Do You Enjoy Baseball as Much as You Used to?

This question is aimed at people who started following major league baseball before the late ‘90s, that is, before the Internet became a big deal, before every game of a season was televised, and before the home run boom really got going. Was MLB more enjoyable in the earlier years? If it was, did that result from you being younger, or from changes in MLB and how it’s presented by legacy media and on the Web?

I think if you remain a baseball fan after the transition from adolescence to adulthood, you inevitably realize that many, maybe most of the players in MLB have few exceptional qualities beyond their ability to play baseball. Certainly they are not, in any moral sense, better than the ordinary human being. This produces a more skeptical attitude toward MLB: the raw emotional attachment to teams and players goes away, and so you enjoy the games less than you used to.

For example: I read Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, and its detailing of how DiMaggio’s very lucrative baseball card and memorabilia signing deals in the ‘80s and ‘90s were done. The details are not pretty, and I couldn’t come away from that education with anything other than the sense that the card and memorabilia industry was, and presumably still is, filled with shady, hard-driving accountants and business school graduates with very, very little sentimental attachment to baseball. They saw a chance when the industry boomed in the ‘80s, got in, and, if they were smart and lucky, got out before the industry tumbled in the ‘90s. Once you get that impression, you can’t look at a 1988 Donruss David Wells rookie card the same way you used to.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm  Comments (10)  

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  1. I love baseball just as much as when I was a kid. The game is great, some of the things around it not so much.

  2. Certainly baseball has changed since I first became a fan around 1973 or ’74, as have I. But I still get a thrill out of opening a pack of baseball cards, and I still love to go see live baseball games. I probably don’t watch quite as many games on T.V. as I used to, but that has more to do with my other life responsibilities than it does about baseball itself. I’m not quite old enough to have lived through the era when ballplayers worst traits were generally covered over by sympathetic sportswriters, and the players themselves were worshiped as virtual Gods. By the mid’-70’s, Jim Bouton’s Ball Four had already been published, and a new cynicism had already begun to permeate American culture in general.
    So yeah, I’m still about as big a fan as I’ve always been.

  3. Reblogged this on The On Deck Circle and commented:
    Let Arne know what you think.

  4. I agree completely, and this is why I couldn’t care less about the personal lives of these players. As much as I enjoy watching them play and cheering on my own team, I know most of them don’t have any passion for the city they play for and MOST of them are absolute jerk wagons. It’s better for me to turn a blind eye.

  5. I love baseball as much as I used to — keeping score is quite possibly the most powerful way for a fan to interact with the game, and that doesn’t change even as the game changes. But I have less attachment to the Bud Selig version of baseball — slower games, fewer day games, insidious and creeping advertising, the dumbing down of network and cable announcers, Interleague play, the increasingly Byzantine scheduling & playoff scenarios, the disturbing amount of tattoos the younger players show, and, yes, the designated hitter. The game I love just as much — the players and personalities involved, far far less so. Plus, it’s in the nature of things to stay attached to the past — I still have a stronger emotional connection to the long-gone Mets of, say, 1983, then I do to the present players, almost all of whom will be off the roster within 3 years.

  6. Yes, I enjoy watching it more now than I did before. I especially like that there are replays and review challenges. I think that will help the game a lot, albeit make the game a bit longer to watch.

  7. I do enjoy baseball a little bit less, but I think it’s because I’ve gotten older (and perhaps because my favorite team hasn’t been very successful for the past 5+ years.)

    I felt more of a connection to the players in the 1980s & early 1990s than I do now, because I know that with few exceptions there is no loyalty between team and player, player and team, or player and fans.

    I definitely enjoyed baseball more before every team adopted Tony LaRussa’s bullpen strategy and games plodded along at a three hour plus pace.

    But I grew up in a market with more than half a dozen newspapers covering the local teams and a 24-hour sports talk radio station. Every regular season game (and most weekend spring training games) were televised. Today’s media environment really hasn’t hurt my enjoyment of baseball. If anything, Twitter and Instagram are helping to connect players and fans in a way that wasn’t possible before.

