Where is collecting without baseball fans?

If I’m in my office alone, then the computer is streaming the audio feed for ESPN. One of my favorite (and least favorite) hosts is Colin Cowherd. Cowherd is a bit full of himself, but he is a legitimately sharp guy. While I might not always agree with him, he’s right an awful lot of the time and has some excellent ideas.

Cowherd is a huge NFL fan, and he really doesn’t make much time for baseball. I admit, the NFL puts out a great product. The weekly game schedule gives the perfect amount of time for buildup and then digestion of the game. Also, every game is important during the regular season. You can’t say the same thing for baseball. Is baseball so bad? No, but it’s not as well suited to the marketing machine of ESPN.

Cowherd loves to talk ratings. Apparently the All-Star game had a lower rating than the Pro Bowl this year. That is shocking. Baseball’s All-Star game is easily the best of all the big all-star exhibition games in sports. The Pro Bowl is a joke. Not even the players want to play. Apparently attendance is also down for most MLB teams this year. Baseball has problems. It’s had problems for a while and they are well publicized. Juiced athletes, imbalanced teams, diluted product, etc.

I don’t have any data, but I’ve heard anecdotal comments about the best high school athletes going into basketball and football over baseball. Kids don’t play baseball these days. They are fans of other sports. If kids aren’t fans of baseball, they’re not going to collect cards.

I was at a show a couple weekends ago. There were barely any kids there. Look at cards these days. They aren’t designed for kids. Now there is only one baseball card company left – Topps. I don’t think that Topps is going anywhere soon, but the hobby does not seem too healthy. Historically, Topps hasn’t been the most creative company.

What will collecting look like in 10 years? I see a lot more people leaving baseball card collecting than entering it.


3 responses to “Where is collecting without baseball fans?

  1. john bateman

    I am not to sure about that – I think in 2010 you have seen a resurgence of Baseball Card Collecting – it was a confluence of Topps simplyfing the marketplace and Steven Strasberg (though over hyped) – 2010 Bowman is gone from the shelves at all the stores that I have visited – I have not seen something like that in 23 years when everyone was buying up 1987 Fleer.

    Kids are not going to buy triple threads but if Topps can keep prices down they will still collect.

    As for ratings every show in February gets better ratings than shows in July. It is the weather.

    Also, there has been a resurgence of rookie players this year as this seems to be the best rookie class since 1986. Rookies rule the sport (for collecting)

  2. Football is a made-for-TV sport. It’s once a week. It’s when the weather gets lousy. It’s hyped to high heaven. People get sucked in.

    Personally, I can’t stand the atrocious number of commercial breaks and I’ve watched less and less of it. Give me a baseball game.

    In terms of the actual sports, there’s no difference. Both baseball and football have problems. I’d wager football has more of them, but people seem to ignore it or laugh it off in football for some reason.

    I do see less kids collecting, but at the shows I go to there are always kids there getting cards.

    • Sure football has problems too. Some think they have a lockout on the horizon. Still, baseball cards face a lot more competition for the attention of kids these days – video games, phones, other sports. Furthermore, the farm system for the NFL and NBA (NCAA football and hoops) is far more visible than MLB (minor league teams). The NFL and NBA get lots of free publicity for its players-to-be that MLB just can’t match. Sports and media are driven more by individuals (stars) than the team. Very few teams in any sport have a strong identity beyond their biggest stars.

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