By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Try to think of it in these terms: Christmas is coming, but we all know the prices go down after the holidays. So you wait. You buy a bunch of stuff after Dec. 25 and deliver it all, albeit long after the fact.
This is what major league baseball does to you now.
They ruin Christmas.
And the incredible part?
They don’t get it.
In case you missed it, the baseball offseason began two weeks ago, less than week after the Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in the World Series. If you missed it, you are hardly alone. While other sports launch free agency with a frenzy of moves, news leaks and announcements, baseball is still delivering its mail via the Pony Express. Like the pitchers they employ, executives from the 30 major league teams deliver a pitch, then walk around the mound for a while before they deliver the next one. In the meantime, you get distracted by something else and lose interest.
Here’s the point: As a collective, Baseball needs to show me it cares about the fan. That’s really what this is about. The game’s players and decision-makers have gotten so bogged down by micro-analysis that they’re destroying their own product. In the batter’s box, it’s smarter to wait. On the mound, it’s smarter to wait. In the free agent market, it’s smarter to wait. Meanwhile, those of us who like the game and sport grow very tired of waiting and we move on to other things.
Smart is good - I guess.
But it's also really boring. And when everyone does it the same way, by definition, it ceases to be smart anymore.
Of course, this is hardly a new topic. The pace of play in baseball has long been an issue, and the game’s leaders, starting with commissioner Rob Manfred, have paid us nothing but lip service. They tell us they care, but they never act on it. The game is now so bastardized that it is virtually devoid of any and all athleticism. Players and executives have become too smart for their own good, stealing signs, waiting out the opposition, over-shifting on defense, always swinging for the fences.
On the field and off, the game is simply less entertaining than ever before – and in a world where we have unprecedented options.
Can it be fixed? I’m starting to wonder. I mean, the answer is yes – I think – but that’s only if baseball is willing to act, from top to bottom. Professional sports are about winning, after all, but they’re also about entertaining. Maybe more so. And the ratio in baseball now is so completely out of proportion that what we have is the game’s equivalent to the neutral zone trap, on the field and off, which is sucking the life out of the sport and, more importantly, the spectators.
Do I like the game? Sure.
But I like it less than I ever have.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m spending Christmas with someone else this year.