Baseball is boring, they say. Nothing ever happens. It’s too slow. It’s too long. It’s too complicated. The players are fat. The Yankees aren’t even good anymore.
Increasingly, baseball is becoming a niche hobby that only weirdos on the spectrum are capable of enjoying. Fans are following the game less on the radio and more on Microsoft Excel. Heck, nowadays if you list “proficient in Excel” on your resume, the first thing the interviewer asks is who’s in first place in the NL Central. Don’t get me started with all these new complicated stats: “WAR,” “FIP,” “OPS,” “K/BB.” I feel like I am taking the “SAT” with “O.J.” Simpson. Other sports are gaining market share with today’s youth, while America’s pastime falls behind.
But it wasn’t always so. Before there was LeBron and Steph Curry, there was Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. These two sluggers made the game a can’t-miss event. Nowadays it seems like every batter’s at-bat is a swing-and-miss event, and America is the one striking out.
Ever since the early 2000s, pitching has been increasingly robbing the game of the majestic home run. We went from the exciting, home-run-derby-like offenses of the late 90s to getting a notification on our smartphones every time some guy nobody ever heard of is pitching a no-hitter through five innings.
Just yesterday, a Texas Rangers pitcher called “Colby Lewis” almost pitched a “perfect game.” Back in George W. Bush’s day, a “perfect game” would’ve consisted of Rafael Palmeiro hitting a couple homers and taking the team out for some wings and pitchers of beer.
Or how about the latest scam MLB marketing is trying to push on us: the pitchers duel. The only exciting thing about two pitchers exchanging strikeouts is the game will end sooner and we can all catch more of the NBA playoffs.
How naïve. These guys are among the worst perpetrators killing baseball. Our general managers are spending $30 million a year on these guys and the poor owners can’t understand why ticket sales are dwindling. There’s a reason why Mark Cuban owns a basketball team, not a baseball team. Just this past offseason, Boston signed Price to a $217 million contract. The real “green monster” is some nutjob in a Prius who actually thought that was a good idea. (On the other hand, the team will probably make their money back quick, considering all the high-percentage craft beer Red Sox fans will have to drink to make attending his starts interesting.)
You have a game where the umpires can’t get balls and strikes right, but the fans at home are somehow supposed to have any idea what’s going on. We can’t tell the difference between a curveball and a sinker and we’re scratching our heads wondering why the youth of today isn’t catching baseball fever. I’m no sociologist, but I’d be willing to bet that every time a batter strikes out, an inner city youth turns to crime over Little League. Heck, I barely even like the game anymore — I just took this writing gig because it pays so well.
Ever notice how they have to show several strikeouts on a highlight reel, whereas one home run suffices? If you have to do it over and over again for it to be important, chances are it’s not worth mentioning. You don’t see me making headlines for every consecutive day I don’t succumb to cravings and buy a donut at 7-Eleven, although my current streak is picking up some steam in the Detroit Free Press writers room.
Arguments say that baseball is a regional sport. Once your team is out, you lose interest, and that’s why ratings drop off when playoff time comes. But really, you can hardly blame folks for favoring “Big Bang Theory” reruns when faced with the thought of guys like Matt Harvey hurling America’s hopes and dreams down the drain at 98 miles per hour. Even Joe Buck announces the World Series like he’s looking at his watch waiting for football to start. When Tom Brady hits his target it can result in a touchdown. When a pitcher hits his target it can result in yawns and people changing the channel.
But let’s consider the regional argument for a second. I’m from Detroit, and Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer is currently beating all sorts of records, pitching 28.1 consecutive scoreless innings. And folks, it is so boring! Us Tigers fans have been waiting for something to happen in these games like we’ve been waiting for jobs to come back to the city. We traded the flashy, fun-to-watch Yoenis Cespedes for a guy whose headshot looks like a mugshot. There are positives, though. All these “shutouts” have allowed me to get more “shuteye,” if you know what I mean.
Since baseball’s inception, hardworking Americans have come down to the ballpark to take in the atmosphere, eat hot dogs, drink Miller Lite, and see their home team crank some dingers. Do your part, write your general manager today and tell him: no more pitching. Before it’s too late.