A Once Exciting Annual Contest Has Become Pathetically Bad
Photo below: 1968 All-Star Game Hank Aaron Swipes 2nd Base In A Competitive Game
National League’s Hank Aaron (44) steals second base in sixth inning. Rod Carew takes throw with umpire Mel Steiner on top of play in All-Star game. July 9, 1968 Photo :George Honeycutt Houston Chronicle
While reluctantly watching this year’s baseball All-Star Game there was a pre-game tribute to Hank Aaron who passed away January 22, 2021. This may have been the high point of the evening as the Fox broadcast and the game itself was lacking in any drama or competitiveness.
Where’s The Drama?
The All-Star Game has become a love-fest between the players and interleague play has ruined what was once a fierce rivalry between the American and National Leagues. In the 1950 All-Star Game in Chicago, Ted Williams fractured his left elbow making a leaping, off-the-wall catch on a Ralph Kiner smash in the 1st inning. Williams remained in the game, and put the American League ahead, 3 – 2, in the fifth inning with an RBI single. Ted Williams said he was never the same after fracturing his elbow. Williams, like many players went all out playing in the All-Star Game, which is an exhibition game with no meaning in the standings. The AL and NL teams used to badly want to beat the opposition in the annual showdown.
Hack Wilson, Former NL Home Run Champ Glad To Have Any Job
Baseball is going to begin its abbreviated season, as if anyone cares. I certainly don’t. The spoiled players and clueless owners are greedy beyond all belief.
So here is a lesson in humility for all the ballplayers complaining about their pro-rated multi-million dollar salaries and owners crying poverty.
72 years ago today Hack Wilson made the news. Here is what the original news slug says:
Baltimore, MD July 20, 1948 – EX-HERO Of BASEBALL – – Hack Wilson, the former home run king, chats with kids at the city swimming pool where he works. Municipal authorities had put him to work as a park laborer recently when he came in looking for “any kind of job.” Wilson, now 48-years-old, set the National League’s home run record of 56 in 1930 with the Chicago Cubs. AP Wirephoto
Dizzy and Daffy, those two Dean boys. Paul on the left looks a little skeptical as Dizzy shows his brother the way a ball is held for a “hook”. Just before the Giants and Cardinals got going March 15 at Flamingo Park, Miami Beach, Florida, these two boys held a chat on the bleachers. The Giants defeated the Cardinals 2-0. — 3/17/1935 Associated Press Photo
In the history of Major League Baseball there have been many brothers who have each taken the mound to be pitchers. For both of them to be successful however, is another story. Continue reading →
Look Out! – No Screens, Fences or Protection For Brooklyn Dodgers Players or Fans At Spring Training
Clearwater, FL, March 26, 1953 – Brooklyn Dugout and Fans Dodge Fly Foul Ball – George Shuba, Ben Wade and Coach Jake Pitler cover up. photo: International News
Ah, the baseball spring training of yesteryear.
Note the deluxe dugout and lavish seats for the players.
Behind coach Pitler, as the fans scatter, Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella tracks the foul ball which is headed into the stands. It appears that there are only a couple of hundred people in attendance for this spring training game. The fans sit in bleacher type seating with no backs
Today many spring training games attract thousands of fans in souped-up ballparks offering fancy amenities. Fans are also now “protected” from foul balls with an obstruction called a “safety net.”
To show you how much the game has changed, Dodgers starting pitcher Preacher Roe Continue reading →
MLB Approves Gambling On Baseball, Maybe Its Time To Reconsider “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s Lifetime Ban
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson before game vs. Yankees at Comiskey Park August 23, 1915
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, believed by many to have been the greatest natural hitter of all-time, was banned from baseball for life after the 1920 season by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis.
Jackson had a .356 batting average in his abbreviated 13 year career. Controversially, Jackson remains on baseball’s permanent ineligible list, meaning he can never be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His alleged crime, as many people know, was participating in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox including Jackson were influenced by gamblers with promised payoffs to throw the World Series.
As the old car commercial goes “Baseball, Hot Dogs Apple Pie and Chevrolet, they go together in the good ole’ USA.” Where does gambling fit in? Apparently right beside baseball. Continue reading →
Was Game 5 Of The 2017 World Series The Greatest World Series Game Ever Played?
How Many Were Still Watching When The Game Ended At 1:40 am EST?
WORLD SERIES game 5 2017 1:39 A.M EST
I started watching game five of the World Series with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.
