America’s Pastime

Major League Baseball has a rich tradition with fiery and passionate fans. At first ABC tried to negotiate with teams to sell television rights. At first only three teams agreed to these terms.  Major League Baseball wanted fans to come to the ball park and wanted to keep coverage of the games local and did not allow ABC’s Game of the Week to air  within 50 miles of the ball park. This made matters worse for ABC who was trying to do anything to stay afloat during this time. The MLB has grown incredibly since the 50’s and the money television networks puts up shows this. Starting off in 1984 the original contract between NBC and ABC was $126 million. ABC putting up $56 million and NBC $70 million. Those two networks started the trend more national coverage and others soon followed suit. Now the heavyweights for baseball coverage are FOX, Fox Sports 1, TBS, and ESPN. Each network shoveling at least $300 million a year towards coverage. The numbers have increased and along that the fans have increased. These huge television contracts fuel long-term salaries. According to CrainsDetroit.com the Detroit Tigers have a reported $568 million committed to long term contracts between Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera. Local television contracts fuel this contracts by supplying money to the club. These facts lead me to believe that the contracts will only grow in order to keep up the ever-growing salaries for players. This has been foreseen ever since the early 1880’s by then Chicago White Stockings owner Albert Spalding.  “Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way.” – Chicago White Stockings owner Albert Spalding, 1881 (Forbes).

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