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Monday, July 1, 2013

Out of the Park

When I was a kid no one ever described baseball as being boring. Yet this is a complaint I hear often these days, especially from younger people. Americans have been trained by technology to have shorter attention spans, instant gratification, and constant movement. No one has patience for anything any more. Baseball is not a game of constant, shifting movement. Baseball is a game of strategy and subtleties. Those who have played the game on any level will understand this. Baseball has been the preferred game of artists, musicians and writers from the very beginning. There are books with essays, quotations, and observations about the game from great minds like Mark Twain and others. There is a history, a romance, and a humor about this game that other sports just don't have; and that has inspired many films over the years. I can name 15 great baseball movies just off the top of my head. Can anyone name an equivalent number of good American films specifically about football, basketball, soccer, or hockey?    

Baseball has not changed much since it's inception which is part of it's charm. But, that may also be a part of it's problem, and a contributing factor to the current slump in popularity. Smart and aggressive marketing by other major sports has outpaced baseball and I believe that someday it will be replaced by football as our national sport. That will be a sad turn of events in my opinion.

I have two suggestions that might help to "improve" the game a little in an effort to attract more of today's viewers. No radical changes involved here but it might be worth trying the following things 1) Allow for the use of aluminum bats. There would then be a big increase in base hits and home runs, thus adding excitment. 2) Add a "Pitch Clock" , similar to basketball's 30-second Shot Clock.  This would force the pitchers to throw the ball sooner, and more often. If the Pitch Clock runs out and the ball has not been released yet, then the batter gets awarded a "ball" in the pitch count. The batter would earn a "Walk" if the pitcher could not keep pace with the clock. 

Using "God" in the caption was about referencing the longevity, endurance, and until recently the universal appeal of the game. In some ways baseball seems eternal. It is an American original that has been with us almost as long the country itself. 

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