Last week, I had lunch with a former colleague who moved away from the DC area when he retired. He was “back in town” for a family reason and we caught up over burgers and beers. He is a baseball fan first and foremost and he asked me a question during lunch that I had not given much thought to.
“Do you still listen to baseball on the radio?”
I said that I did and he acknowledged that he did too. He then said that he preferred listening to baseball on the radio than listening to the commentators on televised games. Here is his reasoning – paraphrased of course since I did not record our lunch conversation and then transcribe it:
“I can see what just happened in a game on TV. I don’t need the announcer to tell me someone hit a double; there he is standing on second base. I don’t need the analyst to psychoanalyze the pitcher to explain why he threw that last pitch where he did; that is all B.S. anyway. A televised game is much better with the mute button engaged.
“Radio is different. The play-by-play guy is telling me what happened because I cannot see it and I get to reconstruct the game in my mind based on his words and his descriptions. I have to pay attention to what he says because that is the only way to follow the game. I get invested in the game by getting invested in the announcer(s).”
My friend is absolutely correct in this regard. The way televised baseball has evolved, the audio portion of the game adds precious little to the experience. However, in a radio broadcast, the onus on the play-by-play announcer is pretty much the same as it was when Red Barber was behind the mic.
Another major topic of discussion at our lunch was about his view that MLB has a really bright future ahead because there are so many very young players in the major leagues today who appear to be ones with great careers ahead of them. He started rattling off some of his young “stars-in-the-present/stars-of-the-future” and I added some to the list and that resulted in my writing our consensus list on a napkin so I can present them here:
- Javier Baez
- Mookie Betts
- Kris Bryant
- Xander Bogaerts
- Carlos Correa
- Bryce Harper
- Francisco Lindor
- Manny Machado
- Lance McCullers
- Wil Myers
- Roberto Osuna
- Aaron Sanchez
- Gary Sanchez
- Kyle Schwarber
- Corey Seager
- Dansby Swanson
- Noah Syndergaard
- Mike Trout
- Trea Turner
We compiled this list without the aid of Google to scan all of the MLB rosters so I am sure we left some really good young players off this list – Addison Russell comes to mind at the moment. However, once again, my former colleague is on the money here. All of these players are very good now and none of them have reached their prime years in a typical career. The future of MLB is indeed bright.
I would like to add one other contributing factor to the bright future of MLB.
- Labor peace.
Since the strike/lockout that killed the World Series in 1994, MLB and the MLBPA have found ways to come to an accommodation on successive CBAs without a work stoppage. The two sides have been able to find ways to line the pockets of the owners and the pockets of the players and their agents in a way that is satisfactory to all parties. Personally, I think a large measure of the credit for this situation belongs on Bud Selig’s plate and I do not think that he gets the full measure of credit he deserves from fans or from baseball writers/commentators.
Finally, let me close with a baseball-related comment from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty had a painful trip around the bases Tuesday night against the Cubs — getting hit by thrown balls on both elbows (at bat, then running to second) and then on the helmet while running home.
“No truth to the rumor that he just landed a Target endorsement.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………