What Will Make Major League Baseball Interesting Again in 2015?
Major League Baseball 2015
Major League Baseball promoting their Stars
Ever since Major League Baseball was pressured to get rid of the use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport of baseball, individual homerun statistics have declined significantly. Baseball was most recently popular when there were power hitting stars in the sport that consistently hit close to 50 homeruns per season. Recently there have been extremely popular players in baseball who popularize the sport among the fan bases of the teams that they play for. Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig are good examples of this happening as their efforts have made baseball extremely popular once again in Los Angeles. The steroid era in baseball may have spoiled the fans, but ever since players stopped producing 50 homeruns per season on a regular basis, Major League Baseball has not adjusted by properly promoting their stars.
Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks has been an MVP finalist and may be the best first basemen in the game of baseball right now, but he is not a household name. Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been named to four straight all star games, won an MVP award along with being an MVP finalist for three straight seasons, but his abilities are unfamiliar to many baseball fans that root for teams outside the National League Central. Giancarlo Stanton's large contract extension that he received recently, came as a surprise to some baseball fans even with Stanton playing in an east coast city for a team that has won two championships in the past 20 seasons. Major League Baseball could help their sport become more interesting again if they promoted their stars properly, and that includes highlighting the talent of some of the game's amazing young starting pitchers.
Team accomplishments promoted and celebrated
Even though 30 homeruns has become the goal for power hitters, rather than 50 homeruns per season, there are still plenty of teams out there that can light up the scoreboard with homerun power. The Blue Jays routinely hit 200 or more homeruns as a team each season, and Jose Bautista is among the very few hitters to recently hit more than 50 homeruns in a single season. Of course the Blue Jays do this with a designated hitter in their lineup, but there are even some National League lineups that have produced high homerun totals in recent seasons. The Rockies, Pirates, Nationals, Brewers and Cubs were all teams in the National League that were able to reach or pass the 150 team homerun total for the 2014 season. If baseball's popularity revolved around team's abilities to hit homeruns and produce runs at a very high rate, then the Colorado Rockies would be one of the most popular teams in baseball. With plenty of teams out there hitting a remarkable amount of homeruns collectively, this shows that baseball's decrease in popularity may be a problem with the information flow rather than the actual accomplishments of certain teams and players.
The power shown by the Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles are a historic franchise in a large East coast city that has produced huge seasons from multiple different players over the last two years. Adam Jones has been the model of consistency as a power hitter with 29 or more homeruns in each of the past three seasons. His teammate Chris Davis hit 53 homeruns in a breakout 2013 season for the Orioles, while his former teammate Nelson Cruz hit 40 homeruns for the Orioles in 2014. This type of power should have gotten the Baltimore Orioles some recognition outside of their home city, with baseball fans being starved of huge power performances with the game of baseball being cleaned up. Almost the opposite was true while Chris Davis was hitting homeruns throughout the summer of the 2013 season. The National coverage of the Orioles was minimal to the point where it was mostly just Baltimore fans who were able to enjoy this showing from the 2013 Major League homerun champion. Baseball players had continued to produce at an extraordinary rate, but somehow baseball fans were not getting to see the spectacular display.
No risk taken in choosing prime time baseball matchups
During recent baseball seasons, the Yankees and Red Sox have not played a weekend series against each other without having their Sunday matchup aired as ESPN's presentation of Sunday Night Baseball for that week. This is the safe pick for a big sports network because they are guaranteed the advertising revenue from the millions of viewers that watch from the New York and Boston fan bases, but baseball fans may be missing out on a late season race for the homerun title between two different players on teams from smaller cities. A homerun race between two sluggers like Chris Davis and Jose Bautista may get no attention at all while the big city teams may get undeserved attention. The Yankees have missed the playoffs for two straight seasons due to long stretches of bad baseball each of the past two years. The Red Sox have finished in last place in their division two of the past three seasons, but a championship sandwiched in between, does not mean they deserve all the prime time attention they have gotten in seasons where they were not contenders. The national television networks want to show compelling matchup between fierce rivals in baseball, but more rivalries have not been able to grow due to lack of exposure on the national stage.
So what will make Major League Baseball interesting in 2015?
ESPN is telling baseball fans that the return of Alex Rodriguez is what will make baseball interesting in 2015. The return of an aging performance enhancing drug user to a team that could miss the playoffs for a third straight season, is what will make baseball interesting in 2015? Probably not, but that is the safest and easiest way to see a profit when discussing baseball for a national audience. What will make baseball interesting in 2015 will be the dominant performances from the various young flame throwing starting pitchers that Major League Baseball now features. Baseball will be made interesting by a National League MVP race that features several different five tool players along with a player like Giancarlo Stanton who has the natural ability to produce 50 homeruns in any given season. Baseball will be interesting if the Padres, Mariners and Blue Jays are able to end their playoff droughts like the Kansas City Royals did in a big way last season. Baseball will be interesting if the fans get to see Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout elevate their games to another level as they look to join the MVP conversation for the fourth straight season. Baseball can only be interesting if all of these things are recognized in a way where the national television networks are able to re-bond the American public with the game of baseball by showing the fans what they want to see.
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