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Oh no. Baseball is dying again, you guys.

Sep 30, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT

baseball grass

You may think you’re enjoying tonight’s game-163 between the Rays and Rangers. And it may seem exciting and everyone you know may be talking about it and the playoffs. But you’re just deluding yourself, everyone. Because the New York Times tells us that, once again, baseball is dying:

… baseball seems simply to have fallen out of the national conversation (unless the conversation happens to be about steroids, that is). The last time baseball felt front and center, culturally speaking, was the 1998 home-run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And we all know how that turned out.

What happened — is happening — to our national pastime?

As usual, TV ratings are cited. Without reference to the fact that baseball’s TV life is an inherently locally fragmented life and that, locally speaking, it does well. And that the game is financially flush and attendance remains near historic highs. It’s just another lazy “baseball doesn’t hold people’s attention like it did back in the 50s” kind of worrying, ignoring the fact that it wasn’t until the 50s or, really, the 60s, that baseball had serious competition from other sports on a national scale. Of course baseball isn’t going to dominate now like it did then. Heck, the U.S. had 60% of the world’s GDP after World War II ended. It doesn’t now. Not because the United States is dying, but because the world is a different place.

Even in the context of TV alone you never see anything treated as myopically as baseball gets treated. I watched the “Breaking Bad” finale last night. So did a lot of other people. It consumed all manner of oxygen in pop culture circles. But its ratings, historically speaking, were low compared to even the most pedestrian TV events. Seriously: the “Alf” series finale in 1990 got better ratings than “Breaking Bad.” Yet does anyone claim TV is dying? Of course not. Indeed, many claim that we are in a golden age of television. They say this acknowledging that TV is very different now than it was in 1990. It’s more fragmented, and the numbers tell us less.

Why can’t this level of intelligence be applied to baseball? Why must baseball’s current popularity always be compared to its old, completely unsustainable and unrivaled popularity in the first half of the 20th century? Why does a publication as smart as the New York Times approach this issue in such a dumb way?

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. skeleteeth - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Don’t care. Still watching.

    • okwhitefalcon - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Craig just “, you guys’d” us.

      It appears we’re one step closer to EPL references, extended arm selfies and stand alone pictures of food and/or drink.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        I have no idea what the hell you just posted Falcon. Seriously…the only thing I recognized was the word “selfies.” Everthing else? Head scratching.

        Mr. Simpleton

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        I get everything but can’t understand what the English Premier League has to do with taking photos of yourself and posting them to [insert social media personal choice]…

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        Including “, you guys” on anything has become typical of the blogosphere and social media.

        Same with EPL “support” info (seriously, no one cares if you like Everton) and the above mentioned crimes against man – selfies and food pics.

        It’s hasn’t reached the depths of the (mis)use of the buzzword “narrative” but it’s well on its way.

        So there ya have it, you guys.

        I will now take a pic of myself with a Man City shirt on while I check to see if anyone has indeed been on my lawn.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        (seriously, no one cares if you like Everton)

        Oh come on! No one likes Everton…

      • Kevin S. - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        Actually, I vaguely pull for Everton because of Tim Howard.

  2. phillyphannn83 - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    It’s easy, games are too long and the season is waaayyy too long. Nothing can really be done about the length of games but there’s absolutely no reason for 162 games. April – October is completely unnecessary. Cut it back and you’ll regain our interest.

    • brohancruyff - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Here’s a better idea: since baseball is “financially flush and attendance remains near historic highs,” as Craig said, let’s not do any of that. I don’t know who “our interest” is talking about, but it sounds like the game has the interest of plenty of people. Cutting ten games from the schedule to appease people who don’t actually care about baseball would be boneheaded.

      Catering to people who don’t actually like your product is a great way to lose the customers you have, while failing to convince outsiders to replace and surpass those numbers.

      • rodtorfelson - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        Exactly. Ask the NHL how that strategy turned out

    • zzalapski - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      “Our”? Speak for yourself. If I like a sport, I want to watch as much of it as I can. The length of the season is a major reason why I follow baseball the most.

    • cur68 - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      Uh…I like baseball. No. I LOVE baseball. I want MORE of it. Like, all year. I could give a shit what the NYT and its varied writers think. If they shorten the amount of baseball in a season I will be seriously pissed.

      • tc4306 - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        @ zzalapski

        Over 40 000 people in the Rogers Centre yesterday to watch a 74 win team close out a disappointing season…..and every one of them probably already owned a touque. I think most of them would agree with you.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        I hate baseball. That’s why I haven’t watched a game since Sunday and have vowed to never watch another one until this evening!

