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Save The Game, Initiative for Growing Baseball in Viewership + Youth Participation

Image Credit: Save The Game

New York- Major League Baseball has struggled in overall viewership as well as audience growth compared to leagues such as the NFL and NBA. Most importantly, youth participation in baseball is at a surreal low compared to basketball and football. So we wonder, why are people watching baseball less? Why is youth participation in baseball in decline? Save The Game is here to answer those questions. The initiative called Save The Game is a movement designed to increase the pace of baseball and encourage greater youth participation.

Stated on the Save the Game website: “Save the GameTM led by former MLB Star Jeff Frye, Kevin Gallagher and Pat Geoghegan, is a national movement designed to bring about change in MLB. The game has changed and lost its entertainment value with its reliance on the power swing that results in less action between home runs. Our youth are not engaged with MLB. Together we can Save the Game™ and grow the game for our Youth and Baseball!”

Learn about Save The Game and Join the Movement: Getting the Average Fan Involved 

LINK TO SAVE THE GAME WEBSITE – https://savethegameus.com 

Image Credit: Save The Game

Save The Game displays several trends and statistics into exactly why baseball, in other words “America’s Pastime’ has steadily declined in various ways. For example: the 2003 World Series between the New York Yankees and Florida Marlins totaled an overall viewership of 25.4 million. Now, let’s look into last year’s World Series between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. The 2021 World Series ultimately resulted in 11.7 million. This trend is alarming to say the least. 

Yet, another and a more important statistic to realize is youth participation in baseball is on the decline. Since 2008, children from the ages 6 – 12 in the United States have decreased their play in the sport by a whopping 26.1% reduction. Save The Game projects that from 2021-2033, an additional 18.6% reduction will take place. Major League Baseball must come to terms that Save The Game is an initiative that deserves global publicity and awareness. 

MLB has shifted their approach to the power swing, or in other words, lift swing since the league believes it makes the best entertainment for the viewer. Power swings create a launch ball angle which translates into exciting home runs. At the same time, this approach leads to several batting declines in statistics. Analytics have played a major role in this progression due to the fact that a lot of research backs the data up. 

I agree home runs are exhilarating moments, the crowd noise, the trot around the bases, all of it is great for the sport. However, these home run moments only last 30 seconds at most. Based on statistics, there were approximately 2.46 home runs hit on average per game during the 2021 MLB regular season. Baseball games are generally at a 3-4 hour pace of play. So the question becomes, what is going on in the time between the home run ball? The major component of excitement in baseball is the long ball, home runs. Other than that, what is going on during the other plays? Ground balls, fly balls, plays on bases, pitching dynamics, and much more. In this day of age, batters are swinging as hard as they can and striking out at a supreme high. This makes for no action or entertainment for the viewer.

The hit rallies in baseball are what makes our game so entertaining. The ball being put in play on a consistent basis, the anticipation, the unpredictability factor is when baseball becomes top tier entertainment. Fans are up on their feet chanting for 5+ minutes during these situations. Rallies make our game fun. Viewers at home watching on television are hyped, yelling “come on” during each pitch. These moments grow MLBs audience level by making customers feel the need to want to come back to the ballpark or tune in to watch the next game on television. 

Baseball has Changed, Help Us Save The Game 

Join Save The Game in collecting 1 million signatures in hopes of advancing the sport we all love and embrace. Stated in the petition “We currently have dozens of current and former MLB Players, Coaches, GM’s, Executives, Scouts, Nationally Syndicated Journalists, Radio and TV personalities supporting the movement. We have hundreds more we are working with to support the movement, but we need you, the average American baseball fan, to make this happen.” Save The Game and I believe Major League Baseball is the lead factor into the reduction of action and entertainment for viewers. 

LINK TO PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/baseball-has-changed-help-us-save-the-game 

Book: Teach Your Kid to Hit, so They Don’t Quit – Author Kevin Gallagher

Image Credit: Amazon/Twitter

In the book, Teach Your Kid to Hit, so They Don’t Quit, author Kevin Gallagher provides a well-detailed analysis into how you can teach your child how to hit and more importantly, enjoy playing baseball. When it comes to hitting and making consistent contact, “Master of Top Hand Hitting” Gallagher tells it, as it is, by teaching parents key lessons to help their child advance their baseball skills. He goes into depth on the aspects parents must take into account when their child struggles in the game. You know the moments I’m referring to, watching your kid consistently strike out or make errors on the field. These harsh, draining moments are miserable to endure for any parent. 

Hitting a baseball is one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports. The mental strain and embarrassment players tend to feel during strikeouts while walking back to the dugout in front of parents, family, friends, etc. These spans are painful on players emotionally and mentally. 

Gallagher shows you the ropes on Top Hand Hitting. Defined as “a swing that will have your bat on the same level as the pitched ball for a longer period of time, increasing the odds that the bat will make contact with the ball” (Gallagher, pg 46). Top hand hitting creates several points of contact within the bat path to the incoming pitch. In the book, Gallagher does a phenomenal job on the following: how making contact with a baseball makes sense to you; how you can teach the method to your child, and, most importantly, what the child learns from the lessons in hopes that it advances their skillset. The book “was the genesis of the Save The Game movement” stated contributor, John Cirillo. 

Below is a link to Hitting Simple, Website started by Kevin Gallagher to instruct hitting and spread awareness on the state of the game, Save the Game and more.

