I’ve seen disgruntled NBA superstars dogging it because they want to be traded, try harder than the MLB has tried to end this lockout. All parties bear some of the onus over these extended, aggravating negotiations, but when given the choice between ripping the proverbial Man, or ripping the people being proverbially brought down (and the minor leaguers actually being brought down) by the Man, the decision is easy.
And it’s made even easier by the MLB trying so little. The updates are, there are no updates. Commissioner Rob Manfred tried distracting us with shiny proposals like a universal DH only to have the media, including many of us here at Deadspin, try to bring him back on topic.
I just wish we could try this little in other aspects of baseball. There’s a time and a place to be laissez-faire, or mail it in, or chill, or just try less. Now is not that time; I’ll let you know when less is more …
If I’m subjected to another “Look at how sad it is that baseball is no longer America’s pastime” take, I’m going to burn down Cooperstown. So much about the way baseball is marketed is based on its historical significance.
If you inhale deeply and strongly enough you can smell the racism. Can you throw in a segregation-scented candle to go along with my Babe Ruth bobblehead?
I’m not saying we should put a backward hat on Steve Buscemi and have him rap in a blaccent; I’m saying there’s more ways to market Mike Trout than a Wheaties box. Full disclosure, I don’t even think Wheaties does that anymore (if you even knew what I was talking about in the first place). However, how many times do you think Commissioner Rob Manfred has urged his crack marketing team to “Tap into the bubble gum market?”
The coolest thing I’ve ever seen Trout do was launch a golf ball out of Top Golf. The common misconception about baseball players is that they aren’t real athletes. If John Kruk can play baseball, then anybody with a beer gut and a mullet can hit 20 homers if they try hard enough.
It could be as simple as an ad featuring the best athletes in the world — LeBron James, Sidney Crosby, Tom Brady — taking at bats and flailing spectacularly against Max Scherzer or any one of the 70 closers who throw in the 100s.
You also could get footage of your best players doing athletically viral activities like Byron Buxton running the 40, a pitcher throwing a football 110 yards, Fernando Tatis Jr. clearing half an Olympic pool in one of those ball-catching-diving-into-pool videos, or Joey Votto’s never-before-seen offseason routine where he spars with the support beam in his garage.
Bringing your marketing campaign into the 2020s won’t necessitate “Brian Kelly dancing in a TikTok video,” but it does require leaving your “Baseball isn’t what it used to be,” complaints on the cutting room floor.
THIS IS NOT AN ANTI-ANALYTICS SEGMENT. I think analytics are smart. Sometimes I look up stats for articles not realizing they’re already documented. But when baseball writers start typing in acronyms, they lose a lot of casual fans.
If you’re illustrating that Trea Turner is X amount better than a made-up average/replacement player, just compare him to Paul DeJong or Gleyber Torres. However, I’d argue that if you’re trying to get people to understand how good Turner is, the way to do it would be to let the reader know who his peers are rather than how much better he is than John Doe-fus.
I can follow what you’re saying if I have an analytics glossary at hand, but most of the time I’m going to need you to explain your fancy stats to me like I’m five years old. Oh, so a higher slugging percentage just means more of his hits are for extra bases. Why didn’t you just say that? (Cut to analytics geeks rolling their eyes at me calling slugging an analytic. I used it because it’s quick to explain. Take it easy. I don’t have 1,000 extra words to break down fWAR.)
I couldn’t have been the only one who was confused as to why Moneyball was so revelatory. Usually, the goal of a batter is to reach base safely, so common sense says the more players you have who can do that, the better.
Where the fuck do you gotta be that’s better than a ballpark? It’s no surprise that the cranky old sports writers, sick of staying up past their bedtimes, have teamed up with boredom-fearing young beat writers, sick of being told to wait, to assault the pace of play.
I don’t know why the MLB wants people spending less time in places and on channels that make them money. Attempting to placate people who pass commercial breaks by playing Candy Crush or yelling at them because they can’t take 90 seconds of ads is an act of futility.
