Opening day in baseball used to be stupendous occasion for years. In 2016, it’s not what it used to be. It’s now split into three days, and even with multiple interleague games scheduled, it doesn’t draw enough interest from people and the crowds in the stadiums aren’t filled to the brim like they were in the past. Baseball just isn’t a big deal anymore and it’s kind of sad.
I remember hearing about how kids took days off of school and opening day was like a national holiday. Now with baseball being more of a regional passion, rather than a national one, opening day doesn’t have the same luster it did even ten years ago.
Opening day is of course a big thing to hardcore baseball fans, but for those who aren’t big fans, it’s simply not a big deal. When football has its first day, everyone knows and a huge amount of people are watching and paying attention. Is that because it’s on basic cable? Or maybe fantasy football drives the popularity? It might even be because it’s on a Sunday in the fall when nothing much is going on.
Baseball is a regional sport and is beginning to be swallowed up by cable companies. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have billion dollar TV deals, Fox Sports owns the broadcasting rights to more than half the teams in baseball and more and more teams are getting their own channels.
Opening day to me is awesome, but even for someone who loves baseball, it’s not a big deal. If we still had all 30 teams playing on Sunday or Monday that would be ideal. It would be great to not have six teams play one day, 22 the next and 24 the next day. It starts to get confusing for some people and it doesn’t let every fan enjoy their team debuting at the same time. Why not keep things simple?
Baseball is no longer our national pastime. By ratings, it’s not even in the top three most watched sports behind the NFL, NBA and college football. Less kids are playing it and less kids are growing up loving it and I think it’s a big reason why opening day isn’t that big of a deal anymore.
The crack of the bat, the smell of the fresh cut grass, the feel of the leather glove and the taste of a hot dog are being less appreciated. Opening day isn’t the pseudo-holiday that it used to be. Baseball is as popular as ever, it’s just not an important fixture in American homes like it was 20 years ago.