Sunday, April 20, 2014

I'm Done with Baseball

Often someone sums up what I'm trying to say better than I could say it. "The Heckler" is an awesome former newspaper like the Onion that is now on the web. This is how they sum up the Cubs season so far...

CUBS PROMISE TO SPEND AT LEAST 10 INNINGS AND 4 HOURS ON EVERY LOSS is the title of this brief but perfect post that sums up baseball here in Chicago today.
After an 0-2 start featuring a 10-inning and 16-inning loss to the Pirates, the Cubs announced their intention to lose every game of the season in a as drawn-out, dramatic, and ultimately futile as humanly possible, promising to ensure that each loss goes into extra innings while taking up at least four hours of their fan’s time.
Baseball in Chicago is now dreadful. I couldn't get anyone to go in with me on White Sox tickets (even a smaller package like 7 or 14 games) and other than opening day, which was nice, the weather has been awful. Deadspin has regular articles showing how small the crowds are at US Cellular Field.

Baseball games are getting longer and longer, and the games are more and more boring, and more likely to go to extra innings. The contrast between a baseball and football game is now dramatic; the crowds are dead and there are few exciting moments, just lots of pitching changes, delays, and a long day gone bad.

The saddest part is that we KNOW baseball won't do what is necessary to fix itself. It is futile to even put it up here but here's my two cents of how to fix it:

1. Make the season about 100 games, starting in May and ending in August (that is 4 months)
2. Start the playoffs in September, and end them by early October, when the weather is still nice
3. Find a way to make the games 2 1/2 hours or less. Reduce all the substitutions and if needed make the DH mandatory. Who cares about all those subtle strategies anyways
4. Who cares about spring training. Make that shorter, too. Nothing is more useless than the pre-season in any sport, that's Dan's rule of thumb and a good one. Or if you have a pre-season, don't talk about it much, because it is boring
5. Stop being so obsessed with the past. It is obvious that many / most great athletes aren't even playing baseball anymore. The top guys in the NBA / NFL would be fantastic baseball players, if they grew up playing the game and actually cared about it. But they don't. So re-baseline on what baseball is now and make it great and stats before non-whites played the game and it was actually "America's Pastime" don't matter. Give it up
6. For God's sakes fold franchises where there are no fans. That's Houston and Kansas City and many other places. If the White Sox don't get their heads out of their rear ends they should be on the block, too
7. Break the players union. The NBA and the NFL already did it. There is like zero sympathy for the players anywhere in any league. Cut the players' salaries so that the owners' profit margins can stay the same with 40% less games on the field
8. Find some way to make the playoffs meaningful. Maybe shorter series. I don't know. But hardly anyone watches the games anymore. Partially because they take 5 hours and are played after midnight in November, so doing the other things above would help more. But I know you aren't going to fix anything else and you think "more games = more money" so it is hopeless

Of course none of this will ever happen. Baseball owners are 100% dinosaurs. They feel that losing any of the 162 games costs them money, although in the long term this idiotic season and post season is killing the game. I have no idea why they can't break the players' union since they could replace all these guys with new guys from central America in a heartbeat and the average fan wouldn't know the difference.

Baseball, you've lost me. Bye-bye.


Dan from Madison said...

You are correct, baseball will do nothing to fix itself. They must get enough television dollars (and to make it not worth their while.

As for the sport of baseball, I have some good research to share. My kids love playing the game. Granted, we use foamy type balls and small basepaths and keep it simple, but the game itself is essentially the same and we have a lot of fun playing in the yard. I guess this doesn't translate to MLB at all, but at a certain level, keeping the game simple seems to still appeal to young people.

But we play for 45 minutes or so and have fun, and we are done, not like sitting around watching a game for HOURS AND HOURS as you mentioned.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Before I forget, Happy 100th Anniversary to the World's Largest Latrine. Chicago's monument to inebriation at the corner of Clark & Addison.