Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

When baseball was king


mikelink45
 Share

I grew up in an era where baseball was the National Sport.  The NFL started to make their move through the 1950s and blossomed with the trend setting AFL pushing the 3 yards and a cloud of dust out of the way with Bambi - Lance Alworth - and a wide open game.  Baseball never had competing leagues that made it and helped change the culture.  Instead they expanded and spread out across the country.   As the number of teams grew - to 30 teams - image 30 teams times 162 games - 4860 box scores.  In the 1950s we would poor over the box scores - but there were 8 teams in each league.  Now the box scores have so much less meaning - too many and all the sabermetrics have pushed them aside.  So from the National game baseball grew to be a regional game.  As the pace of life increased the pace of baseball decreased and this allowed basketball with all its movement and action to push at baseball's position too.  But change in baseball is difficult to make.  We have always done it this way is the attitude that still prevails even though the mound has been moved back and has been lowered.  Even though we have increased the numbers of umpires and stopped letting the batter tell the pitcher what to throw.  

We have added the DH, we have increased the roster and the minor leagues.  We finally assimilated the negro league stars and even started signing Asian players.  Meanwhile Latin American players have moved to the forefront with 36% of the players from Latin America in 2020.  We have moved fences in and moved fences out.  Drastic shifts in fielding have masked the position of some players and altered the zone for hits.  Managers now have a statistical department and as many coaches as players.  The baseball use to last the entire game now it does not make it through the inning.  We have had sticky stuff, spit, scuffed and scratched balls, corked bats, Peds, greenies, alcoholic players on the  field, and even batted a midget.

No, baseball has not stayed the same, but it has certainly lost its standing so I thought I would share this note from the Naval Institute when baseball was king - "In 1960, the crew of USS Seadragon (SSN-584) surfaced at the North Pole after making the first submarine transit of the Northwest Passage. The crew laid out a softball diamond with the pitcher's mound on the Pole so that batters who hit a home run could circumnavigate the world as they passed through all time zones while rounding the bases. Batters could also feel like major league sluggers as they hit balls into tomorrow."  May be an image of 2 people and people standing

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

OMG Mike !  What a treat to read this.  GREAT stuff all across TD today.  I've already shoveled snow after reading a bit of TD and having a cup of coffee.  Now, I'm washing a load of laundry and preparing to vacuum (my wife was overnight in the Twin Cities babysitting grandchildren so our son and his wife could go out and celebrate his wife's birthday) so I'm just doin' my chores and taking breaks to read TD and make a comment here and there.  Jerry West, Lance Alworth and Gale Sayers were my FIRST non baseball favorite players (Oliva, Koufax and Mays) so we are of a similar era.  Yes, I too remember when Baseball was King.  I think that's why we embrace change in the other sports but not so much in Baseball.  I was always FOR the DH because it allowed me a couple more years to watch Tony-O hit.  I'm fine with how football and basketball have "evolved."  In fact, watching old ABA games on CBS as a kid I thought the concept of the three point shot was brilliant (not just a gimmick).  I would have loved to see Jerry West operate with a 3-point shot.  But "openers" and shifts and "swinging for the fences" etc...I have "accepted' but I have not "embraced."  Baseball will always be "King" for me but I sometimes think that "I" need to stop pining for the old days of 4 man pitching staffs and guys who "pitched."  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Mike, I'm nostalgic also for when baseball was king. Not only for the sport but also the way of life. Baseball was a family sport, when we played in baseball games, the whole family would show up.  During tournaments it was a weekend family outing. 

I loved the "Purple People Eaters" Fran Tarkenton, the "Baby Bull" and Vikings. Now other sports aren't as important but I'm still hanging onto the Twins. Maybe because of the family ties I had growing up.

I believe as the family importance has diminished so has baseball.  Baseball has become more complicated (more business like and political than a the love for the sport) and so has life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the "decline" of baseball is just a parallel to the general dissolving of American monoculture. Sure, it's become more niche over time, but so has every form of entertainment aside from maybe superhero movies. What's the last book that everyone you know read? What's the last TV show that everyone you know followed? What's the last band that everyone you know listened to? When's the last time everyone you know was getting their news from the same sources? What's the last board game that everyone you knew had in their closet?

