I intend to watch the Yankees in Tampa this afternoon but realistically, I expect to be bored by the fourth inning. It's inevitable, especially since I do not gamble.
Even Angels fans can't be saved by Mike Trout. Or Orioles fans by Manny Machado. Or Pirates fans by Andrew McCutchen, ... Oh, wait. They're not supposed to like McCutchen any more. But you get the idea.
Trout will likely have four plate appearances in the game. Whether they are critical to the outcome of the game is random. And Trout is likely to fail. In 2016 Trout had his highest On Base average, .441, which is still well below .500. In the field it's even less likely that Trout will have an opportunity to make a great catch in center field, and if so, that he actually makes the catch. And that it significantly impacts the game.
In all the games, pretty much all the batters will step out of the box after pretty much every pitch that does not require it with this mindless ritual:
- batter not asking for time out
- plate umpire not signalling time out
- pitcher inexplicably not throwing one right down Broadway and demanding that the umpire call a strike.
Meanwhile, what are we fans at home watching on TV doing? Well, probably other things, including:
- watching other games concurrently on other devices: TV, laptop, tablet, even smart phone
- doing non-baseball stuff on those other devices
- sending messages to other fans
- possibly even engaging in that quaint old activity of conversation with other fans.
But it's very unlikely that a high percentage of fans under the age of 80 will actually sit at home and watch a baseball game doing nothing else.
Fan interest in individual players has been weakened by:
- rules that encourage player movement among teams and handicapping of such movement
- legal and supported gambling thinly disguised as an exercise of skill on websites like draftking.com.
So instead of concentrating on the home team, many are scouring their various sources for information about how their daily selected players are doing. That's a big part of why so many games, especially college football and basketball, are on so many TV channels: fans aren't following an alma mater but their bets.
Yankee general manager Brian Cashman signed free agent Matt Holiday, who is 37 years old, to be the designated hitter (DH) and lame insurance for Aaron Judge in RF and Greg Bird at 1B. This before the Indians signed 34 year old Edwin Encarnacion, the biggest bopper free agent available, for three years guaranteed at reasonable amounts. One of the selling points that gullible Yankee fans accepted was that Holliday was signed for only one year, as if that's a good thing. So in 2018, then what? Another one year hero for Yankee fans to root for? Or a rotation of starters to rest them at DH? If that's it, then why wait a year? This is just one example. All teams do silly stuff like this now, not just the Yankees.
So, why should fans care about transient players? Especially when they can actively root for their real favorites: their daily picks to beat the odds and win them some money! At least that can distract them from the mind numbing boredom that is real baseball, 3.5 hours of mostly two guys playing catch and a horrific amount of jerking around.