Yes, Rafe, it would be more fun if Johnny Knoxville came out of the bleachers during the middle of every sixth inning and punched Joe Madden in the crotch. However, this is a baseball game, not Never Never Land.
The only way you’re going to keep old sports writers up at night is if you mention how little current players care about striking out. I get it, Ted, strike outs are bad, but it’s really hard to see the TV when you keep shaking your fist in front of it.
I like idle chatter or even sitting in silence. Give me a cold beer and peanuts, and I’ll watch paint dry. Embrace the boredom. It builds character.
It’s nuts that you’re barely allowed to celebrate in a sport as difficult as baseball. If I only succeeded at my job 20 to 30 percent of the time, I would celebrate every hit like the birth of a child, weeping after legging out an in-field single. Pitchers are very sensitive for guys who do their job well a majority of the time.
If giving up hits and home runs weighs on your soul so heavily that you feel compelled to bean the hitter with a 90-plus mph fastball during his next plate appearance, then maybe pitching isn’t for you. Try McDonald’s or Burger King — the success rate is much higher.
Bat flips are awesome and, as is the case in Korea, should be approached as an art form. We love creative touchdown dances, or entire defensive units posing in front of end zone cameras after turnovers. Discouraging creativity and happiness is for communists who burn books.
I mean I would love it if a pitcher grabbed a camera after getting out of a jam and screamed shit into it Happy Gilmore style. (They basically do that already anyway.) The person who coined the phrase, “If you don’t like them celebrating, don’t let them score,” should be given a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It would be nice to watch baseball without a bunch of managers harumphing over the opposition not expressing emotions respectfully enough. It’s pretty ludicrous there’s such a premium placed on decorum in a sport rife with crotch adjusting and tobacco spit.
The term I’d used to describe this segment is “self-explanatory.” It’s how you’d outline loading the dishwasher or making a PBJ to a 9-year-old. It’s pretty shocking (or not that shocking at all depending on your perspective) that organizations don’t know better. Changing your team’s offensive name and imagery or ending a problematic chant is going to piss off part of your fan base, but the only people who are going to care enough to disown the team are fans you should want to distance yourself from in the first place.
We’ve covered Atlanta’s seen-on-such-programs-as-the-World-Series “Chop”, and the Cleveland Guardians continued sales of “select historical merchandise,” so this is basically another exhausted reminder that it’s beyond time to move on from racism in baseball.
I’ll just leave this here from Grace McDermott’s piece on the Chop:
While you might be saying, “Why do the mascots even matter? They’re not doing any active harm to Native American people,” I would offer this counter: removing racist names and traditions is, indeed, such a small step — one that doesn’t even begin to create justice — so why are we still unable to even make the performative gestures?
Who really likes this guy? That’s not rhetorical. I’m legitimately asking. He’s getting his own Manningcast with Yankees play-by-play guy Michael Kay, and thank the lord because that will get him out of the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball booth where he was as insufferable as he was during his playing days.
The guy has the personality of a vanilla Activia; I don’t know what makes anyone think he’s a good hang. Also, we’re supposed to revere A-Rod because he apologized for using steroids in the most non-threatening sweater he could find? Absolutely fucking not.
The only way I’d tune into Rodriguez trying to convince us not to hate him is if someone asked him about slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. I was in a class that visited Politico when Tucker Carlson worked there (and before he came out as a full-fledged repugnant waste of human flesh), and one of my classmates asked him about the Jon Stewart Crossfire appearance when Stewart embarrassed Carlson to the point of heel turn. He was clearly taken aback/pissed, and it was awkward and fucking glorious, and questions like that would make for more compelling TV than Kay-Rod yucking it up about the time Derek Jeter made him shine his cleats. (My guess is menial tasks were the only way Jetes could keep A-Rod from following him around like an annoying fanboy.)
A-Rod, please just join Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and the rest of the PED users in the Topeka witness protection program.