It’s time to acknowledge that MLB games will feel a little different this year. A few days ago the Bleacher Report summarized the MLB rule changes that went into effect for this season. From a sociological perspective, social change is always occurring even if its hard individuals to adapt to change.
Sociologists argue that change can be evolutionary, the product of conflict or competition, or necessary to maintain social equilibrium. So we must ask: what social forces have caused baseball to change, are such changes necessary, and how will they impact society?
On Opening Day, an editorial in the Inland Valley Bulletin (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) noted, “Baseball should remember that long games are a good problem. If fans are frustrated that they can’t stay up late enough to watch the end, it’s because the end is worth seeing.” A fan’s letter to the editor in response to that editorial added, “If losing Vin Scully from my days of summer weren’t bad enough, now I must deal with rule changes that address the false narrative that true, honest, real baseball fans have a short attention span.”
The New York Post attempted to explain “Why baseball is going up a game that’s booming.” One reason, according to the article, is to lure that elusive younger demographic.
Baseball is part of the larger society undergoing demographic change. Is that reason enough to change the institution of baseball? We’ll have to keep observing to determine the impact of MLB’s rule changes.