Today is the last day of Interleague baseball for this season of MLB. It ends coincidentally on the same day as the final of the Confederation Cup. As great as the Confederation Cup has been for Soccer, Interleague play has given baseball a great boost as well.
MLB scheduled its Interleague dates to start right after the finals of the NBA. It is a great move for baseball because it rejuvenates its fans and transitions sports fans by refocusing their attention from basketball to baseball.
MLB has begun to master its technique for giving Interleague baseball the spotlight in the crowded sports calendar and has accentuated the rarity of matchups among teams by having in-state, intra-city rivals playing one week and the next week having World Series rematches, as well as other oddly encounters.
Drama has followed baseball’s good moves. Anyone watching Interleague play in the last two weeks will have noticed that there has been an unbelievable amount of highlights, history and walk-off wins. The steroid controversies, ticket prices and other problems with ego-driven players that has plagued baseball does not seem to be effecting the public’s will. Baseball is coming through this Summer in better position than originally thought by many critics and it seems to be weathering the financial storm.
It is also no secret that MLB is working all the angles of college baseball. The college World Series played out tremendously this year, as its format has begun to take on more tradition and more recognition with each year that passes.
Make no mistake about it, Soccer is competing with baseball for the American sports fan’s dollar. More than any other sport, baseball is a thorn in the side of the growth and popularity of U.S. pro Soccer because it is a constant scene stealer. This is a reality mostly because of the timing of the seasons they play.
But, there is no doubt to the fact that the Confederation Cup has boosted Soccer in the consciousness of the U.S. sports fan. It proves the U.S. is nearing equal footing with the best in the world.
What effects will possibly winning Confed Cup and winning the Gold Cup have on recruiting new fans for the struggling professional leagues, MLS, USL and NPSL? Will the boost from the Confed Cup and upcoming coverage of the Gold Cup help the U.S. pro leagues with attendance in general?
Attendance should rally not only due to improved international play, but also because of hotter temperatures and better weather across the country.
Of course, if there is no improvement in attendance or television ratings, no worries. Soccer purists have it figured to be only that ‘the public needs to have patience’ as these professional leagues develop. After all, they are such young leagues.
Sometimes though, it seems as if U.S. pro Soccer can’t catch any breaks. On the heels of the success of the USMNT in the Confed Cup comes the unfortunate link of AEG, a huge part of MLS and its future, to the July-planned Michael Jackson concert series in England. What impact will Michael Jackson’s death have on AEG’s financials and what transferrence will be felt in MLS ? It appears certain there will be some sort of significant fallout, as AEG was way deep into its commitment with the King of Pop.