    • dan1111 - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      I like the marathon character of the baseball season, as do a lot of people.

      On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind if they made some mild efforts to speed up games.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      That is quite possibly the worst suggestion I have ever heard 83!
      Less baseball? The season is too long? Dude…you shouldn’t be drinking at 9:50 A.M.
      Unless you are a 3rd shifter. If so…that explains your post.

    • Jonestein - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      @pph83 – Golly, while we’re at it, why not just cut it back to 16 games that are played mostly on Sunday, slap a sixty minute clock on it, and have Faith Hill open every televised game with some overproduced, shitty video song that tells us how awesome baseball is?

      I just don’t understand the bash-baseball crowd. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it and why comment on it at all?

      Also, NYT, what is the point of your baseball-bashing articles? It’s almost like you want to encourage people like pph83 to dis baseball. What, exactly, does the NYT get out of this completely false “baseball is dying” narrative?

      • beanocook - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        NFL fans have incredibly thin skin. Very defensive of the fact MLB sells more tickets than NBA, NHL, NFL combined.

    • beanocook - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      This makes no sense. How about you cut out some games from your schedule? I do. I don’t/can’t watch them all. That’s why they invented the box score.


  3. csbanter - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    The NY Times like every other NY media outlet are left out of 2013 mlb playoffs. So the Times attempts to rain on parade of fans that still watch mlb regardless if Yankees are in or out.

    • gloccamorra - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      It’s not just that. The bigger reason is that the NYT has been taken over by pinko commie preverts, almost like the Europeens. They got all their kids running around playing soccer and want us to call it “futbol”. No son of mine is going to run around in those kinky knee socks, back and forth without any kind of scoring, and when somebody finally scores, the players all hug and kiss each other!

  4. NatsLady - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    I luv ya, Craig, and I’m sorry your kid is sick. But— ITS ITS ITS, as in “ITS ratings.” If you type the three letters “I T S”, stop typing, say to yourself, IT IS. If that doesn’t fit, then take out the apostrophe. Would you type hi’s or her’s or their’s?

    You’re welcome.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Sorry. I type too fast sometimes.

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      NatsLady don’t go all McCann on us, it’s an innocent mistake :)

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Whatever, she knows how to Write the Right Way. You got a problem with that? Somebody hold me back.

      • moogro - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        She went all old-school on Craig. Just defending her team. I think misusing the apostrophe is a punk-ass move.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      Seriously Lady? You are busting his balls over grammar/typo’s?
      And while doing so you type “luv?”
      What is with people who feel compelled to point out grammatical errors and/or typo’s on a blog?
      Gator doesn’t do it and he’s a gosh damned English Professor!
      It seems incredibly petty. I mean….peeetttyyy!

      • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:50 AM

        Retreaded…heh, sorry, I mean retired English professor. I try to keep my pro bono hours to a minimum these days. It leaves more time for baseball and python hunting.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        Ha! I know you are a retread…er…retired. But I have no doubt the grammatical errors and typo’s eat your lunch. But the way I see it, if you can let them slide everyone else should be able to do likewise. Oh…and since you brought it up, I am surprised you don’t pro bono your ass off. You know…with you belonging to the “free cheese line” party.

      • paperlions - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        Gator, if you are python hunting….I assume you have some nice recipes, care to share?

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        I have eaten rattlesnake at wild game cook outs.
        But never python. My guess…it is tough and stringy.

      • moogro - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

      • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        Because python is cheaper than pork. Down here in Macondo, at least. Genuine dog-fed Florida python. Look for the pawprint trademark on the package.

        There was an Earth Day party down here a couple of years ago for which a bunch of haute cuisine type Yuppie mash palaces offered up invasive species dishes. Barbecued python was on the menu, and frankly, it was pretty good. The trick was to marinate the meat overnight in papaya nectar and work it with a veal hammer and cheesecloth, just like veal. Then you can spit roast it or lay it on the grill with your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Jack Daniels’ line of sauces). It cooks quickly because it’s so lean – very, very low cholesterol, like alligator meat. You can also cornmeal coat it and fry it like gator tail too.

        The tony Paso del Norte hotel in El Paso used to serve rattler burgers in its famous Dome Restaurant off the piano bar in the main lobby. Not bad, but I’ll take a rack of beef ribs any day.

