The World Series will begin tonight. Tyler Glasnow and Clayton Kershaw will get the call as the starting pitchers tonight around 8:00 PM EDT. Even though all the games this year will take place in Arlington, TX, MLB has adopted the standard “travel day” scheduling for the Series. There will be games tonight and tomorrow night; then, there will be an off day on Thursday; then, action resumes with games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if needed) followed by another day off…
In a normal year, this weekend would have been one of the “finalists” for the Annual Autumnal Pilgrimage to Las Vegas. It could be overlooked if one of the pilgrims had a family commitment that obviated the choice; but absent something like that, the idea of having a weekend of college football, NFL football, English Premier League soccer AND the World Series to watch – – and to wager on – – is most enticing. Not this year. There will be no Autumnal Pilgrimage in 2020; the coronavirus saw to that. Personally, I am looking forward to the return of this tradition in 2021 as a way to confirm a return to normalcy.
I believe there is a “hidden piece” of good news about the World Series this year. Neither Joe West nor Angel Hernandez will be part of the umpiring crew. Their absence does not guarantee that there will be no controversial or missed calls in the Series. There absence does diminish the number of likely controversial moments in the Series.
The World Series has been an important part of the sports calendar for me even when I could only see the games on weekends because the games were played in the daytime and I had to be in school. Kids today have the luxury of DVRs if they want to see the World Series; and although I have not tried this, I think there might be an interesting experiment to be done here.
- Baseball officials and pundits often decry the aging demographic of baseball fans and worry about the attraction of the next generation of baseball fans.
- Lots of people who experience baseball games – me included – recognize that the game is not in tune with the short-attention-span culture of many of today’s children.
- So, perhaps watching a game that has been recorded on a DVR – allowing fast-forwarding through pitching changes, batting glove adjustments and replay conferences – might be an interesting way to see a game.
[Aside: If I were the Baseball Czar of the Universe, I would at least mandate that the Saturday World Series Game take place during daytime in order that any young person who is a nascent baseball fan and who wants to see the game live can do so without having to stay up past midnight.]
I have enjoyed watching most of this year’s playoff games that got us to this point in the MLB calendar because many of the games were competitive. I must admit that when one of the games ended the first inning with the score 11-0, I found something else to occupy my time, but I saw a lot of baseball over the last several weeks. I like watching baseball and because I like watching baseball, I recognize some of the flaws in baseball as an entertainment product.
- Owners, players, broadcasters and fans need to remember that professional baseball only succeeds as a commercial entity because it is a form of entertainment.
- The lack of entertainment is the fundamental reason we do not have Major League Philosophy.
Too many innings in too many baseball games in the past several years present a sequence of walks, strikeouts, home runs (with a signature bat flip), and home runs (without a signature bat flip). In later innings, that sequence might be interrupted with a pitching change – – always something to get the adrenaline level up to the next level.
Think about it … In an inning where we have batters “working the count” and there is a walk plus three strikeouts, there might be 25-30 pitches where the ball is never in play. That would be fine if it happened once a week; it happens far more frequently than that. Even in an inning where you mix in a home run, the “excitement factor” tends to focus on the style of the bat flip and/or the pace of the “home-run-trot” after the ball lands in the seats.
One thing that detracts from “action” in baseball games is The Shift. It does precisely what it is designed to do; it keeps pull hitters off the bases to a greater extent than in the days before The Shift. The fact that players and managers are so blockheaded as to allow The Shift to be as efficient as it is makes me wonder why baseball analytics only seems to apply to the defensive aspects of the game. Forget the lost art of bunting; just look at the defenders deployed in The Shift and apply the wisdom of Wee Willie Keeler from more than a century ago and …
- “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.”
Some folks have suggested banning or regulating The Shift to get more baserunners and more drama into the games. I am totally against banning The Shift; I do not believe in saving someone from himself/herself. If I ever heard of a “rule-based limitation” on The Shift that made sense, I might support it; so far, I have not heard such a thing.
But the fundamental problem for MLB remains; it only continues to exist and succeed as an entertainment product, and for far too many folks, having a bat flip after a home run be the most exciting thing to happen over about an hour of game time fails to cut the mustard. In fact, it is much closer to cutting the cheese…
Notwithstanding any of the above, I shall be tuned in tonight to see Game 1 of the World Series. The betting line for tonight’s game opened with the Dodgers favored at minus-160; it moved to minus-165 very quickly and has continued to slide in favor of the Dodgers. This morning the money line for the Dodgers is either minus-172 or minus-175 depending on which sportsbook you are checking. The run Total Line is 7.5.
Finally, here is an entry taken from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Fat: What you don’t realize you are getting until you have to suck in your gut even when you are lying down.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………