It looked like it was going to be a great game. The Astros had overcome two deficits and at 11:30 pm the score was tied 7-7 and it was only the sixth inning.
But like most people on the east coast who had to get up for work in the morning, it was getting near time to turn in for the night.
Some children might get a pass and be allowed to stay up til midnight, but not many, because there is school the next day. And the adults? As much as they want to watch, they know they have real life obligations that require not being exhausted the next morning.
Over 19 million people watched the game but viewership peaked between 11:45 – midnight EST. After that, a steady drop-off in viewers occurred as the game went on and on.
The winning run – game 5 2017 World Series
It did not surprise me that the game ended with a dramatic 13-12 Astros extra inning victory. What was surprising was that the game lasted until 1:40 in the morning. Total time of the game: five hours and seventeen minutes!
How many millions of people missed seeing this great game because of how long it lasted and its starting time? We’ll never know. All I know is that I did not see its conclusion, nor did any of my friends.
As I will continue to point out in story after story, Major League Baseball needs to get their priorities straightened out.
Why a Sunday World Series game was not played during the daytime is simply because FOX TV gets to dictate the start time and derive maximum advertising revenue. Money is more important than the future of the game. Continue reading →
Watching the game from center field – the only way an entire generation of TV director’s have decided to televise baseball
Here are just a few of the ways television has helped to ruin watching baseball. None of the corrective suggestions will be heeded, but someone has to point it out.
1 – The camera angles
Guess what? About 80% of the time you’re not watching baseball. What you are seeing is four guys – a pitcher’s back, a catcher, a batter and an umpire.
What kind of a lead is the runner taking? Where are the outfielders shaded? Is the overused shift in effect? Where was that ball hit? Is it going to be a hit?
How would we know? The audience rarely sees any other part of the field except from the center field camera.
Unless you attend games in person and sit in center field with a high power telescope, this is not the way anyone views an entire baseball game. Nor should it be the way to televise one.
It would be nice to see the return of the overhead mezzanine high camera from behind the catcher so we can see the whole field.
So here are two angles from behind the plate – one high and wide the other not as high. Both of these camera angles are more conducive and infinitely superior to the view you see on most broadcasts.
2- The busy screen
I don’t know about most people but I want to watch a baseball game, not be diverted by ads and a constant scroll of information.
While not every channel is guilty of the news scroll on the bottom of the screen, your view is still cluttered with unnecessary information.
Watching the World Series there are no other scores or news to scroll on the screen so you won’t see the scroll there. Yet that doesn’t stop clutter.
Showing “Fox World Series Game 1” in the upper right hand portion of the screen for the ENTIRE game? Does the score, runners on base, balls and strikes, number of pitches, pitch speed and all other sorts of information need to be shown every second of the game?
Go watch a game from the 1980’s or earlier. How did people enjoy the first 40 years of baseball telecasts with justhaving the game and nothing else on the screen? Quite well.
With the exception of a few local broadcast outlets, most networks televising baseball have adapted their own version of a strike zone box. And it’s getting to be de rigueur instead of a special feature.
This horrible innovation that began a few years ago is an artificial rectangular box on the TV screen surrounding home plate, that supposedly identifies the strike zone and differentiates strikes from balls. Unfortunately it is in the direct line of sight of the television viewer.
MLB About To Introduce Two Ridiculous Rule Changes To “Speed Up” The Game.
Why The Changes Are Bad And What They Should Do Instead.
These fans watching baseball in the 1940s don’t look bored at all. That may be because the average length of a 9 inning baseball game in the 1940s was about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Baseball is a slow and boring sport. The games are too long. There is not enough scoring.
These are some of the complaints that have been lodged against the National Pastime.
The only part I’ll agree with is that the games are definitely too long.
MLB executives and the players union are trying out two changes this year in the minor leagues to speed up the game. After trial periods, it is likely these changes will be permanently adapted in the major leagues. They may indeed speed up games by a few seconds. For the vast majority of games these changes will have little effect and do more damage than good to the overall structure of baseball.
There are other changes that would be more practical and easy to implement to dramatically shorten all games without changing baseball itself. I’ll discuss that after we review the two proposed MLB rule changes.
The first proposed rule change is that a team will be able to declare an intentional walk without the pitcher throwing any pitches. The pitcher’s manager will just signal for an intentional walk and the batter will go to first.
The second rule change is even sillier. In extra inning games, starting in the tenth inning each team when they come to bat will start the inning with a man already on second base.
So why are these changes beyond foolish?
