Sometimes the mainstream media publishes an article SO insane, it’s hard to believe it’s true. This time, Glenn and Stu can't help but wonder if a recent New York Times op-ed (called ‘Baseball Is Dying. The Government Should Take It Over'), was supposed to be written for April Fools Day (despite being published five days later...). Could sports — specifically baseball — be the left’s next target for nationalization? And, more importantly, how could a sports league nationalize with a team based in Toronto, Canada…?
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: Stu, I read something today, that I thought, no. This can't be true. And then -- and then, as I read it, I thought. Definitely can't be true. And then by the time I finished, I thought. I'm pretty sure this is actual.
STU: Oh, no.
GLENN: Okay. This is a New York Times editorial today. Okay? Opening day of Major League Baseball season, which falls on Thursday, after being delayed for a week by labor dispute, is as good of an occasion as any, for fans of the game to come to terms with certain hard facts. I'm talking of course about the inevitable future, in which professional baseball, is what?
The inevitable future, that baseball is --
STU: Gosh. Woke. That it's --
GLENN: No. Nationalized. The inevitable truth that baseball is nationalized, and put under some authority of some federal entity.
STU: Why on earth would that occur?
GLENN: Attendants at the games, have declined steadily since 2008. And viewership figures are almost hilariously bleak.
An ordinary national prime time MLB broadcast, such as ESPN's Sunday night baseball attracts some 1.5 million pairs of eyes, each week. Which is to say, roughly the number that are likely to be watching, a heavily censored version of good fellows, on basic cable movie channel, at the same time, in the same time slot.
Even the World Series attracts smaller audiences, than the average Thursday night football broadcast. The dregs of the National Football League's weekly schedule. In 1975, the World Series had an average of 36 million viewers per game. In 2021, it barely attracts 12 million per game. Casual --
STU: Wait. We're going to -- okay. 12 million a game. We're going to nationalize --
GLENN: Oh, he hasn't started yet.
STU: Okay. Okay.
GLENN: Casual observers may assume that despite the lack of popularity, baseball is somehow insanely valuable. This is an illusion. A major league baseball generated around 11 billion dollars in revenue in 2019. But this figure does not accurately reflect the demand for its product. Mike trouts 426 million-dollar contract. Is effectively being paid by millions of grandparents who just want to tune into Anderson Cooper or the antiques road show.
STU: Oh, stop.
GLENN: As that audience dies off, and younger generations of cord cutters take their place, baseball's revenue will plummet.
Culturally, the game is increasingly irrelevant. The average age of a person watching baseball on television is 57. And one shutters to think, what the comparable figure is for broadcast. Typical American 10-year-olds are as likely to recognize, Jorge Soler, who was named the most valuable player of last year's World Series. As they are their local congressional representative. College athletes drafted by --
STU: That's -- that's such a -- that's a ridiculous point.
GLENN: In some parts of the country, participation in Little League has decreased by nearly 50 percent in the past decade and a half. When my wife and I signed up our 5 and 6-year-old daughters for t-ball a few weeks ago, we did so partly out of the grim sense of obligation. We might have -- we might have been Irish parents in rolling our children in step dancing classes. This is your heritage. And you're going to learn it. And you're going to love it.
STU: All right. I don't think I'm like super bullish on the future of baseball, as compared to maybe some other sports. I love baseball. But, I mean, this is a ridiculous piece. Of you're taking on a guy from the MLB MVP. Who, yes. He wouldn't be highly recognized. But, like, there are a lot of players in baseball who would be. And those are the guys who win the MVP for the entire season.
GLENN: I think it's worth being honest, up front. About what nationalizing baseball would entail. While I would like to think that the Biden administration could just take all the 30 teams and dissolve the league by executive Fiat. Citing language --
STU: Who wrote this? This is pathetic. Who wrote this?
GLENN: This is written by Matthew Walther. He's an editor of The Lamp. A Catholic literary journal.
GLENN: He writes frequently about sports.
STU: He should stop writing frequently about sports. I don't think he's ever heard about sports.
GLENN: So listen to this. It's more realistic to assume Congress would have to be involved. Legislation would authorize purchasing the teams, at their current, although absurdly inflated market valuation. Players, coaches, and other staff members would become federal employees. General manager would be appointed. Blah, blah, blah. I mean, this has got to be a joke, right?
STU: Was it April 1st that it was posted?
GLENN: No. I just got this today in my show prep. No. April 7th, today.
STU: Maybe he's just late by six days.
STU: First of all, we shouldn't nationalize it, even if it collapses.
GLENN: This can't be true.
STU: We should not be involved in that, in any way.
GLENN: We should not nationalize anything.
STU: I would also note that one of the teams plays in Canada, so I don't know why -- how you would be nationalizing the Toronto Bluejays. That would be an interesting trick.
GLENN: No. It came out April 6th. April 6th. Guest essay opinion, New York Times, April 6th.
STU: Now, they've been writing this opinion about how the sport is dying for so many years. I can't even count.
They've been doing it since I was a kid. And, look, it has dropped in attendance a little bit. You look last year. Obviously the covid year. Some of these parks weren't even open at the beginning of the year. So it was down last year.
You know, their numbers are fine. If you can't build a business around 68 million people in the parks, in 2019. 68 million. You can't -- you need to be nationalized? Forget it. Not to mention the TV and the digital deals, on top of the merchandise and all the other crap that goes on. Yes, at times, these -- these teams spend so much money, that they can get themselves in trouble. And there are some issues, with building in inequality, between the Los Angeles Dodgers, and every other team in the league. But still, there's no reason. There's not even an argument, that it would fail. Let alone be nationalized. It's completely ridiculous.
GLENN: I find it interesting, that he says, the average age of people watching it on TV is 57. What's the average number for the person watching TV?
STU: Right. The cable news average audience is like 72 or 3.
GLENN: Right. But they would think about nationalizing that.
STU: No. They would probably --
GLENN: I guarantee you.
STU: Yeah. You're right. The TV average age is --
GLENN: Really old.
STU: People are watching digital.
GLENN: And I shutter to think what it is on radio. Well, most likely, it's on AM radio. And unless you're a conservative, you don't even know what AM radio even means.
STU: Yeah. There's just -- there's just -- there's news talk radio, and sports radio. That's all AM is.
So, you know, this is nonsense. This is basically the -- we're going to have 700 million people, get displaced by global warming next year. It's one of those type of pieces.
GLENN: So I don't want to be -- there are people who are posting on Instagram and Facebook and stuff. My apology to George Soros.
GLENN: Last April Fools'. Okay? And they're like, Glenn Beck sold out. He apologized.
STU: Of course, yeah.
GLENN: I called him. I sincerely apologized to Mr. Pepperoni eyes. Does that sound like a sincere apology? For the love of Pete, people are so stupid. But I don't want to be one of those people. When I read this, I'm like, I don't -- I don't know anymore.
I don't know anymore. I don't know. Is this guy serious or not? Does he really --
STU: Probably -- I guess it's serious. The only reason I think it's serious. Is because this type of piece has been written for a long time. Minus the nationalization. That's a wrinkle. Baseball is going to fail. It's not our national past time anymore. It's well behind football and basketball now. And there's truth to some of that for sure.
Certainly football is the number one sport. But still, this is a pretty freaking healthy business.
GLENN: Hang on. Hang on. Maybe he's being sarcastic, and he's actually writing a pro-baseball piece.
GLENN: Saying, yeah. It's so bad. It's horrible. It's horrible.
STU: Maybe that's it.
GLENN: We should -- we have to get him on the phone. And if he doesn't get on the show, we'll know.