Baseball Fans Only Watch 40 Of The Game

Friday, December 20, 2019 3:38:07 PM

That's slightly up from last year's Game 1, but was the least-watched Fall Classic of all baseball fans only watch 40 of the game. It's been a steady downward trend for the World Series over the least 35 years or sofrom a time when the majority of Americans would tune in. To put it in context, Keith Olberman has a theory. In his essay that night, Olbermann contrasted the usual explanation—the general fracturing of viewership thanks to the rise of cable—with the NFL's national strategy.

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Freshly removed from watching the Phils' first series against the New York Mets, I spent a few minutes talking baseball with a good friend from New Jersey, the resident Mets fan among my long-distance college buddies.

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He also roots for the Steelers and the 76ers, so it's a wonder we still converse at all. But in between the usual chitchat about Gabe Kapler's analytics, Matt Harvey's health and the outlook on two NL East foes, there arose some deeper curiosities.

There, in a conversation fueled by the excitement of the start of a new season, came questions about how long said excitement would last. Because, unlike, say, in the fall, when your favorite football team is only around for 20 meaningful games at the most, baseball season arrives like the refreshing blossoms of spring but can fizzle out of interest -- or at least struggle to maintain yours -- over the long haul of outings.

Illustration by Cody Benjamin Even if, somehow, every MLB game was only two and a half hours and every NFL game was three hours, we're looking at a hour difference in regular-season commitment.

Our questions about the excitement of the season weren't so much centered on a disinterest in the game or particular teams as they were an interest in knowing how often -- and how much -- we each planned to dedicate to certain teams in They were genuine inquiries about what it means to be an MLB fan.

Now, in a world where sports are increasingly consumed in on-demand fashion and attention spans are ever so fleeting, I pose those questions to you -- not with any serious intention of finding the "right" answers but rather of carrying on the conversation: How many of an MLB team 's games, if any, do you think you need to watch to be considered a "true" fan?

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Debating who is and isn't a "true" fan is even sillier than being a fan and debating games that are played by people other than ourselves. Perhaps more than anything, it raises a better, overarching question How would you define "watching" a game?

Seeing every inning? Keeping the game on in the background of other activities? And for good measure, what about listening to parts of the game on the radio? Or following updates on CBSSports. This is where the truth comes out.

Or does it? It's far easier to say you've watched of your favorite team's games when "watching" constitutes eight to 10 glances at the TV in between video games on another screen, or when "watching" means catching an inning over your lunch break.

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Let's be real: Most MLB fans probably watch less baseball than they're willing to admit -- unless, of course, they are either 1. At least anonymously, the consensus on what it means to "watch," via opinions I gathered from about a dozen colleagues, friends and fans, is rather lenient in that most seem OK with defining "watching" as "loosely following.

Personally, I'd divvy up "watching" into two categories: 1.

Intently watching at least a majority of the game, and 2. Following in the background. Seeing or listening to every inning would obviously fall into the first, whereas just about anything secondary -- occasionally checking the game or using an online tracker -- would fall into the second.

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The beauty of baseball's long season, though, is that even second-category "watching" shouldn't really be held against you. This is never more apparent than when attending a MLB game in person.

Whereas a trip to an NFL game is or should be mostly about the game, a trip to a MLB game can be an event -- a gigantic picnic, of sorts. That's not to say every pitch isn't important, but the pressure isn't as magnificent knowing there are other games to be played and oh, hey, let's get some peanuts and ice cream!

On average, how many of your favorite MLB team's games do you watch each season?

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This comes back to how you define "watching. CBS Sports' Kevin Skiver, for example, said he isn't ashamed to admit that his game intake depends on the year. If you want me to average it out?

I'll watch games, and that's in a good year. In years like this? Will probably be between But I'll have most of them on as background noise without actively watching. Here, again, is where baseball's long season benefits the fan -- or where baseball fans could be defined differently.

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Going back to the Tigers example, if, say, Kevin were also a Lions fan and the Lions were awful, there might be added pressure to watch them regardless of their woes because the Lions only play 16 times a year, whereas an awful Tigers team would take its games and say, "If I go, we all go.

And it's this question that drew the most disparity in opinions I received. Illustration by Cody Benjamin Our good old Mets fan, the one who initiated this discussion, said he shoots to watch half of New York's games in full, meaning an split between intently watching and watching secondarily.

If the Tigers were good, Kevin said he'd aim to watch games in their entirety.

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Others fell closer to that range, admitting they'd have time for something like games in full. One person, albeit a college student with presumably more spare time, said they estimate seeing as many as games from start to finish.

Snyder has them all beat, admitting that he watches "as close to every inning as is humanly possible" and that, "when the dust settles," he has about games in the bag.

That, however, is at least in part because, well, it's his job. Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.

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