Baseball’s Identity Crisis

Baseball is lost. It doesn’t know where it is, who it is, or who it wants to be.  Ask anyone under the age of 30 if they wanna go to a ball game, and there’s about a 90% chance they’re gonna do everything they can to wiggle their way out of going with you (percentage based on a hypothetical study performed in my mind, but I encourage you to carry out the experiment for yourself). They’ll say something like “it’s so boring, and slow and dumb and they’re all cheating anyways” and you’ll say “that was the late 90s/early 00s and Sammy Sosa and mark McGuire and Barry bonds aren’t playing anymore, they cleaned up the game!” And they’ll say “I don’t actually even care about that; you smell bad and I don’t wanna sit next to you in a plastic chair for four hours.” And you’ll say “That’s fair!” and you’ll go home to be alone with your smelly self to pick your nose in peace.

So what does baseball do? Their ratings are tanking. Their viewers are aging. Their ticket sales are down. Let’s review what they’ve done in the last few years in an effort to entice more fans.

Mr. Baseball Man In Charge says “Make games shorter because those damn kids can’t pay attention to anything longer than a ten second Snapchat.” And he shakes his fist in the air and mumbles a rabble rabble rabble.

No more stepping out of the box between pitches (the Nomar Garciapara batting glove adjustment routine rule). Great idea, I’m all about it. Nomar was obsessive and compulsive about that shit. Eliminating the four pitches required to issue an intentional walk. Dumb, it takes thirty seconds to throw those damn balls and sometime crazy shit happens when the pitcher can’t do it right. It makes for whacky, wild stuff like when Miguel Cabrera got a go ahead hit that one time.

Despite the changes, games times are up 5 minutes per game on average this year! It’s still a slow game. Managers can challenge out/safe calls now, which of course goes on for an asinine amount of time every time. They’re trying, but nothing has really changed. But this is actually intentional! Mr. Baseball Man In Charge will tell you that the game is precious, sacred, an honored tradition. It’s America’s pastime. Apple Pie, Chevrolet, and Baseball. Timeless, ageless. Full of ancient records. Which are a lot of the reasons people like it. They’ve been watching the same game, unchanged since they were little school boys. And when someone breaks a record set in 1907, you go, ‘wow that’s a long time, that baseball Man must be good!’ But this is dumb. Who cares! It’s a game that children play! If it’s boring now and no one wants to watch it, change it!

Okay so if the game is so bad and boring now Mr. Baseblogger Man, what should they do to make it more better? I’m so glad you asked! I have suggestions!

Number one: stop taking it so seriously. This goes for everyone involved, players, managers, owners, play by play announcers, color commentators, commissioners, stadium ushers (let me sit by myself in this empty as shit section that isn’t my assigned seat. I wanna spread my legs damnit!). Cut it out with these unwritten rules about not staring down your home run. Do a cartwheel over second base on your trot if you want! That’d be fun! And you’d deserve it for mashing that tator 500 ft. Managers, I got no real beef with. Except for all the damn trips to the mound. Let’s limit trips to like, 3 per game. The mound is only 100ft away. Just tell to the guy from the dugout if you need to. Or come up with more cool hand signals (a very cool part about baseball are the secret signs). Owners, stop asking tax payers to build your stadiums. That’s dumb. Pay for it yourself, you’re a fucking billionaire. Play by play announcers and color commentators, ugh. This is a very important, and difficult part of making the game fun. They tout a fine line between being fun, and not offending or alienating any listeners. But, what they can do is not take themselves so seriously! Your job is to describe what’s in front of you, a game, that children play. Have fun with it. Baseball is full of cool slang. Here are several examples of cool terms for a curveball: breaking ball, the deuce, the Uncle Charlie, the Louisiana Sledgehammer, the old one two, and more! You can even make up your own.  Stop being so safe. Create a little chemistry between you and your other production folks. Joke around. Mess with each other. There’s a lot of downtime during a baseball game, which is perfect for fucking with your coworker, or featuring the local cuisine or social scene, or just farting into the mic! Commissioner(s), market this game better holy shit. Ditch that old timey America the beautiful pastime shit and focus on the game. The fun parts. The home runs, the slick double plays and the diving catches. The dramatic moments and the nasty curveballs that make professional baseball men look like stupid pretzels. Baseball is diverse as hell! People play it all over the world, and particularly in Spanish speaking countries. Do more Spanish stuff or Japanese stuff. Its cool and fun to say Edwin Encarnación. I don’t care if he can’t speak English. It’s not America’s game anymore, stop acting like it. And ESPN, for the love of god get somebody who can talk about baseball on TV without being so god damn lame. It ruins my baseball viewing experience. Everything else is there, the cameras are top notch. The graphics, the production value. But then I have to listen to Aaron Boone or Eduardo Perez or Dalas Braden tell me how “awesome” and “cool” the thing happening is and then they say things like “wow” and “that’s really neat” and “he’s a special talent”. Oh, is he a special talent, Jessica Mendoza???!!!! I couldn’t tell by the league leading batting average and that monster tater he just mashed over the wall. Holy shit if they aren’t the safest, lamest group of baseball talking people I’ve ever heard. It’s a cool game with cool stuff in it like 100mph heaters whizzing right by a batter’s ear hole. Stop trying to explain the game to suburban moms.

I knew that’d just turn into a rant. But as a young-ish fan of the game, it’s frustrating to watch bad promos, advertisements and broadcasts of a fun game that more people could and would enjoy if it was only presented in such a way.

The second half starts on Friday.

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