To begin with, I have to tip my hat to Major League Baseball for finally televising the First-Year Player Draft (June 7th, 7:00pm ET, MLB Network - see the draft order). The league has been woefully behind the NFL and NBA in terms of marketing, and the draft will begin the process of highlighting some of the future stars in the league.
Maybe Major League Baseball has realistic expectations on this, I don’t know, but for those that think that MLB’s Draft will someday reach the level of popularity that the NFL or NBA has, I have a pork roast with wings on it for you.
This isn’t a problem created by baseball. The problem is television, or more correctly, the interest of networks and the nation’s appetite for colligate football and basketball. Fans love what they know, and college baseball isn’t one of them, sans the College World Series. The interest in the NBA and NFL drafts starts with being able to have followed players up through the college ranks.
Baseball also has the disadvantage of having very few players translate directly to the major leagues. Yes, Jason Heyward is making a huge impact, and hallelujah for that. But, Stephen Strasburg is supposedly still being developed, and beyond that, well... you’ll have to wait to see if any of the hundreds of players drafted last year ever make The Show. With the NBA and NFL, and due to the dynamics of those games, a fair amount of players can transition directly and in some cases, be difference makers in the NFL and NBA.
So, MLB, kudos for airing the Draft. People will come. Oh, they most definitely will come. Just don’t expect them in droves until the networks begin giving viewers a steady diet of college baseball. That is, of course, if viewers are interested in that. It’s still very much a football and basketball world when it comes to colligate sports on television.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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