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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lost generation

Bud Selig has been commissioner since 1992.  He will leave in January 2015.  That about covers the meaningful years for a generation of young Americans who care little about baseball.  It will only get worse.  The next generation won't even have its elders to pass on good things about baseball.  The chain is broken.

Ernest Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of "For Whom the Bell Tolls",
at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939.
Even 80 year old Selig and some owners are openly asking how they get young people interested in baseball.  Asking that question means that it is way too late.  They're gone.  Where doesn't matter.  Nor does who is at fault.  Oh, Selig is to blame but he's not alone.  We're all to blame, yes, we fans, too.

We all allowed the game to slow to a crawl and still lack the imagination, will and energy to do anything meaningful about it.  We let things get out of hand:
- player conduct
- player appearance
- greed
- drugs
- fan conduct.

We drove our cars so much we feared to let children ride bikes on the roads, so they never go to a place where they can play unless they are driven.  No one gets good that way.  Or very interested.

Kids attend games but only if bribed with:
- merchandise
- food
- distractions like a swimming pool.

It's a mess and it's sad.  Baseball has become an oddity that only a small percentage of the young have played with any passion, if at all.  Instead they are being mediocre soccer players, hitting a large ball with their heads and kicking it, instead of using their hands to catch and throw and swing a bat.

Not many play football either but we're crazy for football: high school, college and pro.  Same with basketball.  Baseball is only a big time spectator sport at the highest pro level.  That's the Major Baseball League (MBL), the one that is so disorganized that it has these characteristics:
- still doesn't know that two leagues merged into one at the end of the previous millennium
- has a different batting rule for half the teams
- moved two teams from one "league" to the other in the last 15 years
- decides home field/rule advantage for a possible seventh game in its tournament final series by which conference wins the exhibition all star game.

Some kids still play baseball in the spring but only if their parents drive them.  By July and August the groomed fields that previous generations lacked become empty.  Even other forms of baseball seem abandoned:
- softball
- wiffle ball
- stick ball.

That saps the imagination.  Even though they will never play the real thing, kids play nerf football and sponge basketball.

Slow pitch softball for adults may be the last popular vestige of widespread amateur activity but it may drift away with its aging players.  How many young people are playing even that?

Bud Selig, you weren't alone but you killed baseball.  That should be on your tombstone ... and your Hall of Fame plaque that the sycophantic writers will undoubtedly award you.

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