Let’s look at the first proposal, the announced intentional walk. Although it sounds like an easy strategy to walk a batter intentionally, it is sometimes not so simple to throw four balls that are nowhere near home plate.
There are pitchers, such as the Yankees Dellin Betances, who when called upon to execute an intentional walk, every ball they throw can be an adventure. A wild pitch is always a possibility. Lobbing the ball to the catcher is hard for some pitchers. There are also quite a number of pitchers who throw the ball too close to the plate, so the batter can swing at the ball. Every now and then you’ll see something that you rarely see. Here are just two recent examples.
Miguel Cabrera drives in a run on an intended intentional walk.
Gary Sanchez of the Yankees nearly hits a home run on a pitch that was meant to be a ball.
As I pointed out many pitchers really have a hard time throwing a ball intentionally outside of the strike zone when the situation is called for. This is far more common than you might imagine. Wild pitches can change the outcome of a ballgame, especially with runners on base as seen here in multiple cases:
Then there is the opposite effect, where the defense pulls a tricky play.
In the early 1970s I recall seeing Reds superstar Johnny Bench get fooled at the plate. It happened on the biggest stage possible; game three of the 1972 World Series.
Bench had a 3 and 2 count when A’s manager Dick Williams paid a visit to the mound. Williams talked with pitcher Rollie Fingers and catcher Gene Tenace and made it seem like Williams told Fingers to intentionally walk the dangerous slugger. Because as Tenace returned to the plate to await the next pitch from Fingers, Tenace, stood up, put his hand out calling for an intentional ball four.
And guess what? Tenace jumped right back behind the plate and Fingers threw a slider for strike three, stunning Bench and everyone watching. It was a deft move you don’t see very often.
I couldn’t believe that I found the moment on YouTube.
In 1996 Dennis Martinez and Tony Pena of the Indians, successfully pulled the same move on Blue Jays star John Olerud.
It’s true, these flubs are extremely rare, but they do occur. The automatic intentional walk is a shortsighted rule change and ends up removing strategy from the game.
One other thing: how does the new rule go down in the record books? Will the pitcher be credited with four pitches thrown? What happens when you are at three balls and one strike, do you just declare the walk when you want to intentionally pass a batter or does the pitcher still have to throw a pitch?
The second rule change of starting the inning of an extra inning game with a man placed on second base to begin the inning is simply ludicrous.
No nail-biters anymore, no strategy – it’s just get this game over with. This is what MLB is saying.
Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, is in favor of bringing the rule to the major leagues if the minor league experiment works.
Torre said, “Let’s see what it looks like. It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”
Really Joe? How many games went to 18 innings or more in the past ten years? How many times did a manager use their whole pitching staff?
In the entire history of Major League Baseball there have only been 46 games that have gone more than 19 innings. On average less than 10 games per year last 15 innings or more. If a manager goes through his entire pitching staff, well he’s not a good manager. Believe it or not many fans enjoy marathon games. It’s the time of those exciting games that gets people sleepy, not the number of innings.
If you want to ruin baseball then this rule change is perfect.
By the way: how would the scoring work for putting a runner on second? Idiotically.
The pitcher didn’t allow the runner on, so why penalize him and the team when a ground ball to second for an out advancing the runner to third and then a fly ball can result in a run. The pitcher and the team was essentially defensively effective, but could lose the game.
This rule is MLB being lazy and coming up with a dumb solution just to shorten games and appeal to younger fans with limited attention spans. It’s like MLB took a page out of the NHL rule book with hockey’s overtime shootout to decide tie games. That adjustment has been horrible for hockey and its fans.
Now what are the ways to speed up baseball games significantly?
Change # 1 – Enforce rule 5.07 (c) of the Major League Baseball rule book which states: “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”
The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball. The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.
Did you realize rule 6.02a (8) says:
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when: The pitcher unnecessarily delays the game;
Have you ever seen that enforced? I haven’t. But I’ve seen pitchers call the catcher to the mound six separate times for one batter or take over 30 seconds between each and every pitch.
I’ve noticed and counted the time between pitches in many games. Most pitchers take between 22 -27 seconds to throw a pitch after receiving the ball back from the catcher. Some pitchers are agonizingly slow, like the Dodgers Pedro Baez (over 30 seconds between pitches) and Kenley Jansen (27 seconds between pitches). There are many hurlers who can transform their own fielders into a trance-like state with all that inactivity.
