Stephen A. Smith Claims Fans Don’t Care About Baseball… Is This True?

Stephen A. Smith Claims Fans Don’t Care About Baseball… Is This True?

For baseball fans, next week should be an exciting time with the Major League Baseball playoffs starting on October 3rd. is in the final planning stages to cover what should be a fast and furious sprint from 12 teams representing the American League and National League to win a World Series championship.

But according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, despite the network that he works for having exclusive rights to the Wild Card Rounds, baseball will not be a top priority on his show First Take. With NFL football dominating the sports headlines (Anyone heard about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce lately?) along with MLBbro icon, Deion Sanders coaching the Colorado Buffaloes to must see TV college football, Smith says based on the ratings, no one cares…



While the viewership for the sport has suffered the last few seasons, MLB has made some positive strides this season…

  • The pitch clock is considered by many a huge success decreasing game times to the point the practice will be used in the postseason.
  • The attendance numbers (Except for Oakland!) was encouraging.
  • Surprise teams will be participating in the postseason like the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • The American League West sprint for first place and potential Wild Card spot with the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
  • Shohei Ohtani was having one of the greatest seasons of any era before he was shut down with injuries.
  • Ronald Acuna Jr. sets an all time mark with 40 homers and 70 stolen bases
  • Even Aaron Judge’s extended stint on the IL still didn’t keep him off the top five list for home runs with 37 and counting…



But what is getting lost in all of the ratings debates and Stephen A. Smith’s take on baseball is MLB’s commitment to bring diversity to the game with a concentration on African Americans. One of the things done that is evident of that is the partnership MLB has with this website founded by Rob Parker who laid out the plans in the mission statement for this movement back in April of 2021…

“ will cover Black and brown Major Leaguers. We will chronicle the paths of both present and past Black players, highlight their achievements in the game right now and from a historical standpoint.

We will give Black players a voice and put a context to their presence in the game. In the process, we will display the culture and flair Black players bring to the table.

If done right, will reinvigorate the interest of baseball to the Black community, reconnect a sport that is deep-rooted in our culture.

Best of all, will also nurture and develop the next generation of Black writers.”

Plus this is not the first time Smith has spoken out recklessly when it comes to baseball. There were the Shohei Ohtani comments that received backlash…



But Is Smith Correct About the Ratings By the Numbers?


So now that it is established that there are some out in the sports world that care deeply for the game of baseball, the next thing to look at is the numbers of viewers this season according to Sports Business Journal…

  • ESPN averaged 1.45 million viewers for Sunday Night Baseball which is on pace from last season.
  • These ratings include ESPN2’s KayRod Cast shows starring Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay. With a 30 percent decline and an average of 138,000 viewers, the KayRod cast ends this year.
  • On the surge of the start of the season which was as high as 41 percent, TBS had a drop significantly as of late to finish at four percent. At the peak TBS averaged 338,000 viewers.
  • Fox/FS1’s numbers were mixed due to low individual numbers of games but with an increase of more games broadcasted, viewership numbers increased. FS1 had record lows (278,000) while Fox dropped 10 percent with an average of 1,89 million viewers.


The Reality of What’s Happening With Television Ratings


Nationally Known Teams Aren’t That Good:

No matter how fun the game has been overall, nationally certain teams have to perform well for the type of ratings Stephen A. Smith is talking about. The St. Louis Cardinals had a down year, the New York teams (Anyone forget Smith is a Yankees fan?) dove off a cliff after the All-Star break. Don’t forget the Boston Red Sox have been on a slow decline since MLBbro superstar Mookie Betts left for the West Coast Dodgers. Traditional teams like these count ratings wise no matter what the sport with the majority of the fanbase.


Major League Baseball Has Been Besieged With Blackouts Of Games:

One of the biggest problems on MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s to-do list is ending blackouts. The words used concerning this problem were “top priority”, “massive undertaking” and “fundamental reordering” when it pertained to media rights in baseball.



“I believe that one of the fundamental goals that we have as the media landscape is reworked is that whatever exclusivity we give to a particular cable provider, we oughta have the ability to go side-by-side with a digital product so that people are not blacked out,” Manfred said. “That is business objective number one at Major League Baseball right now.”

“The reason it has taken a long time to get at this blackout issue is that when clubs make long-term RSN (Regional Sports Networks) agreements, they historically grant exclusivity that covers both sides of the house to that cable provider. If that cable provider doesn’t get distribution in a particular area, you have a blackout right? And that’s beyond our control.”

For next week, blackouts won’t be as big of an issue to fans during the Wild Card Rounds unless ESPN is not a part of the TV package. But Stephen A. Smith is wrong about fans not caring based on TV ratings.

Major League Baseball Stands United, Moves ‘21 All-Star Game from Atlanta

Major League Baseball Stands United, Moves ‘21 All-Star Game from Atlanta

Major League Baseball announced today that the 2021 All-Star Game will not be played in Atlanta, Georgia. The decision to change the location comes one week after new legislation was passed in Georgia placing heavy restrictions on voters (Election Integrity Act 2021). The annual Midsummer Classic was originally scheduled to be played in Atlanta’s Truist Park, July 13.

In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.” 

Manfred also stated MLB “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.” 

After Manfred reached out and spoke to three influential figures within MLB’s Players Alliance — MLB pitcher Edwin Jackson, Dee Strange Gordon and Cameron Maybin (the Black players who got the ball rolling) — he was convinced to join them in their fight to have the game moved out of Georgia.

The Players Alliance, whose mission includes creating an inclusive culture within baseball and providing opportunities for the Black community, were elated with the relocation decision and issued in part this statement:

“We want to make our voice heard loud and clear in our opposition of the recent Georgia legislation that not only disproportionately disenfranchises the Black community, but also paves the way for other states to pass similarly harmful laws based largely on widespread falsehoods and disinformation.”

White superstars such as Clayton Kershaw, Evan Longoria and Cody Bellinger are also a part of this special group of groundbreaking MLB players.

“A lot of our ballplayers are from Atlanta, not just the Black players,” said Players Alliance President Curtis Granderson on MLB Network. “We’re looking to do a lot more, especially in the State of Georgia.”

“We’ve grown into 150 plus players and we’ve been able to a lot of things virtually, going to 33 different cities, handing out COVID supplies and other equipment wherever needed, and we are just getting started, We are less than a year old.”

New voting bills, signed into law by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on March 26, have restrictions that disproportionately affect communities of color. The new legislation requires Georgia residents to have a photo ID for absentee voters by mail, reduces the amount of time voters will have to request an absentee ballot and reduces the number of places where dropboxes can be placed. It goes so far as to prohibit anyone from giving out food or water to voters who are waiting in line. 

Moving the All-Star Game had been debated in the last week in the wake of the new Georgia voting law. On Wednesday, President Biden responded to questions about moving the game from Atlanta, saying he would “strongly support” pulling the game out of Atlanta because of a law he described as “Jim Crow on steroids.” 

Following the passing of the voting law, MLB Players Association director Tony Clark told the Boston Globe that the union body was “very much aware” of the significance of the game being in Georgia and said that moving it would be considered. 

The Braves are obviously ticked off with all of the potential revenue getting picked off in the ninth inning.

The new host city for the All-Star Game has not yet been determined. Manfred said MLB would continue with plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron, who died this past January, during the All-Star Game events.