Monday, November 3, 2008

Final thoughts on the World Series

As Gammons, Olney, Whitey Herzog and countless others have postulated: moving to a neutral site for the World Series is a terrible idea. Except these guys, all baseball lifers/insiders, at least have the best interests of the game in mind, even if I completely disagree with their stance. And if you thought I was against it, you should have a gander over at Shysterball, who was clearly wearing his three-sizes-too-small angry pants when he ranted about Olney's blog entry. But at least they are trying to come up with ideas to fix the game they/we love.

Then there's Gregg Doyel at Gregg gives it a whole 'nother view: why bother at all? He also laughs at these silly proposals to go to a neutral site. Doyel makes a statement at the end of this meandering article that is half-truth, half-joke.

Baseball is no longer our national pastime. It's now a niche sport.
He's right in that baseball isn't our pasttime; football is. Hard to argue that. That's due to many, many things, including (but not limited to, using my para-lawyer-speak) a salary cap, one game per week per team, watchable times, packing in a full Sunday's worth of programming, (usually) team-first mentalities* , etc. But to call an industry with a $6+ billion revenue stream 'niche' is simply wrong and lazy. Revenues and attendance continue to rise. Younger teams are finding success in this post-amphetamines/PED baseball world. I still couldn't care less how poor the ratings were for this World Series; it was great to have these two, fun, young clubs going at it. For me, it's Fox's penalty for broadcasting them so damn late. And if the networks were so concerned, they should TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT, like moving the start time forward. Maybe I've said that before.

*(obviously does not include Plaxico Burress)

What I found amusing amongst Doyel's quasi-arguments is that he opens his case by calling baseball purists and constipated gripers one and the same. Then he goes on, two paragraphs later, to describe the game this way:
Baseball is OK, but it's not fun. Not in its entirety. Unless the conditions are perfect -- nice weather, nice action -- a baseball game is an impossible thing to sit through for nine innings. If it's hot, it's too hot for three hours. If it's cold ... same thing. Too cold for three hours. If the teams aren't scoring enough, it's boring. If they're scoring too much, this game's going to last four hours, which brings us back to the temperature.
Sounds like a constipated griper to me. I agree the game isn't perfect but I'm OK with this. Rain happens. So does the cold and the heat. Sometimes the fans are terrible. Sometimes the game is legitimately boring. It happens. But it's not reason to call the game boring, not fun, etc. There are still a few of us who love the nuances of the game. Sure, the pitching changes can be mind-numbing at time, but is that any worse than the Raiders posting -2 yards TOTAL in the first half yesterday? Nowhere will every game/event/competition be a masterpiece fit for ESPN Classic. There are always clunkers.

Gotta say though, regarding Doyel's article, he thrashed Gammons pretty hard:
No less an authority than Peter Gammons, the Hall of Fame baseball writer, has forwarded the idea that the World Series be played at a neutral site, presumably at a warm-weather location in California or, unless he was kidding, Mexico. Sorry, Peter. I can never tell when you're kidding. My solution is to giggle every time you open your mouth.
To put a bow on the endless hand-wringing and chest-thumping about the World Series: leave it alone. There are a few tweaks to make, first and foremost for me would be killing the All Star Game determining HFA. That needs to go. I'd keep the season at 162 games. I'd try to "shorten the miles" a little by adding that additional day/night double header once a month to cut a week off the season.

Instead of trying to find every fault in an imperfect situation, why not make the best of it, take the high road sometimes? I know, it doesn't sell papers. Sorry. Still, the World Series is the game's centerpiece, warts and all. And I'll still watch it (until I fall asleep, that is).

1 comment:

tHeMARksMiTh said...

I completely agree, and I wrote about Olney yesterday (and even the Yankees -- can you believe it?). It amazes me how one little thing that goes wrong makes everyone want to put the world into a plastic bubble. Now, I am just waiting for the instant replay revolution to happen.