The death of baseball bodes ill for the fate of America
Hardly any activity is as typically American as the sport of baseball. Legend has it that Abner Doubleday, as a general in the Civil War, formalized the sport based on his observations of off-duty soldiers playing a kind of "stick ball"...roughly similar to the British sport of cricket. His home in upstate New York eventually became the baseball Hall of Fame.
When the American League adopted the designated hitter rule in 1973, they subliminally lost status. A major tension in the sport has to do with the pitcher having to be a hitter. This often made managers reach for the Maalox. The American League lost this kind of intrigue.
And now the National League, in order to settle a labor dispute with a bunch of unionized millionaires, has joined in and diminished the spectator's appeal of their brand. I must here include that the most celebrated hitter in the history of the game, George Herman "Babe" Ruth, was a pitcher — who was moved to the outfield so he could usually start every game — rather than play only during his position in the pitchers' rotation. In fact, he had a record for World Series strikeouts that lasted into the 1960s...ultimately broken by Whitey Ford (I was at that game).
I used to be primarily a football fan. But baseball is much more idiosyncratic, much less predictable, and thus more interesting. A team could be down by several runs in the 8th or 9th inning and still tie it up — and thus go into extra innings. Pitchers could be doing really well, but when their position in the batting order comes up, and the team desperately needs a hit, the watchers get glued to the action.
Now all that's gone.
Defenders of the D.H. rely on the role played by vintage sluggers, who may not be all that good at running and catching, but they can still put the wood to the ball. Gee, another Maalox moment for the manager. If everything goes according to expectation, no one will bother to watch.
There seems to be a pattern here. Challenges are now supposed to be avoided. Just let it all happen. The Russian incursion into Ukraine kind of violates that meme. In contradiction to the meme is the reality that the future belongs to the problem-solvers — the lack of, or rather the suppression of whom obviously explains why we have so many problems.
Again, baseball is a microcosm of America. It is a product of the Civil War. Doubleday was a captain at Fort Sumter, where the war began. Now the national pastime has lost a big chunk of its appeal. Will it recover? Hard to say, but recent history says it won't. Sports media rely on superstars. Are there any? It's in the eyes of the beholders.
Image: jtaricani via Pixabay, Pixabay License.