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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Of cause and effect

It's remarkable to me that so many sports commentators completely lack the ability to understand the consequences of changes in the leagues they are covering, oftentimes of changes they themselves recommended.

Consider how Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk has no idea why viewership for the Major League Baseball All-Star game is down.
Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game garnered an all-time low 8.7 million viewers, continuing a downward trend in that game’s popularity. In the 1970s the MLB All-Star game routinely topped 30 million viewers, and until 1996 it had never dropped below 20 million. Now the MLB All-Star Game has had fewer than 12 million viewers for six consecutive years.
Florio thinks it is due to cable and satellite TV packages allowing people to watch whatever teams they want. That may be part of it, but I assume the much more significant factor is this:

For the first time in Major League Baseball history, teams from the American League and National League competed in regular season, head-to-head competition during the 1997 campaign.

What happened is that MLB considerably reduced the distinction between the American League and the National League. So it should not be surprising that far fewer people care anymore about a competition between them as a result. There is no longer anything special about interleague play, it's just part of the normal game now.

There is an important lesson in this for those NFL cretins who stupidly bemoan the fact that an 11-5 team in a strong division might miss the playoffs or be forced to play on the road against an 8-8 division winner. The more that differences between the eight divisions are enhanced, the more significance to a division title there is, leading to more interest in the playoffs and the playoff stretch run. It would make absolutely no sense for the NFL to go the way of the NBA, where divisions are irrelevant and it is only a team's win-loss rank in the conference that matters.

Fortunately, the NFL seems to understand this, as in the last three years they've modified their scheduling to ensure that the last two weeks of the season are loaded with intra-divisional competitions that are, more often than not, significant.

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97 Comments:

Anonymous Icicle July 14, 2016 6:36 AM  

Oh God I hope they bring back the XFL.

Anonymous Man of the Atom July 14, 2016 6:49 AM  

Sounds to me like a case for "nationalism" in sports.

Blogger Phillip George July 14, 2016 6:51 AM  

there's an equivalent of the long march through institutions happening here.
It took a generation or more to develop games into cultural icons, the stuff of national heritage.
It takes only months for progressives to use them as their personal cash cows, marketing tools, self gratification vehicle to destroy what "fathers and forefathers" developed in good will and actual gamesmanship.
Don't try to fix what isn't broken. Cultural elitism innovations usually aren't. To think of improving what developed over hundreds of years displays a spectacular level of narcissism.
It's another version of graffiti. Done by people with business suits and ties doesn't change the meaning of it. Vandalism has a lot of masks. Standing on the shoulder so giants only happens when you really are.

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 7:16 AM  

I can't speak for everyone but as a baseball maniac for my entire life, Vox is entirely right about this. And the list goes on and on and on. I'm still fairly young (mid to late 30s) but the things that have gone wrong in my lifetime are treacherous to the game:

1. Interleague Play
2. The All-Star game determining home field advantage in the WS
3. Unbalanced schedule
4. Introducing a Wild Card
5. Introducing a 2nd Wild Card
6. Manipulating the game for offense (and I'm not just talking PED)
7. Regular season baseball in Florida
8. Regular season baseball in Arizona
9. The tragedy of baseball being played in Colorado
10. Busting up rivalries

This needs more explanation but going from 2 divisions to 3 division was awful. The Reds are an NL West team as are the Braves. The hell with geography. The Cardinals, Cubs & Pirates are NL East teams. The Brewers are an AL East team. The Tigers & Indians are AL East teams. The Astros are a FUCKING NL TEAM!!! The Royals, Twins & White Sox are AL West teams. I think going to 3 divisions preserved some rivalries such as Cardinals/Cubs or Yankees/Red Sox but it killed others such as Reds/Giants, Braves/Giants, Reds/Dodgers, or Twins/A's. I don't go back to 1968 which was the last year of the single league without divisions but I can envision that being even better, but I'm OK with the 2-division format.

11. The lessening emphasis of the regular season.

A couple of points that Vox doesn't point out that I think does play a role are as follows:

12. The specialization of the pitcher. Even when I was a kid you didn't have starters going 5IP and letting 4 relievers pitch the last 4 innings. It takes incredible amounts of time especially when managers start playing lefty/righty matchups which could take forever. You see this especially in the postseason where games routinely go 4 hours. Starters are the star pitchers and you really didn't know who relievers were. Now if you are scouting or evaluating a game, you MUST know the bullpen. It's ridiculous as these players are typically failed starters. Starters need to go 7-8IP. This specialization makes the games awful and I'm saying this as a guy who actually loves bullpen management. To the average fan this is downright awful.

13. The influx of Latin American players. I've been a baseball fan my whole life. I think it's the greatest sport ever but I've lost a lot of interest in it due to so many Latin players associated with the sport. The game feels a lot less national and more international because of that and for me I lose interest because of it. I saw this up close in minor league ball when I played & to be honest I don't like latin american baseball culture. it turns me off big time with the way they play. I don't mean to make this into a racial issue, but I do feel like it has an impact as to why Joe Average American might be losing interest in the game.

I could go on and on and on about this. I hate what is happening to the game.

Blogger mary July 14, 2016 7:18 AM  

Cannot discount the competing factor of rising interest in other sports, namely swimming, soccer and lacrosse. Our three it's play baseball, but the teams are getting thinner and thinner in middle and high school up here in New England. Also, many kids now play one sport year round by age ten. We faced enormous pressure to have our sons in hockey camp all summer. Sorry, summer is for being outside.

Blogger Old Ez July 14, 2016 7:34 AM  

In the era of the soundbite, smartphone and vine video, who has time to sit down and watch a game that literally moves at a snail's pace? People used to watch baseball because there was nothing else to do.

