The 2012 Major League Baseball Draft starts today. Many baseball fans with the exception of the die hard fans don’t care about it or even know it happening today. This will be the fourth year the 1st round has been televised. Much like the NFL’s Draft, MLB will hold the event in New York City. It will also start in prime time at 7pm EST. There is however a big difference between the MLB Draft and the NBA and NFL Drafts.
The NBA and NFL have both had televised drafts for many year. Both leagues have been really successful with their drafts. Building fan excitement every year when the NFL draft approaches. The NBA also has a lot of fan attention leading to their June draft every year. Baseball wants very much to bring the same excitement to their draft.
The MLB draft will not reach the level of the other sports drafts anytime soon. There are many things baseball has going against it. One of the blaring problems is lack of star power and players the fans can connect with. Many of the top players come out of the high school level. Unlike football, high school baseball is not followed as closely by many fans and usually only the die hard fans keep up with that level. The other players come from college baseball which like the previous topic is not followed by fans has much as football or basketball’s college level. Nor does college baseball get the same media attention during their season. There have been a few players that carried a lot of attention going into baseballs June Draft. Two of the most recent “big hype” national media type stars where the Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg in 2009 and Bryce Harper in 2010. We won’t be seeing any baseball players going into the draft with the same media attention anytime soon.
When the stars are selected most don’t see the big leagues for at least a year. Some players need 2 to 5 years to develop to be major league ready. The NBA and NFL have the ability to excite fans with their drafts because the players will be on the field with the big clubs within months. Many player go on to a lot of success even in their first year in the other leagues. Baseball cannot do anything about this particular problem. Its a system that has worked for many years, it just does not cater to the draft.
For decades baseball held their draft non televised. In 2009 they started to air the 1st round on their MLB Network. Many fans won’t watch because they just can’t. The MLB Network is carried in far less homes than the networks that air the NBA and NFL Drafts. If fans did tune in they would see a room with very charismatic (I am being sarcastic) MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and a bunch of team representatives and only a couple of players if any in attendance. You would be better off just checking the internet to find out and not waste your time watching the broadcast.
MLB has a lot they need to work on to make the Draft watchable and to increase excitement for it. The first thing they need to work on is getting more players involved in the event. Having player in attendance would help the broadcast, with the players showing emotion and excitement when selected by the clubs. The MLB needs to also work on getting the names and faces of the upcoming draft prospects out there. They could broadcast high school games featuring top prospects. Finally baseball needs to get a deal with a better network to air the event. That probably won’t happen until they improve the first two problems I previously stated.
Baseball is a great game and the draft deserves just as much fan fare as the other leagues. Until baseball can make the fans care we are going to have an event like we will see tonight, an unwatched and mostly unknown happening.