Sure, football and basketball are more popular than baseball today, but today I know more people who don't follow sports at all than I know who follow football. Baseball isn't king anymore, but being "king," for a sport, means much less than it ever has. Americans love having choices and hate rallying around one big thing. I think it would take a huge cultural shift for Americans to HAVE a national pastime again. I predict that the future will see further fragmenting, with the big four sports all losing some ground, and more people taking interest in soccer and (shudder) e-sports.

Baseball isn't going the way of boxing, it's going the way of Superman. Sure, you can point to Batman or Spider-Man edging him out as the most popular superhero, but what's really turned him into a niche character is dozens and dozens of other niche characters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Community Leader

Thanks for the excellent read, @mikelink45!

I'm younger than you, but the things I enjoy (music, cocktails, sports among them) skew older than me.  I think I was born at least 20 years later than I should have been!  My wife's grandpa played collegiate ball and town ball for a really long time, and he would sit around with his buddies and talk baseball.  Especially if the Twins were on at the time.  I could sit there for hours and listen to them.  Such a treat!

I have my own nostalgia of the era that I grew up watching, the 80s and 90s and have my own baseball heros but it's never as interesting as listening to the stories of the older generations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good post, @mikelink45

I feel like I'm maybe a half-generation younger than you, but probably a full generation older than many of our readers, and I see both sides of this... 

Baseball absolutely was king, and it was for almost a century. It was the sport. Not all of the games were on TV (and certainly not online), so fans relied on radio and box scores. While I disagree that the current box scores tell us less, they are more complex. And frankly, I don't know if people look at the box scores anymore. Are they even in the printed paper? 

The game has certainly changed over the years, in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse, and which things are better and which are worse may vary in opinion by people. There have always been issues. In the early days, black players couldn't play, players had no power, travel was probably not real great, and players were probably drinking a lot more. 

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and if you watch replays of old games on MLB Network from the '60s and 70s, there were a lot of black players. Today, there are players from all over the world, but the number of African-American players continues to drop. 

Alcohol has always been an issue in the game. But players in the 50s and 60s had greenies. In the early-80s, there were all the suspensions for cocaine. The late-90s and '00s had the PED issues. 

For the most part, the game is the game. But pace of play is awful... but again, that might be a societal thing. As you mention, when the NFL and NBA became more popular, that took some. Then there were just 3-4 TV stations. Then came cable TV options and you could watch movies at home from the video store. And now we have streaming systems where we can watch pretty much anything at anytime. We have a ton of options. 

The other side of that... I binge-watch a bunch of shows... One example is Yellowstone. I binged seasons 1-3 and thought it was really good. Then this year, I had to wait a week in between episodes and it didn't really capture my attention. It wasn't as exciting.  I also know that I can watch it later using the remote to fast-forward through commercials and save time. What is my rush? I don't know, but there are probably similarities to binging shows and wanting to keep the pace of play faster. 

There are more analytics in the game over the past two decades. Teams are run a little differently. We have access to so much more information, and for a lot of people, that can make the game much more enjoyable. It absolutely can. Over, it can overwhelm people and there are times where I could go back to just enjoying the game rather than over-thinking every single pitch and plate appearance and manager or general manager decision. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Unwinder said:

I think the "decline" of baseball is just a parallel to the general dissolving of American monoculture. Sure, it's become more niche over time, but so has every form of entertainment aside from maybe superhero movies. What's the last book that everyone you know read? What's the last TV show that everyone you know followed? What's the last band that everyone you know listened to? When's the last time everyone you know was getting their news from the same sources? What's the last board game that everyone you knew had in their closet?

Sure, football and basketball are more popular than baseball today, but today I know more people who don't follow sports at all than I know who follow football. Baseball isn't king anymore, but being "king," for a sport, means much less than it ever has. Americans love having choices and hate rallying around one big thing. I think it would take a huge cultural shift for Americans to HAVE a national pastime again. I predict that the future will see further fragmenting, with the big four sports all losing some ground, and more people taking interest in soccer and (shudder) e-sports.