Blogger Harold July 14, 2016 7:40 AM  

And then there are people like me who watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but not broadcast TV in years. Games just aren't that important in life.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 7:42 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous paradox July 14, 2016 7:49 AM  

Baseball Savant,

As a Braves fan, I can tell you, the Braves are the best minor league team in the majors. If I want to catch a baseball game, it's single A game over the uninspiring MLB games.

Blogger Fred July 14, 2016 7:49 AM  

Baseball is boring as heck.

Anonymous trk July 14, 2016 7:53 AM  

No. Back in the day, watching baseball was about working your ass off all day at the factory, come home, pop open a cold one, enjoy a game that you played as a kid but you watch it played w a master's skill. You weren't made to feel guilty from commercials or from the sports network. Your wife left you alone as she made dinner and your son's watched it w your enthusiasm, waiting to play catch w you. Today... You are laid off BC it's cheaper than dog shit to let Jose or Xin Chow do it overseas for worse quality. Your wife left you and took your kids w her. and they all hate you now. You're told everything you do is wrong. Hell even the sports network hates you now w their political commentary. AND to what BS said earlier... They change up the game too much. You can't even go to a MINOR league game without forking out a hundred bucks (ticket, parking, crazy food prices, a fucking arm band BC you want to enjoy a cold beer in peace.. PLUS you'll probably get mugged BC the tax funded stadiums are in the worst part of the town BC of some political bullshit.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 7:53 AM  

I can't help but think the divisions mean more to you than most NFL fans. Being a Vikings fan you grew up with one of the few divisions that actually kind of makes sense geographically. Packers... Vikings... Bears... Detroit.

contrast that with the AFC south that has Indianapolis instead of say... miami. of Dallas of all things being in the NFC East.

The divisions haven't meant anything to me since the realignment that broke up so many of the great old rivalries. Because those rivalries are all you have when there is no geographical consistency.

They gave up the former to get the latter... and we ended up with neither.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 7:55 AM  

also... baseball's viewership is down because baseball sucks. The pace of the game has reached the levels of farce. You can watch for 15 minutes and see about 2 pitches thrown. If you're lucky.

Blogger James Dixon July 14, 2016 7:55 AM  

> ...o why Joe Average American might be losing interest in the game.

For me, there was one moment when I completely lost interest in the game. The 1994 strike/lockout. I figured if the players and owners didn't care enough to play he game, there was no point in my caring either.

They've done nothing since to change my mind. The NFL at least had to sense to field teams in 1987.

Anonymous Slen July 14, 2016 7:57 AM  

9. paradox,

Yep, watching Minor Leagues is the way to go. Genuine hustle, easy on the wallet, lots of cool promotions.

Blogger James Dixon July 14, 2016 7:58 AM  

> You're told everything you do is wrong.

See Mike and Mike this morning where they were preaching how we had to do something about race relations in the country and how all of the listeners were part of the problem. I turned it off.

Anonymous Ryan ATL July 14, 2016 8:07 AM  

I know it's not possible but I wish American pro sports could move to the soccer single-table model. Everyone plays home and away. Or home this year and away next, alternating. The balanced schedule and simple math to figure out who is champion at the end of regular season is superior to the playoff system.

And relegation / promotion too. Split the NFL into 2 divisions.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 8:14 AM  

"The 1994 strike/lockout. "

yep.

Watched a lot of baseball myself until then. Shut it down and never earnestly tried to watch again.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 8:14 AM  

"I know it's not possible but I wish American pro sports could move to the soccer single-table model. "

shut up.

Blogger John Borell July 14, 2016 8:29 AM  

Watch college football and basketball doing the same thing-destroying regional and traditional rivalries to chase the immediate dollar but in the long term, killing what made them special. Maryland and Rutgers are in the Big Ten (er, Big Fourteen)?

Anonymous Jill July 14, 2016 8:29 AM  

Ah, okay. Writing inspiration at 6:30 effing a.m. when I can't sleep. Cheers. :)

Blogger Johnny July 14, 2016 8:34 AM  

The certain thing is that the Super Bowl concept was really big for football. It brings in new fans to the game.

I am not enough of a fan to watch the endless numbers of games and teams that currently make up the league. I like it a lot better with two leagues, and each team played its on league teams twice and the other league teams once. And then the grand final was the Super Bowel between the two leagues. Well, the good old days.

Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 8:35 AM  

I love baseball and agree with every point Baseball Savant made. I would move the specialization of the pitcher up and tie it in with the DH. It makes the game boring and long. I know everyone believes that they grew up in the greatest era, but the 80's may have actually been the best baseball. Two big reasons: Billy Martin and Whitey Herzog. I'll quote Whitey on why:

"Almost without exception, today's teams plan around the big blast. The goal is excitement. But the thing people don't realize is, even in a homer-happy era like ours, the long ball only happens a few times a game. The rest of the time, the players are mostly just standing around. Why? Well, if I'm on base, and the next guy up is liable to hit one into the next county, why the hell should I run? If I get thrown out stealing, that costs us a run. No, sir, I'm going to sit on my ass for the team."

One more thing that I would add to BS's list is the popularization and misunderstanding of Money Ball.

Blogger YIH July 14, 2016 8:45 AM  

Nate wrote:I can't help but think the divisions mean more to you than most NFL fans. Being a Vikings fan you grew up with one of the few divisions that actually kind of makes sense geographically. Packers... Vikings... Bears... Detroit.

contrast that with the AFC south that has Indianapolis instead of say... miami. of Dallas of all things being in the NFC East.

