Competition is as fierce as it has ever been in Major League Baseball. Nearly every single team is vying to be the best at something in the game.
While two-thirds of the teams in baseball are trying to be the best at winning, the other third of the league are attempting to be the best at losing. The top team at that in 2019 was the Detroit Tigers. There were a record number of 100-win teams and a record number of 100-loss teams.
Additionally, for the sixth time in seven seasons, baseball saw attendance fall. Attendance dropped four percent in 2018 and two more percent this season. The 2019 campaign saw the lowest attendance total since 2003.
At the same time, national television ratings were up. TBS reported around a 10-percent increase, while Fox was around eight percent and ESPN around two percent. How is this possible?
Well, the four teams with the biggest drops in overall attendance came from the Blue Jays, Mariners, Giants, and Tigers. These teams combined to go 129 games under .500. The tanking Orioles dropped over a quarter million. The amazing thing is that the Marlins actually had an attendance increase…by 198 people. The Marlins were the only 100-loss team that did not see a drop. The Padres, remarkably one of the biggest jumps, and the Pirates were the only other two 90-loss teams with a gain. Overall, the season saw more than a million fewer attendees.
The reason that national television ratings were up is because they simply do not air the really bad teams…mostly because nobody wants to watch them. Hence, the overall drop in attendance. If you remove even half of the drops from the four biggest falls, baseball sees just a miniscule drop in attendance. Remove half of the Orioles’, at sixth from the bottom, and the game sees a growth.
There is a lot made of baseball seeing another drop in attendance. It is simple: fans don’t want to watch teams actively trying to lose. It is disgraceful and they are taking a stand.
There were some front runners who saw drops. The Astros and Yankees still drew over three million people, but saw a drop. The generally top-drawing Rockies, while a poor team, fell just short of three million and reported the same.
The biggest increases were the Phillies with over a half-million more and the Twins at just short of 335,000 in the plus column. While it didn’t work out in the end, the Phillies did spend and made a run at it.
We’ve all known that Major League Baseball has a competitive issue. Teams have to try harder to tank for the worst record. The real loser here are fans of those team. Nobody wants to go to the park and see their team lose over 70 percent of the time like Detroit or 66 percent of the time like the Orioles.