On the fields, things looked pretty darned good for Major League Baseball on Opening Day of 2018, the earliest ever.
In the year’s first start, announcers filled in time as the Cubs’ Ian Happ stepped to the plate in Miami. They recalled he hit seven home runs in spring training, five of them to open games.
Sure enough. As forecast, on the very first pitch to the very first batter in the very first game, Happ launched it over the Marlins’ right-field fence.
About two hours later, the World Series champion Astros’ leadoff batter George Springer sent the Rangers’ 2-0 pitch in the same direction, deep into — and beyond — right field. The White Sox hit six homers against the Royals, while Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers in his Yankee debut.
And people felt good watching the start of a fresh season of America’s hallowed national game so full of lush green grass, meticulously-manicured dirt, unbounded hope and unlimited possibilities.
But today’s forecast includes approaching storm clouds. A new Marist Poll finds a majority of Americans– fully 56 percent — say they never watch the so-called national pastime at all.
And the proportion of those who profess to be real baseball fans has plunged to its lowest level in a decade.
According to the survey, barely seven percent of Americans say they watch baseball a great deal, eight percent said a good amount and a little bit 29 percent. The proportion of fans is down from 50 percent just two springs ago.
Among fans, older Americans (that’s you if you’re 45 or older) are more likely to be fans (51 percent) than younger Americans (37 percent). As are residents of the Northeast (52 percent) and Midwest (51 percent), but not so much in the South and West (39 percent each).
White (48 percent) and Latino fans (43 percent) are bigger fans than blacks (35 percent). Men (46 percent) slightly more than women (42 percent). Big city residents (42 percent) and small city dwellers (41 percent) not as much as small towns (47 percent) or — Wow! — suburbs (50 percent).
Finally among fans, college graduates are bigger fans (48 percent) than those without degrees (41 percent). And those with household incomes below $50,000 are smaller fans (40 percent) while those earning more than $50,000 (47 percent) are bigger fans, perhaps because they can afford to be.