One of the highlights of the All-Star Game break for me is the Futures Game. It’s fun to see the next generation of MLB talent and dream of what they could do for the Cubs someday. Who can forget Javier Báez stealing the show when all we heard about before the 2014 game was Kris Bryant, or this incredible display from then Cubs prospect Eloy Jiménez in 2017 [VIDEO].
But this year, I didn’t watch the Futures Game. Chances are for the 2022 version of this year’s showcase of top minor league talent, you either read about Pete Crow-Armstrong’s double after the fact or maybe just caught the highlights via video or Twitter later.
.@Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong doubles in the Futures Game!— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 17, 2022
The lack of attention given to this year’s game would normally be mind boggling, because the Cubs are in the middle of a complete teardown and we should all be glued to prospect news. However, in this instance there are two very basic reasons you likely missed the Futures Game, and both of them land squarely on scheduling decisions made by MLB — you know, the entity that should ostensibly be interested in growing the game and highlighting future stars.
I got the reminder about the Futures Game from the MLB app as I was walking to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play the Mets. Admittedly, this was not by design. Saturday night’s game was a rescheduled rainout from Friday afternoon and if that was the only reason the Futures Game was competing against MLB teams playing their last games before the All-Star break it would be excusable. However, it was not. Here is Saturday’s original schedule of games, according to the wayback machine:
Yep, the Futures Game was deliberately scheduled against at least two games featuring large market teams, including the Yankees and Red Sox on Fox Baseball Night in America. This is not a smart scheduling decision on the part of MLB. The Futures Game is supposed to be a showcase of MLB’s next wave of talent. It is designed to get viewers who generally don’t watch MiLB games a peak at their teams best one or two players. That is difficult to do if you schedule the game against premium MLB content.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Futures Game was also scheduled on Peacock, a subscription-only service. I’ve written before about why these streaming service deals are a nightmare for fans who just want to watch their teams play. But it turns out the problem extends far beyond the casual fan to the people who you’d imagine would be most interested in seeing MiLB talent: the managers of MLB teams.
Dave Roberts said he didn’t catch any of the Futures Game today— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) July 17, 2022
“In the clubhouse, we don’t have Peacock.”
Yep, that’s right. Dave Roberts, the manager of the Dodgers, didn’t watch the Futures Game because the Dodgers don’t have Peacock in the clubhouse.
I’m sure someone is firing up to add their comment that the Dodgers can surely afford a Peacock subscription, but that misses the point. These streaming deals are not getting more eyes on any games, they are getting fewer eyes on games in order to get a quick influx of cash for the league on streaming deals. Even the managers of MLB teams and the people who control the TVs in MLB clubhouses haven’t bothered to add <insert streaming service> here to keep up with the league’s deals with Apple, YouTube, Peacock, Amszon Prime, etc.
If the Los Angeles Dodgers cannot be bothered to add Peacock for games, what are the odds any substantial number of fans has?
MLB’s decision to relegate the future of the sport to a seemingly random collection of streaming services in exchange for the quick cash they offer teams is beyond myopic. MLB has a three-day All-Star break, with no games or All-Star activities scheduled for Wednesday July 20. The Futures Game should have been scheduled for prime time on a major network on Wednesday. Every baseball fan in America would not have a conflict, by design, and could opt to tune in and see the best talent currently in their minor league system.
Instead, the Futures Game was viewable only to the fans who were informed and incentivized enough to add Peacock in advance and bypass multiple MLB games that competed with more specialized MiLB content. I have to imagine that fans of the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Cubs, Mets, Brewers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Padres, Dodgers and Angels all missed at least part, or all, of the game.
You can read more about the highlights from the 2022 Futures Game here. Maybe next year MLB will care enough about it’s future to schedule the game at a time that will allow as many fans as possible to watch it live.