The divisions haven't meant anything to me since the realignment that broke up so many of the great old rivalries. Because those rivalries are all you have when there is no geographical consistency.

They gave up the former to get the latter... and we ended up with neither.


True, but of course the reason Dallas and Miami weren't moved in '02 was due to the rivalries they developed - in spite of geography.
Seattle never did build much of a rivalry with the AFC West, nor for that matter, the AFC in general. The main reason the whole 'Raiders and Chargers in LA' was a stupid idea was due to the fact they would have likely had to move one of those teams to the NFC. Also it would have likely forced the Seahawks back to the AFC, which they would NOT have been happy about.
Agreed with baseball, the games are too long, and too dull. Even worse than Latin players are the Japanese because they're a fairly recent addition to US baseball and do even more to 'internationalize' it.
Pro sports in general are becoming removed from their fan bases, NASCAR ratings and attendance are dwindling (and NASCAR is complaining ''how do we reach younger audiences?'') the NHL is struggling because they put teams in markets that make no sense, such as FL, AZ and twice in Atlanta (that team began as the Atlanta Flames) and now are seriously considering and expansion team in Las Vegas a city no other pro sport would touch with a ten-foot pole (for obvious reasons).
The whining about blacks, baseball especially, is also getting tiresome.

Blogger VD July 14, 2016 8:47 AM  

I know it's not possible but I wish American pro sports could move to the soccer single-table model.

That would be INSANELY stupid. The single-table model doesn't work and keeps the championship rotating between the same 3-4 teams every year.

The only reason it works at all is that the teams are not conventional corporations, but grew out of club associations.

Blogger YIH July 14, 2016 8:52 AM  

Nate wrote:"I know it's not possible but I wish American pro sports could move to the soccer single-table model. "

shut up.

Aw c'mon, the table form of soccer is actually pretty fun :)

Blogger VoodooJock July 14, 2016 8:54 AM  

Baseball Savant: I'm surprised the DH isn't on your list

Anonymous Crusader Corim July 14, 2016 8:58 AM  

I agree with Baseball Savant.

Except the Colorado point. You can have the Rockies when you pry them from my cold dead hands.

Anonymous BGKB July 14, 2016 8:59 AM  

Covering for someone at a sports clinic that was out pregnant was enough to kill any enjoyment I could derive from pro sports. The docs there knew what PED someone was on by their injuries.

@4 13. The influx of Latin American players. I've been a baseball fan my whole life

If the latin players had skill instead of shooting up horse testosterone, would it have made a difference? I listened to the interview of the guy paid to draw/test A Rods blood literally every day to make sure his testosterone wouldn't be too high at times he could be tested.

Pro sports in general are becoming removed from their fan bases, NASCAR ratings and attendance are dwindling

Lets ban the confederate flag. Dang it we got a nagga and a girl driver to boast audiences maybe a naggargirl like Riri would work better.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 9:05 AM  

", NASCAR ratings and attendance are dwindlin"

NASCAR committed suicide by stupidity when it opted to try to appeal to idiot yankees.

The Car of Tomorrow... which is a glorified Chrysler LeBaron is the dumbest thing I have ever seen a sports league do.

Blogger ODG July 14, 2016 9:17 AM  

Baseball is best experienced live, or on the radio. But at a live game, you have to actually be ABLE to experience it, and in the nosebleed seats of a MLB stadium one is hard pressed to feel like you're live at all. You get a better view on TV. I agree with the comments about Minor League games being better. If you're lucky to live near an 1880's-style baseball league, even better. Those teams are a blast to watch.

Regarding the radio, baseball is the perfect pace for listening to while working on other projects. America now being a all-video, all-the-time culture has hurt baseball's popularity.

I also agree with the influx of latin players as a big factor, but it's more than that. It's also the player turnover, always jockeying to build the WS team. There's no consistency to the roster, so you never get a chance to invest in "your" team.

Anonymous The OASF July 14, 2016 9:17 AM  

"The more that differences between the eight divisions are enhanced, the more significance to a division title there is, leading to more interest in the playoffs and the playoff stretch run."

Nobody really cares about the divisions - a punched playoff card is a punched playoff card as the Wildcard round is almost always a death trap - though the age of parity has changed this somewhat.

The Wildcard round-bye and the guaranteed home divisional playoff game is the real bounty in the NFL playoff system.

"There is an important lesson in this for those NFL cretins who stupidly bemoan the fact that an 11-5 team in a strong division might miss the playoffs or be forced to play on the road against an 8-8 division winner."

The simple solution to these outlier situations: to qualify for the playoffs an NFL team must win the division COMBINED with a minimum numbers of wins, i.e. a winning record or, as I would prefer it, a 10-6 record. I'll settle for 9-7 (or for the truly anal 8-7-1) as it would at least prevent another Tebow 3:16 playoff tragedy of which I am still pissed about - the wonderful Ike Taylor "Burn Unit" joke factory that was subsequently created notwithstanding.

Non-qualifying division winners would then simply be replaced by a 3rd conference wildcard with the qualifying record. This situation would rarely happen, but would solve some of the inequity and keep the system's integrity alive.

Anonymous FriarBob July 14, 2016 9:24 AM  

I'm unsure on the effect, but I think you are wrong on the cause. It wasn't a well thought out plan to save divisional importance. It was just using that existing divisional animosity to reduce the number of wk 17 games folks tanked when they were either eliminated or unable to improve their seed.

In contrast, the morons continue to seek a 17 or 18 week season, or a seventh playoff seed. Either of which would do FAR more to eliminate divisional importance than the wk17 schedule provided to keep it.

The automatic "ticket" may actually help keep the rivalries strong, and that may actually be a good thing. But it wasn't planned, it was an accidental side bennie.

