Thursday, October 21, 2021

That wailing sound you hear...

It's the sound of Fox Sports executives pondering a World Series between Houston and Atlanta.


13bit said...

MLB deserves whatever they get for the “product” they offer.

AboveAverage said...

RoboCop Umpires - careful what WE (I said we) wish for

bennyboy said...

Ratings will decline unless the Yankees are in it. The sport is unwatchable. Only lunatics like us watch. It's become a tedious chore to watch even the best teams, like the Dodgers or Astros. I love what analytics did to basketball, but I think it's made baseball a much less entertaining game.

HoraceClarke66 said...

I'd love to see MLB sweat that out, too, but not so fast. LA roared back today; Atlanta should've finished them in four when they had the chance.

As to the game...yeah, I talk about this with all my baseball friends: What can be done to save the game?

It's begun to feel like our national political debate: What can be done to save America? All sorts of things—if we have the will to do them.

Hazel Motes said...

Here's what can be done to save the game: rescue it from the caterwauling antiquarians who rail against analytics without having read a book on the subject.

These alarums about baseball's declining popularity have been sounding for sixty years. Meanwhile, attendance now dwarfs where it was during the old fogies' "golden age" of the thirties to the fifties, and the sport keeps setting new records for revenues (the COVID-truncated year excepted, of course). The fogies are just echoing the laments of TV executives who worry about national ratings; local ratings are still pretty good, though down from 2019 a bit.

Yet some people believe the sky is falling because teams are less inclined to implement low-odds, counterproductive, outmoded strategies like bunts, stolen bases, and hit-and-run plays, and are more inclined to successful, evidence-based strategies such as defensive shifts and shorter pitching stints. These same people would understand the reasons for strategic evolutions if they would study the data from the entire history of the game, which wasn't available to GM's fifty or sixty years ago.

el duque said...

An interesting premise Barney, and there are certainly nuggets of truth to it. We are old fogeys. But we aren't alone, and attendance may dwarf the 1930s, but it's down in many cities.

Also, sometimes, when everybody says it's raining, it's raining.

Doug K. said...

1) There should probably be a hybrid approach to the game. One for the season, which at 162 games allows for analytics to dominate because they require a large sample and another for the playoffs, where bunting a guy over or stealing a base in a one run game can be the difference.

2) Also, players get hot for brief periods of time. Over a year not that important. In a short series yes. Don't take your pitcher out if he's cruising even though it's the dreaded third time through the order.

Electric talent beats plodders in the playoffs. Speaking of plodders...

3) MLB should never lose sight that they are an ENTERTAINMENT product. 3 true outcomes is boring. 4 hour games with 10 pitching changes are boring. The rise of the faceless nameless middle reliever is boring. Watching guys strike out 200 times is boring. Not stealing bases, not bunting, BORING!

The missionary position will provide an male orgasm pretty much 100% of the time but it is rarely described as great sex.

4) Baseball in 1955 was a 16 team league. Now it's 30. So league attendance in 2021 should dwarf the earlier era.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

A few responses:

1. I always thought bunting was stupid (even before analytics). However, things have changed:

1-a -- all of the overshifts should be encouraging bunting, beaucoup bunting. If "a walk is as good as a hit" for analytics, then a bunt single is as good as a Stanton line drive single -- right?

1-b -- for reasons we can all guess at, major league teams do not seem very good at defensing the bunt. A guy bunts, somehow he ends up on 2nd base because the defense threw the ball around. This is not guaranteed to happen, but it seems to happen often enough to make you think. (and if this was a sac bunt, the guy who was on 1st is now on 3rd base . . . or scores)

2. Along the same lines as 1-b, the stolen base is -- analytically -- not so good. BUT: there are times the ball is thrown into the outfield, and a guy trying to steal 2nd base ends up standing on 3rd base. I don't know how often this happens. I don't know if there are analytics to provide us with numbers. But I've seen it, mucho.

3. For my money, the most exciting plays I've seen in a long life of baseball fandom have been:

3-a -- Roberto Clemente throwing people out at third base. Any time.

3-b -- the triple or inside-the-park HR, esp. if there are people on base.

3-c -- Johnny Damon stealing 2 bases on one play. No, I was not a fan of his; and yes, he did it for the NYYs. Stunning.

3-d -- Dave Roberts stealing 2nd base against the Yankees in the clutch. Suckitude writ large.

3-e -- Any game in which A-Roid is not involved in the live game commentary. I'd watch The Swedish Bikini Team play Las Vegas Showgirls nude -- in baseball or anything else. If Alex is doing the play-by-play, he'll ruin it.

3-f -- the one time I played left field and threw a guy trying to tag up from 3rd at home. I really sucked as a player, but I've not forgotten this. And it happened decades ago!!!