LINK TO HITTING SIMPLE: https://hittingsimple.com 

To add to the extraordinary work within the book, Gallagher provides an instructional video of the “Eight-Step Process” as talked about in Teach Your Kid to Hit, so They Don’t Quit.

I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Gallagher to talk about his well-regarded book, Teach Your Kid to Hit, so They Don’t Quit. In the interview, Gallagher explains the initiative Save The Game, the concepts of hitting as well as where MLB stands compared to leagues such as NBA, NFL, Soccer etc. Below are a few quotes from my discussion with Gallagher. 

Quotes from Interview with author, Kevin Gallagher

Purpose of the book: “It’s pretty basic and the fundamentals of the book are to get the kids to hit the ball and have fun and to stay with the game. It’s a children’s book, but it’s written to the parent. The parent has an opportunity to read it and learn a process that will take them, as the book says, to helping his/her kid or coaching his/her kid to teaching his/her kid. A process that the kid will understand.  

Thoughts on the Book: “I didn’t write the book to design a kid to be a professional baseball player, although he can if he uses it. I want the kid to be the happiest kid on the field. Hit the ball, run to first, get dirty, high-five your friends, talk about it in school tomorrow, and then want to come back and play baseball. And what that does is it creates a customer for Major League Baseball for life.” 

Thoughts on Youth Participation in Baseball: “Hitting a baseball is one of the most difficult things. But a lot of these kids will go on to be great athletes in other sports. Every time you move up a layer in baseball, the game speeds up…. As the game speeds up and the ball comes in faster, the style doesn’t work. Most parents don’t know how to teach them (kids); they throw the ball and hope the kid hits it and gives them some advice, but it really doesn’t help. And so kids drop off and what happens is Major League Baseball loses a fan or customer.” 

Top Hand Hitting: “This top hand hitting process, I didn’t invent that right, that’s been around for a hundred years. What I invented or put together was a process that clearly explained it in written word, illustration and video on each step. So the parent, no matter who they are, whether they played the game or not, can take a look at that and within 45 minutes understand it and convey it to their child.”

Power Swing, Depending on Home Runs: “The owners that are convinced by the analytics department that that swing is a more valuable swing. Cause you can get two walks, one swing (home run), you got 3 runs and they’re right, on paper they’re right. Maybe you can score more runs with it. I think statistically you do score more runs. But what it does is it takes away the entertainment portion of the game; in other words, two walks: boring and one swing: suddenly it’s a 30 second event. You got 3 runs; we all cheer for 30 seconds and sit down. In between home runs, you get a lot of strikeouts and walks.”

MLBs Struggle with Youth Viewership: “Kids are brought up on TikTok, MMA, UFC, NFL, NBA, all sorts of gaming consoles, Netflix, Amazon. Major League Baseball relies on eyeballs (viewers) every night to put a game on. These kids at that age (six-twelve) have so many options and this (baseball) is the least attractive because there is no action going on. You need to put more action into the game.” 

Entertainment Aspects of Baseball: “They are trying to hit a home run every play. The drive in baseball is the rally. It’s the single; it’s another single, first to third, players steal second, a sacrifice fly and the runner gets thrown out at home. Ball gets away, the guy hits a double; it goes on for 15 minutes. Fans are on their feet and rally towels are going around in the air. That’s entertainment, that’s action, that’s tension, and that’s what’s missing from the game.” 

Length of Games and Action in Baseball: “MLB is trying to shorten the game. They are taking a 3 hour 15 minute boring game. And trying to make it to a 2 hour 50 minute boring game. The kids aren’t going to say, oh great, let’s go watch baseball. It’s still boring, although they cut some time out. You’ve got to add entertainment into the game, in between home runs. So our (Save The Game) whole point is you must reinvest in contact hitting, reinvest in putting the ball in play. That will bring entertainment and action back to the game. The guys who hit 35 home runs and strike out 200+times, owners pay them a lot of money. They pay a lot of money for home runs. All they have to do is shift how they (owners) reward people and you can see people go to contact hitting.”

Thoughts on the famous Derek Jeter flip play in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics: “Think of all the things that happened on that play. Ball is rolling around in the corner; there’s people running the bases; you’re watching a relay. The fan is visually attracted. Of course, the Jeter play is right, but any play like that…. There’s so much going on.”

Gallagher ended with “The young generation is not tuning in; they’re not watching; they’re not playing. They’re not going to become customers. And if you’re selling donuts and you’re selling baseball in 15 years, kids think and say, I don’t like the way those donuts taste, I’m going to buy a different donut. There is going to be no one to buy your donuts. Same thing with baseball, if they (fans) are going to the NBA, UFC, Premier Soccer League, wherever they’re going it’s not Major League Baseball. When the older fan leaves, their customer base is not going to be there.”

LINK TO PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/baseball-has-changed-help-us-save-the-game 

Join Save The Game in collecting 1 million signatures in hopes of advancing the sport we all love and embrace.

LINK TO SAVE THE GAME WEBSITE – https://savethegameus.com 

LINK TO HITTING SIMPLE: https://hittingsimple.com 

LEARN MORE ABOUT SAVE THE GAME: https://savethegameus.com/about/

Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports and NY Sports Day, 

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.rizzo.1042 Email:RobertRiz994@gmail.com

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Julio Pabón

    May 2, 2022 at 11:16 pm

    Good article describing a true reality, baseball needs an uplift. We in Latino Sports have been saying and writing about this for a long time because we believe Latino players bring excitement to the game and the Latino youth could be an added factor to increasing the number of future fans. Our LatinoMVP awards are a step in the right direction.

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