Making baseball great again

Thoughts for a Thursday …

The Chicago Cubs are World Champions for the first time in 108 years. Quick, someone check the slaughterhouses to see if pigs are taking flight, and check on ticket availability for the NHL expansion franchise in Hell!

This World Series, matching two beleaguered franchises, may very well prove to be a big hit with the Nielsen folks as well, likely the biggest numbers in the 500-channel era.

Yes, a lot of it comes with the story line mentioned above, and both being from large Upper Midwest and some national notoriety to boot, whether through the years the Cubs were carried on WGN or fans taking the movie “Major League” so seriously they sought to have Bob Uecker, who has broadcast Brewers games for years, to call an inning on behalf of the Cleveland Indians.

But then you look at the declining NFL ratings, and if you’re someone who truly loves the game, if this means the National Pastime has become our national passion again as well.

The NFL’s woes? You know them too well:

  • An overexposed product that has become, except for a few elite teams, predictable at its best and mediocre at its worst.
  • You can get a good portion of your house cleaned, or the Sunday paper read, during the long commercial breaks between a touchdown and the other team’s first play on offense.
  • Interminable replay reviews to enforce a rule book that’s becoming more complicated than the tax code.
  • The recent studies linking football and concussions have no doubt taken a toll as well.
  • And while some may cite many players following 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in not standing for the national anthem, that feels like so much social media outrage here. It’s hard to believe a struggling quarterback for one of the NFL’s worst teams has that much sway over TV audiences.
  • The uncertainty surrounding the future of the Oakland Raiders may be a factor as well, at least among Northern California fans. I’m sure more than a few folks in Las Vegas may be watching as well, and not just those holding betting tickets, but enough to make a difference?

Baseball is still the game folks in my demographic grew up with, the one we’ve clung to all these years. And the regular season can be a grind, but there are rewards.

For all the drama of a Super Bowl, NBA playoff series, Stanley Cup finals, Olympic gold medal chase or soccer’s World Cup, can anything top the drama of the past week? If you were to write a movie script based on Game 7 alone, it would be rejected as unbelievable, or they’d suggest a Ricky Vaughn vs. Roy Hobbs showdown to end it all.

Not that baseball is without problems. Length of games and every umpire having a different definition of the strike zone remains an issue, and the addition of replay has created some unintended consequences that must be addressed.

But, there’s approximately 104 days until pitchers and catchers report again to figure it all out. Fire up that hot stove!

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