Baseball isn't going the way of boxing, it's going the way of Superman. Sure, you can point to Batman or Spider-Man edging him out as the most popular superhero, but what's really turned him into a niche character is dozens and dozens of other niche characters.

At this point NFL has the right to declare itself America's game - in 10 years it might be NBA or Soccer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

Good post, @mikelink45

I feel like I'm maybe a half-generation younger than you, but probably a full generation older than many of our readers, and I see both sides of this... 

Baseball absolutely was king, and it was for almost a century. It was the sport. Not all of the games were on TV (and certainly not online), so fans relied on radio and box scores. While I disagree that the current box scores tell us less, they are more complex. And frankly, I don't know if people look at the box scores anymore. Are they even in the printed paper? 

The game has certainly changed over the years, in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse, and which things are better and which are worse may vary in opinion by people. There have always been issues. In the early days, black players couldn't play, players had no power, travel was probably not real great, and players were probably drinking a lot more. 

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and if you watch replays of old games on MLB Network from the '60s and 70s, there were a lot of black players. Today, there are players from all over the world, but the number of African-American players continues to drop. 

Alcohol has always been an issue in the game. But players in the 50s and 60s had greenies. In the early-80s, there were all the suspensions for cocaine. The late-90s and '00s had the PED issues. 

For the most part, the game is the game. But pace of play is awful... but again, that might be a societal thing. As you mention, when the NFL and NBA became more popular, that took some. Then there were just 3-4 TV stations. Then came cable TV options and you could watch movies at home from the video store. And now we have streaming systems where we can watch pretty much anything at anytime. We have a ton of options. 

The other side of that... I binge-watch a bunch of shows... One example is Yellowstone. I binged seasons 1-3 and thought it was really good. Then this year, I had to wait a week in between episodes and it didn't really capture my attention. It wasn't as exciting.  I also know that I can watch it later using the remote to fast-forward through commercials and save time. What is my rush? I don't know, but there are probably similarities to binging shows and wanting to keep the pace of play faster. 

There are more analytics in the game over the past two decades. Teams are run a little differently. We have access to so much more information, and for a lot of people, that can make the game much more enjoyable. It absolutely can. Over, it can overwhelm people and there are times where I could go back to just enjoying the game rather than over-thinking every single pitch and plate appearance and manager or general manager decision. 

 

What a wonderful response.  We have all changed and pace, action, all kinds of issues arise as well as our own changing priorities.  Right now I am watching the Tennessee/Cincinnati game on NFL.com on my phone.  I bought the MBL.com package to watch the Twins and ended up listening to radio more than half the time.  MLB has to find a way to be more fan friendly.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Unwinder said:

I think the "decline" of baseball is just a parallel to the general dissolving of American monoculture. Sure, it's become more niche over time, but so has every form of entertainment aside from maybe superhero movies. What's the last book that everyone you know read? What's the last TV show that everyone you know followed? What's the last band that everyone you know listened to? When's the last time everyone you know was getting their news from the same sources? What's the last board game that everyone you knew had in their closet?

 

I like and agree with this explanation. There are so many entertainment options immediately available and at our fingertips that we aren't all going to be on the same page. My oldest daughter is 25 and my youngest is 9 and just the difference between how they are being raised and the culture is noticeable. I take comfort that children are at least still playing baseball. A recent study by https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/state-of-play-2020/ages-13-17 shows baseball third in youth participants with 2.1 million 13-17 year olds playing baseball in 2019. Behind basketball with 3.4 million participants and bicycling (?) at 4.3  million participants. At least the youngsters are still playing the sport of baseball. It's just difficult to capture and maintain people's attention in today's world with so many choices. My memories of the 1987 World Series run by the Twins was that the entire state was focused on the Twins - at least everyone I knew was anyway. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, mikelink45 said:

What a wonderful response.  We have all changed and pace, action, all kinds of issues arise as well as our own changing priorities.  Right now I am watching the Tennessee/Cincinnati game on NFL.com on my phone.  I bought the MBL.com package to watch the Twins and ended up listening to radio more than half the time.  MLB has to find a way to be more fan friendly.

