As I walked into my office on Friday morning our receptionist Cami alerted me that someone had dropped off some paperwork for me. I found this odd because I wasn’t expecting anything and had no idea where it could have came from. Upon opening the envelope that had been placed on my desk, I immediately began beaming with pride. I began running around the office showing everyone that would make eye contact with me the letter I received while simultaneously reading it aloud for all to hear. It was my first, lets say “critical” piece of mail that I’ve received from someone disagreeing with my opinion in a column.
I would like to say that a good portion of what I’ve written in my columns is “tongue in cheek” — they are jokes. I aim to entertain and provoke thought, not lay down the law, but alas, I guess this is lost on some people. My favorite part of the letter was when this disgruntled reader mentioned that my ignorance even exceeds my young age, while his age didn’t allow him to understand my gentle ribbing (that NASCAR isn’t a sport). However, with that being said, I loved the response and encourage them, and I hope some of you are prepared to be angry because I’m at it again and this time I am serious!
My focus this week is on America’s pastime, baseball. I love baseball. Well, kind of. I don’t love playing it — for a man with Attention Deficit Disorder, it is simply too slow for me. I also couldn’t stand the outrageous prejudice against lefties. As a twelve year old I used to constantly ask to play third base, or even second base, or literally ANYWHERE EXCEPT PITCHER AND FIRST BASE, but every coach told me no because I wouldn’t be able to do it at the next level. (This especially irks me because the Chicago Cubs recently let Anthony Rizzo, their left-handed first basemen, play third base. And guess what, the world kept turning.)
I also can’t watch baseball on TV for many of the same reasons, it’s just too boring and takes way too long. But I love going to a baseball game — I don’t think there is any sport on earth better to attend in person. Why is that? Well, because once I’m there, I’m committed. It doesn’t matter to me if the game lasts two and a half hours or three and a half hours because I am there for the event. I haven’t scheduled anything for the rest of the day other than celebrating my team’s victory or celebrating my team’s loss (because it doesn’t really matter, they play 162 games). However, if I don’t find myself in a stadium, I simply can’t watch. Baseball lasts too long and is now too boring.
Pitchers are becoming so skilled, strikeouts are through the roof and it it’s all too often that a game won’t see a ball hit into play for a span of thirty to forty minutes.Young players coming up like Aaron Judge of the Yankees or Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs seem to have decided that they swing for the fences and the fences only. Judge recently broke a 36-year-old record by striking out in 36 consecutive games, but has also hit 38 home runs.
Per a column written by David Lennon of Newsday.com, the average length of a baseball game has been steadily increasing since 2008 when it was at its shortest. Average game length in ‘08 was 2:50:38, and last year in 2016 it was up to 3:00:42.
Now, in my experience, most baseball purists are in the older demographic and they see no need to make any changes to the game. But young people are leaving baseball at an alarming rate, both playing and watching. So I pose the question this way: think about baseball as your lover. If you really, really love baseball and want to see it be happy, then you have to let it go, because that’s the only way it can survive.
Either baseball can stay the way it’s been and in 20 years it will begin to die out, or we can start making some changes. Look at the NBA or the NFL, they make changes when they are needed, they adapt, and they are flourishing. Just this year NBA teams and stars began sitting during markee national televised matchups because they didn’t agree with the playing of back-to-back games or four games in five days, and just like that, poof, all of those games are off the schedule this year. In the NFL, every turnover and touchdown are now automatically reviewed because teams and viewers were growing sick of seeing coaches either have to waste their challenges, or the play just flat being wrong.
So what do I propose? Hold onto your britches, because it’s radical. We take the calling of balls and strikes out of the hands of the umpire — we don’t need them anymore and I don’t understand the appeal of human error in this regard. We have all seen the K-zone, they have it on every pitch. Why not give the umpire an earpiece and have someone in the booth watch the K-zone and simply tell him, ball or strike.
How will this speed up the game and/or make it more interesting? Because it will make these excellent pitchers start throwing more strikes. There will be no “grey area” no more “pitchers’ umpires.” This will also reduce the need for players to argue with the umpire over bad calls because, there won’t be anymore. See what I’m saying? More strikes means more offense, more offense means more excitement, more excitement means more viewers. Say what you want about the NFL but they figured out that offense equals dollars. Every rule has been slanted toward the offense and now NFL games are the most watched programs on multiple major networks. I have personally witnessed a one hitter at a professional stadium and left the game disappointed, only seeing four or five balls hit into play over the entire course of the game. I know this is radical, unlikely, even ludicrous, but what if they did it and just didn’t tell us? How mad would you be if, unbenounced to you, every ball and strike call for your favorite batter was perfect? You wouldn’t. I will say that I did love baseball’s changes to the home run derby and I am in favor of implementing a pitch clock. Basically, I just want to WANT to watch baseball again.