Baltimore Orioles: Is change truly inevitable?
Yesterday I wrote about whether or not MLB teams such as the Baltimore Orioles should take a page out of the NFL’s color rush games. The idea being of course that everything these days is becoming a production, so big colors and glitzier looks are much more en vogue. Perhaps I was also a little bit harsh on the millenial generation, but hey that’s life!
Nevertheless, I want to continue that main idea for just a moment. They say that change is inevitable overall, a notion to which I’ve never necessarily subscribed. But let’s assume for just a moment that in life change is in fact inevitable; is it, or does it have to be true also in sports?
Sports, and specifically baseball, is an industry built largely on tradition. I say specifically baseball because it’s our oldest sport and it’s been part of the fabric of our society for longer than the others. But if not for Johnny Unitas drawing plays in the dirt, starting the concept of a two-minute dril, and leading the Colts to the 1958 championship, the NFL wouldn’t be where it is today. And you can throw the likes of Jerry West and Bobby Orr in there as well in similar manners for the NBA and NHL.
This is not to say that things always have to remain how these guys left them. But to tie this to yesterday’s column, would the players who helped mold baseball appreciate the fact that it’s turning into a “hey look at me” type of sport? Heck, would any old time star in any sport appreciate that? It’s worth mentioning that back in those days it wasn’t about players playing for their next big contract with the highest bidder. It was about the team first and always the team.
Courtesy of Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
And that’s not to say that it’s not about that now. I think that most players play hard for their teams, and for the right reasons. But the world is changing, and many people think the sports world has to change as well. Maybe it does, for all I know.
However for the very reason that most people think a sport like baseball must change if it wants to be forever relevant, I’m going to say that it doesn’t need to change. (And mind you, short of the glitzier uniforms I’m not going to say what they could consider doing that would change things.) Most people like to say that if you don’t keep up with the times you’re going to become irrelevant. And in many cases that’s very true. But again, I would submit that in baseball that’s not the case.
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Baseball has literally no competition for it’s product. The beginning of the season coincides with the end of the NBA and NHL regular season and the playoffs. The end of the season conicides with the NFL and college football. However the real meat of the season is a dead time for all of those sports, short of the NBA summer league (which poses no threat for the most part).
That might sound ignorant and arrogant in a way, as I’m saying that baseball doesn’t have to change for that reason. However the fact is that the sport has a virtual monopoly over about three months or so of the calendar. No other sport has that luxury.
This is not to say that baseball can do whatever it wants, because you do have to please your customer base to a certain degree. However being a traditional type of game, baseball can remain as such because they have no competition. Think about it; if pro football fans get fed up with the product in some manner, they can go to college football. The same is true in basketball. So baseball is in a unique position of not having to worry about that.
Again, is that somewhat arrogant? Possibly. But the majority of people aren’t going to tune the sports world out for three or four months simply because baseball won’t change. That may be going out on a limb, but from a marketing standpoint it makes sense.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Glitzier uniforms - good or bad?
And incidentally, baseball has changed from the sport we knew in it’s guilded age. Here’s a big change that we take for granted: night games. While an old fashioned guy like me would appreciate more day games (even during the week), back in the day teams played their games at 1 PM local time. If the league didn’t go to night games it probably wouldn’t have survived. But that’s not to say that a million other changes are needed.