After striking out with fans last year – attendance dropped below 70 million for the first time since 2003 – baseball needs to rebound in 2019.
MLB’s players have a revolutionary idea that may help fix the game: try harder to win.
Last year, a number of clubs declined to spend big in free agency and, at least partially because of that, eight teams ended up with at least 95 losses last season, the most in league history. Fans don’t want to spend money to see tanking teams play ball, hence, the decline in attendance.
“The numbers are very telling, and I think it’s derived from the competitiveness of the individual teams,” Chris Iannetta, a veteran catcher for the Colorado Rockies, told The New York Times. “There’s teams that can become much more competitive just from tapping into the talent pool that’s available on the free-agent market right now, and not being willing to do that should be alarming to everybody.”
The primary reason teams tank is to get high draft picks while saying money, so players have proposed a system to owners that would incentivize winning.
Currently, the teams with the worst records get the best picks, regardless of revenue, previous record, etc. Under the new system, perennial losers would be given worse picks and low-revenue teams that win would be rewarded with better ones.
“One thing that’s going come up in the next few years is: ‘Oh, this is all about dollars and cents; this is all about players being greedy and wanting more,’ and that’s not the case,” Iannetta said. “We play a game our whole lives and we work our butts off, and we want to compete against the best – and when the best isn’t out there on the field, it doesn’t feel right.”