You don’t have to go too far to hear it. You don’t have to go too far to see it. On the radio. On the internet. The message is loud and clear. And it is consistent. Baseball is in trouble and not many care.
Nobody cares? Well, let’s just say fans are supporting this sport less and less. So many things are to blame that we need to take the worst offender and deal with that.
The game of baseball has evolved before our eyes. So much is going on with the game all at once.
From a pace of play standpoint, the Commissioner has tinkered with our game. He and his brain trust are trying hard to take minutes out of a game that few are watching.
And it appears to be a mistake, centering all of the attention on pace of play. Would fans really care how long the games are if the excitement level was at, let’s say, an exciting level?
When did anyone ever say, ‘it was an exciting game, but it was just too long.’ When do you really notice the length of a game? Well, if you are checking the time, chances are you’re bored.
Yes, what we are finding is that the game doesn’t need to be shorter to be loved, it needs to be more exciting. There are plenty of things you can blame it on, but the day analytics came to roost is the day the game changed and not for the better.
There were some interesting comments on Sunday. Your responses to our Question of the Week were very telling. What is building in baseball is the ultimate ‘when worlds collide’ scenario.
Analytics has turned baseball into an all-or-nothing sport and it’s not helping the appeal. If players aren’t hitting home runs, they are striking out! And who’s finding that exciting every night?
Pitchers like Matt Boyd are near the top of the league in strikeouts, but given how the game is played now, doesn’t it take a little bit of starch out of it? Are you as impressed by that as you would have normally been, say, 5 years ago?
The game has changed that dramatically. I understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat. And I understand that the game will change over time. It’s inevitable.
Technology alone changes processes across the board, beyond sports, in every walk of life. So I get why analytics must now be considered when you are looking to compete. The edge is in the data and every team is working hard at being the best at using the data to their advantage.
It is smart and understandable. But while teams use data to win games, they are boring the hell out of the fan base. The Commissioner can beat his head against a wall trying to fix pace of play, but who is telling him this is the root of all evil?
Because it’s not. Analytics is. It is ruining baseball. It helps teams strategize but the fans are not entertained. They are becoming more and more disinterested. And in the entertainment industry, isn’t this the biggest of all sins?
At a time when the game is searching for ways to impress or entertain or whatever they are looking to get out of the younger fan, today’s baseball is confusing the older fan now as well.
The older fans are the purists. Until now, they have loved and counted on the simplicity of the game. But simplicity is now being kicked out the back door in favor of analytical formulas and more and more stats.
Major League Baseball had better be careful. Because as the game moves to remake itself, fans need to be first in line to approve.
We are ultimately the most important variable. Statistics show we aren’t coming to games anymore. So you can stick ‘exit velocity’ where the sun don’t shine.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how fast the ball leaves the park if fewer fans are coming in to see it.
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