Countdown to American recreational time

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Life and Art Update

In my son’s first baseball season, dads had a sad and familiar lament: their son didn’t really want to play baseball—they like football or lacrosse. They did this mainly because we twisted their arms.

An 11-year-old child who does not want to play baseball is unthinkable for many American men of our generation. At the beginning of each season, my friend and I would cut a photo of the Red Sox from the Boston Globe and hope to paste it on the wall of our bedroom. (Years later, when I went to college, the photo was gone, but the pieces of tape still exist.)

We wore grass-stained overalls and played until dark, and I would watch the Red Sox games with gloves on, just in case a line flew across the TV screen. I still remember the bearded stars of that era and the kids on my first minor league team—especially our potbellied pitcher and the way he rolled his upper lip before the ball.

It’s not just that baseball is not so popular for my son and most of his friends. This is not entirely related to them.They are as interested in baseball as I am my worldTherefore, in my later years, apart from the weather, we may not talk about one thing.

Baseball is not dead. But it is declining, and in this age of fanatical social media, a game that values ​​patience and fails more than succeeds is particularly vulnerable.

Since 2007, the number of viewers has been declining, and the fan base has grown older. This year’s All-Star Game attracted the second smallest TV audience.This is even more surprising, because it has a living legend: a Japanese star Shohei Otani, He is not only the leading heavy hitter in the game, but also one of the best pitchers.

The reason for the baseball fight is well documented. With the help of technique and sticky substances, they have improved their ability to spin the ball, and the pitcher has become too advantageous for the batter. Based on the nerd obsession with statistics, too many pitch changes make the game feel more attractive than the Latin public.

At the same time, this generation of American kids can now watch all the Premier League games. According to the Chelsea and Arsenal T-shirts I saw in New York, they are watching. They also have the aforementioned video games, which are obviously more interesting than withering in the right field for a few hours in the hot summer.

Baseball is now trying to improve what the former Red Sox and Chicago Cubs general manager and current league consultant Theo Epstein called the “product.”It hosted a game in Cornfields in Iowa this season to pay tribute to the movie Dream land. This is like a gimmick to me-although I am very happy that the New York Yankees lost.

Baseball adds more teams to the playoffs. It is considering fixing things that were once sacred, such as extending the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate by 60 feet, 6 inches, and introducing a clock to stimulate its pitcher sloth.

Based on the five years of living in London, I have my own suggestion: downgrade.

Every year, a group of teams have little hope of competing for the championship. Their existence seems to be for the Red Sox and Yankees to increase their records. Why not send the worst four at the end of each season and promote the best four from the minor leagues? (I realize this requires a large-scale ownership reorganization of the minor league teams and their support relationship with major league clubs. Please invest in bankers!)

As I appreciate, the relegation creates drama at the bottom of the table to match the top. I found myself seizing a season strangely to see if Sam Allardys could teach Sunderland enough defense to avoid falling.

Downgrading has civic virtues. We might take a break when Baltimore or Minnesota is underperforming and familiarize the country with Portland’s Seals or Toledo’s Mud Chickens. Imagine the FA Cup excitement of Toledo when the Yankees came to Toledo?

Then there is toughness. As a child, I feel the heat and intensity in men like Dwight Evans and George Brett, I still can’t understand. For whatever reason, I don’t have that sense of urgency today. What shocked me even more was the Adonis-style heavy hitters. They seemed to have spent weeks and months on the sidelines, feeling “sore calf” or “tingling” in the ribs or vaguely “wrong” feeling. knock down.

I want to say, try to be 40 years old. Or, to be more precise: bring a mud hen!

Joshua Chaffin is a reporter based in New York for the Financial Times

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