Why a Neutral World Series is Detrimental to the Future of Baseball
by Owen Hetherington
Nov. 6, 2020
Last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers took home the World Series championship against the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field. Baseball had never played the World Series at a neutral site in 166 years of history.
Due to our current circumstances in society with the pandemic, I thought it was appropriate to have a “bubble concept” in a neutral site that protected the players. However, does the neutral site concept make sense moving forward?
#MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the concept of a neutral-site #WorldSeries is at least worthy of further discussion after concluding the first in history at @GlobeLifeField (@EricPrisbell). Free to read: https://t.co/cI0qfvtNBB — Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) October 30, 2020
I think Major League Baseball needs to bury the neutral site moving forward. A few days ago, Rob Manfred spoke to The Daily about how a neutral site could be good for baseball even after the pandemic.
“I wouldn’t say a neutral-site World Series is completely off the table. There were things that we saw in Texas that were advantages for us. You can plan. You can take out travel. You can pick sites that eliminate weather problems. Those are all things worthy of conversation and discussion. I think the big (weight) on the scale in favor of our traditional format, the thing that really matters at the end of the day, are fans in home markets.” -Rob Manfred, The Daily
If there’s one thing clear about the World Series, it is not the Super Bowl. I think Rob Manfred is trying to replicate a similar game experience at the World Series that you see at the Super Bowl.
When you watch the Super Bowl, what do you see? A bunch of people who have no emotional investment in the game. Imagine if Major League Baseball did this for the World Series. The spirit of the home-field advantage in the fall classic would be taken away.
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than watching baseball in cold cities during October, where you can see the condensation when a player breathes. When pitchers need to blow into their hand in-between pitchers. When thousands of fans roar and rise to their feet whenever an opposing player has two strikes. This is why we survive the long stretch of 162 games, for the thought of watching moments like these. I am sure it is the same for the players. I have to assume they want to play, and hopefully win, in front of their home fans.
If baseball goes to a neutral site, say goodbye to any chance baseball would host the World Series in cities like Boston, New York, Cleveland, Minnesota, or Pittsburgh. Taking away the opportunity for fans to watch their team play in the world championship at home would destroy the authenticity and history of the World Series.
I couldn’t imagine seeing the first time in over a decade the Yankees playing in the World Series somewhere other than the Bronx. I really hope that Rob Manfred is just saying another one of his “genius” ideas and it will be water under the bridge and never come to fruition.