  5. Jack Marshall - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Why, Craig? Some possible answers…

    1) Because there’s nothing “smart” about the Times?
    2) Because “baseball is dull only to dull minds”?
    3) Because the Yankees crashed and the Mets stunk, and if New York isn’t in the center of the post-season, it must mean baseball is doomed?
    4) Because such a spectacularly biased and counter-factual statement will still sail through the consciousness of the vast majority of readers, like all such statements, who assume that reporters and journalists know what they are talking about when they almost never do, and are objective, when they almost never are?

    • moogro - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      The usual, money. Like this blog, anything to fill the space with whatever and capture eyes. If it upsets this model or the ruling class, you won’t see it.

  6. sportsdrenched - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Craig linked to this article last off-season. Let’s look at the scoreboard the owners care about. Dying, indeed.

  7. Anoesis - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    It was a slow news Sunday and “baseball is dying” was where the editorial room dart landed on the dart board. Check back next week when the Times will be lamenting the loss of the full-service gas station attendant. Except in Oregon, the land time forgot.

    • skeleteeth - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      I wish we could but alas, don’t forget about Jersey.

      • proudlycanadian - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        Leave Jersey and the other Channel Islands alone. New Jersey is a different matter.

  8. 18thstreet - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    I have trouble seeing the 1950s as a golden age for baseball. Looking specifically at the 1950 season, half of the teams in the American League drew fewer than 10 thousand fans a game. (In the NL, everyone hovered around 15 thousand per game.) Baseball was stuck in a strange place: until the Boston Braves sensibly moved to Milwaukee, it had been roughly 50 years since a team moved. And, of course, there hadn’t been expansion of the Major Leagues in all that time, either.

    My hunch is that the 1950s were a golden age for a certain segment of fans living in the five boroughs of New York who really enjoyed having the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees as the center of the baseball universe. It turns out, the rest of the country didn’t enjoy it that much. And even in New York, the popularity of the Willie, Mickey, and the Duke debates weren’t strong enough to keep the Dodgers from fleeing to Los Angeles and the Giants from going to San Fransisco. (A meaningless game between the Red Sox and Orioles (in Baltimore), yesterday, drew 10 thousand more fans than saw the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant.) I’m not convinced that baseball was much more popular back then.

    All the while — until the Dodgers moved west — St. Louis was (insanely) the westernmost and southernmost team. The 20 biggest cities in America, in 1960, included Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans, San Diego, and Seattle. But there were no teams there. The population the US literally doubled from 1990 to 1960, but baseball didn’t see fit to add more teams. (And even that ignores the desegregation of the game, which increased the labor pool by more than that amount.)

    None of this gets to the quality of the game — the talent level — which is better than it has ever been.

    • dan1111 - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      Very nice analysis. I had no idea that attendance was so much lower back then.

      And there was much less competition from other sports back then, too.

    • Jack Marshall - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      When Ted Williams had his final at bat in 1960, there were about 10,000 fans in Fenway Park. Imagine what would happen today in Boston. Compare the Williams retirement to Mariano’s farewell. Which got more national attention?

      The Times article is ignorant beyond all measure.

      • beanocook - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        The NFL is the fighter league. It has a lot to gain with a narrative MLB in decline. The only measure the NFL does well in is national TV rating.

        As mentioned before, MLB is locally followed. MLB local TV ratings are worth as much or more than NFL national ratings. MLB have 6-7 events per week, well attended and highly viewed locally. The NFL can only muster 1 day a week. 6 days it is a non factor, generating a zero rating.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      I would add though that baseball was probably more regional then and TV was just starting to change things. People went to minor league and independent league games. The Texas League has a pretty good history, and it’s likely that people went to those games since they didn’t have a major league team around. People played more themselves back then too. Since the 70’s we’ve seen a decline in sports participation generally by adults. We’ve become much more interested in simply watching the very best play. There’s a difference between attending professional and major league games and being into baseball.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        Also, don’t discount radio listeners. My folks’ families listened to a lot of games that way.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Women listen to baseball on the radio?

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        Only when men turn it on. All those complicated dials!

      • beanocook - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        Minor league baseball has seen a huge boom. New stadiums all over, record attendance, etc….ignoring this is absurd.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        Who’s ignoring that? The NYT? You think the NY media thinks about minor league teams?

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Well stated 18th. On a side note (and I realize this isn’t really your point)…
      People do forget that St. Louis was THE west coast team for years.
      It’s precisely why they have the following they do out west and is also why they travel so well.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        Well, it’s been quite a while now that there have been teams out west to compete with the Cardinals for fans’ loyalties. A college student in Colorado never really knew a time before the Rockies.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        Oh I understand that 18th. That really wasn’t my point. It was more the fact that St. Louis was the west coast team for a number of years. If you grew up being raised on baseball (as I was)…it was very likely you would have the same affiliation as those closest to you have/had. I don’t know if that even makes sense (at least the way I explained it). So I think I may quit for the day. Ha!

