Another excellent post. Nicely done!!Originally Posted by thaaTrue, but not true enough.
I would add that these social changes ("these days," "on demand," "short attention span") point to social deficiencies, aspects of cultural decline that ought not to be encouraged or imitated.
I remember the NFL's rise to popularity in the late 1950s / early 1960s. Before that, "pro football" was for obsessives not burned out by Saturday's college games. The NFL represented in those days some element of celebratory violence--"red dogging," "blitzing," etc.--that spoke to something in a newly-forming segment of the American national temperament that has now become, over generational time, dominant.
It got connected, too, with some sort of corporational ethos (businessmen who enjoyed thinking that they, too, "red dogged" their opponents?).
Baseball, a more pastoral kind of game, more temporally relaxed, no longer was at the heart of America's spirit life. With each decade, things got worse for it. Television covered the whole football field better than it did the whole baseball field. Baseball had no one at its helm comparable to Pete Rozelle, who seemed to have sprung (fully armed) from that new social class that was promoting FB, and that was slightly more in love with (the sight of) violence and fast pace than earlier generations of Americans.
To adapt--or attempt to adapt (who knows whether it's even possible?)--baseball to this new society is to risk vulgarizing it (cultural slumming). Hell, people bring their wretched cell phones even to baseball games, rather than taking the game's pastoral setting as the excuse pastoral has always offered to get away from the day-to-day world. (You can see them texting away or calling away if you have HD and watch the guys in expensive seats at Yankee games. It gives me nausea.)
In any case, as other posters have noted, baseball is not doing badly at all. FB's is a compressed season that intensifies interest, whereas baseball's is an extended, day in-day-out season (rising in the Spring, dying in mid-autumn), that permits interest to wax and wane, even in serious fans.
If I were baseball--given its reasonably sturdy financial basis (it ain't hockey!)--I would ride out the storm. Nothing is forever, Carmella once told Tony Soprano. Not even cultural styles, not even general cohorts. Or: this too may pass, and the culture may come back to the baseball that is in its very bones.