Here’s my latest for the Magazine:

Baseball is supposed to be fun, you know? Yes, it’s a billion dollar industry, but that doesn’t mean that baseball isn’t—at its heart—entertainment, a diversion that gives us something to think about other than work and life and responsibilities and whatever the Kardashians are doing these days. It’s a wonderful, exciting drama wrapped up in nine innings of men playing a kid’s game.

If it’s not fun for you, why bother? (Seriously, so many people just seem angry about their favorite team all the time. Why? It’s baseball!)

Too often, MLB’s fun police seem like they want to drain all the excitement out of the best game on earth*. Whether it’s Oakland’s Mark Canha or Cubs rookie David Bote feeling like they had to apologize for flipping their bats after particularly memorable home runs, or pitchers throwing at hitters for whatever reason—I’m looking at you, Jose Urena and Ryan Madson—big league baseball seemingly has an unlimited number of unwritten rules that appear to be designed to take the fun out of the game.

*Other than Fortnite, of course.

Read the entire thing, in which I take a light-hearted look at things that are fun about baseball, including the Reds nicknames from this year’s “Player’s Weekend.”

11 Responses

  1. Scott C

    Great article, Chad. We need something to cheer us because as you said, “baseball is supposed to be fun. Personally I would have added Dilson’s nickname to the interesting, just because it is fun to say. “Dilly. Dilly.”
    Joey Votto is the “most interesting man in baseball. He doesn’t drink beer often, but when he does he drinks Canadian beer.

  2. big5ed

    To the casual fan, the biggest problem by a mile is the very slow pace of play. (Me, too, for that matter.) The average guy believes that there is far, far, far, far, far too much dead time.

    There are roughly 225 pitches/game that are not a 0-0 count. If MLB could just trim the time between pitches by 4 seconds/pitch, then the game would be 900 seconds, or 15 minutes, faster. Some of the hitters (Odubel Herrera, for example) take about 29 seconds between pitches. A 6-pitch at-bat with these guys takes 3 minutes, plus the walk-up time for the next hitter. It just isn’t very interesting.

    I would be in favor of stopping the human rain delays. Without allowing a quick pitch, if the umpire doesn’t call time, then the pitcher should be allowed to pitch, even if the hitter is still preening through his routine outside the batter’s box.

    The only actual rule change to speed it up that I would favor is requiring that a reliever face a minimum of two hitters, not just one. That rule change would not really affect the character of the game, the way rules like pitch clocks would.

  3. Bill j

    Fun again like Al Hrabosky with his routine between pitches. I remember Sparky say he might have George Foster, right before Hrabosky was ready to pitch, call time and tell the umpire his jockstrap broke and he had to go get a new one.

  4. cfd3000

    Players weekend is such a gimmick and a money grab with yet another set of unis to sell to the fans that part of me is having a hard time getting behind it all. But there are three reasons why, in the end, I do approve.

    1. Baseball was so much fun to play. From t-shirt league (the first self pitch level for 8 year olds where I grew up) to Little League, Babe Ruth, high school and college I had a blast. And now I love watching it played at the very highest levels. It’s an amazing game of perfect proportions. 55′ or 65′ from the mound to home and the game is impossible, or way to easy 60′-6″ is perfect. Almost every stolen base is a close play and ground outs are so often bang-bang plays. At 85′ or 95′ that would totally change. And these guys are SO good. Have you seen Billy Hamilton in center field, or Nolan Arenado at third, or Joey Votto or Mike Trout or Mookie Betts with a bat? It’s astonishing. So anything that brings a few more fans to appreciate baseball is good.

    2. I’m not happy about Players weekend, but I could get pretty pumped about Players week, or Players month.

    3. Joey Votto (In Flanders Field) is on a level by himself and this is one more chance to see inside his strange and wonderful mind. The donkey, SuperBubs, his interaction with fans, and of course Gym Day with Jim Day. Magic. I’ve said for years he needs to be Captain with that C from Barry Larkin. And from now on I think of Joey as Big Poppy. He’s too weird to be real and I’m so glad he’s a Cincinnati Red.

  5. BigRedMachine

    This is only tangentially related but analytics have also helped to suck the fun out of baseball. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be used–a modern, analytic approach is clearly the superior path to winning baseball. But you know the old baseball adage of hope springs eternal? It doesn’t anymore. If I say, “Did you see what Player X did in AAA last year? I think he is going to make the team and then light the majors on fire!” The answer? “Nope. His WXYz metric is below 1.13 and his ABcDEf metric is above 5.4. We’ve looked at the last 3000 hitters in the minors and no one with those metrics has ever been able to handle major league pitching. There’s nothing to hope for. Player X ain’t going to ever make it in the big leagues.”

    Or a variation. “I think Votto is going to win the triple crown!” It just takes a simple analysis to show the inevitable decline in power with age. The statistics are telling the truth–as an aging human being it is impossible for Votto to ever win the triple crown. But having unrealistic dreams of your homegrown hero were part of the baseball fabric. Not anymore.

  6. David

    Pitchers used to throw at batters all the time. A lot worse than now.
    Go watch Euro-kick ball if that suits you.

  7. Michael Brownfield

    You know what has made the game no fun? Analytics, period. So boring.

    • BigRedMachine

      See my comment, like two above this one.

  8. Jeff Reed

    I will always love baseball and analytics have nothing to do with my dreams about the Reds. Their just a tool that the decision makers use more today than in the past.

  9. Michael E

    Baseball in high school does NOT bring the babes a calling. It’s all about basketball and football where glory is to be had and girls oohing and aaahing as a good player passes by in their letter-jacket.

    Unless your a first round draft pick (1 in 500,000 I guess) you probably would get a lot of “who is that?” and “how did he get a letter jacket, chess?”

    Seriously, half the athletes (just like half the musicians) do what they do as a teenager for hormonal purposes. I would have too if I wasn’t short and guitar-challenged (still can’t make a bar chord not buzz like a smartphone on vibrate).

    I have the SAME argument about soccer. Can you imagine the USMNT if stud athletes, that hide size and speed, were playing for USMNT? What if a Lebron James, Mike Trout, Antonio Brown and others had focused on soccer? There is a reason why the USMNT can’t compete with the powers of Europe and South America. It’s because stud athletes in those countries LOVE soccer and it DOES bring the babes there. It is the number 1 sport in nearly every country that isn’t Canada, U.S. and some frigid nordic countries (skiing and hockey prevail).

    Overall, baseball is A LOT better off than soccer, but mainly because of so many international players filling in the big gaps left by U.S. born athletes playing football and basketball.