The idea of “fixing baseball” is nothing new. Even in non-pandemic times, there have been plenty of suggestions floated, at outlets ranging from public radio stations to Fox News. There’s always a presupposition that the game is somehow broken and that baseball’s decline in TV ratings is emblematic of a fundamental problem rather than a more segmented audience with more entertainment options than ever.
The facts that Major League Baseball has been generating record revenues, and that even with a slight dip, the past two years’ attendance figures are among the top 25 all time, well ahead of all the supposed “glory days,” are conveniently overlooked. We must fix baseball!
So, it’s no surprise that as MLB tries to figure out how to follow leagues in Taiwan and South Korea back to the diamond, there’s a perceived need to Poochie up American baseball. The Los Angeles Times has helpfully reached out to some television producers to get their ideas, and the result is even worse than you’d expect.
Mike Fleiss, the creator and producer of “The Bachelor,” has one good idea that literally anyone could have come up with: miking up everyone on the field. He also tells on himself in a big way that he has no concept of viewing other people as actual human beings, with a heavy dose of misogyny thrown in.
“What you do is, each game, you load up the stadium with (the players’) wives, at a distance from them and at a distance from each other, so there is no quarantine violation,” Fleiss said. “The winning team gets to have their wives tested, and then essentially a conjugal visit.”
The phrase, “What the actual fuck?” gets thrown around a lot these days, but this guy is talking about What? The. Actual. Fuck. The solution to players having to be separated from their families for months on end, in order to play baseball and provide entertainment for the quarantined masses … is to give them a little nookie as a reward for playing well? Because the women they’re married to are nothing more than prizes to be won?
Oh, wait, they are something more than that: They’re eye candy.
“You can (film) all the girls,” Fleiss said. “They’re beautiful. They’re in the stands, separated in their own sections or whatever. Those guys are now playing for more than the pride of winning a baseball game. If you go on an eight-game losing streak, that’s not good.”
It adds up that the creator of “The Bachelor” views women this way, but it’s also ludicrous to print this uncritically and present it as “Better baseball on TV: What MLB can learn from ‘Bachelor’ and ‘Mllionaire.’” The only lesson for anyone here is that Mike Fleiss is a total creep whose concept for a television show is a sociopathic bastardization of the concept of love to serve the worst parts of the psyche, and that even people who religiously watch it can easily admit that it’s a vile, exploitative, cynical enterprise.
Not that MLB itself isn’t those things, given the outlandish public subsidies to billionaires, the subhuman treatment of aspirants in the minor leagues, and two of the past three world champions cheating their way to glory. But there’s still a line between the standard operating procedure of Major League Baseball’s brand of standard American capitalism and the dystopian idea of a baseball game where the losers don’t get to see their family, let alone the grossness of the “conjugal visit” idea.
Fleiss has one other thought.
“Reinstate Pete Rose,” he said. “The final rose, man. There it is.”