It seems strange to criticize a professional sports league that generated $7.5 billion in revenue in 2012 and projects $9 billion by 2014. After all, Major League Baseball’s second richest team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, recently sold for an astronomical $2.15 billion. If that’s what the Dodgers are worth, what are the Yankees worth?

But MLB deserves its fair share of criticism for its inability to adapt to the current times. The league is led by Commissioner Bud Selig, who stated over the summer that he has never sent an email and never will. Such resistance to the wonders of 1993 is partly responsible for MLB’s lack of modern ways.

As just about any baseball fan will tell you, MLB games take way too long — especially for its most marketable teams. In part due to teams’ desires within the past decade to acquire players who work the count and get on base, better teams are taking longer and longer to go nine innings. The Red Sox and Yankees have arguably the greatest rivalry in sports, but I’ll bet that the only fans who watched all of their almost four-hour, nine-inning, opening-day game on TV without multitasking are eligible for social security benefits. If an 11-year-old can see a touchdown or slam dunk and tweet about it to his 17 followers within 10 seconds, does he really want to routinely wait 30 seconds for each pitch and three minutes for an at-bat? And extra-inning games are an entirely different animal.

Major League Baseball’s use of technology hurts only the aforementioned problem of appealing to kids. For whatever reason — I can’t think of a good one — MLB doesn’t allow game highlights on YouTube, except for those that are deemed to be classics. Admittedly, these highlights of the games that fans will remember forever are awesome, but young fans can’t quickly watch the biggest moments from last night’s game. NHL’s YouTube channel posts highlights of every game and every great play. They also allow fans to upload their own videos, because they realize that such videos could only help their product. On YouTube, MLB still doesn’t allow many fan videos, they don’t have normal game highlights and they have only recently added videos of a limited selection of the most classic moments. Remember that play from 2004 when Derek Jeter dove into the stands and busted up his face against the Red Sox after making a great catch down the line? Until four months ago, you couldn’t find a video of that on YouTube. This is especially impossible to understand because the only thing that MLB executives love more than the phrase “America’s pastime” is  Derek Jeter.

In the sport with probably the least gray area among controversial refereeing decisions, MLB has refused to let technology take a bigger role in its umpiring. It’s pretty difficult for a referee to determine if an offensive lineman committed holding on a particular play, and it’s still hard to tell when we have instant replay on our high-definition TVs. But, with replay, a 5-year-old can tell if a guy was safe or out. MLB has resisted the use of replay, except for whether or not a fly ball was a home run and whether it was fair or foul. The league will finally allow challenge flags, similar to those of the NFL, next year. But the amount of replay compared to how many questionable calls there are, especially considering that replay would be easiest to use in baseball, is still lacking. Many have defended their overall resistance to replay by saying that the “human error” is an integral part of all sports.

Not only did the “human error” reason make no sense the first time I heard it, but now, in the face of an easy technological fix,  it makes even less sense than it originally did. Such an argument means that we want our sports determined by the mistakes of those whose job it is to make the right call, not the athletes that we actually root for and are actually there to perform. Why would anyone like the idea of his favorite team losing a huge game because of an umpire’s error?

A recurring and sometimes understandable human characteristic has always been our resistance to change. While Major League Baseball’s cash flows are looking good right now, businesses that adapt to the times by welcoming change are the ones that continue to earn impressive profits. If we were to jump ahead 50 years and then look back at the present day, I guarantee that future baseball fans will wonder why it took so long for the league to adapt its product to what its customers desired. It’s the same way that we would look back about 50 years ago with bewilderment if the league hadn’t allowed their players to use batting gloves or batting helmets, which clearly improve the game we love. The longer MLB waits to modernize itself and improve its already amazing product, the more young fans it will alienate in the future. there are, especially considering that replay would be easiest to use in baseball, is still lacking. Many have defended their overall resistance to replay by saying that the “human error” — in all parts of the game — is an integral part of all sports.

Not only did the “human error” reason make no sense the first time I heard it, but now, in the face of an easy technological fix,  it makes even less sense than it originally did. Such an argument means that we want our sports determined by the mistakes of those whose job it is to make the right call, not the athletes that we actually root for and are actually there to perform. Why would anyone like the idea of his favorite team losing a huge game because of an umpire’s error? Nobody.

A recurring and sometimes understandable human characteristic has always been our resistance to change. While Major League Baseball’s cash flows are looking good right now, businesses that adapt to the times by welcoming change are the ones that continue to earn impressive profits. If we were to jump ahead 50 years and then look back at the present day, I guarantee that future baseball fans will wonder why it took so long for the league to adapt its product to what its customers desired. It’s the same way that we would look back about 50 years ago with bewilderment if the league hadn’t allowed their players to use batting gloves or batting helmets, which clearly improve the game we know and love.

The longer MLB waits to modernize itself and improve its already amazing product, the more young fans it will alienate in the future.

Tom Hoff is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. DOWN TO THE WIRE appears every Friday.

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