Since a month or so, MLB is under attack due to the way it handles the Astros sign-stealing scandal. But the way it is treating fans may even lead more to a declining interest in Major League Baseball.
What’s the case? Well, first of all the Oakland Athletics have canceled their on air radio station. The only way you can listen to radio broadcasts in Oakland is through a streaming app. So when you cannot watch a game and aren’t able to attend it in the ballpark, listening to the radio would be a nice option. But now that is something of the past. Strange enough, A’s fans in Sacramento, about 90 miles north of Oakland still can listen to A’s games through the good old radio.
Why did the Athletics decide to use a streaming app instead of old fashioned radio? You may guess it: money. It is about the same reason why MLB sold the exclusive rights to broadcast games on Facebook, even though less fans would watch. As a matter of fact, MLB teams took money to prevent games from being seen on local TV about thirty-two times in the past two seasons.
MLB’s greed is getting out of of control. In the past, commissioners did what was good for baseball. But the last one who did so, Fay Vincent, was ousted by the owners in 1992 and was replaced by a certain Bud Selig. We all know what followed. Selig’s successor is even worse.
But this isn’t the only thing fans get irked by. Due to safety measures, netting has been expanded in MLB parks. As a result it has gotten harder to get an autograph from your favorite players. To give fans the opportunity to get an autograph from their heroes, several clubs came up with the idea of fan fests. Next to Spring Training, this was about the only possibility for fans to approach the players and get some personal items signed.
But of course the greed of the owners screwed this up as well. A growing number of teams have restrictive autograph policies. This means that fans can only get an autograph if they acquire certain items that can be signed by teams. Due to the large number of fans trying to get an autograph the items that can be signed by players are limited to posters or balls with the club logo for which fans must pay amounts varying from $25 – $75.
As they act as autograph brokers, teams squeeze another bit of money out of the fans’ pockets. This resulted in many fans walking away at the recent Mets’ fan fest.
As long as fans are willing to pay vast amounts for drinks, food in the ballpark and for signature sessions during fan fests, the owners will continue to squeeze fans. The bond between a kid, that has gotten an autograph, and players will disappear in this way. As a result, kids will turn to other sports. Unfortunately, owners are too blinded by their own greed to see this.
Sources: Forbes Magazine and the New York Post