Baseball is boring, and I love the game
As you may know, I was born in Cuba loving baseball. My parents followed different baseball teams in Cuba, and that was part of their chemistry when they were courting. A young couple arguing about baseball? Yes, those were the stories we heard at our dining table. (My mother followed Habana and my father Almendares, the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry of pre-Castro Cuba.)
Over the years, I've cried and screamed over games.
So, what went wrong? Why is baseball suddenly boring?
Well, the answer is too many strikeouts and too many guys swinging for the fences. The net result is a game where the ball is never in play. The biggest action is a foul ball, and that's not worth a ticket price or watching TV.
The strikeouts are killing the game, as Tim Kurkjian said:
In April, there were 1,092 more strikeouts than hits, the largest such gap in any month in major league history. The season strikeout record surely will be broken this year for the 15th consecutive time. In 2016, the percentage of plate appearances that ended in a strikeout was .211. It has risen, year by year — .216, .223, .230, .234. Right now, it stands at .243. Those are, of course, the six highest rates in major league history. In 1968, the famed Year of the Pitcher, the K rate was only .158.
In the 1980s, there were, on average, nine strikeouts per game. Now there are twice as many.
I remember 1968, or the year of the pitcher, when Bob Gibson led the world with an ERA of 1.10 and pitched 13 shutouts. Yes, there was a lot of great pitching that year, but the pace of the game did not come to a crawl. Why? Because hitters tried to get on base rather than hit home runs. Watch the games on the internet, and you will see a much better game than today.
So what can they do to make the game interesting again?
First, let's find a commissioner who cares about the game rather than pleasing the "wokes." I would suggest Nolan Ryan, the all-time strikeout king, who recently said there are too many "Ks." Ryan would also put an end to MLB playing politics. He'd remind everyone that a team's mission is to play baseball. Ryan's "cowboy ways" would be a "woke" nightmare, and that'd be great for the game.
Second, throw away the computer tablet and tell the hitter to bunt or choke up to make contact. It worked for many of us in Little League, and it would do wonders to get the fans to get into the game. By the way, Dusty Baker, the great hitter and now Astros manager, said he watched the first three innings of a game, and nobody put the ball in play.
Let's make baseball great again. It starts with an old-fashioned idea: bunt to blow up the defensive shifts killing batting averages, move the runner, and a sacrifice fly to score a run. It's amazing how much I miss the bunt and that beautiful sacrifice fly ball.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).
Image: Christy Mathewson 1912. Public Domain.
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