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Sunday, March 6, 2011
MLB is primed to make a comeback

By Joe Aiello

The 2010 NFL season was one of the best I can remember when it came to parity. Each week we saw upset after upset, and team after team go from being the unquestioned favorite to win the Super Bowl to in danger of missing the playoffs entirely. It was a tremendous season for what many would call the top sport in America. The NFL has been head and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to popularity, especially when it comes to their grand stage, the Super Bowl.

Spring training
Major League Baseball is enjoying labor peace while battles loom in other sports.
The 2010-2011 NBA season is turning into one of the better ones in a long time. The LeBron Watch and the huge offseason class of free agents got people, who would otherwise not pay attention to the NBA interested in where LeBron was going to take his talents. Recent big trades of names like Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony have people excited about the playoffs, which features 8-10 teams with a legit chance at winning the entire thing.

The 2010 MLB season, on the other hand, saw an overall decline in attendance compared to 2009. It was the lowest season of attendance since 2004. It was a season that featured a fairly lackluster World Series from a marketing standpoint, and yet, I’m excited to say that Major League Baseball is about to vault itself into the No. 1 spot again as the national pastime.

How can I be so sure? With the NFL and NBA both set to go through bitter labor negotiations, for once MLB appears to be the league that has it figured out heading into the last season of its own collective bargaining agreement. We hear no mention of an impending impasse or imminent work stoppage, and that’s a refreshing feeling. Remember what baseball experienced the year after the strike? It took some time for the fans to come back. We’ve seen what it’s done to hockey. For the NBA, this would be yet another work stoppage since 1998. MLB is clearly in a nice position compared to the other two major sport leagues.

Not only does MLB appear to be a step ahead of the other leagues when it comes to negotiations, but it has far and away a better media product on the market for the average fan to use to stay in touch with their favorite team. What other league has a way for someone to watch all the games live on their computer for such a small price? None that I know of. You can even watch Minor League Baseball on your computer if you can’t get enough of the big league product. It’s amazing.

It might not be this year, and it might not be next year, but the winds of change are beginning to blow. If Major League Baseball can keep from shooting itself in the foot, there’s good things coming. Baseball is about to be back.

Joe Aiello writes for The View From the Bleachers blog, which is part of the SweetSpot network.