Josh Alper's piece, (04 /08/2010) in MLB Fanhouse entitled, "Umpire Joe West Wants Sox and Yanks to Think of the Children" has lead to a lot of discussion this week about the length of ball games. Again.
For the kids sake, so they don't watch MLB spectacle baseball - with it's unachievable super human stars, marketed to sell stuff we don't need, that reinforce a national addiction to consumption - I'd rather watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play at Christie Pits than bathe in this twisted meme.
But the way MLB is pushing their corporate agenda though this Joe West story offers a unique opportunity for me to point out a few things about what I think makes for a great baseball experience - and what does not.
- A better baseball experience for me and the kids is one where the tension builds as players and managers do everything they can the best their opponents.
- Better baseball (better than gawking at towering home runs), is baseball with base stealing - that forces throw overs.
- Better baseball includes the inside game - like bunting and moving the runner over - that forces the catcher to adjust the defence.
- A better baseball experience would include more afternoon games on weekends so I can take the kids.
- Better baseball is longer at bats, where the struggle between pitcher and batter goes on and on - pitches are fouled off and counts go full.
- Better baseball would include revenue sharing so all the teams in major leagues could afford the players that fit the game they think they can win with.
A better baseball experience isn't baseball with more room for commercials - so the kids can get to bed on time with their regular dose of hair spray and deodorant commercials.
The reason New York/Boston Baseball games are longer than all others is because the teams play baseball the way baseball is supposed to be played. The Yankee's are not only the "Bronx Bombers" (in that they hit a lot of home runs), but they are also the best hitters in baseball as a team. The Boston Red Sox's, because they're in the same division have to 'play the whole game' as well just like the New Yorkers - in order that they might beat them once in a while.
Check out the numbers for New York and Boston last year. In the chart below both teams were one, two in the American League in team Base on Balls, team Batting Average, team On Base Percentage and total Runs Scored. These are batter stats, they say these teams are great hitting teams.
From Baseball-Reference.com: "2009 American League Standard Batting". Over all team batting stats for the American League - 2009; BB is indicated: first place to last in team base on balls earned Note how all the other categories I mentioned also have the two teams in the top two.
(click on the image to see larger version)
So, apparently Mr. Selig, ego-centric, overpaid, greedy, self centred, professional baseball players don't make games too long for Madison Avenue - great baseball makes games too long for Madison Avenue.
My solution... Why not less commercial time?
I can hear ringing across the internet baseball world, "What?!! You dare to question the corporate arrangements of MLB and their sponsors?!! What, are you a commie or something?!"
Well, not exactly, but that's not important right now.
If you reduce the length of commercials on MLB broadcasts the price of those fewer commercials will go up. If there is more time for baseball the way it's supposed to be played, the quality of the product will get better - and more kids will play the game - which will make the game better still over time.
Other ways to look at it:
- If you want to reduce revenue disparity between teams, making the pie smaller does that.
- Decreasing revenues with eventually lower player salaries in the free labour market, and, ticket prices will also not rise at the same rate.
Good baseball is a win, win, win proposition! :)
It's kind of an Adam Smith supply and demand thingy - only with a human, artsy factors - like the community of baseball playing - mixed in.
Oh, and this vision also means no DH, there's no DH in baseball - only in the marketing of it.
(showing my true colours now)