    • normcash - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      18thstreet, you are 100% correct. Baseball attendance in the 1945-1960 timeframe (the
      “Golden Age”) was miserable compared with today. The author noted, in passing, that Yankee Stadium was only “half full” the day Maris hit his 61st HR in the 1961, but he was being
      generous…only 23,000 showed up on a Sunday afternoon for the game—against the Red
      Sox BTW….The “Golden Age of Baseball” was and is a media myth propounded by New
      York-based writers during a time when NY teams dominated…As for TV ratings, the regional
      ratings for most teams are very good (most nights the Tigers, for example, are the most- watched program in Michigan, not just the most-watched sporting event). I found the article,
      on the whole, to be a long cliché—one that could have been written—and was!–in 1970…

      • 18thstreet - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        I guess I don’t know how I’d objectively measure the idea that baseball was oh-so-popular in the 50s. I mean, I think it’s obvious that pro football is more popular than ever and that horse racing and boxing are dying (good and good). But if baseball was so popular, shouldn’t have the Athletics flourished in Kansas City and the Braves have flourished in Milwaukee?

        This much I know: I started paying attention to the Red Sox when I was about seven years old. That’s 1982. And for my entire childhood, it was REALLY easy for my dad to get tickets whenever the heck we wanted to go. And you can adjust for inflation — those seats were not expensive. When the Sox were bad, they drew 20K a year. When they were good (after Clemens arrived), they drew 30K a year in a park that held 33K, I believe. I think that a version of story is true everywhere.

      • schleichen - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:12 PM

        (In response to 18thstreet) The Braves did thrive in Milwaukee for the most part. They broke the attendance record their first year in the league, and led the NL in attendance for their first six years. They were shopped to Atlanta because their new owner wanted a bigger market and more television revenue, not for lack of support in Wisconsin. That does not, of course, negate your other points or earlier (very astute) post.

    • clemente2 - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Excellent comment, 18th. The Golden Age was of good writers into baseball coming of age in the 40’s and 50’s in New York. The nostalgic haze of that has spread out into an illusion of baseball was on everyone’s minds throughout the country.

  9. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    Baseball certainly has its issues, and we could spend all week discussing them in great detail, but the sport is right where it should be. It took all of 10 words before they brought up the NFL, which is hilarious, because the two can’t even begin to compare. This is just another in the typical “Click here” articles traditional news media are pumping out due to increasingly declining sales. Nothing to see here, move along.

  10. cur68 - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Some serious low level thinking behind that NYT article. Utter rubbish.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      I could just hear you adjusting your monocle there.

    • moogro - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      And rolling the r in rubbish.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 1, 2013 at 12:15 AM

        You’re on fire today.

  11. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    The last time baseball felt front and center, culturally speaking, was the 1998 home-run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And we all know how that turned out.

    I’ll let the others parse this absurd column, but I wanted to talk about this. How insane is this logic? Let’s look at the sport baseball is being compared to, and let’s discuss what’s been in the headlines the last, let’s say couple of years:

    Huge academic cheating scandal at UNC (centered around football)
    Huge expose done about cheating/breaking NCAA rules at OSU (centered around football)
    Aaron Hernandez’s murder trial
    Concussion lawsuit and the accompanying suicides
    Ed O’Bannon et al lawsuit against NCAA (centered around football/basketball)
    Replacement referees

    And feel free to add more? The only positive story line I can recall is the impending retirement of Ray Lewis last year (and glossing over the whole murder trial) and Peyton Manning’s absurd start to this season.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      And feel free to add more?

      I’m Ron Burgandy?

      • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        Ron! Hey! Howard Beale here!

  12. sdelmonte - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    Hey, we should look for a few “The NY Times is dying” articles while we are at it.

    • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM

      If you check the online archival link at the New York Pestilence, I’m sure you’ll find a few, but stay alert – several of them will be disguised as celebrity wardrobe malfunction stories.

  13. jlinatl - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    I don’t think baseball is dying by any means. In fact the idea is a bit silly.

    I think the easy thing to do is point to the NFL and say “see”. But they are 2 completely different products. Football is a bit more TV friendly and only has 16 games which gives it an advantage from a national perspective. I love both but they’re different and comparisons are short sighted. It’s much harder to have a flavor of the month every baseball season because of the number of games which will keep it a bit more regional in the way it is followed.

