“Will Big League Baseball Survive? Globalization, the End of Television, Youth Sports and the Future of Major League Baseball” by Lincoln A. Mitchell.
Baseball, history, business
December 12, 2016
4 of 5 stars (Very Good)
It has been said that as much has been written about the future extinction of baseball as there has been about the game itself. That was what I thought this book was going to be about from this title. However, that is not the case as Lincoln A. Mitchell delivers a volume that is as much about why the Major Leagues are where they are at today and the directions they may take in the future.
Nearly every reason given that baseball is a dying sport, from lower television ratings to the aging of its fan base, is explained in the book and while the facts are not refuted, there are explanations of why this is happening and how baseball can offset that trend. Indeed, Mitchell praises many initiatives taken by baseball, including how well the sport has used technology to market and expand its product. Also, the globalization of the game is well-covered, not only on the native country of players, but also how the game is being introduced to nations in which it has never been played before. This has all come when the game’s leaders such as former commissioner Bud Selig has repeatedly pointed out how well the game’s economic health has stayed with high attendance and merchandise sales figures.
That doesn’t mean Mitchell only paints a rosy picture of the game. The scandals on performance enhancing drugs and the subsequent slow reaction by officials is the subject of substantial criticism. While the game does have a diverse player population, the same cannot be said of the fans, which are mainly American and white. A topic rarely discussed in baseball, gender discrimination, is addressed in a convincing manner. Also addressed is income inequality, something that is surprisingly wide just among the fan base. For a long time, the game was sold as affordable family entertainment because the tickets were inexpensive, but Mitchell shows that just is not the case any longer.
The book’s title is answered in the affirmative, with several situations analyzed and some intriguing possible scenarios, such as expansion to include teams in the Far East and the Caribbean. None of them are far fetches and Mitchell uses sound logic and research to make his points here as he does throughout the book. While at times it reads as a scholarly work instead of a book for pleasure (and that may very well be the case), it is one that baseball fans will enjoy as it addresses a question as old as the game itself in a very different light.
I wish to thank Temple University Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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