Why the MLB and its Owners Do Not Respect Their Fans


by James Stewart, Sports Beat Manager

America’s pastime has been a crucial part of American culture over the past several decades, but as times continue to change, Major League Baseball and its owners have been reluctant to make any type of change to help ‘improve’ or make the game more exciting for the people they should care about the most… their fans.

Following the league’s ninth ever work stoppage, many fans speculated at the beginning of the year that the season would be heavily delayed, and may not even happen at all.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred felt as if he needed to create leverage in his negotiations with the league’s players’ union in regards to the league’s bargaining agreement which sets the rules of employment and financial structure for the league as a whole.

MLB fans around the country were outraged by the lockout, and their anger has only grown from years prior. Last season, MLB attendance dropped for a fifth straight season, and reached a 37 year low.

As a lifelong baseball player, and avid sports fan I truly think that the MLB has the worst outlook in terms of its future. Despite younger players from around the country becoming stars of the league, their talents have been overshadowed by the arguments between the players’ association and the owners which culminated with the lockout this offseason.

The MLB is also trying to change rules by doing things like implementing a pitch clock between pitches, and have even considered replacing human umpires with robotic umps.

I truly think that the MLB is putting itself in an even deeper hole with these potential rule changes as it would take away parts of the game that people across the country have fallen in love with over the past several decades.

While I understand that the league is trying to change the pace of play, making these changes will ruin the game for older generations as the game will not be the same as it was while they were growing up, and I believe that this would drive their children away from the game as well.

Additionally, according to Forbes the MLB has also seen a 12% decline in television viewership since the 2019 season (pre-pandemic), and it is cited that the average age of a MLB fan is 57 years old. In comparison, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has an average fan age of 42.

While other leagues like NFL, and NBA have been able to change things like the advertising, and their pace of play to advocate for both the younger and older generations of fans, but the MLB has been stuck in the mud arguing over problems like salary caps for teams, and financial situations of large market teams (New York, Los Angeles) versus those of smaller market teams (Oakland, Minnesota).

While attendance has been down across the entirety of the MLB it is even more evident for these small market teams who do not have the money to consistently compete and vie for playoff spots against the larger market teams.

Overall, I think the MLB has many problems that it needs to address, and the first thing that the league must realize is the fact that too much change is a problem in itself.

While owners are arguing for new bargaining agreements, a salary cap, and new players want to assure that the owners are not benefiting far more than they are financially. The main thing that the MLB needs to do is first protect its players, which will then cause the fans to fall in behind the players.

Once the fans see that the league cares for the players, and the overall state of the league fans will begin to watch/attend games with the consistency that was shown in the 90s and 2000s when baseball was at the peak of its attendance (2007), and baseball will be able to make its return to the forefront of professional sports.