W.S. on the W.S…

I’m really glad my dear dear friend Warren Scott is taking to the blogosphere. Once again he brings up his thoughts on baseball and the current World Series.

At the bottom of the screen there was a caption showing that the first game of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees was starting that night (now last night). The only thought that came to my mind was, “who cares?” Obviously Philly and Yankee fans do. But from a fan of baseball (not just a Giant’s fan) standpoint, I really do not care. That is a strange thought for me. I have not closely followed the post season, nor have I watched a single game since the Rockies and the Twins were eliminated. I had interest until then.

Here’s the reason. In baseball for about the last 10 years, in general, the same teams show up in the playoffs. One or two teams vary each year, but for the most part, it’s the same. As a fan of the game, you get pretty tired of the seeing the same teams in the post season year after year. Phillies? They won last year, I’m ready to see someone else from the National League. Yankees? They’ve been there more than any team in the history of the game. I’m ready to see someone else from the American league. That was one of the reasons I rooted really hard for the Devil Rays last year. They were a small market team that nobody thought would be there.

I always root for underdogs and small market teams. Underdogs because nobody thinks they will make it all the way. And small market teams because when a small market team makes the World Series, the media loses money. The media have almost destroyed the game of baseball, so I love it when they lost money.

Football has it figured out.

So I’m hoping to pry more: what has football figured out that baseball has failed at? I don’t really know much about football; the sport has never interested me after sitting through three hours of commercials during a Superbowl just to see the players get a third flag on the same play. Professionals my butt. But, I digress.

I had a good conversation with a friend of mine a while back on what baseball ought to do. He is a lifetime Twins fan, as well as a big Vikings fan. He brought up a few interesting points:

  • The season is too long. Baseball starts up Spring Training in March, and it goes through playoffs in October. It’s a heck of a long stretch to keep your attention.
  • There are too many games. This is tied to the first item, but I think it makes a bigger point. In football, each teams lays it all out for a single game a week. That’s a lot of tension to build up for all week long.
  • The schedule is funky. I personally haven’t enjoyed interleague play, and think it takes away from the divisional rivalries that are so much fun. Also, each series needs to be 3 games. No more, no less. It would be nice if the series actually meant something, too.
  • Ditch the designated hitter. I was surprised to hear him bring this up, but having grown up with the NL, I appreciate the strategy of going through a lineup (and I love when a pitcher gets his first hit his first game, so he’s batting a thousand).

Now, all that said, he and I agreed that the length of the season and number of games does play into part of what makes baseball special: statistics. Baseball builds up a whole hell of a lot of stats that set up lots of tension and are fun to break throughout the season. I don’t want to lose that for the sake of having a single game a week.

Also, baseball needs to return to its roots of being an easily accessible game. Even at 15 bucks a seat, a family of four is spending 60 dollars, not including parking and food, to see our national pastime. It should be something that you could attend on a whim.

In regards to football, I really don’t care for the giant production that the draft is. It seems like you could go down the list of incoming players and current rosters, see who would do the best and the remaining variable comes down to which teams get the most injuries to their best players. But that’s an admittedly outsider perspective.

So, back to you, Warren. What ought to be done to save our beloved baseball?

Good Old Baseball…

As my throngs of fans on Twitter know, I got a borrowed iPod Touch and the At Bat app for it. Today was a long day made even longer by my wonderful pair of out-of-their-minds children. One couldn’t stop moving and the other couldn’t stop throwing up. While I was making dinner. Fun.
After my small dish of dinner, I took my cocktail and my iPod outside. I turned up the volume as loud as I could and closed my eyes. The sounds of the ballpark came from this tinny little device on the table. The constant buzz of the crowd, escalating as a tough inning was closed by the home pitcher, made up the background for the announcer.

There’s a language to baseball. It’s an auditory game. You can listen to the balls and strikes, the outs, the pitches thrown, who is on base. When you hear all that, the game gets painted into your mind. You know who’s up and who’s waiting to bat. There’s a story forming.

Each half of the inning is its own tale. And there is time between pitches and events to talk about the past, talk about what’s going on in the city around the team, and what other teams have been up to. You feel a part of it no matter how distant.

As the season rolls on, the story gets more interesting. History has been happening, changing the scenery itself behind each and every pitch. As with life, you rarely see it happen at the time. But when you look back, suddenly the world is different.

Still, through it all, it’s all baseball. That tinny little voice on the table next to me, all simply, grainy radio waves with the same commercials between each change in sides.

My iPod has an app that shows the pitch-by-pitch movement of the game. To do that, it connects to my wireless network. From the router creating that network is a wire to a cable modem. The cable modem is what connects my home to the giant and strange ethereal world known as the Internet. At some other point on the internet is the home of Major League Baseball. This is the collective home for all the information and broadcasts coming from all the ballparks across our lovely continent.

So the announcer’s voice goes into his microphone, the signal carrying wire moving it to the local broadcaster. The local broadcaster sends it out to the central company who then distributes it to other outside stations, namely my local station. Then, over the air, that voice manages to reach my device, coming out small and tinny, yet clear, to tell me that there was a popup to left field, the runner on first tags up, the throw to second, not in time!

My son joined me for a bit out there on the deck. We didn’t last outside for long. April in Minnesota is still cold after dark. We sat there, listening to the voice, drinks at our ready. His milk, my adult beverage.

And it’s been like this for what is quickly closing in on 100 years. The adage of the story?

Though the technology may change, the point remains the same.

Baseball.

He hits it high! He hits it deep! This one is… outta here! – Duane Kuiper, through my youth, joyfully over and over again.

Nearly Forgotten…

I’d nearly forgotten how watching hockey playoffs can make one’s palpitate.  Frequently.  My goodness, I have to keep catching my breath.  Oh, and I’m crazy enough to be flipping between the Wild and the Sharks.  I feel like I might die from this.  Gotta love it!
At least I got to also see the Twins get a grand slam against the White Sox.  A 12-3 game there really calms the nerves.