    I think having some of the better teams play in less than full houses gives a false impression as well.

    Also, baseball needs to do a better job of promotion. I am hopeful that once Bud steps down that his successor will be more aggressive. Regardless of what people think of him or the job he has done, it was no accident that the NFL hired a marketing guy as commissioner.

    But in reality, a story that states baseball’s reach hasn’t changed much doesn’t sell papers or increase clicks.

  14. dowhatifeellike - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Camden Yards had a sellout crowd for a meaningless game 162 while the Ravens were playing. I think that speaks for itself.

    • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      About what all else there is to do in Baltimore on a Sunday afternoon?

      …Only kidding.

    • vmgas - Oct 1, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      it’s extremely cheap to see an orioles game as opposed to a ravens game. go to camden yards and you can
      also ive been to a game at camden yards the same night as a ravens preseason game and every television in the bar at the stadium was set on the ravens. when it comes to the bars in baltimore during the overlap of nfl/mlb most people are watching the ravens over the orioles.
      at a bar you’ll see one tv with the orioles game, maybe one with a random nfl game, and the rest are all tuned to the ravens..most likely though its every tv on the ravens game.
      dont get me wrong i love both games but i’m just being real

  15. erikeaglesfan1 - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Baseball isn’t dying, but it will never get the national TV ratings of other sports. The game simply does not translate well to TV and is much better in person. If there is no rooting interest in the game, most people do not watch. This is the exact opposite of football where the experience watching from home is equal or better than the stadium so its national ratings are through the roof.

  16. rbj1 - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    It’s the New York Times that is dying.

    • Jack Marshall - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:54 AM


      • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        Jack, watch with that exclamation point – you just woke up a half-dozen little old ladies who haven’t won shit.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        The guy who wrote the piece doesn’t work for the New York Times. He’s a freelance writer who wrote a terrific book, “The Bronx is Burning.”

        I hated the piece, too, but I wish people noticed this.

  17. rickdobrydney - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    I have always said that you can equate the incredible rise in popularity of pro football with the rise of overall violence in American society as a whole . And baseball isn’t violent enough to cater to the American viewing public. Case closed.

    • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Well, I doubt if the case is closed – there’s a lot more to think about here, but you are definitely on to an underlying truth about the mimetic violence and mounting frustration behind it that infests what we still call a “civilization” with straight faces.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Crime rates peaked, like, 30 years ago.

      Next theory, please.

    • jwbiii - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      Murder rates (1960-2012) peaked in 1980 and are now less than half, so I’m not sure what your point is.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      19th century…football…Civil War…beards…baseball…Billy Sunday…gah!!!!!!!!

      /falls into a history fit

  18. Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    First of all, Craig, why are you getting so upset about an article in a hyperpineal tabloid?

    Second, I am minded of the opening scene of a human fertility sacrifice in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s awesome film of Medea (dear Buddha, was Maria Callas devastating when she was young or what?). To the rational Greek interlopers this looked like murder and the young man being sacrificed looked dead. But, as that great classical scholar Bart Giamatti never failed to remind us, baseball, with its real dendrites firmly planted in antiquity, fathomless time before Hoboken and Spalding, is like the seasonally dying and resurrected agricultural gods of yore – the young man is dismembered (like teams during the trading period), and bits of him are replanted in the various fields of the village folk (I give you the Detroit Tiggers), and the sacrifice rises again invested with youth and vitality with the rains and warmth of the springtime.

    That’s why, Craig, you can write – with your instincts and subconscious metaphysical bullshit detector redlining at the halfway implications of the tabloid article – that baseball is dying again.

    • voteforno6 - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Thumbs up for the Pasolini reference (though I haven’t seen Medea, yet).

      • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        Medea is my alltime Pasolini favorite, although watching The Canterbury Tales on very good weed during grad school atoned for a lot of agonizing over Middle English pronunciation in Medieval Studies courses. If you’re a fan, it should be at the top of your must-see list. Hint: and watch Chiron the centaur carefully! Pasolini really knew what he was doing.

        Although to die that way – it’s as if he had dogged out a dinger in front of the Braves!

      • voteforno6 - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        I’ll have to watch the Canterbury Tales (maybe the whole Trilogy of Life) again…for some reason, it usually takes multiple viewings for Italian films to really sink in. As for pimping a home run in front of the Braves – they might look to one of his other films for more fitting punishment.

