Major League Baseball is a sport rooted in tradition and unwritten rules that mostly deal with “Respecting the Game” and playing the “Right Way”. Violate these rules and you or your best hitter are looking at taking a 100mph fastball to the helmet. These unwritten rules are killing the game.
Just a few short years ago a slap-hitting nobody like Luiz Gonzalez rose from obscurity to hit 57 home runs and then tried to convince us with a straight face that this happened because he changed his batting stance. This was the era where Mark McGwire went from being a 215-pound college pitcher to a 250-pound first baseman swearing he just hit the weight room a little. This was the steroid era and man was it fun to watch.
Baseball was a much more watchable game during the bulging bicep era. In this span the ball flew out of the park at an unprecedented rate but that wouldn’t last. PED testing, Senate Hearings and Federal Prosecutions put an end to the party ushering us into the “neo-deadball era” of baseball we currently reside in. Compared to steroid era baseball, this brand of baseball quite frankly sucks.
This year baseball’s overall batting average is 20 points lower than it was during the height of the steroid era. It’s harder than ever to hit a ball and there are fewer players than ever who can hit. The few that can, the Yasial Puigs and Andrew McCutchens, of the league are at risk because the self-proclaimed “baseball police” are lobbing deadly missiles at their heads because somebody looked at a home run for too long in enforcement of the “unwritten rules“.
In an era where so few people can hit at a high level; Major League Baseball can’t let its most marketable stars sustain such grievous injuries for such stupid reasons. Andrew McKutchen and Yasial Puig missing games will make a plodding game with floundering television ratings harder to watch than it already is.
The NBA had the same problem in the 1980s when the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons teams deliberately laid a physical beating on the game’s best player in an effort to limit his effectiveness. The league responded by putting rules in place to limit such physical play resulting in higher scoring and more fun to watch games. Football did the same thing with its quarterbacks in an effort to keep its most marketable players out of training rooms and on our televisions where they belong. As a result scoring in that sport is at a 60 year high. With increased scoring both sports have leapfrogged baseball in terms of viewership in a very short span.
If Major League Baseball is serious about reversing its current downward spiral in popularity they would crackdown on the “Baseball Police” without mercy. The game is not better for having all-star level players out for a season because they took .592 seconds too long rounding the bases after a home run. Somebody has to watch the watchmen.