Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Baseball Playoff Time! (and I couldn't care less)

So, the baseball playoffs are beginning. That great moment every fall, as the weather turns cool and ballpark lights cast light on the unmistakable Americana of … oh, forget it. I don’t care about baseball. I don’t even care enough to find a link to a story about the playoffs.

I’m no sports hater. I love, love, love NFL football and really, really like NBA basketball. I even enjoy watching World Cup Soccer. But major league baseball? It’s boring. Sure, I enjoy going to a game now and then, like I enjoy sitting on the beach. It’s nice to have a drink and zone out in a place where nothing even mildly exciting ever happens.

Don’t get me wrong. Baseball the sport is fine. It can be very fun to play and heart-pounding to watch. It’s Major League Baseball that, for lack of a more accurate description, royally sucks. First of all, they play a bazillion games a season, rendering any particular game rather meaningless. This was a fine scenario back before we all had 500 TV stations, the Internet, mega-movie theaters and everything else. But now? There are a lot more entertaining ways to spend my time than watching a low-stakes, regular season baseball game.

Secondly, only four teams in each league make the playoffs. Coupled with the insanely long schedule, this playoff format means most teams are out of the running shortly after the All Star break. That’s boring enough. But MLB makes it even worse by letting the richest teams horde all the talent, ensuring that, most years, the exact same handful of teams are in contention.

I know that some will read my words as heresy … possibly as unpatriotic. But I stand by them. Major League Baseball is boring. I’ve watched all of two games the past five years and I don’t plan to add to that number this year.

And why did I feel the need to share all of this? Because I think there should be a movement to shorten the baseball season by half, even out the playing field between teams and expand the playoffs. But I’m too disinterested to start the movement myself. Maybe by writing this, someone else will take the lead, reform America’s pastime and get sports fans like myself actually caring about baseball again.

Addendum: the author reserves the right to unashamedly jump on the Texas Rangers bandwagon should that team, at any point in its wretched existence, actually make it to the playoffs and advance.


Blogger Tom Strong said...

You're right in your diagnosis, but wrong in your reasons.

1) The season's not too long. The season should be long. In baseball, team quality is hard to determine on a day-by-day basis - given a few bad bounces and a few missed pitches, the lowly Royals can beat or even sweep the Yankees any day of the week. That's just not the case in the other team sports, where great clubs are more thoroughly dominant. You'll never see a baseball team win 80% of their games, for instance.

In baseball, you need the long haul to determine who's best.

2) The playoffs already come close to making a mockery of the regular season.

Here are the real problems with MLB, in my bloated opinion:

1) The individual games are too long, and too slow. There are too many commercial breaks, too much time between pitches, too many batters wearing eighteen layers of armor.

2) There are too many homers. The average baseball fan is caught in a twisted dilemma - he hates the way the game has been twisted to make more homers happen (smaller parks, steroids, etc.) - but he loves homers and pays to see them.

It'll never happen, but what I would do to make MLB more exciting is move all the outfield walls back 50 - 100 feet. You'd have to hit the ball 400 feet down the line, or 450 feet to straightaway center, to get an automatic home run. But the outfielders would have a lot more ground to cover, and there would be many more doubles, triples, and inside the park home runs.

And you know what that means?

It would force the players to run.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like watching paint dry. Its a boring game. Its not coincidence that interest in the game has fallen, and will continue to fall. One thing I would do is to add a "pitching" clock. Once the umpire has made his call, a clock would start that contains a set amount of seconds and countdown to zero. The ball must be pitched within that time frame or its an automatic ball. If the batter is not ready within that time period, its an automatic strike. I would also reduce the # of games to about 25% of what it is now or 40 games per season, then the playoffs. One reason NFL football is so popular is the limited # of games. MLB should take note.

12:51 PM  

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