  19. unclemosesgreen - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    What’s a newspaper?

    • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      More importantly, what’s a cubit?

      • unclemosesgreen - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        I grew up on Bill Cosby’s Noah & the Ark routine – it was on the album where he did an extended riff on having to share a bed with his brother. I thought for sure that he was the funniest person on earth.

      • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        But more germane to the context, it was also the album with “Tiny Little Hairs,” the one about professional athletes trying to do television commercials without making complete schmucks of themselves and failing miserably at it.

        The album was Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow – Right! And at that moment in history, he was the funniest man on Earth.

      • xdj511 - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        How long can you tread water? Hah hah hah… my father used to play me his Bill Cosby records growing up and they were hysterical… bits like Chicken Heart and having his tonsils removed… he was a genius. Still is… maybe.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        Bill had the highest FAR of any comedian at the time.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        I still have Wonderfulness! I loved it as a kid. Took it to school once and my class listened to it. I was hot shit for like a day for that. he he

      • Jonestein - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        @uncle – Me too…absolutely loved that album. There’s a guy I work with named Noah, and everytime I see him I want to call out his name in a booming voice – “NOAH!” – like the Cosby bit.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      I grew up on Bill Cosby’s “picture pages.”
      I realize this is worthless information. I just felt compelled to point it out.

      • unclemosesgreen - Sep 30, 2013 at 3:49 PM

        He really had quite a run at the very top.

  20. mbkrouse - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Baseball is thriving. The New York Times is dying.

  21. chill1184 - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    The NY times can go take its talking points and shove it. My team hasnt sniffed the playoffs since 2006 and I will still always will watch the MLB playoffs and world series. Only baseball and hockey keep my attention when my team is out of it. The times should stick to what its good at; Being Obama’s lapdog

  22. godsmacked1 - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Baseball is dying, Craig. As usual, the patient is the last to know.

  23. crackersnap - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    So, is it safe to assume that author Jonathan Mahler’s team missed the playoffs?

  24. jdillydawg - Sep 30, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    It may, or may not be dying. The problem, as I see it, is that perception is reality. If baseball is perceived as dying, whether real or not, advertisers will put their money elsewhere and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    If the NYT reports that the only interesting thing about baseball is the PED scandal, there is probably some truth to that. The next article after this is about Texas fans not coming out to support their team – in the playoffs.

    We can laugh all we want about how stupid the baseball Chicken Littles are, but doesn’t it seem odd that the NYT chose to focus on the dying game rather than rave about its own hometown hero Rivera retiring this year? It obviously determined that more people would read the former article.

    Sad. And dangerous.

    • Jonestein - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Jesus Forkball-Throwing Christ – now a NYT Yankees/Mets-didn’t-make-the-layoffs filler piece is what defines perception? And excuuuuuse us Rangers fans for only packing 40,000 fans in yesterday and leaving the third-deck, west-sun roasting left field seats empty…all while a fking Cowboys game was on the air (Note: Kinsler was only getting pissy about attendance because many of the, again, **40,000**, were booing and mocking his buddy Hamilton)

      Only insecure(for whatever reason), dumbass football fans buy into this fabricated “perception” that baseball is somehow dying. Those of us that actually pay attention know that nothing could be further from the truth.

      Also, why does one have to be better than another? Sure, I like baseball better than football, but I still like football…and hockey, soccer, and basketball. I can enjoy all of them without being on some stupid crusade to see one of them fail, which is what the NYT and other “baseball is dying” types seem to be on.

      • jdillydawg - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:32 PM

        Well, I’m pretty sure the NYT wasn’t the only newspaper running articles on the PED scandal all year long. Take the blinders off.

        Hey, I pay attention, and my perception is that going to a ballgame with my kid isn’t a good time any more. As my 11 year old said, “Only the guys who nobody knows sign autographs.” Of course, getting to field level to get a signature is becoming more challenging too. Used to be you showed up a couple hours before game time and you could hang out at field level for a good hour or so trying to grab an errant ball or get an autograph. Now, depending on what ticket you bought, you’re pretty much confined to that deck. (And obviously there are a lot of people who don’t really like sitting up there given there were so many seats left empty at the Rangers game. I ask, why create a sucky seat in the first place?)

        Nothing is really about the game anymore. It’s about juicing, or re-arranging formats, or tweaking a rule here and there because, well, apparently the public is bored and needs something more.

        Maybe baseball isnt’ dying. Or maybe it’ll just die and we’ll all be scratching our heads wondering what happened. Hey, classical music is still thriving!

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