 

And they need a way to make sure that 1/2 of their potential audience just doesn't even have a chance to see them. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Community Leader
19 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

What a wonderful response.  We have all changed and pace, action, all kinds of issues arise as well as our own changing priorities.  Right now I am watching the Tennessee/Cincinnati game on NFL.com on my phone.  I bought the MBL.com package to watch the Twins and ended up listening to radio more than half the time.  MLB has to find a way to be more fan friendly.

 

I'll never understand why sports, especially MLB, make it more difficult to consume their product.  It's asinine and very short sighted.  I think the NHL does a pretty good job of getting their product out there, BSN issues notwithstanding.  I wish MLB would emulate them more.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know who wrote this, but I have read something to this effect:

When I was growing up I only played about 10 games of baseball in my neighborhood. Each game started in the spring as soon as there was enough sunlight to play after school and each game ended the following fall when the sun began to set too soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The pre-Big Television days. Baseball was a game for the people, because people played it as a recreational, pick-up sport.

 

It was something thhat anyone could be a part of the game if you had even one skillset. Be it throwing, batting, catching. And it was a slower-paced, more relaxing game with suspense in the play at times.

 

150+ games. Lots of seats to sell everyday. You could relax and just watch. Talk with friends. Enjoy the outdoors. Smoke and Eat. What more do you want.

 

Sure, there were superstars, but there also were a lot of players that could be your next door neighbor, that returned home to work in the butcher shop or sell insurance or cars or run a liquor store in the off-season. You worrked hard for your money as you went up the ranks of the minors, and worked especially hard devoting your time to the sport and entertainment once you hit the bigs, knowing you might have a career of 1-2-5 years at best for most.

 

There were always expensive seats, but also lots of cheap seats. The game appealed to groups of youngsters. It appealed to families. And the appeal was always there when families would gather and someone brought along a softball and a bat so you could play without gloves. 

 

Pick-up games with a dozen kids where you just cycled thru all the positions and just played ball. 

 

I'm sorry. When you have to sell 20,000-35,000 ticekts a game (or more)...well, bravo if you sell out at your big prices, which you have to charge because of big contracts and the need for profits. But ownership (and the legues) forget some of the better basics. You do like to face the same teams more often than not (although the Yankees always draw bigger crowds). But that was the joy of division rivalries, and also lesser transportation costs etc.

 

Inter-league play? I don't know. Just seems to have forgotten the roots of the sport. There is something special about watching the home team, the professional town ball club, the players that grow oevr the years. You can now watch games from any market (for a price). Players change every season. Are they really a part of the community? Baseball was the great National pastime because you could play the game with a bunch of friends and not get hurt. So what if you missed a catch, struck out!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, DJL44 said:

And about 30 million playing video games. 70% of US children play Minecraft. 8 million play Fortnite regularly. That's your shared culture.

If I look at my five grandchildren - Alaska, Duluth, Bozeman - as a sample I have three with video games, one LaCrosse, XC skiing and running, and one horses, swimming, biking and hiking.  Not a bit of interest in baseball or football or basketball.  Amazing, but they are making their own choices.  I think we are seeing so much change that sports are in need of a cultural sabermetric expert. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, Rosterman said:

The pre-Big Television days. Baseball was a game for the people, because people played it as a recreational, pick-up sport.

 

It was something thhat anyone could be a part of the game if you had even one skillset. Be it throwing, batting, catching. And it was a slower-paced, more relaxing game with suspense in the play at times.

 

150+ games. Lots of seats to sell everyday. You could relax and just watch. Talk with friends. Enjoy the outdoors. Smoke and Eat. What more do you want.

 

Sure, there were superstars, but there also were a lot of players that could be your next door neighbor, that returned home to work in the butcher shop or sell insurance or cars or run a liquor store in the off-season. You worrked hard for your money as you went up the ranks of the minors, and worked especially hard devoting your time to the sport and entertainment once you hit the bigs, knowing you might have a career of 1-2-5 years at best for most.

