MARLBORO, NY–Simply aghast is how to describe a baseball news item I read over my morning coffee. At first glance I thought the report was more along the lines of “fake news” made famous by our President. I even looked at the source of the article expecting The Onion to be responsible for my rising blood-pressure. Yet it was neither, and comes from the thoughts of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, in trying to lure a younger fan base to the American pastime.
A complete and utter mess of a rule change, one that will be tested in a few rookie leagues this season, is to have a runner placed on second base at the start of every extra inning. Say what!?! The World Baseball Classic will do likewise but beginning in the 11th frame. More action and continuous play is said to be the aim of the rule change and one that will lower the 50-something average age fan base that remains baseball’s main demographic.
Now allow me to rail against a group called Millennials – (I’m looking at you, Destructive DJ Eberle) – of which I helped produce one that is currently in college up at SUNY Cortland. These are the young folk that helped invent participation trophies, selfies from devices that are super-glued to their fingers, and who remain a somewhat materialistic generation. Did I mention an uninterested form of Attention Deficit Disorder if not driven from some type of technological device? So there we have it. Baseball is looking to cater to millennials the same way their parents have for their whole lives. They are about to help ruin the American institution that is baseball.
We have already seen a loosely applied clock to the time a batter is supposed to be in the batter’s box to help speed up the game and pacify a younger audience. Any fan-friendly device at the ballpark in between innings is more a tool to distract a certain audience from remembering that they are at a ballgame. I like my baseball to be baseball and not some game show or circus where t-shirts are propelled from a pressure gun to further insult my attendance at games.
The average time for a Major League game is approximately three hours–the same can be said for an NFL game which is a timed sport. Never in my life have I ever felt bored at a sporting event and can sit through any game on television. Why do we need to continually change sports rules to speed up play or resist stoppages? If sports commissioners continue to tinker with rules they are more apt to alienate an already faithful fan base and I’m growing thin with the NFL as a result. Somebody will always be happy or unhappy at a sporting event but what’s next for baseball to introduce a new audience? Two strikes instead of three? Foul balls count as strike three? Three balls instead of four for a walk?
Please, Rob Manfred, come to your senses and don’t change the integrity of the game that has been around since the 1900’s.
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