Baseball is back!
You heard it here last
The dawn of baseball season is once again upon us. Opening day shenanigans and meaningless spring training games have come and gone, and now the season can really begin.
However, when I say baseball is back, I don’t mean it in the sense of the new season starting. I mean it in a much more important sense.
From the mid nineties until 2012, baseball viewership went on a steady decline. The game had become mundane, predictable and time-consuming.
It seemed as though baseball was going out of style. But things change quickly in sports, and when a new commissioner took office in 2015, things began to look up for baseball.
This new commissioner laid out a few goals for baseball, and they’ve had a modest, yet pleasant, impact on the game.
Some of these goals, such as quicker pace of play, better use of technology (specifically the replay system) and decreases in commercial breaks have all contributed to improved ratings and overall enjoyment of the game.
These however wouldn’t on their own be enough to make baseball what it once was. Regulations and atmosphere can only do so much. The players themselves had to make the game better.
Whether it was by chance—or by some sort of change to the core of the physical ball (a conspiracy theory held mostly by victimized pitchers)—the league saw its highest spike in home runs since the steroid era.
Home runs are fun to watch, and make attending games more worthwhile to the typical fan. Still, I would argue that on their own, they’re not enough to make a substantial impact on viewership and the sustainability of the sport.
Baseball needed something much more dramatic, something that wasn’t predictable in the least. It needed something to astonish and inspire us. It needed a World Series that made the world want to watch. Baseball needed the Cubs.
And after 108 seasons, it was about time. Game 7 of the World Series had the most viewers of any baseball game since 1991.
Now, it’s hard to argue that this one game (or even series) is indicative of a possible resurgence of baseball. The circumstances leading up to the game were once in a lifetime, and the game itself was one of the greatest games ever.
In a year filled with amazing storylines, it’s hard to put any above the Cubs. 108 years, a 3-1 series deficit and a seemingly unbreakable curse presents itself like something out of a cliche sports movie, not real life.
And while we won’t likely see a game, series or story like theirs again, I think the Cubs may have done something to make the game better everywhere.
They showed that anyone can win it all.
Perhaps it's my fandom in a team that has yet to win it all (the Rockies) that has me feeling this way. But I strongly feel that in a few years, Colorado could be the next Cinderella story.
I don’t believe I’m alone in this optimism.
For the game of baseball, it’s this optimism that drives ticket sales and viewership, and in turn gives the game an opportunity to get better.
So perhaps the Cubs saved baseball. Perhaps it was the home run surge, or the changing of the guard. Perhaps it was something else altogether. In the end though, it doesn’t really matter how it happened.
Baseball is here to stay.
Tyler Dean is a junior studying business administration.