Despite the fact that MLB has systematically made a mockery of the game and its followers for years now, everybody involved---the owners, the players, the commissioner, and, of course, the ‘ journalists’ who cover it---are making more and more money every year. Regardless of how the game itself has become increasingly crass and unwatchable, fans still turn out. More importantly, they pay obscene amounts of money to buy merchandise, sponsors still fork over cash that their companies don’t have and baseball revenues and profits just keep climbing.
I think that the main reason baseball is doing well financially despite having a horrible product is that they smartly cornered the marketing on ‘American’---The Great American Pastime! There is nothing better than having your enterprise being synonymous with flag and country. So I also think that the main reason so many people are still loyal to baseball is the same reason so many people still voted Republican in the last election --- they developed an affinity to an institution a long time ago, or had that affinity brainwashed into them when they were young by their smitten parents and influential elders, and now they associate blindly supporting that institution with being ‘a loyal American’ regardless of how corrupt, exploitative and self-serving the institution itself has now become.
By the way, baseball is not the great American pastime. It hasn’t been for a long time now. Heck, since the invention of the VHS cassette and certainly since the advent if the internet, the great American pastime has involved wood that's been more the result of the efforts of the likes of (insert favorite pornstar’s name here) than those of Louisville Slugger.
I’m sure that baseball was once upon a time the great American pastime. Back when there was no TV (or virtually none), when the competition for the entertainment dollar was merely a fraction of what it is now, it made sense to have a game virtually every day from spring to fall to provide the masses with a diversion from the daily grind. Back in the time when great baseball players worked another job in the offseason to make ends meet, when legendary players took time off during their prime playing years to enlist and serve the country at wartime, there were heroes in baseball. It was in those times that baseball wove itself into the American fabric. Now baseball’s annual revenues exceed the annual total budget for the National Cancer Institute. But hey, as the players, agents, talking heads, and general morons will tell you at every opportunity, no one will pay $100 to watch a scientist work in the lab! That is such a great argument that I will not even try to comment on it. Suffice it to say, the logic that underlies that argument explains a lot about our world today.
Anyway, if you think that baseball is anything but a money-grubbing business now, you are deluded. People who spend hard-earned money on merchandise from teams that haven’t been good in decades are stupid. It’s like regularly buying horribly stale milk from a bad dairy simply because your grandfather remembers it fondly. At every turn, the only people who treat baseball as anything but a business are the suckers…errr…fans.
I got a kick out of Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s response when he was asked if he regretted signing A-Rod, the latest greatest cheater who has thrown baseball fans into emotional turmoil, to a 10 year contract last year. This is what he said: "Well, we're not in a position to go backwards on this. The position we're in is to try to move forward and make sure that we can help him get through this. We've got nine years of Alex remaining. … We've invested in him as an asset. And because of that, this is an asset that is going through a crisis. So we'll do everything we can to protect that asset and support that asset and try to salvage that asset."
That was classic!
In MLB, we are talking about an organization here that called off a tied All-Star game (which, as they’ll tell you constantly, is a big celebration for the fans---everything is about the fans, you know) because they were worried some whiny-ass titty-baby ‘All Star’ might get hurt!! I’m sure Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig are proud.
But baseball’s profits keep growing. So why would I blame them for not giving a crap about their consumers? Consume away, idiots.