Posted by The Player’s Tribune on Friday:
… there is an NFL stadium right next door to the baseball stadium. That’s right, in Charlotte, NC, the Charlotte Knights’ stadium is literally next door to an NFL stadium. Not in the next town over, not on the other side of town, not even a block or two away. Right next door.
Charlotte is home to over 800,000 residents, and the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC combined statistical area has a population of 2.5 million. That’s a lot of people who need to be entertained. A visit to BB&T Ballpark suggests that keeping those folks entertained was all part of the plan.
Previously, the Charlotte Knights played in Fort Mill, just down the road in South Carolina. However, that stadium’s location was blamed for the team’s poor attendance and after years of planning and negotiation, the team moved to downtown (actually known as Uptown) Charlotte in 2014. In fact, between the last season in Fort Mill and their first season in Charlotte, attendance more than doubled. In 2016, the Knights had the largest average attendance in Minor League Baseball, averaging 8,974 fans per game.
Perhaps it really is all about location!
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.
I have a few heroes outside of baseball, and Mary Tyler Moore was one of them. She inspired women, journalists, and pretty much everyone (including Oprah) to follow their dreams. But this is a blog about baseball, right?
Soon after her death on January 25th, the Minnesota Twins posted a video of Moore’s 2002 appearance at the Metrodome. She did a pretty decent job of throwing out that first pitch:
Ok, so that may be the only connection between baseball and MTM, but it got me thinking of how much both baseball and The Mary Tyler Moore show are ingrained in our culture. In fact, some time ago, when Freddy Garcia was still with the Mariners, there was a Mary Tyler Moore-esque Mariners promo featuring Garcia:
Mary Tyler Moore will live on in our hearts and in our baseball memories of her. We’re gonna make it after all.
President Barack Obama has been doing a lot of baseball-related things this week. On Monday, he hung out with the Chicago Cubs at the White House. On Tuesday, he pardoned Willie McCovey, who had been sentenced to two years probation in 1995.
He probably won’t have time for any other baseball activities in his last few hours as President. So, I thought I’d just reflect on his baseball highlights from the last 8 years, including that time he hung out with the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents:
- May 15: Welcomes 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies to the White House
- July 14: Attends his first game as President, throwing out the first pitch of the MLB All Star game in St. Louis; accompanied by Willie Mays on Air Force One
- February 8: Greets the 2009 Little League World Series Champions, the Park View All-Stars from Chula Vista, CA
- April 5: Throws out first pitch at Washington Nationals home opener
- April 26: Welcomes 2009 World Series champion New York Yankees to the White House
- June 18: Attends White Sox v. Nationals game in DC. White Sox win
- August 14: Obama honors collegiate champions in several sports, including College World Series Champions, University of South Carolina
- July 25: Honors 2010 World Series winners, San Francisco Giants at the White House
- November 30: Meets with Dutch Prime Minister, who gives him a baseball jersey of the Dutch National Team, which won the Baseball World Cup the previous month
- January 17: Hosts 2011 World Series Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, at the White House
- August 3: Signs the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act into law
- August 10: Announces selections for Presidential Delegation to attend the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, which includes former MLB player and Gallaudet University baseball head coach, Curtis Pride
- July 29: Welcomes 2012 World Series winners, the San Francisco Giants, to the White House
- August 4: Honors former Negro Leaguers at the White House, including Minnie Minoso, Pedro Sierra, and Ron Teasley
- November 20: Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ernie Banks
- April 1: Welcomes the Boston Red Sox, 2013 World Series winners, to the White House
- May 20: Makes surprise visit at Little League game in Washington, DC; throws first pitch
- May 22: Visits the Cooperstown, NY, and the Baseball Hall of Fame to make a speech about tourism; donates the jacket he wore when he threw out his first 1st pitch in 2009
- November 22: Plays golf in Las Vegas with Dereck Jeter on an off day
- May 18: Gets his own Twitter account, follows the White Sox and other Chicago sports teams (but apparently not the Cubs)
- June 5: Hosts 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants at the White House
- June 11: Attends annual Congressional Baseball Game
- November 24: Bestows the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Yogi Berra and Willie Mays
- March 22: Attends a Tampa Bay Rays game. With Raul Castro. In Cuba.
- June 20: Interviewed by Derek Jeter for The Players’ Tribune
- July 20: Welcomes 2015 World Series winners, Kansas City Royals, to the White House
- November 22: Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vin Scully
Thank you, President Obama. Now that you’ll have a little more free time, let’s catch a ballgame together!