football officials at a Phoenix resort.

Hancock called the Frolic, which costs the Fiesta Bowl several hundred thousand dollars a year, a “remarkable business opportunity” for college-football executives to network. However, the Fiesta Bowl Special Committee’s investigative report noted that it recently changed its name to Fiesta Bowl Spring College Football Seminars at the request of attendees “to make the event sound like less of a ‘boondoggle.’ “

Sweet Jesus.  The IRS and DOJ are watching this, right?  They’re going to go after a couple baseball players for taking some silly little steroid pills but they’re going to let these assholes in orange blazers compeltely neglect the tax code and hide behind their not-for-profit status?

[Arizona Republic]


Good Morning Generation

Today marks the second of the three great events (March Madness and the Masters being the others) that combine to make this time of the year the best stretch of sports we’ll see all year.  It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball and I couldn’t be more excited about the Rockies chances this year to capture their first World Series title.  The core is young and promising with our two best players locked up to long-term contracts (Tulo and CarGo) that will see them serve their best years in a Rockies uniform.  The pitching is good and has the possibility of being great if young Jhoulys Chacin can live up to any of his incredible promise paired along side Ubaldo.  Additionally the bullpen looks remarkably strong on paper with Rafael Betancourt, Franklin Morales, and former closer Matt Lindstrom all set to relieve behind closer Houston Street.  The Rockies, beleive it or not people, have a five year window here to win a World Series.  It’s a great, great time to be a baseball fan.  Unfortunately, despite all of this, there are some glaring problems with the sport I have come to love so much over the years — problems that threaten the long term health and future of the game.  More than any of the other major sports in America, baseball is alienating itself from its younger fan base — a fan base that will very soon be graduating college looking to spend their disposable income on sporting events.  For some bizarre reason, Bud Selig has prohibited the use of any MLB footage through YouTube and other networking sites that could very much be the kind of inspiration a young child needs to fall in love with the game and become a great fan.  For some incompetent reason, Bud Selig refuses to examine the possibility of instant replay in MLB.  In a year in which an umpire blew a freaking perfect game with a missed call, Selig triumphantly stood behind the stubbornness of baseball’s past and refused to allow the perfect game, much less heed the calls for instant replay.  For some ridiculous reason, Bud Selig refuses to embrace changes that could very much shorten the length of baseball games which regularly last 4+ hours when broadcast in prime time on ESPN, Fox, and TBS.  Can you tell me how a young child is supposed to make memories with a team when they can’t watch a playoff series because it goes well past midnight on a school night in October?  Does MLB really think the most impatient generation of humans in the history of the planet has the time to sit and watch a 4 hour 30 minute baseball game?  It’s as if there’s a pissing contest between MLB and the NCAA to see which organization can come off as the most arrogant institution in American sports.  Look how that’s turning out for the NCAA right now.  The truth about professional baseball is that it’s dying an incredibly slow death right before our eyes and the very changes that could help save the game and ensure that a generation of fans gets replaced aren’t occurring.  Sure the prospect of lockouts in the NBA and NFL will help it in the short term, but until MLB stops pushing their stubborn agenda that completely disregards a rapidly changing viewing audience, they’re going to continue to disintegrate a game that was easily once the most popular sport this country had to offer.  I’ll always tune in to the games, but I’m different from the average fan.  I’m what the marketing experts would consider a “die-hard” who will tune in regardless.  But money in sports isn’t about the die-hards.  It’s all about attracting the casual fan.  In that case, MLB is striking out.

Generation Y, where our fantasy teams are going all the way this year.