My friend, the Emmy-winning writer Chris Dunn (a swell fellow in most ways except, notably, for being a St. Louis Cardinals fan -- that and for pooh-poohing that he's an Emmy-winning writer. And admit it, how often do you get a chance to write, "pooh-pooh"...) sent me an excerpt from a weekly online chat hosted by St. Louis beat writer Derrick Goold. Goold gave one one particularly terrific answer to one question, which is what Chris passed along.
Q2: What's the biggest change the game of baseball is in need of right now?
DG: This is a good question. And I almost stopped from answering it because my answer may seem like a dodge. Please know that it's not. Outside of making instant replay what it should be (official in the box) and the home-plate collisions what they will be within two years (outlawed), the real answer is nothing. Nothing should change. Baseball is too eager to change. Major League Baseball needs to have more confidence. It needs to puff up its chest, flex its (drug-tested) biceps, and assert its place as America's national pastime. It doesn't need to chase football for validation, just like the smartest kid in class doesn't need to chase the bully for a pat on the head.
This could be a Golden Era for baseball.
Most of the game's royal franchises are competitive. There is parity. There is an abundance of revenue and more money flooding into the game every year. There is power pitching. There are outstanding athletes. There is more charisma and more outlets for that charisma than ever before. Baseball coverage has never been more abundant and because of the increase in competition for baseball coverage it has never been better. Every game is on television. Every fan base can have access to its team no matter how far flung that fan base. That prince in Nigeria who keeps emailing me can watch his beloved Orioles whenever he wants. There is dynamic pricing for tickets. This is a great time to be a baseball fan. This is a great time to be a baseball player.
What's the biggest change baseball needs to make? It's inferiority complex.
Baseball is the greatest game and its in the greatest position. Start acting like it.
Mind you, I can think of one fix, and it actually sort goes in line with what he was saying -- stick to the core of baseball and get rid of the DH. And there are some other things that need to be addressed -- like the length of games, which have long-since started to get out of hand. Games should be around 2-1/2 hours, not four hours. But the overall point he makes is very good. Not that there really aren't any things that can't be improved, but -- play to your strengths.
By the way, I do love how he says “most of” the royal franchises are competitive. Gee, which one might not be…?? Hey, the Cubs are just in a bad cycle. True that core cycle has lasted 106 years at this point, but they've been competitive in recent years, even getting to the playoffs. It's just that "recent" isn't recent enough. But that will change. I'm a Cubs fan, I have hope...
People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you look around", you'll say, "It's only $20 per person". They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh...people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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