 

There were always expensive seats, but also lots of cheap seats. The game appealed to groups of youngsters. It appealed to families. And the appeal was always there when families would gather and someone brought along a softball and a bat so you could play without gloves. 

 

Pick-up games with a dozen kids where you just cycled thru all the positions and just played ball. 

 

I'm sorry. When you have to sell 20,000-35,000 ticekts a game (or more)...well, bravo if you sell out at your big prices, which you have to charge because of big contracts and the need for profits. But ownership (and the legues) forget some of the better basics. You do like to face the same teams more often than not (although the Yankees always draw bigger crowds). But that was the joy of division rivalries, and also lesser transportation costs etc.

 

Inter-league play? I don't know. Just seems to have forgotten the roots of the sport. There is something special about watching the home team, the professional town ball club, the players that grow oevr the years. You can now watch games from any market (for a price). Players change every season. Are they really a part of the community? Baseball was the great National pastime because you could play the game with a bunch of friends and not get hurt. So what if you missed a catch, struck out!

 

Great reflection.  I would suggest that they have 4 - eight team leagues - the old model and that each play 154 games - the old model - no interleague games until the playoffs and with four leagues they can add their extra rounds of playoffs, but each league would have its own identity. 

I am afraid that cable TV really impacted the sport.  The dollars that are being negotiated are beyond my grasp.  Like you mentioned - you could have gone and bought a car from Bob Allison in the off season. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great post @mikelink45 I really appreciate your writing and passion. The north pole segment was very engaging and I think does a great job of converging trains of thought in the discussion.

Accessibility means something different today than it did 60 years ago. I tend to align with @DJL44 and @Monkeypaws to a large extent. Organized sports are not as accessible for most kids, expensive time consuming, and there's many priorities to weigh. Leisure time, spending it independent of your family is dangerous, I can't just let my kids run wild in the neighborhood... organized activities is how my kids get their sports time. It's important to me and so I go to the practices and swim meets and such, but my capacity to attend this stuff is limited (as is my budget). The boomers all scoff and call me a helicopter dad and hearken back to the days when they (and I did as a gen Xer) ran wild in the neighborhood and played a game of pickup baseball and caught fireflies at dusk and came home when mom called out the back door, but things have changed. It doesn't work that way anymore, it can't. It's not a good or bad thing, it just is.

So back then, it was bringing a way to play, to relax, to have fun to every corner of the globe. Today we bring different ways to play, relax, have fun into our homes. Parents generally acknowledge sedentary past times are less desirable, I want my kids to be outside more, to play a pickup game baseball in the local park, but I can't supervise the never ending all summer long game. I have a 60 hour work week, responsibilities, a home to maintain that feels like is falling in around me as I type, my own exercise to not be an entirely sedentary human, and do my best to at least once a week go do an outdoor activity with my kids, hike/snowshoe, sledding, bicycling, etc. And the weekend is when I catch up on all the stuff I didn't do during the week.

So what is accessible? It's something that can be done, easily, unconstrained. Sounds like the old days right? I'm the constraint, as is the MLB's antiquated delivery mechanisms. I acknowledge that, even if the MLB does not. But my kids need some fun, ways to hang out with their friends that is unconstrained, independent of me. Videogames are fun, they make you think and require some creativity and can be played with your friends, they don't involve me driving them somewhere and I can supervise from my office. I'm no longer the constraint, and I like to play video games with them. Video games are accessible and cheap. You don't necessarily need expensive hardware, and Fortnite (as well as many others) is free. Baseball, especially MLB, is expensive and exclusive to the detriment of the game.

Baseball has changed, some for the better, some for the worse, but not for accessibility. We took it to the North Pole, but not into our homes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, Sconnie said:

Great post @mikelink45 I really appreciate your writing and passion. The north pole segment was very engaging and I think does a great job of converging trains of thought in the discussion.

