Major League Baseball has been doing everything it can think of over the past several years to make the game more appealing to younger viewers. Rule changes designed to cut down on playing time have been inconsistent, as games last year still averaged over three hours. But nonetheless the league is trying to change, which makes the recent report that attendance is down a little more concerning. According to the USA Today, average attendance at games this year leading into Memorial Day Weekend was down six percent when compared to the same time-frame in 2017.
Now, as the commissioner Manfred points out in the piece, weather has certainly been a factor, with 35 games postponed already this year, while another 35 were played with game temps below 40 at first pitch. However, the piece argues, there is one other variable that should be considered. The competitiveness of the team in question.
“Among the teams experiencing drops in home average attendance compared with the day before the holiday weekend last year were Miami (21,641 to 10,603), Toronto (36,869 to 27,707), Baltimore (27,992 to 19,404), Detroit (27,699 to 19,837), Pittsburgh (23,727 to 16,497), Kansas City (26,154 to 19,757), the Chicago White Sox (20,864 to 15,987), Texas (31,940 to 27,198), Cincinnati (21,681 to 17,848) and Cleveland (20,780 to 17,630).”
Of those teams, only the Indians are really expected to compete for a title this year, while the Blue Jays and Pirates could sneak into a Wild Card spot. Every one of the other teams is considered to be in the midst of a rebuilding process, most of which are in the beginning stages. If the trend of attendance continues the way that it has been, MLB would set its lowest average attendance mark in 15 years.
One other trend that has continued in a negative direction for the league is the continued rise of strikeouts. In April, there were more strikeouts than hits (6,656 to 6,360), and May is tracking on the same curve (5,882 to 5,742). While strikeouts are up, home runs, according to the piece, are down from the same point last season. For more on this and other big stories of the week in MLB, check out the video above.