Sunday was a beautiful day in Cincinnati. A warm breeze blew from the south, the sun was out, and there was no hint that 2 days later, the ground would once again have a thin layer of snow.
But, Sunday was perfect for baseball.
So, as part of my wife and I’s vacation, we decided to take in a Reds game at the Great American Ballpark.
Because we didn’t purchase tickets ahead, and because we are a bit frugal, we bought nosebleed seats down the left-field line.
A good crowd showed up to see the Reds play one of the favorites in the American League East – the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was also a good day for the Reds, as they scored early and often in a blowout win over the Rays.
As we enjoyed the day, I noticed I spent more time watching the river beyond the outfield wall than the game.
About the seventh inning, as the Rays bullpen struggled, I noticed that the Reds faithful had even less interest.
The announced attendance above 30,000 had dipped to less than a third of that.
It made me think about a topic that had popped up at some early high school baseball games and on national broadcasts about MLB.
Is baseball dying?
More importantly, can it be saved?
One thing that is clear – the addition of replay is not helping.
There was one review midway through Sunday’s game. A barely audible sigh came through the crowd, as they turned attention to their smartphones (some of their attention never returned).
In today’s society, attention spans are short, while everything about baseball is slow.
The games are slow (which is really bad when it is also cold out). The season is long – 162 games long, plus about 2 months of playoffs.
So, what to do?
I’ve heard a little bit of everything.
• Change counts to striking out with two strikes and walking with three balls.
• Reduce MLB games to seven innings.
• Increase the size of the strike zone.
• Shorten the season to 146 games.
• Reduce the number of pitching changes allowed in a game.
• Raise the mound to give pitches a better angle.
• Force batters to stay in the box, and put a time limit between pitches.
I doubt any of these will happen, and I am less sure that any would help.
The problems with baseball are equal parts image, style, speed, and a rapidly changing audience.
The other part is that you have a lot of guys in my spot.
As a Cubs fan, the season appears to be pretty much over, and it’s only midway through April ... and all I am wondering about is whether the Bears will make the playoffs next fall.