Wednesday, September 10, 2014

MLB Needs to Own Holidays

It's a popular narrative: Baseball is dying! What will we ever do without America's pastime! Never mind that Major League Baseball is pulling in record revenues, pushing a Goodellian $9 billion. Sometimes the facts are inconvenient.

But national television ratings are down relative to years past. That's not really up for debate. While the league continues to reel in billions with a "B" from television contracts, I suppose you could debate whether or not the current ratings matter or not. (Local ratings are going strong, though.)

However, there's one spot that for two days a year, the MLB could win the day. In fact, I think they should be winning these days. They need events that are ripe for appointment viewing. They need to own Independence Day and Labor Day.

I digress for a moment, but it will eventually circle back to the main point. The NFL has games in London, and the nature of their schedule naturally makes each game into appointment viewing and the Super Bowl is basically a holiday on its own. The NHL has the Winter Classic at the turn of the new year (which I watch although I don't know much at all about hockey). The NBA owns Christmas Day.

And remember, these events are aside from the already-there fan-friendly events like the all-star stretches.

Major League Baseball does not do much outside of the all-star break to turn its product into an appointment. They're in it for the 162-game long-stretch. And there's nothing precisely in place to get casual or non fans marking their calendars for a baseball date.

So why not? Independence Day and Labor Day each fall into the league's schedule; Labor Day has the good fortune of marking the beginning of the stretch-run each year, kicking off September baseball. Owning Labor Day would get casual fans geared up for the playoff push, the most exciting time of the baseball year.

If baseball is the country's pastime, why not capitalize on the most American holiday of them all -- Independence Day? It falls during the summer lull, when fans start to find position battles for NFL practice squads the most thrilling development in sports.

This is a unique opportunity for incoming commissioner Rob Manfred, who takes over for Bud Selig at the end of the season. Ostensibly, owners want to continue pushing the revenues skyward. A signature event or simply owning the holidays built into the schedule could help.

Of course, this will not turn that pesky popular narrative all on its own. But it's a start. Owning Independence Day and Labor Day will get casual fans involved with the game and create an event ripe for appointment viewing from other sports' fans.

Owning the holidays would only take two games on a 162 game MLB slate, but the benefits for the league could be long-lasting.


Kevin Rossi is a senior Drexel Sport Management major with minors in Communications and Business Administration. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to President. Currently, Kevin is serving as the Sports Information Assistant for Drexel Athletics and  intern at Comcast SportsNet in web production. Kevin has writing experience with, The Triangle, Temple University, and various outlets in a freelance capacity. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Connect with Kevin Rossi on LinkedIn.

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