News Articles

Baseball Needs a Home Run

10/04/2010 06:06:00 AM Eastern

A lot of baseball gets watched in my house. A ton. As in,
one kid thinks the noise a duck makes is “Aflac,” and we’re
just waiting for the other’s preschool teacher to ask why he walks around saying, “frost-brewed Coors
Light.”

Truthfully, there is probably not a night during
the season when a TV in my house is not tuned
to a Minnesota Twins game on Fox Sports North.

And while it has been a fantastic season for
my Hometown Nine, the sport itself hasn’t done
anything to stop football’s continuing headlock
on the title of “national pastime.” So, as a fan of
not just the Twins, but of baseball, I am holding
out hope for one of those magical post-seasons
that remind us all how great baseball can be.
And after this season, we need some reminding.

The sport still hasn’t escaped the steroid
cloud. A-Rod just passed Sammy Sosa on the
all-time home run list, which is kind of like
when Bernie Madoff passed Enron on the
all-time revenue list. And when I put something
on Twitter about how great (and clean)
Sports Illustrated cover boy Jim Thome is, I
got clobbered by responses assuming he was
on the juice at some point.

And the umpiring this year has largely been
embarrassing. While the worst offender, of
course, remains a blown call that robbed a
kid of a perfect game, the call for some sort of
help overall for these umpires has risen with
every game they have changed.

The game could also use some new megastars.
We had one for a while in rookie fireballer
Stephen Strasburg. But MLB’s decision not to
put him in the All-Star Game, followed by his
terrible arm injury, robbed the sports world of
a new phenom. Joey Votto, step up to the plate.
And don’t get me started on the Tampa Bay Rays
deciding to give away tickets for free last week.

Baseball is by no means in trouble. TV ratings
this year were largely in line with expectations:
national ratings were basically flat year-over-year
and local ratings were strong, depending largely
on how the local team fared. But I am hoping for
one of those post-seasons that end up being less
about share and more about the shared experience
of how exciting and winning the game is.

We know certain things about the playoffs,
which begin this week on TBS. Like the big
name to get the most airtime will not be Derek
Jeter or Ryan Howard, but by far it will be
Conan O’Brien. You think you saw a lot of
Frank Caliendo promos during the playoffs a
few years back? Just wait.

And we also know it’s the time of year
when network execs (who only lie when
their lips are moving) say things like, “I don’t
care who makes the World Series, as long as
it goes seven games.” Then they turn around
and pray to any Lord available that the Yankees
make it.

We don’t know what that magic moment
will be, or who will be that breakout star player,
or which team will capture America’s hearts
and attention. I don’t care who it is, but for
the good of our beloved game, I just hope it
is someone or some team that helps catapult
baseball back into national lore.

OK, enough of that BS. Let’s go Twins!

E-mail comments to
bgrossman@nbmedia.com
and follow him on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman

September
October