Yesterday was a bad day. It was hot and humid. The air conditioning wasn’t working. There was just constant nonsense throughout the day. I needed a break and turned on the radio to hear about the baseball trade deadline. I figured it would help clear my head.
I started with Mike Francesa. If you are in your 30s and 40s, he’s always been on the air (except in the summer) discussing New York sports. He was in a commercial break. I then flipped to Hahn & Humpty. Originally, I thought, well this is a pleasant surprise. However, they weren’t focusing on baseball; they were discussing the first female coach in NFL history. Even as I sit here now, I know how important a story it was, but I wanted/needed to hear Mets trade rumors. Were the Mets going to rethink everything and go after Jose Reyes? Was the team actually going to put their money where their mouth was and actually spend some money at the trade deadline? Probably not as they never seem flush with cash like the other New York franchises.
I wasn’t getting what I wanted, and I had to let someone know about it. I went all “letter to the editor” on Alan Hahn. Not exactly my finest moment. At least some good came of it, as my mood began to change for the better. Later that night, I did tune into his show while I was watching Thor’s dominance, and he was talking football again. But you know what? He had to because Tom Brady’s four game suspension was upheld. It was the biggest news in sports yesterday. It wasn’t the first time the NFL dominated the headlines when baseball is in the middle of one of its peak news cycles. It won’t be the last time either.
That’s the problem. No matter what your opinion of Bud Selig is, he did have some positive impacts on the game of baseball. He navigated the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and oversaw a sport that saw improving and record attendance. It is all the more impressive when you keep in mind that this was during our Great Recession. He also grew the sport from a $1.8 billion revenue sport to a $9 billion revenue sport. Finally, we have enjoyed labor peace since 1994.
However, there are problems that arose during his tenure (I’m not focusing on steroids here – there is another time and place for that). We’ve seen the Baseball Game of the Week be shift from Fox to Fox Sports 1. Local Programming (in New York it’s going to be paid programming) is going to be shown this Saturday over Angels-Dodgers. Think about that for a second. This game features: 1) two teams in a pennant race; 2) two teams in the second largest media market; and 3) the game focuses Mike Trout, the best player in baseball. All of this gets second billing to the Sham-Wow Guy.
As you can probably tell, MLB’s popularity has continued to fade in comparison to the NFL. The TV ratings for the World Series this past season was surpassed by Weeks 1 and 2 of Sunday Night Football. This was all on Bud Selig’s watch. I’m not doing this to complain. I’m doing this to point out what seems obvious to everyone else but myself.
Honestly, this all makes me feel deflated (by the way, in case you didn’t realize it yet, I love puns). Overall, I can care less if the MLB or NFL is more popular. I love the NHL, but I’m not going to sit here and pontificate on how that sport is ignored. The NHL was never a part of our past time. MLB used to be. I want to return to those days. I want to turn on the radio in July while the Mets are finally in the middle of a pennant race and hear baseball talk.
The sad part is I got swept up yesterday in the Deflategate talk. How could you not? If you are an NFL fan (and I am), you have to talk about it. If Clayton Kershaw was suspended for becoming a modern day Gaylord Perry, I would not stop talking about it. The problem is that I think most people would. If this news came to light in early December, most people would talk about the NFL as it approaches the stretch drive while the Kershaw news would fade until Spring Training.
To me that’s the problem. MLB is no longer moving the needle the way it once did. That’s a challenge for the new commissioner Rob Manfred. I want Rob Manfred to move the needle so shows like Hahn & Humpty talk more baseball, at least during baseball season. That’s also a challenge for me as I look to raise my son. I want him to be a Mets fan so we will always have something to bond over. Thirty years from now, I would like to talk about how the Mets are contending and need to add a player at the trade deadline rather than another NFL scandal. I really hope that is possible because I hate this deflated feeling.