Editor’s Note: Why is everyone trying to force it to be a certain thing when they can chill the fuck out and slam a cold one – Cam Lewis
Baseball is a beautiful sport. It’s peaceful, but also passionate. Simple, but complex. Mellow, but suspenseful.
As great as it can be, baseball currently has a problem: their fans fucking hate it. It seems like every month, there’s a new problem with how the game is played, whether it’s the time taken to complete games, the manner in which players carry themselves on the field, or how information has impacted both the product on the field and the presentation of it.
This is a sport guarded by purists that is impossible to change, and yet, all anybody wants to do is find ways to fix it.
You know what I love? Taking one of my hobbies and thinking of ways to shorten the time I spend doing it. Pace of play is currently one of the most pressing issues in the sport as people are trying to speed up something that they actually enjoy. If you read any of the reaction supporting a pitch clock or any other pace of play measure, you’d think some poor schmuck was subject to watching an endless loop of Yankees-Red Sox games with unlimited bullpens and extra innings.
Another unfuckingbelievable thing that baseball fans have to explain to people who don’t watch this sport is why throwing your bat in the air can be misconstrued as an act of war. Nothing in sports make grown people wet themselves quite like a baseball dude having a little fun.
Just last Sunday, 25-year-old David Bote, hit a WALK OFF GRAND SLAM OFF THE BENCH in just his 34th game in the bigs, punctuating it with an otherworldly bat flip that would come with overcoming a 3-0 deficit with one swing. Afterwards…he apologized? He fucking apologized for being too good and too happy in that one moment during Sunday Night Baseball.
“Obviously I meant no disrespect by any means,” he said on Chicago radio station WSCR 670. “It was just the heat of the moment, I got it good and I was wishing it out.”
Bote may be a good guy and truly feel bad for showing up the sad Nationals franchise, but he could just be saying that because he knows how dumb this sport can be. There’s a pretty good chance that he didn’t want vultures circling around his head and had to stand up straight and acknowledge that for a brief moment, he lost his head and forgot to play the game the right way.
This game, man. I’ll tell you what, if you show every player, coach, manager, analyst, and fan a few clips from the Korea Baseball Organization and encourage that brand of fun to become the norm. People might actually want to watch full games!
In addition to hating their idols showing any semblance of being human, some baseball fans will also gripe over something like analytics. In an era of the internet, and the endless amounts of information, you would assume that anybody would want to learn about something they claim to love.
And for the most part, baseball analytics are easy to access, comprehend, and digest once you get all the jargon down. Here you have a number that represents a real way to measure something in a game of outcomes, whether it be oSwing%, or, how often a hitter will chase a pitch outside the zone, or spray charts, that show where hitters put balls in play.
As a kid, I didn’t go to many games, but I knew a home run off the bat when I saw it on TV. The way the ball exploded off the bat just looked different when you knew it was going to go a long way. Fast forward all these years later, and that’s become a science called launch angle, and it’s what many fans, bloggers, writers, and front offices look at when judging how good a player is at the plate.
But for some reason, broadcasts and the mainstream media trying to educate even the most casual fan on the way the game is played on the field is seen as a bad thing. As a journalism student that avoided math like the plague growing up, I get it. It sucks. I can’t tell you the formulas for things like Fielding Independent Pitching, but these things have a place in the game and have undoubtedly made it better. The best part is, more information allows fans to understand how their team operates, or, hell, gives them even more ammunition to complain about the front office.
Baseball is a sport that will make you think and feel. You can spend hours, days, weeks, months, or even years trying to figure it out, only to realize that it’s impossible. The sport now is in a place where the actual game being played isn’t the only thing going on. You can surround yourself with thought and information from the sport from sun up till sun down, and do it all again the next day.
This isn’t the same game from the 1980s. It’s evolved, and we’re better for it.