This column is coming later than it should, but same premise still stands. One of my biggest gripes with baseball is the unwritten rules. Talk to baseball purists and those rules are talked about like the holy grail of their sport. For the record, I absolutely hate baseball and it’s purists.
God forbid anyone does anything that ruins the iNtEgRiTy oF tHe GaMe?
A sport who’s history is embedded with cheating. A sport who’s history separated leagues by race and heralded white players like Babe Ruth, despite the fact they weren’t competing against the alleged better negro league. A sport that became infested with steroids across the board during it’s golden era, now ostracizing those players. A sport who refuses to put the best hitter of all time in the Hall of Fame.
Yeah, plenty of integrity to go around. The ironic part about the players who used performance enhancing drugs is purists love to beat the drum that baseball is the hardest sport to play. Yet, they ignore any level of greatness from anyone who used steroids like Barry Bonds. If it’s so damn hard, did steroids turn those guys into HOFs? Probably not. If so, sign me up for the next injection.
I can take down baseball and specifically MLB for a number of things including the lack of urgency to adapt to make the game more exciting, the lack of marketing for their star players or even the lack of drawing in a wider audience. Demographics say the majority of people who watch baseball are old and white. It’s a dying breed.
- 70% Male
- 29% age 18-34
- Average Fan is 53 Years Old
- Over 80% of viewers are white
Back in college, I was a huge fan of Colin Cowherd before he became just another part of the cesspool that is sports media today. I read both of his books, which are still fantastic reads.
He wrote a chapter comparing the GOP to Baseball and it was a parallel that always stuck to me. Here is what he wrote…
“Stagnation leads to arrogance, which leads to insularity, which leads to fear, which leads to a lack of progress. More money equals bigger walls and bigger houses and less interaction. The GOP and MLB are both suffering from an arrogance that manifests itself through an inability to reach out to those who fall just outside of the comfort zone. For baseball, it’s the African-American community, for the GOP, it’s any minority you can name.
To put it bluntly, both institutions have become old and white in a world that is becoming less of both.”
Does this mean baseball is headed for doomsday? No, not in the near future and probably not ever in our lifetime. It’s still one of the most profitable sports leagues across the globe.
But, if we are comparing to the other two pillar sports leagues of American society (NFL and NBA), it falls way short. The average MLB World Series game carries nearly the same weight as a regular season NFL game.
Now of course, the NFL is in a class of it’s own globally in terms of viewership and profit margin. Nothing really comes close.
The more fair comparison is the NBA. While MLB is more profitable from a total standpoint, that has more to do with the amount of games it plays. If you include the postseason, baseball season has roughly 4,885-4,900 games per season. Given that it’s value is about 10 Billion, they are making a hair over 2 million per game regardless of how many postseason games.
The NBA has 2,460 regular season games and between 60 to 105 postseason games. Let’s assume every series goes a full 7 games. That makes the total 2,565 games in a given season. The NBA valuation is 7.4 Billion. That means the NBA is likely making 2.8 to 2.9 million per game.
Take the pandemic for example, I recently saw articles which talked about how great baseball was doing for drawing an average 1.4 million viewers per game since starting. WOOOOOOOOOW!
Meanwhile, the NBA is off to a good but not great start because they are averaging about 4.1 million viewers per game. This should paint the picture of how far baseball and the MLB has fallen behind the 8-ball in terms of sports leagues. They are capturing about 25% of the audience to the NBA and getting praised for it.
The biggest joke of all when it comes to baseball is the unwritten rules.
These were in full effect when Los Angeles Dodgers erratic Pitcher Joe Kelly threw at Houston Astros’ star Alex Bregman’s head. Yeah, so much integrity throwing a 96 mph fastball at someone’s dome.
Cheated or not, there’s nothing honorable about that. Look at the echo chamber of fans after Kelly was suspended. They were mad about it. They defended it. Apparently cheating makes it justifiable to go head hunting for someone. That is ludicrous.
This is common practice in the sport though.
When someone breaks the stupid unwritten rules, get plucked. If you want to throw at someone’s back where they sleep on the opposite side for a night or two, fine. It is what it is. But, going after the head, get out. Anyone who does that deserves to take a piss liner off the bridge of the nose.
Let’s talk more about some of those unwritten rules…
- Never Make the First or Third Out at Third Base
This is one of the few that makes sense. Strategically speaking, it would be silly to go for third in either situation. You would basically eliminate having the runner in scoring position should you get caught stealing. In high school, I got my ass chewed for this. I was on second base and I thought my coach had given me the steal sign with two outs, which I thought was odd. I stole and got thrown out because I am slow. I got chewed out. Such is life.
- Don’t Use Your Closer in a Tie Game on the Road
Ideally your closer is to do just that, close. But, sometimes you can tactically deploy a closer being a little more aggressive. It is not necessarily a dumb unwritten rule, but there is a time and a place.
- Don’t Mention a No-Hitter
When I played, I would mention this by like the third inning if it was unfolding. Superstition is stupid. Again, did this in high school and I remember one of my teammates telling me to shut up. I just laughed and thought “yeah because me saying it will be the thing that breaks it.”
- Don’t Admire Your Home Runs
Bullshit. If I was ever a home run hitter, I can promise you that I would watch the ball every millisecond until it cleared the fence. This one is by far one of the worst. “Hey you did a good thing hitting a moon bomb, but don’t watch it. It’s disrespectful.” Then make me respect you by not leaving a meatball to blast 430 feet.
- Don’t Flip Your Bat
Again, if I were playing, this rule would be broken every single time I got hold of one. You mean I can’t celebrate after I just hammered one off you? Again, referring back to purists who constantly rave about how hard it is to hit off of a professional pitcher, that shouldn’t be celebrated? That’s fucking stupid. You made a play, you earn the right to celebrate. It’s your opponents job to prevent you from doing that. This clip below is one of my favorites ever.
- Don’t Walk Across the Pitcher’s Mound
Weird flex, but ok. When A-Rod did this years ago to A’s pitcher Dallas Braden, he lost his mind. I just laughed when I saw that. I thought to myself “who the hell is Dallas Braden anyway?”
- Don’t swing at a 3-0 pitch or steal with a big lead
At the professional level, this is essentially their version of not running up the score. I can appreciate that. It would be pretty disrespectful in the same sense that kicking a field goal up 30 with less than 2:00 to go is pretty bad sportsmanship.
- Don’t Bunt to Break Up a No Hitter
From a tactical standpoint, this is absolutely fucking stupid. So in other words, the pitcher is on fire so don’t do anything to rattle or break up the momentum. That would be like saying in football, “our offense can’t stop you from getting in our backfield. Can you please not blitz?” That would be like saying in basketball, “you know, you guys are really hammering us inside, can you just shoot threes?” That rule blows my mind. By inning 3 or 4, I am having my fastest guys run drag bunts. This will accomplish three things.
A – Piss off the other team
B – Possibly Shift momentum by rattling the pitcher
C – A middle finger to these stupid rules
Baseball Just Sucks
For a sport who’s purist rave about integrity, it lacks it on so many levels to the point of utter annoyance. It was the only sport I played growing up. I never thought I would grow up to eventually despise it.
The unwritten rules are a giant part of that. If you break these rules, you may catch a fastball high and tight. That likely leads to the benches clearing instead of settling differences one on one. At least hockey settles their discrepancies correctly. Let two people duke it out and problem solved.
No celebrating. Long games that last four hours. Action that can be condensed to 20 seconds. A list of unwritten and arbitrary rules.
No thanks. Baseball sucks.