Enjoyment v. Victory
In an era where athletes are bigger, faster and stronger, something has seriously gone wrong in what used to be Americas sport and pastime, baseball. It’s no secret, that baseball has lost its’ edge and appeal with the young people, so much in fact, that it now competes with football, faster moving sports and believe it or not, probably video games…but that’s beside the point.
In a game that is commonly associated with the word “boring” from a large majority of the public, the problem lies within the advanced analytics of baseball or the nerds behind “number – crunching.” The game of baseball has become so mathematical; it almost seems crazy to believe your favorite slugger intentionally didn’t swing at the fast ball that calmly crossed the plate.
To me, my personal opinion, while I do thoroughly enjoy baseball at the park or on television in its postseason phase, the game has just become too mathematical. But I get it, it’s all about “making the game better,” but what many MLB execs might not understand, is that something the makes winning more likely is not necessarily making the game more enjoyable to watch.
My point here is, that most innovations loosely affiliated with the sabermetrics of baseball tend to add time and complexity to the game, towards that goal of winning all while contributing to the lack of enjoyment for baseball.
What really inspired me to voice my concern over baseball’s appeal, wasn’t some in-depth study on sabermetrics, but yesterday’s benching of Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuña Jr., for standing at the plate, mesmerized by what we all thought would have been a homerun, but ended up being a lengthy fly ball. Needless to say, he was disciplined by Manager Brian Snitker for lack of hustle and for displaying a poor reflection of “the team,” as Snitker was quoted “That name on the front is a lot more important than the name on the back of that jersey.”
Baseball is designed to teach players the core principles and lessons of hard work, discipline and attention to detail, but at what point does baseball advertise fun for the players and it’s supporters?
Just like in any other sport, there are lines drawn as to what a player can and can’t do after a big play, whether it’s based off of pure emotion or with the intent to poke fun at the heart of your opponent, I don’t think it matters. The game belongs to the players, so I strongly feel the players should be able to channel their inner wiffle ball days, and gaze at that tightly stitched cowhide sail into atmosphere as homeruns are not only the most exciting play in baseball, but hard to come by.
I understand the reasoning behind Snitker’s actions and I’m all for disciplining players while they’re still moldable to prevent “I’m bigger than the game” type players, but on a much larger scale, in a game that’s just not appealing to the youth from the television perspective, the MLB has to loosen up and let these players have a lil fun with the game, ESPECIALLY after the homerun.
So I said all this to say, sabermetrics has watered down baseball, and until the focus shifts from winning games (from an analytical standpoint), the enjoyment of the game from the viewers perspective will continue to die down, as winning games and enjoying games can coexist, creating satisfaction while seeking new ways to optimize winning still tampers with the actual excitement of today game of baseball.