By Jason Caci
Despite the fact that people are celebrating Halloween for the lone reason that they want to feel justified in their costume choice, it is also time to glue your eyes to baseball’s fall classic: the World Series. Baseball has changed a lot over the past decade, with more management personnel using advanced sabermetrics to scout players. I went into more detail about this in my article “Tech Tock, Tech Tock,” which you can read on your own time if you so choose. There is a consequence to this implementation of sabermetrics: games are taking longer than ever to finish. Like, zoinks!
Baseball is a gentleman’s game. I might be an atheist, but I have the patience of a Quaker. However, the long time length of these baseball games is making me go bonkers.
Brian Costa and Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal pointed out that “there were more pitcher substitutions than ever, the most time between pitches on record and longer games than ever.” A large reason for this comes from a greater focus on how certain pitchers fare against certain batters on the basis of handedness. As a result, the manager uses the lefty-righty switch more often. The lefty-righty switch is when either a pitcher or batter is substituted out of a game because he struggles against a player with a particular handedness. For example, a manager of a baseball club looks at how Bryce Harper fares against right-handed pitchers and which part of the strike zone he is able to hit against them. If Bryce Harper has a good batting average against right-handed pitching and is able to hit the parts of the strike zone that the right-handed pitcher currently in the game usually throws at, then the pitcher would probably be substituted out of the game and a left-handed pitcher would be brought in to face Harper instead. This is a basic example. In reality, baseball scouts go much more in-depth than this.
A move such as this would take a few minutes, which is insanely long considering the large amount of downtime that already exists in baseball as compared to other sports. The effect is reflected in the dwindling viewership for national TV broadcasts for baseball games. For example, Sports Business Journal conducted a poll in 2012 that revealed “Fox averaged a 1.7 rating and 2.5 million viewers for its Saturday regionalized telecasts, marking the net’s lowest MLB audience since it acquired TV rights prior to the ’96 season.” Not only has Fox suffered from the diminishing number of viewers, but ESPN and TBS have received the same fate as well. Sports Business Journal found that “ESPN averaged a 1.2 U.S. rating and 1.8 million viewers for its ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ telecasts, marking the lowest audience since ’05,” while “TBS averaged 448,000 viewers for its non-exclusive Sunday afternoon games, marking the net’s lowest audience since it began airing the games in ’08.”
All of this data was collected well before the “Trump Effect” (the coverage of then-candidate and current President Donald Trump leading to a declining viewership of other television programs). Some people argue that Major League Baseball has jumped back in front of the NFL as the most popular sport in the U.S.A. If this is the case, then the real reason that the NFL has dropped in popularity has not been due to the quality of play and competition, but rather the National Anthem protests. This is a bigger case of the NFL declining in popularity as oppose to the MLB springing up in popularity.
Here is what I propose: Gut the word “sabermetrics” . Make sure it ceases to exist from the dictionary. Make it cease to exist. I do not want to see it with my two naked eyes. If baseball teams get rid of sabermetrics, then there will be a smooth flow in baseball games and teams will have more success because they will stop overthinking everything. As a result, less pitcher substitutions would take place and more runs would be scored in baseball. Typically, people like to watch an offensive slobber knocker rather than a good duel between two pitchers. There are too many variables in baseball to have sabermetrics play such an integral role in making decisions within baseball games. Sabermetrics do nothing. There have been plenty of teams that have won less than 95 games that have won a World Series.
Well gang, I think I just solved this mystery. Now somebody give me a goddamn Scooby Snack.