Have you watched the baseball play-offs this year? If you’ve made it through a full nine innings you probably live somewhere other than the eastern time zone or your bedtime is much later than mine. Many of the games have finished well after midnight and have taken an inordinate amount of time to play.
I’ve been a fan of the national pastime for basically longer than I can remember. Every summer I played every day, whether it was in an organized league, in my backyard, or in a pick-up game with the neighborhood guys at a school diamond. I went to my first major league game when the Cincinnati Reds still played in Crosley Field, which is two stadiums ago. Some of my fondest sports memories growing up involve racing home from school in early October to watch the World Series. Didn’t matter who was playing. The best-of-seven events started on Saturday afternoon, continued Sunday afternoon, and were followed by three weekday games. When needed, the sixth and seventh games were played the next Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I always rooted for the National League team and was devastated when it lost. October heroes created fans for life in me and many others.
Today, even a rabid 8-year-old aficionado is probably allowed to stay up through maybe the second inning. Games, for the most part, take place at night. The World Series always happens under the lights. Where once upon a time almost every American, regardless of age or gender, could tell you what teams were playing that year, I would venture to guess even most kids today couldn’t name last year’s winner. And that was the Chicago Cubs, who ended a 108-year championship drought.
The young fans of today are rapidly losing interest in the game for a couple of reasons. Yes, they have many more distractions now than in years past. But mainly, kids don’t care because they don’t get a chance to get caught up in the excitement early in life.
Official baseball, in all its wisdom, seems to think it can capture young supporters by creating a TV commercial. Perhaps you’ve seen it. It features several young people wearing major league replica jerseys telling the camera that they “just love baseball.” Yes, indeed, that’ll inspire a lot of Chipper Jones-wannabes to grab a bat and glove and head to the sandlot.
Instead of that, why don’t the MLB powers-that-be put on their showcase games when kids can watch them? The answer, of course, is money. Networks can charge far more during prime-time hours than late afternoon or early evening. And children don’t buy beer.
I understand the almighty dollar, but wouldn’t a little good judgment go a long way here? You’re not going to lose diehard fans by starting earlier, but you’ll gain a whole lot more long-time patrons.
Alas, the concept of common sense has long since left the building. And not just with baseball. Don’t you just have to wonder who originally came up with the idea of allowing Girl Scouts to become Boy Scouts? Going camping with 13-year-old boys in tents on the left and 13-year-old girls in tents on the right . . . what could possibly go wrong with that scenario? If Girl Scouts want the same kind of experiences as Boy Scouts, by all means go for it. But together? Hey, if you’re a Scoutmaster, Be Prepared indeed.
Washington, D.C., of course, long ago lost any semblance of common sense. The latest effort to overhaul the tax code proves that. Almost everyone agrees there should be a change. Some want to simply demand more from the rich. Others believe revenues will increase by putting other measures in place. Virtually no one, however, has suggested the notion that perhaps cutting massive amounts of federal spending might be an alternative solution.
And I don’t mean scrimping on the good things. Why in the world should music programs in schools be among the first on the chopping block? That’s depriving millions of families the joys of listening to budding symphonic musicians learn how to pull a bow across a taut violin string without making it sound like a feral cat looking for nocturnal company. Or command a thin wooden reed on a clarinet to produce silky sounds instead of spine-tingling squeaks. I imagine we could find enough spare change left over from Department of Education staff expense accounts alone to fund sufficient Mozart melodies and maestros to teach them.
Alas, common sense is now spelled common cents, and that adds up to nothing but trouble.
©MMXVII. William J. Lewis, III