Blogger Lazarus July 14, 2016 9:27 AM  

It was over when the Dodgers left Brooklyn.

Blogger beerme July 14, 2016 9:28 AM  

The strike killed baseball for me as a kid. I went from playing the game and watching every summer night to nothing amost instantly.

I do agree with Florio somewhat on his point though. I've been watching a ton of rugby lately, it makes the wait for college football to begin slightly less painful.

I'm biased against baseball, but can a radio paced game compete for viewers in this streaming video era?

Anonymous The OASF July 14, 2016 9:31 AM  

What has killed baseball... is of a very cuckservative nature and I think you all know what I mean.

Has nothing whatsoever to do with inter-league play.

OpenID basementhomebrewer July 14, 2016 9:39 AM  

Speaking of cause and effect

When migrants show up on the elite's doorstep they don't react very well. Maybe we should be funneling more of them the Beverly hills, The Hamptons and Manhattan?

Anonymous andon July 14, 2016 9:40 AM  

for baseball I noticed that there were more and more photos of beaners in the stands a few years ago and I started to see an pro illegal immigration agenda so I said bye bye MLB

for NFL I stopped watching and paying attn. maybe 5 years ago because of the crotch grabbing, in your face, thug culture - typified by the seattle seahawks

before this I used to listen sports talk radio or conservative talk radio all day every day

Blogger YIH July 14, 2016 9:43 AM  

@32 That was the problem I had last year, it seems the way it's become is that one division's so lousy that arguably none of it's teams belong in the playoffs.
WTH were the Cowboys (a team that had pretty much written off the season) still a possibility to make it - with a sub .500 record! Luckily, (I guess) the Redskins managed to win their last two games and get in at 9-7.

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 9:58 AM  

"Baseball Savant: I'm surprised the DH isn't on your list"

Believe me, it's on there.

Anonymous andon July 14, 2016 10:01 AM  

from link @ #37

Tourist Arab Israeli Maher said: ‘I think everyone should be able to travel wherever they want to go. Europe is meant to be a place where you can travel without borders. This should not be just for people from Europe but for everyone from whatever country.’

isn't that cute?

OpenID basementhomebrewer July 14, 2016 10:10 AM  

andon wrote:from link @ #37

Tourist Arab Israeli Maher said: ‘I think everyone should be able to travel wherever they want to go. Europe is meant to be a place where you can travel without borders. This should not be just for people from Europe but for everyone from whatever country.’

isn't that cute?



Lorry driver Lucky Obera, 29, fled his home in Nigeria after receiving death threats.
He said: ‘I had a crash in my lorry and killed a man. Then his family tried to kill me. I had to escape.


I rather enjoyed this one. I am sure some EU country will be issuing him a new European license so he can increase the vibrancy on their roadways.

Blogger VD July 14, 2016 10:12 AM  

The simple solution to these outlier situations: to qualify for the playoffs an NFL team must win the division COMBINED with a minimum numbers of wins, i.e. a winning record or, as I would prefer it, a 10-6 record. I'll settle for 9-7 (or for the truly anal 8-7-1) as it would at least prevent another Tebow 3:16 playoff tragedy of which I am still pissed about - the wonderful Ike Taylor "Burn Unit" joke factory that was subsequently created notwithstanding.

No. Who gives a damn? If records are definitive, there is no reason to have playoffs at all. If the win-loss record is everything, then it should be done the way the European soccer leagues do it and the title should be awarded to the team with the best record.

If you want to make it to the playoffs, win your division. Period.

Blogger VD July 14, 2016 10:13 AM  

No, Josh, you shut up. He quit watching for whatever reason he quit watching. Your opinion of that is irrelevant.

Blogger Josh July 14, 2016 10:14 AM  

I would like to see the NFL remove one wild card team, giving only one team a first round bye

Blogger Josh July 14, 2016 10:16 AM  

No, Josh, you shut up. He quit watching for whatever reason he quit watching. Your opinion of that is irrelevant.

Sorry

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 10:32 AM  

I think this is worth mentioning in regard to the 94 strike because I agree with Nate's sentiment in that this really sealed the deal for quite a few people not watching baseball. After the players returned in 1995 I think baseball was looking around for something to rally around & bring the fans back to the game. This happened in a couple of ways:

1. 1995 - Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig's record
2. 1997 - Griffey's chase for 61 and Clemens' INSANE year

but what really brought it together was 1998 when McGwire & Sosa chased Maris with McGwire eventually breaking the record. That summer was nuts because the chase for 61 was all anyone could think or talk about. It was incredibly historic as it was close to the Maris/Mantle chase of Ruth in 1961. Or course the guys were likable and all the SJWs were happy because Sosa was a latin player who was on the TV every night.

There was certainly an increase in homers leading up to the 1994 strike but I don't think it had gotten CRAZY out of hand the way it was once Griffey started hitting 56HR per season and even then that might be in line given just how good Griffey was as a hitter.

But baseball fell in love with hitting & I think that also led to the problems with PEDs. I've always thought of this as a problem not unlike the 1968 "Year of the Pitcher". After that season baseball lowered the mound, moved some fences in, expanded to get some worse pitchers in the game and tried to sway the game back towards hitting.

If baseball (or Bud Selig & the owners) would have gotten out in front of the PED problem, they would have seen it coming and moved the fences back, raised the mound, raised the seams on a baseball and even potentially deaden the ball a bit. Instead, baseball kept building bandboxes as stadiums, they kept expanding which made pitching depth non-existent, they lowered the seams, they wound the balls tighter and they shrunk the strikezone even further.

