At times like this, digging into the yogi's canon never hurts.
"If fans don't come to the stadium," said the most eloquent baseball philosopher many years ago, "you can't stop them."
I understand what Rob Manfred is trying to do. He tries to invent baseball fans. He tries to make his sport attractive. One of Manfred's predecessors in the commissioner's office, Bowie Kuhn, made it his main job to always find out what was "in the best interest of the game".
No sports commissioner ever works for the game's worst interests.
But there are times when you wonder whether Manfred, the representative for baseball, actually likes baseball. There are times when he works so furiously to cultivate and create so many millions of people that he runs the risk of alienating and annoying so many millions of people.
And so we get … well, we get a lot of strange things. We get strange ideas. We get the rule that debuted in some small leagues last year, where after a few extra innings a runner is put on the second base to start each inning. We are getting the rule that will be introduced in the major leagues this year where relief jugs must be faced with a minimum of three doughs.
Now we're facing advanced playoffs – which are almost certain to produce playoff teams that make less than 0.500, which is bad enough – which are reported to benefit the top-performing teams in baseball: the ability to pick their opponents in the playoffs. The idea is that television will be great. It will create fascinating storylines if one of the selected opponents selects the favorite.
What it is is absurd.
You don't have to be a baseball purist to understand that these rule changes are significantly different from the previous ones. Even the designated batsman, who is still an abomination to many fans, makes sense in the broad context of the game.
When baseball first expanded its playoff system in 1969, it was the natural result of the expansion. It was one thing that only the winners of two leagues with eight teams each had to compete in the World Series. Even 10 teams seemed manageable. But until ’69 you watched 12 team leagues. Now it's 15. Adding more teams was not only an artificial way to increase interest (although it was a by-product), but also a necessary way to develop a sense of the regular season.
Even when the additional wildcard was added a few years ago, this made sense in the context of sport: Now there is a premium for first place. Nobody wants to endure the glove. The A & # 39; s won 97 games last year and their playoffs ended in a unique blur. It's supposed to be a big injustice. But the A had two options to change this fate:
1. Finish in first place.
2. Win the play-in game
You didn't do it either, and so Willy Wonka's words are: you get nothing.
The measures that Manfred mostly took to “improve” his game are terribly cynical. He wants shorter games and sure: shorter games would be nice. Anyone who has eaten 4½-hour nine-inning games can tell you that it is no fun to top the fourth inning when a game hits the two-hour mark.
But here's something to think about: What advocates of radical change keep pointing out is that baseball hasn't been around for seven consecutive years. You know what? This takes into account the time frame of deliberate departure. It includes a time when the clock was counting down and managed between innings, and when baseball was trying to reduce the junk in the batter box.
Oh? And baseball games lasted an average of 3 hours and 5 minutes last year, more than ever. How do these reforms work?
There is an argument that more playoff berths mean more playoff teams and that this will be a panacea. Then why exactly do we seem to be heading towards Tampa-Bay / Montreal Rays in a few years? Anyone who thinks it is a civic upswing to gather around a team with 79 wins is deceiving themselves or is downright stupid.
In 2019, 68.5 million people still came to the stadiums. Make sure to upset them to find potential fans who have already spoken loudly and clearly that they have other ways to prioritize their available earnings. Hey, using Manfred's logic, why not change baseball's callsign into what he clearly wants his sport to be.