There’s no excuse for this. Watch R.A. Dickey or Mark Buehrle pitch and the game moves at a brisk pace. Unfortunately they are the exceptions. Most pitchers take wayyyyy too long between pitches. Put up a pitch clock and give the pitchers a little leeway- 15 seconds and have them throw the pitch or call it a ball. Figure saving at least 5 seconds per pitch with 260 total pitches being thrown. total time shortened per game: minimum 26 minutes Continue reading →
New York – May 13 – ON THE DOUBLE – Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees is force out victim at second base and Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Chico Fernandez gets off throw to first to complete double play in fourth inning at New York’s Yankee Stadium today. Behind Mantle is Tigers second baseman Jake Wood, who fielded Bill Skowron’s grounder and started the twin killing by tossing to Fernande. Tigers won 8-3 (AP Wirephoto – 1961)
This is a play you may never see again.
Mickey Mantle is nowhere near second base and certainly does not look like he is sliding. No, the Mick is definitely trying to take out Chico Fernandez and stop a double play. It was a legal play in 1961, but soon it may not be.
After the 2015 playoff injury to the Mets Ruben Tejada when the Dodgers Chase Utley steamrolled him in a violent collision, Major League Baseball decided to review the rules governing taking out a fielder during a slide. There is a strong possibility of introducing a rule in the near future to stop a runner from barreling into a fielder.
There is already a rule in the books, Rule 5.09(a)(13), which states:
A batter is out when — A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play. Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.
I don’t believe that any player should intentionally hurt another player in sliding, but taking out the fielder who is trying to complete a double play should not be made illegal or penalized with the threat of suspension if the fielder gets hurt. Continue reading →
You may have read that one of the 2014 World Series games was competing for viewers with a Thursday night football game. The television audience for the World Series ended up being less than half of that of the football game.
No surprise there as football has become the dominant televised sport in America. So besides letting World Series games be played at night when the next generation of fans is going to bed, what else is MLB doing to discourage young people from getting to like baseball?
This photograph below will clue you in:
Group Seating Citifield September 2013
This photo taken in mid-September 2013 shows a class trip of 12-year-olds at Citifield, the New York Mets ballpark.
It was a beautiful sunny weekday and the Mets and San Francisco Giants were playing for nothing, nada, zilch. Both teams had been eliminated from any playoff possibilities weeks earlier.
Obviously with group seating the Mets gave the kids the best possible seats in the house to get them engaged and interested in the game, right?
Well of course not. Group seats are usually in the farthest reaches of the ballpark and these were no exception, in the corner of the upper deck in right field in section 503.
Now I understand why the Mets and most other teams put group seats in generally undesirable places. These are seats that will usually never be sold, because who wants to pay $15 or more and sit in the stratosphere. The Mets are not going to give $75 seats away for $15 to a group.
But this photograph below shows the kids view of the game and the reality of how many fans were at the ballpark just 10 minutes before starting time.
Citifield 10 minutes before game time
It never got much more crowded than this when the game got underway. The announced attendance was 22,897. Everyone there knew that there was no possible way that there were even 12,000 people at this game. The ballpark remained as you see it: thousands of empty seats in huge clusters.
There were schoolgirls sitting on either side of me and both were attending their first baseball game. Being a chaperone on this trip, they asked me questions and tried to watch from our birds-eye vantage point. As the game progressed, with the exception of the few boys who follow baseball, most of the children lost interest rapidly.
For many of the kids who were in attendance this would be the only game they would ever go to because they had no interest in baseball before the game, and were not going to have any interest after the game.
What could the Mets have done?
They should have taken the thousand or so children that were in the four to five large groups seated in the far reaches of the upper deck and moved them to seats anywhere closer to the field. When I actually mentioned this to the Mets personnel man in charge of groups in our section he looked at me like I was crazy and said that was not possible.
It was indeed possible if someone from the Mets ticketing, marketing or publicity department could have had a bright idea and made an executive decision and said something like, “Hey, the season’s virtually over and our ballpark is pretty empty today. You know what might get us more fans in the future? Let’s move these kids down to decent seats so that they will be close enough to be involved in the game. Maybe some of them will come to appreciate and love baseball if they can actually see what is going on up close, rather than watching the jumbotron screen or straining to see the ant-size ballplayers from their mile away seats. This would be a good way to develop a new generation of Mets fans.”
Well that never happened and it probably never will happen. Unless MLB and their teams realize that they are rapidly losing a huge part of their future baseball audience, baseball will be as popular here as cricket.