To me this killed baseball more than any other thing. The numbers matter, but they don't matter anymore because of PEDs. Baseball could have made PEDs irrelevant by changing the game to bring back the harmony between pitching & hitting. Instead they went off the rails towards favoring more hitting.

As an aside, we can talk all we want to about the sport dying and I'll even concede that baseball is a regional sport moreso than a national sport the way the NFL is. With that said, it's hard to hammer the sport as dead when attendance is booming & the little used LOOGY in your pen is getting a multi-year guaranteed contract paying him 10-12 million a year.

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 10:35 AM  

"If you want to make it to the playoffs, win your division. Period."

Agree completely and this is another one of the reasons baseball sucks now. One of the best baseball races I've ever seen was the 1993 NL West. The Braves won that with 104 wins. The Giants finished 2nd with 103 wins. They were the two best records in the game, but SF didn't make the playoffs because they didn't win the West.

Now of course they'd be a Wild Card team which completely sucks. Them not making the playoffs was the better story.

Blogger Josh July 14, 2016 10:40 AM  

Baseball is so much better in person than on tv

Anonymous Mob-Rules July 14, 2016 10:44 AM  

Vox is right. Some of these sports casters have even called for the NBA to just outright eliminate the conferences and do a straight playoff seeding because of the so called "weakness" of the Eastern Conference. Screw that, it will make the playoffs worse than they are now. Now they are howling to the heavens that the latest crooked commissioner should do something about free agents forming super teams in the NBA ala Lebron James and Kevin Durant. If you don't want them to have easy title victories, get better coaches, train your squad well and stop them from getting to the playoffs. And if they do make it to the playoffs, stop them there. They still have to play the game.

Anonymous BGKB July 14, 2016 10:47 AM  

Israeli Maher said: ‘I think everyone should be able to travel wherever they want to go. Europe is meant to be a place where you can travel without borders. This should not be just for people from Europe but for everyone from whatever country.’

I think he just changed me to an Israel Firster. Yes do that in Israel first.

Anonymous Hrw-500 July 14, 2016 10:56 AM  

@14 James Dixon
"For me, there was one moment when I completely lost interest in the game. The 1994 strike/lockout. I figured if the players and owners didn't care enough to play he game, there was no point in my caring either."

And I still have some grudge about it, mainly against Donald Fehr who was the Major League Baseball Players Association and he's now currently the head of the National Hockey League Players Association. >_< That strike blew the only chance then the Montreal Expos could had made to the World Series. I begin to ponder if there wasn't some sort of conspiracy to not allow the Expos winning a NL pennant and the World Series after the 2 championships won by the Toronto Blue Jays?... The Expos moved to Washington and was renamed the Washington Nationals since then.

Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 11:13 AM  

Perfect example. I loathe the Wild Card. Of course, I'm an Evansville, IN native, worshipped Don Mattingly, and love the Yankees (sorry Nate) so 2004 may have an impact on my hatred.

Anonymous liljoe July 14, 2016 11:18 AM  

the wildcard and realignment of league divisions was the beginning of the end. pennant race? literally has no meaning anymore. the great Giants Dodgers pennant races of my youth were eliminated by league bureaucrats, encouraged by shortsighted leftist espn talking heads, like that dude on the $20 bill. there was a time it could be argued that the baseball regular season was the most important of all major sports b c only two teams from each league qualified for post season. no longer the case, and this time of year has become the most excruciatingly boring because who cares about baseball games in july and August?

did anyone else catch that home run derby performance by Stanton? epic

Blogger Cail Corishev July 14, 2016 11:26 AM  

I think this ties somewhat into the topic of people getting dumber, because I've noticed that many of the main pro sports have shifted their emphasis to shorter, simpler plays that are heavy on suspense and short-term excitement but light on strategy and importance to the overall game.

In football, spread offense and passing rather than the run. In baseball, home runs. In basketball, 3-pointers. In golf, crush the ball 350 yards and then scramble.

In each case, you get more plays that make exciting TV snippets and good slow-motion replays, that can be enjoyed by people who aren't watching the whole game and/or don't understand it beyond a superficial level.

I don't know if it's intentional, so much as leagues just giving a dumber population of fans what they want. You have to understand the sport to appreciate a 15-play, 3-pass TD drive in football, or a basketball player getting an easy layup because he spent 10 seconds working hard without the ball to get in position on the block.

I think some of it also comes from the constant attempt to create more female fans. Women who watch football -- if they're watching at all, and not just there to socialize with the guys -- are not watching to see how well the linemen pull and create holes for the running back. Ditto other sports. They want big, obvious plays so they can cheer in time with everyone else.

Anonymous andon July 14, 2016 11:30 AM  

47. Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 10:32 AM

1. 1995 - Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig's record


this was shameful. didn't he bat around .200 in some of his later years? it was all about him and not the team winning just so he could pretend he was somehow on par with Lou Gehrig

Anonymous Smile Of the Shadow July 14, 2016 11:39 AM  

Great analysis. Agreed about interleague play -- which I as a baseball fan hate. It's fun for the 2 games a year the local AL/NL rivals play but that's about it. It was a bad move for some short term gains while people decided to look, but now it's become normal, it's not exciting at all. It's just adding a DH or subtracting one which is annoying for a team not built to do that.

The all-star game is further compounded in that it's just people who vote most of the team in -- this year, Chicago and Boston overrepresented and a lot of markets like the SF Bay Area or rust belt area had no real reason to watch. There used to be an effort for more "every team" representation. And yes, they still have one person per team but it's usually a relief pitcher or someone who's not going to even play.

Anonymous FP July 14, 2016 11:40 AM  

Count me as another who lost interest after the '94 strike. I was still in high school and it killed the chances of the Giants getting in the series that year, along with if I remember right Matt Williams on track to break the HR record.

