If you ask the casual sports fan about baseball, they give the same reguritated response, “boring.”
If you don’t believe me, the TV ratings speak for themselves. Let’s take a look at the numbers for the grandest stage in baseball, the World Series.
Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, the World Series carried anywhere from 33 to 36 million viewers on average. Currently, baseball lucks out if they get half of that on the TV screen for the season’s final showcase. From 2010 to 2015, those numbers fluctuated between 12-15 million.
The decline in baseball is for a number of reasons beginning with the attention spans of the American people. We simply lose interest in what is going on thanks to technology. (Guilty) If games aren’t fast paced, people tend to tune out.
Baseball peaked in the 90’s due to the amount of home runs hit, and they said steroids ruined the game (I’ll save my opinion on that for another day). Perhaps it is because the baseball purists have their minds stuck in 1942. Adapt and survive or remain stagnant and end up like the GOP (shots fired).
For the last decade, baseball lacked major star power. Growing up in the 90’s and early 2000s, we had “The Kid,” Ken Griffey Jr. alongside guys like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds and my idol, Derek Jeter. There were plenty of recognizable names in the league even if you never watched a game.
This is really where baseball has fallen behind. In the NFL, guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have always been some names that the average joe knows. In basketball, after Michael Jordan, we had Kobe Bryant and then LeBron James and now Steph Curry. One of the things I love about the basketball marketing is that all you have to do is say Michael (most popular male name in the 90s, I would know). People automatically assume you’re talking about Jordan. Kobe, people know you’re talking about the Black Mamba. You see where I am going. MARKETABILITY!
However, the game may be changing for Major League Baseball!
It begins with none other than 22-year-old phenom, Bryce Harper. The guy has been famous since he was 16 years old playing high school ball at Las Vegas High School. Last year, he belted 42 home runs which led him to a unanimous MVP selection. His numbers speak for themselves in regards to where he stacks in the league. However, he is making headlines for his “arrogant” and brash opinions regarding the current state of the sport. He has been quoted saying the game is “tired because you can’t express yourself.” He is selling ball caps that say “Make Baseball Fun Again.” And I’ll admit the fan boy in me will eventually buy one.
Baseball has so many awful “unwritten rules” that I will never understand. The purists are against celebrations and believe you should act like you’ve been there before. Yeah, let’s all be emotionless droids during the course of a game. Get out of here with your communist bullsh**. Woah, sorry got fired up there.
This whole change the game phenomenon began last year on October 14, 2015. For those who need a refresher, this was the bat flip seen around the world.
It was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 7th in game five of the American League Division Series (ALDS), Toronto Blue Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista drilled a 3-run blast off the upper left field deck to give his team the lead. The Blue Jays eventually went on to win that game, clinching the series.
Following the home run, Joey Bats did one of the most disrespectful things you can do in all of sports. He gave the most epic bat flip ever! This led to the benches eventually clearing because reliever Sam Dyson did not appreciate the stare down and flip after Bautista sent his weak pitch into the stands.
What happened next is all the proof I need for why baseball needs to trash the stupid unwritten rules and live in today’s world before the sport becomes more irrelevant than it has been for years.
Twitter erupted with excitement. Millions and millions of tweets about one celebration in a massive game. Baseball writers, teammates of Joey Bats and other players went ape shit over it.
Some of the tweets read…
“Ryan Goins on Jose Bautista’s bat flip: ‘On a 1-10 that’s a 27.”
“Josh Donaldson on Jose Bautista: ‘I want to hug him forever.”
“That bat flip by @JoeyBats19 is my spirit animal”
“So nobody else should flip a bat ever again. Jose Bautista has dropped the mic on bat flips.”
“Jose Bautista just made everyone pregnant.”
Prior to the 2016 season, Bryce Harper was making headlines for his comments about how great the bat flip was and now because of the marketing he has created, people are turning to him to revolutionize baseball.
Reverting back to what I said earlier, baseball has been lacking star power for what feels like an eternity. Joey Bats certainly isn’t the next guy up as he’s in his upper 30s. That guy is Harper. He is brash. He’s young. He’s arrogant (backing it up of course). He’s hustling and out there having a grand old time trying to make the sport I once loved fun again.
All of his play on the field and his mouth off the field led Under Armour to giving him the most lucrative endorsement deal in MLB history. UA plans to come with the Harper I baseball cleat. Hey, it works for basketball. Who wouldn’t want some fresh Harpers? I would.
Another rumor flying around is that after his rookie deal, Harper could become the first $500 million player in baseball.
Harper is leading the charge where baseball may be healthier than it ever has been with a crop of young superstars in the making.
Chicago Cubs third baseman and reigning Rookie of the Year, Kris Bryant is backing Harper on his stance for making the game fun again along with many other future stars.
Gone are the days where baseball players are unrecognizable. The Revolution has begun. I, for one, can’t be more excited. To all the kids out there playing baseball, flip your bats, stare down the pitcher and embrace the new age. Baseball will be fun again.