Monday, September 26, 2016

More on Baseball

Baseball, once firmly entrenched as the national pastime, has lost its place in the American conversation.  Sports radio is dominated by football talk, and the occasional discussion about baseball occurs seemingly less often every year.  National television ratings remain marginal, with the World Series losing ground to Netflix original series.  In many ways, the tale of baseball has numerous similarities to the tale of Rochester.  And, of course, the simple story of decline is at best misleading and at worst completely inaccurate.  Here are a few parallels:

  • Baseball, it could be argued, had its heyday in the 1950's and 1960's.  The city of Rochester peaked in population at about 332,000 in 1950.
  • Baseball, in its heyday, boasted names such as Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax. Today, names like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Clayton Kershaw don't have the same ring, which is not to say that they are not great players.  Rochester once had an impressive lineup of iconic companies, namely Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb.  Today's anchors include the University of Rochester, Wegmans, and Paychex - while they may not carry the same weight, they are powerhouses in their own way.  (Not to mention that the iconic companies are still around.)
  • Baseball, as it stands today, is not a flashy sport.  Rochester is known much more for intelligence, hard work, and grit than glitz and glamour.
  • Baseball has a tendency to glorify its past, much in the same way that is seen in Rochester.  Interestingly, the glory days were not always so glorious.  As an example, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, Yankee Stadium was more than half empty.  Similarly, it's hard to imagine that Rochester's history was as utopian as remembered.
  • Baseball has been accused of being slow to adopt 21st century technologic advances.  Rochester's risk aversion can be viewed as a similar handicap, leaving Rochesterians with amenities that don't quite match the quality of the residents.
  • Baseball, largely due to regional television contracts, has moved from a sport of national prominence to a sport of regional prominence.  Rochester, while not a household name across the country, undoubtedly remains a critical presence in Upstate New York.
  • Baseball has lost ground to football, an immensely entertaining yet rather brutal sport, one that may not stand the test of time.  Rochester has lost residents to the sunnier and apparently trendier Southwest.  Yet this same region may have difficulty reconciling population growth with water scarcity.
  • For all the discussions about baseball's decline, many facts point to a baseball that is stronger than ever.  Ratings on local television broadcasts are extremely strong, revenues are at all-time highs, and paid attendance in 2015 was the seventh-highest ever.  And as much as certain residents want to talk of Rochester's decline, the metro area's population is larger than it has ever been, the millennial growth rate is among the highest in the country, and downtown's population is booming

1 comment:

  1. i read your blog and it quite informative. i didnt knew so much facts and details abour baseball. keep posting such kind of articles to increase our knowledge.