After that, I just didn't care. At least until the Bo Sox won in '04. Then I went back to not caring.

Blogger Jon D. July 14, 2016 11:42 AM  

@56 -- First, batting average is a bad metric to determine a player's worth. Ripken was one of the best defensive players in the league even up til his retirement, which we're just now starting to learn about defensive metrics. Only his final year though did he have a weighted on base average that was lower than league average or even excellent compared to league average. And only that retirement year his batting average was .239, the worst of his career -- something was probably wrong health wise but farewell tour time. Ripken was and is one of the greatest players of all time, nothing shameful about him other than a work ethic like none other.

Blogger praetorian July 14, 2016 11:44 AM  

13. The influx of Latin American players. I've been a baseball fan my whole life. I think it's the greatest sport ever but I've lost a lot of interest in it due to so many Latin players associated with the sport.

Excellent post. May I add one, related:

14. Bat flips

Baseball has always been the least muh dik sport not played in frozen hell holes. Now we have to watch the Blue Jays chimp-out their way through the playoffs.

Blogger U PC BRO? July 14, 2016 11:46 AM  

Baseball used to benefit handsomely from playing in the summer, when TV shows were on hiatus and other sports were dark. The internet, on demand video, 300 channels, etc has hurt a lot. It does have one redeeming quality - you can take a family of 4 to a game for far less than the other major sports. I can do a baseball game for less than $100, whereas the NFL will be 4-5 times that.

Blogger bob k. mando July 14, 2016 11:49 AM  

30. Nate July 14, 2016 9:05 AM
The Car of Tomorrow... which is a glorified Chrysler LeBaron is the dumbest thing I have ever seen a sports league do.




the template body is actually a huge problem at many levels of racing, from local circle track all the way up.

remember when you could see a turbine engine car compete at Indy?

you never used to know what you were going to see or how it would be perform.

now, the only difference between brands ( except at the very bottom levels ) is the shape of the tail light decals.

Anonymous Roundtine July 14, 2016 11:50 AM  

The NHL All-Star game sucked for the same reason. Now they've gone to having captains pick players, so it's just a random mix of players. And when fans picked an enforcer as one of the captains, the league let it play out and had probably the best All-Star game since that POS Bettman took over.

Hockey is also slowly going back to the divisional match-ups. They are 3/4s of the way there because the last wild card plays the top team, regardless of division. Rivalries were much more intense in the 80s under the old format where the first two rounds of the playoffs were intra-division only. I'm still pissed they got rid of all the old names like the Adams and Patrick divisions. Bettman came over from the NBA and destroyed all the tradition.

Anonymous Roundtine July 14, 2016 11:55 AM  

This might not work as a format, but I'd prefer if the division record alone determined the division winner in football, baseball and hockey and then wild cards are based on overall schedule. Division rivalry is the best part of sports and it makes the rivals all the more important because even when your team is a sub-basement crap squad, they always have a shot to destroy the playoff hopes of your hated rivals. That's why the last games of the season tend to be divisional games, because the odds of an consequential outcome are higher.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 12:00 PM  

" I'm an Evansville, IN native,"

Right across the river from my home town.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 12:00 PM  

"Baseball is so much better in person than on tv"

baseball is so much better in high school than in the majors.

Blogger Josh July 14, 2016 12:02 PM  


I think this ties somewhat into the topic of people getting dumber, because I've noticed that many of the main pro sports have shifted their emphasis to shorter, simpler plays that are heavy on suspense and short-term excitement but light on strategy and importance to the overall game.

In football, spread offense and passing rather than the run. In baseball, home runs. In basketball, 3-pointers. In golf, crush the ball 350 yards and then scramble.


I think money ball and analytics is more responsible.

Blogger Josh July 14, 2016 12:03 PM  

baseball is so much better in high school than in the majors.

College baseball games are a lot of fun

Anonymous andon July 14, 2016 12:12 PM  

60. Blogger praetorian July 14, 2016 11:44 AM

14. Bat flips

Baseball has always been the least muh dik sport not played in frozen hell holes. Now we have to watch the Blue Jays chimp-out their way through the playoffs.


vin: "wow, he flipped the bat 100 ft that time, I think its a new record"

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 12:15 PM  

"In football, spread offense and passing rather than the run. "

the spread isn't simple... well depending on the spread you're talking about. Air Raid for example is "simple" in that it on has a few specific plays... but it requires lot of analysis and decision making from the skill players.

Passing offense in general requires more mental focus than a rushing attack. Consider a zone based rushing attack... the only one who actually has some decisions to make is the RB. The OL doesn't even have to push anyone anywhere specific.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 14, 2016 12:32 PM  

I think money ball and analytics is more responsible.

True, that's part of it. They ran the numbers and realized home runs and 3-pointers were more valuable than they had thought. But there have also been rules and stadium/course changes that made the "big" plays more valuable as well.

Nate, I don't mean passing is simpler for the players; I mean a big pass completion is simpler for the very casual fan to appreciate than a run-run-pass-run-run drive. It doesn't tax their attention span as much.

For the most part, all the leagues I've mentioned are doing very well, making more money than ever. People are watching games and buying the merchandise. I just think those watching are more casual fans than ever, while people who really know and love the sports themselves are falling away.

Or I could just be saying, "Get off my lawn!"

Anonymous Anarchopurplism July 14, 2016 12:36 PM  

The suspense associated with a single elimination game is why the NFL Playoffs, "round of 16 & beyond" of international soccer, last few holes of a PGA Major & March Madness are must-see in my opinion.

