COMMENTARY: Build back better not working in baseball either | Sports News

BY BRIAN WOODSON BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

There really are ties in baseball and even sudden deaths.

Welcome to the new world of baseball, if you can still recognize it.

Call me crazy, but baseball didn’t need help. It was a good game the way it was until everything changed a few decades ago.

Sound familiar? Why better rebuild when nothing is wrong.

Baseball, like our nation, is under attack, and really for no good reason.

Remember Ronald Reagan’s most terrifying words: “I’m with the government and I’m here to help.” The same goes for baseball. As I’ve said before, please stop “fixing” baseball.

We’ve heard for decades that baseball is too slow and too methodical, and most of that comes from the national media using baseball as a punching bag like they do to anyone who disagrees with their narratives.

Baseball executives – and I use that last word loosely – decided to listen to these critics and try to help them. All they’ve done is basically make the game as unrecognizable as the country we live in.

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Just look at the Appalachian League. Now I hope the college slug system works, but the elimination of 40 minor league teams with one major league affiliation only drives away fans young and old who mostly went to games to see what the future major league was – could be stars.

Maybe some of those college kids will get there eventually, but at least with the old system, players were already considered part of an organization.

This is all part of baseball’s “improvement.” Did you really need help?

It’s bad enough that Major League Baseball continues to put a runner on second base in extra innings in hopes of shortening the game.

The Appalachian League has gone one step further and added sudden death. Before the game, the home team’s manager decides whether to play offense or defense in the 10th inning. A runner is placed on first base. If that team scores before making three outs, they win. If they don’t score, the other team wins.

Sorry, this isn’t baseball.

All of these changes to the game were made to force faster games and to attract people to the sport who either don’t care about baseball or who can’t take their eyes off their phone long enough to see more than one field.

It’s not a baseball problem. It’s a human problem.

Go everywhere now, from games, churches, weddings, funerals, restaurants, bathrooms, you name it and people are looking at those phones. They may look up for 10 seconds, but then quickly check back to see what they may have missed.

They’re also constantly taking pictures or videos that – if they’re like me – they’ll never actually look at, but it will surely clog up their phones’ memory.

I’m sorry but you can’t force someone to like baseball or anything else. They either do it or they don’t, and their minds won’t change if they go to a game and just wait for the game to end.

Why bother to start with?

Baseball is not meant to be played fast. The appeal that made the game great was the lack of a clock. You go to a game, sit back and watch. You might be there two hours or maybe three hours, but you’re having a good time and enjoying a nine-inning vacation.

Has anyone noticed how long it takes to play a college or pro football game these days? There’s a few seconds of action and then a lot of standing around waiting for the next game to start. How is this different from baseball?

A family vacation 49 years ago last night began with a baseball game in Cincinnati between the Reds and the hated Dodgers, then the best rivalry in the game. I was 9, my sister was 3.

It was supposed to be nine innings but it went to 13. The Reds lost 8-7 but that moment, my first major league game, will stay with me for a lifetime. I’ve been to dozens of games since then, but this game will always mean the most to me.

That’s what is created by baseball. Those timeless memories, whether it’s nine innings out of 13, baseball has a way of bringing people together. There was no rush to go, we had a good time, still arriving at our destination in the early hours but enjoying every bit of it.

The point of a game is to enjoy it and leave when it’s over or leave sooner if you want to do whatever you want. It’s still a free country, at least for now.

How bad are the problems with baseball? A national media outlet actually ran a story yesterday about baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, trying to convince viewers that he really likes baseball. Remember, this is the same guy who called the World Series trophy “a piece of metal.”

So much has changed in our world, and not for the better. That definitely includes baseball which is barely recognizable and now comes the news that 2024 robot umpires are coming because minor league game results have shown they saved nine minutes of time.

But the whole reason collegiate and pro baseball games — and other sports too — last so long is because of commercials. Idle time is what takes so long. Fielders should just leave their gloves on the field like they did in the early days of the sport to shave a few seconds between innings.

There are also expansion talks. Did the man watch baseball? There are empty seats everywhere, interest has dropped, 15 teams out of 30 have records under .500 and the TV ratings – if you can find a game to watch – are abysmal and he thinks we need more teams.

The main reason, of course, is the $2 billion price tag that would come with each team.

Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve the problems. Never has, never will.

Seriously, backtracking doesn’t work either in baseball or in life.

bwoodson@bristolnews.com | Twitter: BHCWoodson | (276) 645-2543

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