Saturday, October 25, 2014

Is Baseball Turning Baseball into the Walking Dead?

Growing up the World Series' games were played during the day. They were easy to watch. Either the teacher brought a television into the classroom — that  wouldn't fly today with teacher's salaries tied to PSSA test scores — or, you took a sick day, which was even easier.

My mother always fell for the ear ache — I'd save those for the fall. And she always felt my forehead for a fever. "Ok," she would say, "go lay down." She was more accurate than a thermometer under the tongue.


By mid-afternoon I'd have a miraculous recovery to watch Spahn against Ford at Yankee Stadium.


As you know, it's different today.


The games start at 8:07, but usually it's later. I don't know about you, but by 8:30 Dr. sleep is knocking — especially after a half bottle of wine. By 9:30 or ten — what? about the third or fourth inning? — I'm heading for the stairs like Bruce Bochy taking the slow walk to the mound.


I'm sure the number-crunchers figure they'll get more viewers at night — giving the Central, Mountain and  West Coast standard viewers better times — they'd know better than me.


But the crunchers are forgetting one important group — Eastern Standard Time kids, who later become EST paying customers. I'm guessing it's too late for most EST kids — especially with school the next day — to go beyond the fifth or sixth.


Coupled with the fact that most kids no longer play back yard and playground pick-up games; that keeping score of games has become a lost art for kids; that the population of inner city kids — especially African American inner city kids —  is dropping; and that soccer is stealing kids away from baseball in droves — last summer's World Cup game between Portugal and the United States drew 25 million viewers, twice that of the World Series opener.


Many — if not most — of those World Cup matches were played in daylight. No, get out of town!


Added to that, we have to wait through long and boring video replays.The manager jogs out and has a conversation with the umpires, giving the  bench coach time to talk with the video consultants to see if the call will be protested and sent to New York. Meanwhile the fans sit and fiddle with their iphones.


One league has the DH, the other doesn't.


Is baseball turning baseball into the walking dead?


Then we have the nonsense with the Phillies — a team going from five straight post season appearances to down the drain — stripping the farm of quality players and providing aged stars with contracts so overloaded the club is frozen in stagnation, fearful of crossing the Luxury tax line.


The Giants gave Hunter Pence a $90 million contract, the Phillies signed Delmon Young. That's frozen in stagnation and fearful of the Luxury tax.


Meanwhile, short of fancy, high tech park videos and the Phanatic dancing on the dugout, there seems to be little left for the faithful — fans who gave the Phillies 257 straight sell outs.


And even now, with the club assuring its faithful its seen the light and will get younger, the first two players it signs for 2015? A 32 year old outfielder (Grady Sizemore) trying to make a comeback from serious injuries, and a 33 year old pitcher (Jerome Williams) who's seen the inside of more ball parks than traveling beer vendors.


Seems like frozen in stagnation and fearful of the Luxury tax is back. Or, it never left.


Junior said the team might not compete in 2015 and 2016 — that's two more seasons of the walking dead!


Maybe I'll start following soccer and have a soccer blog.


Philly@ron-costello.com

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