I don't like watching hours & hours of "moments that don't really matter" or games where athletes coast. Or, as in the NBA, sometimes the best players don't even show up!

When there is pressure associated with high-stakes, it makes game strategy & tactical execution more interesting. It's easy to pursue a high risk game plan or tactical movement if you can make up for it later.

In fact, Coaches have to factor this into their decision-making process. It helps if they have developed composure...ahem Andy Reid & Brad Childress. Pressure increases complexity.

The MLB, NHL, Club Soccer & the NBA suck because the regular season doesn't REALLY matter. If the NFL were to add in 2-4 more teams to the playoffs or eliminate divisions, it would undoubtedly lead to a decline in interest.

Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 12:52 PM  

Nate wrote:" I'm an Evansville, IN native,"

Right across the river from my home town.


My friends from Indianapolis call it Evanstucky. I don't see that as an insult coming from them.

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 1:00 PM  

" I'm an Evansville, IN native,"

Right across the river from my home town.

I'm an Evansville, IN native too! Are you from Henderson Nate??? My whole family is from Cloverport!

Blogger Were-Puppy July 14, 2016 1:01 PM  

@31 ODG
Baseball is best experienced live, or on the radio.
---

Agree 100%.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 14, 2016 1:05 PM  

Baseball Savant wrote:There was certainly an increase in homers leading up to the 1994 strike but I don't think it had gotten CRAZY out of hand the way it was once Griffey started hitting 56HR per season and even then that might be in line given just how good Griffey was as a hitter.

'Roids. Griffey was a 'roid monster, like Sosa, like ARod. Yes, Griffey was a good hitter, but without the 'roids a lot of those homers would have been doubles. Same with Sosa.

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 1:07 PM  

"this was shameful. didn't he bat around .200 in some of his later years? it was all about him and not the team winning just so he could pretend he was somehow on par with Lou Gehrig"

No Ripken was good. He should have hung them up after 1999 though. He broke the record in 1995. I don't think anyone was putting him o par with Gehrig who anyone could make a fabulous case of being the greatest hitter of all time. All Ripken did was stay healthy & for a shortstop he was pretty great for a very long time. Of course we aren't talking about the night Baltimore said there were "Electrical faults" in the stadium when Ripken found Kevin Costner in bed with his wife & didn't make it to the game.

All that said, the spectacle was pretty amazing that night.

Anonymous Cash July 14, 2016 1:09 PM  

Baseball has a TV problem but not a money or interest problem. The attendance is actually pretty good.

I think Cail is on to something. A lot of "fans" are not really fans. It's like the people here in the south that only care about college football and only care about their team. They are not really fans of the game but they like being a part of something.

Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 1:12 PM  

"'Roids. Griffey was a 'roid monster, like Sosa, like ARod. Yes, Griffey was a good hitter, but without the 'roids a lot of those homers would have been doubles. Same with Sosa."

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you. Griffey was a once in a generation hitter though and I think you can at least make an argument for Griffey not being on gear because his career was pretty much over by the time he was 30. Look at these averges:

Ages 19-30: 140G, 296-36-106 with 16SB
Ages 31-40: 99G, 260-19-57 with 1SB

Those are per year averages. Maybe Griffey used gear & it took a significant toll on him to the point where his body couldn't hold up at all. Or you could argue that Griffey got to the majors very young (19) which typically Hall of Famers do, had an incredible prime from ages 23-28 and then flamed out which happens as players age.

I'm not entirely ready to put Griffey in the same camp as Sosa & ARod. Griffey is a HOFer. I can agree with that given his talent. He's not an inner circle HOFer.

Blogger Were-Puppy July 14, 2016 1:16 PM  

As a Braves fan, I somehow lost interest in MLB after the big cat retired. Not entirely sure why. Probably because I moved out of the state for a year or so and didn't pick the hobby back up when I returned.

Blogger Nate July 14, 2016 1:38 PM  

"I'm an Evansville, IN native too! Are you from Henderson Nate??? My whole family is from Cloverport! "

no but close enough. I was born in the Big O

Anonymous andon July 14, 2016 1:52 PM  

59. Blogger Jon D. July 14, 2016 11:42 AM
@56 -- First, batting average is a bad metric to determine a player's worth. Ripken was one of the best defensive players in the league even up til his retirement, which we're just now starting to learn about defensive metrics. Only his final year though did he have a weighted on base average that was lower than league average or even excellent compared to league average. And only that retirement year his batting average was .239, the worst of his career -- something was probably wrong health wise but farewell tour time. Ripken was and is one of the greatest players of all time, nothing shameful about him other than a work ethic like none other.


he was one of the most overrated of all time. How was his range as a SS in his later years? tell me about great defensive prowess then, lol.

he made the All-Star team every year after his 2nd season but look at his mediocre OPS numbers, especially 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/ripkeca01.shtml

this guy pssed me off, he didn't earn those All-Star appearances.

also there was a year in there when he was going for the record where his batting average was around .200 for at least a good part of the season and as it was later in his career so he didn't have the defensive range either - if he had any HONOR and cared more about the team than himself he would have removed himself from the lineup.

Anonymous andon July 14, 2016 2:03 PM  

77. Anonymous Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 1:07 PM

No Ripken was good. He should have hung them up after 1999 though. He broke the record in 1995. I don't think anyone was putting him o par with Gehrig who anyone could make a fabulous case of being the greatest hitter of all time. All Ripken did was stay healthy & for a shortstop he was pretty great for a very long time. Of course we aren't talking about the night Baltimore said there were "Electrical faults" in the stadium when Ripken found Kevin Costner in bed with his wife & didn't make it to the game.

