Baseball is still as popular as ever

Editor’s note: This column is written as part of a point-counterpoint. The other column, stating that baseball is losing popularity, can be read here.

Baseball is called America’s pastime for a reason. It has always been there, and it always will be.

Like any other professional sports league, the MLB has not stayed perfectly consistent in popularity, whether you are speaking in terms of just within one season or over the history of the league. I will be the first to admit I probably did not watch more than nine innings of baseball throughout both June and July.

With its heavy reliance on statistics and numbers, baseball is a unique sport in which a fan can pretty much get a full understanding of a game just from the SportsCenter alerts they receive on their phone.

But then, as if it is Opening Day again, mid-September rolls around and every relevant team’s fans get the baseball fire back in them and try to watch as many games as possible. There is nothing quite like September and October baseball. It is when baseball takes the spotlight. It is time for playoff teams’ fans to come out in full force.

As a Cardinals fan, I am accustomed to this feeling, but there are fans who never wake up from their hibernation, because their team has fallen to the bottom of the standings by September.

The common excuse for this passiveness is, “It’s football season, man.” I have heard this a lot around campus this September, especially from Bears fans. It seems like Chicago sports fans, instead of perennially getting their hopes up for the White Sox and Cubs only to have them crushed, are now getting their hopes up for the Bears, and I don’t think I have to say how that is working out for them. Obviously baseball is not going to be a big deal for fans whose teams are out of contention.

The MLB postseason starts this week, and it will be getting more media attention than those in past years. The nation will get to see one of the three best players in baseball, Mike Trout, play in his first postseason. The Royals are going to the playoffs for the first time since they won the World Series in 1985. Then mix in the teams that are always in contention, like the Dodgers, Giants, Tigers and Cardinals, and this postseason has the potential to grab headlines for the entire month of October.

From a statistical standpoint, baseball still owns prime-time television in local markets, as well. On Aug. 5, Maury Brown wrote an article for Forbes.com citing Nielsen Media Company, which tracks prime-time TV ratings.

According to Nielsen, “of the 29 U.S.-based clubs in the league, 12 of them are the top-rated programming in prime-time since the start of the season in their home markets, beating both broadcast and cable competition.”

There are also seven more teams that are in the top three of their local prime-time ratings. In fact, no team is outside of the top nine in local prime-time ratings, except for the Dodgers and Astros because they are in the midst of carriage disputes with several providers.

The numbers do not lie. Baseball is as popular as ever, but the popularity in certain areas depends on the how relevant the local team is in the standings.

Cole is freshman in General Studies. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @cole_Henke.