Bocks score: True baseball fans are not analytically interested

Bocks score: True baseball fans are not analytically interested

Bocks score: True baseball fans are not analytically interested

David J. Griffin / Icon Sportswire

Now that the season is over, Major League Baseball has a question: Where did all the fans go?

The total attendance this season was 45.3 million fans, a low of 37 years. That is down from the 68.5 million that came out for baseball’s last full season in 2019.

Now there were some factors in the low number. The COVID-19 pandemic limited attendance for much of the season, and due to travel restrictions, Toronto played large parts of the first round on alternative sites.

It still does not explain why six teams – Baltimore, Miami, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Tampa Bay and vagabond Toronto – failed to draw a million fans, a routine number for major league franchises. Four others – Arizona, Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City – barely topped that reference. The bottom feeder is Miami, which pulled a paltry 642,617, down from the 811,000 Marlins pulled in the last two full seasons.

All of this is alarming when baseball goes on its toes in talks about a new collective agreement with the Major League Players Association. It is unlikely that the players sympathize with the handshake from the owners over reduced income.

Equally unpleasant are the attendance figures for this season, what is equally frightening is the downward spiral the game has experienced since the record number in 2007 when 79.4 million fans bought tickets for matches. This number has dropped every year since, a trend that has caught the attention of the game’s players.

Part of the problem may be the love affair baseball fell into with “New Age” ideas that have changed the game dramatically. The game once was delicately balanced between attack and defense, carefully designed to make each an important element in winning and losing.

No more.

Modern baseball is top heavy with defensive shifts, strikeouts and walks, which reduces the action on the court. Battere uses oppercut turns and aims at the fences because home runs are the glamorous way to score races instead of being bothered by situational hits, advancing runners, emphasizing strategy, trying to outsmart the other team.

This is a feature of advanced statistics. Each team has an analysis department that provides computer calculations that do not always take into account the players’ abilities and instincts. Much of what goes on in games is prescribed by front offices occupied by computer experts.

The result is a different game than the one that was played a decade or so ago and for 100 years before that. Fans seem to have noticed the change and can say their opinion by staying home.

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