All that said, the spectacle was pretty amazing that night.


and the difference in the men?

one said I consider myself the luckiest....while dying like a man

the other lets his team suffer because of his selfish pursuit of a silly record


Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 2:05 PM  

Baseball Savant wrote:"I'm not entirely ready to put Griffey in the same camp as Sosa & ARod. Griffey is a HOFer. I can agree with that given his talent. He's not an inner circle HOFer.

Hell, Griffey is only the second best left handed centerfield from Donora, PA!

Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 2:43 PM  

andon wrote:59. Blogger Jon D. July 14, 2016 11:42 AM

@56 -- First, batting average is a bad metric to determine a player's worth. Ripken was one of the best defensive players in the league even up til his retirement, which we're just now starting to learn about defensive metrics. Only his final year though did he have a weighted on base average that was lower than league average or even excellent compared to league average. And only that retirement year his batting average was .239, the worst of his career -- something was probably wrong health wise but farewell tour time. Ripken was and is one of the greatest players of all time, nothing shameful about him other than a work ethic like none other.


he was one of the most overrated of all time. How was his range as a SS in his later years? tell me about great defensive prowess then, lol.

he made the All-Star team every year after his 2nd season but look at his mediocre OPS numbers, especially 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995

this guy pssed me off, he didn't earn those All-Star appearances.

also there was a year in there when he was going for the record where his batting average was around .200 for at least a good part of the season and as it was later in his career so he didn't have the defensive range either - if he had any HONOR and cared more about the team than himself he would have removed himself from the lineup.



You are just wrong:

Wins Above Replacement
1989 - 5.3, 1st in AL, 2nd in ML
1990 - 6.2, 1st in AL, 1st in ML
1992 - 3.7, 3rd in AL, 6th in ML
1993 - 3.7, 3rd in AL, 5th in ML
1995 - 4.1, 2nd in AL, 3rd in ML

Now he was not the same player after 1991 (11.5 WAR!!!), but he was still a top 3 SS in the AL in his bad OPS years you cited and a top 5 SS in the ML.

Anonymous andon July 14, 2016 2:57 PM  

@ #85 - yeah good point, I didn't consider WAR - prob mostly related to the position he played though. I still don't like him - selfish, selfish player

Blogger James Dixon July 14, 2016 3:14 PM  

> Baseball is best experienced live, or on the radio.

If this is the game I think it is, you all might like it: http://www.old-games.com/download/4848/radio-baseball

Blogger James Dixon July 14, 2016 3:41 PM  

Hmm, if no that one, it might be this one: http://www.old-games.com/download/4800/oldtime-baseball

Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 3:50 PM  

I've played this game in the past

https://www.ootpdevelopments.com/out-of-the-park-baseball/

Blogger bob k. mando July 14, 2016 3:57 PM  

74. Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 1:00 PM
I'm an Evansville, IN native too! Are you from Henderson Nate???



Scuffletown.

Anonymous BGKB July 14, 2016 4:07 PM  

'Roids. Griffey was a 'roid monster, like Sosa, like ARod. Yes, Griffey was a good hitter, but without the 'roids a lot of those homers would

Compare Sammy Sosa's rookie card to a pic of him when he beat babe Ruth's record. Not only do they not look like the same person but on his rookie card he appears to be older. There was a meme going around that had both pics.

Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 4:08 PM  

bob k. mando wrote:74. Baseball Savant July 14, 2016 1:00 PM

I'm an Evansville, IN native too! Are you from Henderson Nate???


Scuffletown.


Ha!

Blogger James Dixon July 14, 2016 4:40 PM  

> I've played this game in the past

The one I'm remembering had an announcer who did the play by play for the game. That's what I thought the folks here might like.

Blogger c0pperheaded July 14, 2016 4:53 PM  

James Dixon wrote:> I've played this game in the past

The one I'm remembering had an announcer who did the play by play for the game. That's what I thought the folks here might like.


Got ya. The one you linked to is the right one. Mel Allen and Curt Gowdy do play-by-play.

Blogger Akulkis July 14, 2016 11:50 PM  

@16

Considering that ESPN is SJW converged and has been for some time now, why in the hell do you even turn them on in the first place?

Seriously -- by merely tuning in, you're giving them ratings, which == $$$$.

STOP THAT!

Blogger Akulkis July 14, 2016 11:56 PM  

@18 Nate wrote:"The 1994 strike/lockout. "

yep.

Watched a lot of baseball myself until then. Shut it down and never earnestly tried to watch again.


Indeed -- when they were demanding that even benchwarmers be paid a minimum of $500k/year, I decided that the player's union was absolutely nuts.
I can see large salaries for football and hockey players -- their bodies take a LOT of abuse over the course of even a single season.

Baseball and basketball players -- both are way overpaid -- except for pitchers who managed to last more than 5 seasons or so; pitchers usually end up with lifelong damage to the shoulder of the throwing arm.

Blogger Akulkis July 15, 2016 12:27 AM  

@39

YIH wrote:@32 That was the problem I had last year, it seems the way it's become is that one division's so lousy that arguably none of it's teams belong in the playoffs.

WTH were the Cowboys (a team that had pretty much written off the season) still a possibility to make it - with a sub .500 record! Luckily, (I guess) the Redskins managed to win their last two games and get in at 9-7.


You see, this is one of those penny-wise, pound-foolish decisions by nearly all of the leagues ... making more divisions for the mere sake of making it possible for more teams to make the playoffs -- and by having a multiple of 3 divisions -- this means wildcard slots, which makes for even MORE playoff teams -- all so that they can get more TV revenue -- who cares that 50% of the teams that make the playoffs don't even belong there -- it's "PLAYOFF GAMES," DAMMIT, because playoff games = bonus $$$$.

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