Attendance is down. All-Star ratings are at an all-time low. A regular season in which four of the six divisions are within three games of one another is being overshadowed by “The Decision.”

People can blame the overall apathy among the casual fan on the fact that we are in the post-steroid era, but that is just putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. No-hitters and perfect games have become as common as grand slams. Although special, they are quickly becoming ho-hum in the eyes of the media.

The problem has become much bigger than baseball is willing to admit, and it’s time for the powers that be in MLB to realize that they are no longer the number two sport in America. 

Since the NBA is now relevant in major cities such as L.A., Boston, Miami, and New York (especially if Chris Paul is traded there) it will continue to dominate the headlines and thus, the discretionary income—in a tight economy—of the casual fan.

On the recent Harris poll conducted last month, only Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees was voted as one of America’s favorite athletes from MLB. As much as America likes winners, most of the poll reflected that people love personalities as well.

That said, the general consensus is that watching a baseball game is akin to spending a Saturday at Grandma’s: old, slow, and downright boring. It’s even worse in the African-American population, since only eight percent of players on a major league roster are black.

Think about this: Matt Kemp, a talented outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, plays in the number two TV market in America. If this were the NBA, kids would be sporting his jersey all over the place, yet he is a virtual unknown outside of highlights on MLB Network.

There was a recent article here on Bleacher Report about the need to promote more personalities, but I’ll take it one step further. Baseball needs to promote its stars way more than the teams themselves. 

Time to take a page out of the NBA’s playbook and advertise guys like Albert Pujols, who has continued to put up monster statistics with no trace of steroids, instead of just the St. Louis Cardinals.

Think about this: When Jason Heyward hit a home run in his first major league at-bat for the Atlanta Braves, a lot of people in Atlanta were saying how he could make baseball “cool” again for black people to participate in. 

Guys like Prince Fielder, who can knock the ball out of the stadium, to players like Stephen Strasburg, who has sold out every game he has pitched in for the lowly Washington Nationals. These are the kinds of stars that MLB needs to promote to the mainstream and stop marketing to satisfy the George Wills of the world. 

Baseball will always have guys like Vinny from the Bronx and Danny from Boston going to its games, but what about marketing to Rey-Rey and Jo-Jo from Compton?

Baseball should begin to embrace the hip hop culture of today by promoting those that have larger than life personalities. America is attracted to that, home runs or not. 

MLB needs to stop living in the 1960’s and begin to realize that time, and fans, are passing it by. Embrace the individual first, and you may see the ratings change in no time.

Who knows, maybe that third string QB or backup PG could be the next Willie Mays.  

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