  8. Spaking for myself, it was always about the game and especially the numbers (the only reason I made my Legion team was because I could figure batting averages on the fly), so the idea that the players are very human indeed has never bothered me much ( I read Ball Four pretty early on in my fandom, so…) If anything, the sabrmetric revolution, the internet, and the proliferation of games on cable has increased my enjoyment; the good old days involved one TV game a week on Saturdays and no idea that .250 with a dozen jacks in Wrigley was different than the same numbers in Dodger Stadium. I’ll take these as the good old days, thank you very much.

  9. I still love the game, but not as much as before.

    My first true disappointment was the 1981 player’s strike. Right in the middle of school vacation, to not have baseball that summer really hurt.

    Also, as a die-hard Royals fan, I had a lot to be excited about in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I don’t think the franchise will ever get back to those days of success.

    Interleague play is still completely bizarre to me. I do not understand the point. What was exciting about the World Series was to see a matchup of teams from the A.L. and N.L. Is this meant to give that kind of excitement during the regular season?

    And I miss when pitchers used to bat. There’s tons of strategy that goes into when to change a pitcher or not. Like double switches late in the game. This always gives a National League manager an advantage in the World Series.

    Plus, it’s so much fun to see a pitcher surprise you and get a key hit, even sometimes hitting a homer or driving in a game winning RBI.

  10. No, but it’s probably because it goes along with life in general. I don’t enjoy life as much as I used to, so therefore baseball goes along with that as well.

    But even if my life DIDN’T suck nowadays, baseball has become a big bore to me. And now you say they’re going to stop the games for REPLAYS??? You’ve got to be kidding. You’ve GOT to be kidding. The games are long enough as they are.

    When I first started watching baseball (at least Mets and Yankees baseball, which was what was available in the area in which I grew up), they stayed with the game during pitching changes. No obnoxious commercials, but even the commercials were better then. You watched the manager (in this case, Gil Hodges, for I was a Met fan) slowly and deliberatley walk out to the mound, accompanied by the catcher (usually Jerry Grote), you watched Hodges talk to the pitcher, take the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, you watched the pitcher walk to the dugout, you watched the electric golf cart bring the new pitcher jump into the bullpen cart, (usually Tug McGraw, Ron Taylor, or Dan Frisella), ride to the mound, hop out of the bullpen cart, take the baseball from Gil, and take all of his warm-up pitches, every single one, and the batter come up.

    Now, with all these obnoxious and stupid commercials that come on every time a player FARTS, I can’t maintain interest long enough to even leave the TV set on. I turn it off. Because, frankly, it’s BORING. Plus, the game is over-analyzed, with too many announcers with too much hot air. It’s television; we can SEE what’s going on. Such the hell up.

    I miss the old radio announcers, as well. Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner, Bill White, Phil Rizzuto, Harry Kalas, Andy Musser, Richie Ashburn, and Herb Score on WWWE in Cleveland (which I was able to hear at night, and Herb Score was my favorite radio play-by-play announcer and, in my opinion, the most highly underrated there was).

    It was the simplicity. No fancy home run calls to call attention to themselves and their massive egos; they just told the game as it was happening, and just REPORTED it, which was their job. Their job was not to bring attention to THEMSELVES.

    So, yes, I think that major league baseball has become a bore to me. I’m not one of those people who said that baseball was boring because it was slow; that was part of the BEAUTY of it, to me. But it’s the over-commercialism, the over-hype, and something that I hadn’t mentioned before, the over-specialization of relief pitchers (lefty throws one pitch, righty comes up to pitch to the righty batter, and such, closers, set-up men, and on and on) that has lost me. I like SLOW, but, jeez, I don’t have the patience to sit through three and a half hour baseball games.

    Glen Russell Slater

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