Paul Daugherty worries for baseball. Why, you ask? Well, he worries for it because he caught himself watching the Steelers-Chargers game on Monday night, knew it was boring, and still watched it instead of the Mets-Dodgers playoff game that featured the Chase Utley backlash and a riveting New York crowd. Now, normally I wouldn't link to this, but this time I will because - and I quote - he says "I'm stupid."
That aside, there's actually a modicum of thought provocation in what Doc has to say about baseball these days, though I think there's a chicken/egg discussion that he overlooks. No, baseball doesn't command the same market share it did when there were zero, one, two, or three television channels, nor does it still claim ownership of summer sporting events like it did before the advent of the MLS. You have thousands of channels at your disposal, access to leagues upon leagues of sports from tens of different countries, and the ability to record and watch non-live events at your leisure in ways never conjured in the 1970's, and yes, that's eaten into the percentage of people you'll have success talking baseball with should you ask every person you pass on the street the next day about last night's game.
There's a major caveat in that, though. It's called billions of people. As in there are some 3.5 billion more people on the planet today than there were when, say, the Cincinnati Reds crashed out of the 1972 World Series at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. Some of those billions are like me, out of market fans who can watch every game every baseball team plays with the touch of a button, and of all the sports in all the world, Major League Baseball and their media arm have done the best of jobs making their product as readily accessible to view at any moment in any location as possible. And, attendance is up. Player salaries are up. TV contracts are up, and league-wide revenue is way, way up.
Sure, baseball is changing, and will continue to change. Both written and unwritten rules have evolved, and with that evolution has come a tweak in the average baseball fan. Player evaluations have changed. Whether you like it or not, the statistical analysis of the game has changed, with front offices placing valuations on aspects previously deemed unimportant. Its strategy has been altered, but that's something that has been a constant process for the game's entire existence.
There used to not be fences in the outfield. Then, there were fences. There used to not be lights and night games. Then, there were lights and night games. Pitching dominated, so they lowered the mound. Hitting dominated, so they put balls in humidors. Still, when teams from the nation's two largest cities squared off on a crisp October night on Monday with undertones having both dugouts on-edge, it was riveting to those who choose to recognize those intricacies.
Baseball isn't in need of help, nor is it deserving of worry. If you think "baseball simply isn't the game for our times," perhaps you should qualify your statement as such: baseball simply isn't the game for your time. And if that's the case, baseball will mosey right on being just fine and dandy.
Baseball may mosey right on being just fine and dandy, but Cincinnati Reds baseball is going to take a bit of work to redandify itself. That, in large part, is thanks to the Chicago Cubs, who have shrugged off the fears that their youth may not equip itself well in pressure-packed postseason and punched both the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals out of the playoffs altogether. Yesterday saw the baby bears blast dinger after dinger off Cardinal pitching en route to a Game 4 victory and a spot in the NLCS. Their core of young, cost-controlled position players is downright scary, and is one the Reds will become intimately aware of in the coming years, likely with doom, gloom, and pain involved. Yeesh.
John Fay put together a list of former Reds that are still kicking around the playoffs. Once upon a time, we did, too.
MLB Pipeline's Jonathan Mayo caught up with Reds farm director Jeff Graupe about a pair of talented young Reds prospects that are currently getting tips and tweaks in instructional league play in Arizona: Aristides Aquino and Gavin LaValley. Both possess the kind of tantalizing hit tools to get you excited again about the system, but neither had exactly the kind of year in 2015 that was emblematic of their abilities. Thus, they're in instructional league play, but hopefully the things Graupe and Mayo mention about their seasons will get turned around thanks to a few extra eyes and opinions for them.
Finally, Arizona Fall League play began yesterday, and the Reds' contingent saw their side - the Peoria Javelinas - rally to top the Surprise Saguaros, 6-5. Zack Weiss got the save with a tidy 2 K inning, while Alex Blandino began his Autumn campaign with a bummer of an 0 for 4 day.