Accessibility means something different today than it did 60 years ago. I tend to align with @DJL44 and @Monkeypaws to a large extent. Organized sports are not as accessible for most kids, expensive time consuming, and there's many priorities to weigh. Leisure time, spending it independent of your family is dangerous, I can't just let my kids run wild in the neighborhood... organized activities is how my kids get their sports time. It's important to me and so I go to the practices and swim meets and such, but my capacity to attend this stuff is limited (as is my budget). The boomers all scoff and call me a helicopter dad and hearken back to the days when they (and I did as a gen Xer) ran wild in the neighborhood and played a game of pickup baseball and caught fireflies at dusk and came home when mom called out the back door, but things have changed. It doesn't work that way anymore, it can't. It's not a good or bad thing, it just is.

So back then, it was bringing a way to play, to relax, to have fun to every corner of the globe. Today we bring different ways to play, relax, have fun into our homes. Parents generally acknowledge sedentary past times are less desirable, I want my kids to be outside more, to play a pickup game baseball in the local park, but I can't supervise the never ending all summer long game. I have a 60 hour work week, responsibilities, a home to maintain that feels like is falling in around me as I type, my own exercise to not be an entirely sedentary human, and do my best to at least once a week go do an outdoor activity with my kids, hike/snowshoe, sledding, bicycling, etc. And the weekend is when I catch up on all the stuff I didn't do during the week.

So what is accessible? It's something that can be done, easily, unconstrained. Sounds like the old days right? I'm the constraint, as is the MLB's antiquated delivery mechanisms. I acknowledge that, even if the MLB does not. But my kids need some fun, ways to hang out with their friends that is unconstrained, independent of me. Videogames are fun, they make you think and require some creativity and can be played with your friends, they don't involve me driving them somewhere and I can supervise from my office. I'm no longer the constraint, and I like to play video games with them. Video games are accessible and cheap. You don't necessarily need expensive hardware, and Fortnite (as well as many others) is free. Baseball, especially MLB, is expensive and exclusive to the detriment of the game.

Baseball has changed, some for the better, some for the worse, but not for accessibility. We took it to the North Pole, but not into our homes.

I loved your thoughtful post.  Some excellent ideas and thoughts.  Let me add that we have now come to a point where kids are either indoor video addicts or they are organized to the point where they no longer have "free time".  Like you I played ball (mostly softball) in pick up games - games like 500 (where you got points for catching a fly ball or bouncing ball and when you got to the total you were allowed to be the batter - workup where each out you shifted positions until you got to bat.  Maybe the fact that I had a huge goose egg from a bat when I played catcher in one game impacted my judgment, but I thought these free form games were the most important way for me to fall in love with the sport and understand how good the pros really were.

Hockey equipment cost too much, same with football until you got into high school, soccer and Lacrosse were unknown and basketball just did not have as much appeal in those days (the end of the Minneapolis Laker era).  I did play both basketball and football and later in life I played soccer, but even though my abilities made me best in football, my baseball cards and transistor radio were my prizes since they connected me with the National Game. 

Our population was 1/4th of what it is today.  Playgrounds don't feel as safe, playing ball in the alley seems more dangerous.  Our daughter drives her son all over the stay for lacrosse games and before that for soccer.  It is expensive in many ways because the competition is not just the guys who showed up at the park.

As someone wrote, "nostalgia is addictive" and I cannot deny that, but nostalgia is what keeps me tied to a game that seems to be doing everything it can to alienate the basic fan. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, DJL44 said:

Sell your baseball cards now while the older fans have disposable money and free time. The grandkids are going to throw them out just like their mothers did.

