The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.
I grew up loving baseball. I played Little League, teeners, high school, Legion, college, Blue Mountain League and, finally, succumbed to the “rigors” of slow-pitch softball.
My grandfather’s job gave him access to great seats at Phillies games played at Connie Mack Stadium and I would be crazy with excitement when my dad, my grandfather, his boss and I would jump in the car and head to a Phillies game. I always brought my glove because our seats were so close to the action that I could envision a foul ball coming my way or even a player tossing me a ball that was no longer usable.
Often, we would be right next to the opponents’ dugout and we actually talked to players before the game. Add to that, my grandfathers’ boss had a Cadillac with leather interior, power windows, and something called “cruise control”. Even the trip to and from was exciting. For a young boy, it just couldn’t get any better. When we arrived back home, I just wanted to play catch with my dad and just prolong the day. The fact that it was usually around 11 PM curtailed all of my dad’s desire to cooperate. To me, this was a perfect day.
But something happened to the game. I no longer have ANY desire to take three hours (3:07 was the average length of a major league game last year) out of a day to watch baseball. It appears, according to attendance and viewership statistics, many people feel the same way. What happened?
The game changed. Today, it is a game of strikeouts, long balls, pitching changes, unfair defense, and little action. Batters cannot get into or stay in the batter’s box; pitchers take forever to throw the ball; strategy has been taken over by computers (I’m sick of the word “analytics”); fielders overload one side of second base making even a base hit that much more difficult; the excitement of a real close play is diminished by instant replay. Did you know that nearly four of every 10 plate appearances ends with the baseball never being put into play? It just is not the same game. And everyone knows it!
I think I write every year that changes are coming, but few ever make it to the majors. Here are some changes being proposed – most for the minor leagues only, which I, also, have pretty much never watched:
- Automated ball-strike calls
- Restrictions on a pitcher throwing to first base
- Increasing the size of the bases by three inches
- In fielders must keep both feet on the infield dirt
- Two infielders must be on either side of second base
- Putting a runner on second base to start an extra inning
Again, these changes will occur in the minor leagues. The majors, for now, will not be affected.
So forgive me if when the cry is given to “Play ball!”, I will, at best, watch some late innings to catch the outcome because too much of the “play” part is left out of the game. And, if that doesn’t change, I will continue to, also, be left out of the game – a game I once loved!
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
- Congratulations to the Allentown Central Catholic Vikings for winning a PIAA 4A basketball championship on Thursday night. It was the first Lehigh Valley boys’ basketball title in 35 years. It wasn’t easy – after leading by 19 in the second half, they found themselves trailing by one with 90 seconds left. The Vikes scored with 21 seconds left and fought off two Hickory bucket attempts to win 41-40. Head coach Dennis Csensits, his staff, and team ended the Lehigh Valley drought!
- Despite all the upsets and a deplorable office pool, I am really enjoying March Madness. I am in awe of the amount of basketball talent on all these teams. College football playoffs always seem to have the same teams fighting for the overall championship, but, in contrast, a basket here, a free throw there, a missed call by the officials seems to decide so many games at the very end with so many upsets. The tournament has been as exciting as ever.
- Did the signing of QB Joe Flacco this week excite the Eagles’ fan base? The reaction is probably luke-warm, at best. He should be able to offer much needed seasoned advice to Jalen Hurts, who now appears to definitely have the job of starting QB. The Eagles have also through trades really helped their chances to significantly upgrade their draft picks, not this year, but next year. I guess the best advice for an Eagles’ fan is to be patient, two words that never seem to be used together-“patient fan”.
- If you are ready to watch baseball again, the Phillies should make a run at the NL East title, but the competition is very stiff. Every team in the division, the Mets, Braves, National, and the Marlins have all improved. This division should be a battle to the end.
- Lafayette hosts Lehigh this weekend as the two teams will play for the 156th time in college football’s most played rivalry. The Leopards stumbled badly this week losing 38-13 to Bucknell, but a win over archrival Lehigh brightens up any season, even in the spring. Watch the game LIVE on RCN-TV this Saturday, April 3, starting at 12:30pm.