That's exactly what I did last year.  I hated to do it, but none of the grandkids or kids cared.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am in the same boat as Sconnie and have watched as Fortnite became a godsend for kids to use as a social mechanism through the pandemic.  We are now navigating youth baseball and at least locally are limited to a travel league through the school, and my comment is that its different than little league 30 years ago, where the ages were mixed and the kids ramped up to competition as they aged. I'm sure those leagues still exist as we're only a one horse town, and maybe grade level ball is a more level field and fair.  But to me it discourages the kids who are interested in the sport but aren't as talented.  Everyone played little league.  Some of us were the baseball card collectors who were happy to man right field. Now to me, the school leagues seemingly only encourage the talented in the interest of competition.  And that's not a gripe, I love our school and coaches, but its different than when baseball was king to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, lukeduke1980 said:

I am in the same boat as Sconnie and have watched as Fortnite became a godsend for kids to use as a social mechanism through the pandemic.  We are now navigating youth baseball and at least locally are limited to a travel league through the school, and my comment is that its different than little league 30 years ago, where the ages were mixed and the kids ramped up to competition as they aged. I'm sure those leagues still exist as we're only a one horse town, and maybe grade level ball is a more level field and fair.  But to me it discourages the kids who are interested in the sport but aren't as talented.  Everyone played little league.  Some of us were the baseball card collectors who were happy to man right field. Now to me, the school leagues seemingly only encourage the talented in the interest of competition.  And that's not a gripe, I love our school and coaches, but its different than when baseball was king to me.

Minnesota school leagues have always been challenged by our weather and the school schedule.  I found myself in the Y leagues in softball because they started in May and went through the summer. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

You just don't have the sheer number of kids around like you did post WWII until the end of the boomers. Out of baseball, football, basketball, and even hockey, you need more 'bodies' to play baseball. When I was a kid (early 70's), it was pretty easy to scare up 10+ kids just from a block or two around to get a game going. Unless it's organized Little League or the like, I never see kids playing a neighborhood pick-up game, even with an available field.  But I just wonder how big a net you'd have to cast blockwise nowadays, to scare up not just 10 8-10yr olds, but 10 kids that are baseball players.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How many kids are playing the sport probably isn't the best metric.  Participation in sports across the board is down.  What matters is eyeballs and kids are not paying any attention to baseball.  Playing Madden and 2k?  Hell yes.  Fantasy football?  For sure.  Pickup basketball?  Yup.  Following them on twitter?  Yup.

Kids don't give a damn about the MLB.  They'll play the game a little bit, but it's not a passion.  Plus, basketball and football can be played year round and baseball can't.  

Couple that with MLB choosing money over availability and the athletes choosing stodgy BS rules over fun and you have a recipe for a sport that averages appealing to white guys in their 60s.  That demo is not where you want to be as an average.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, TheLeviathan said:

How many kids are playing the sport probably isn't the best metric.  Participation in sports across the board is down.  What matters is eyeballs and kids are not paying any attention to baseball.  Playing Madden and 2k?  Hell yes.  Fantasy football?  For sure.  Pickup basketball?  Yup.  Following them on twitter?  Yup.

Kids don't give a damn about the MLB.  They'll play the game a little bit, but it's not a passion.  Plus, basketball and football can be played year round and baseball can't.  

Couple that with MLB choosing money over availability and the athletes choosing stodgy BS rules over fun and you have a recipe for a sport that averages appealing to white guys in their 60s.  That demo is not where you want to be as an average.

100% agreed. Plenty of kids in the US play soccer, but not many will actually watch it on TV. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I realize more kids have more opportunities to do other things and are doing so.  I guess my point was, if you don't have a critical mass of kids who play/want to play, then no one plays; it becomes 'out of sight, out of mind'. With Basketball, you need a hoop, a ball and 2 guys to have a 'game', hockey, soccer and football, you can get by with 4, but baseball, outside of just a 'catch', you need way more kids.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 3/1/2022 at 9:15 AM, Original_JB said:

Yes, I realize more kids have more opportunities to do other things and are doing so.  I guess my point was, if you don't have a critical mass of kids who play/want to play, then no one plays; it becomes 'out of sight, out of mind'. With Basketball, you need a hoop, a ball and 2 guys to have a 'game', hockey, soccer and football, you can get by with 4, but baseball, outside of just a 'catch', you need way more kids.

We used to have work-up and 500 that worked for smaller numbers of players, but I do not think anyone knows what they are now.  We often just had one bat and one ball and 4 - 6 kids, but these games were fun and filled with skill building. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund
The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund

You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premiere Twins community on the internet.

×
×
  • Create New...