Andy McDonald claims:
I have the same conversation multiple times per year. “Ugh, baseball is so boring,” people tell me when I bring up ― what will always be ― the national pastime.
And every year I have to lay out the reasons why I think that, no, baseball is great, it’s you that’s boring.
I’m not going to dive too deep into the same tired arguments, so we’ll get those quickly out of the way.
“The games are so long!”
… They are as long as they’ve always been: nine innings. Sometimes that means it will go two-and-a-half hours. Sometimes that means four-and-a-half hours. It’s one of the reasons the game is so great. The clock has no impact on the field.
The average 2016 regular season NFL game was three hours and eight minutes, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. According to the data from Baseball-Reference.com, the average 2016 regular season MLB game was three hours and five minutes.
“There’s not a lot of action!”
… This depends completely on what you consider “action.” Maybe you need people running around the field to prove to yourself that things are actually happening. …
“If we make the games shorter, people will more likely tune in!”
… You’re telling me that shaving 15 minutes off a baseball game will keep the average person interested in a baseball game? That was the issue this whole time??
Well, hand me a Pepsi can, who knew that was the answer!Listen, I’m sorry, we can’t squish a Major League Baseball game into a time-slot comparable to “The Voice” for the casual fan who is called a “casual fan” for a reason.
Baseball is a game of thoughtful pauses and contemplation. It’s a game of conversation and debate. It’s a shared experience, whether you’re at the game or not.
When there’s a break in the action, that’s when the other fun-but-often-overlooked part begins: interacting with another human being. For baseball fans, the discussion of the game is sometimes as exciting as the game itself.
Which brings me to my ultimate point:
Why doesn’t anyone want to talk to you? Why are you bored when things aren’t happening?
Because, if you’re bored when the action on the field stops, it means that you’re a boring person.
- Baseball was played during the Civil War.
- In baseball, the defense has the ball. And the offense can score without ever touching that ball.
- Ted Williams is not only one of the greatest hitters who ever lived, he flew a fighter plane in World War 2 and later in the Korean War.
- On Opening Day this week, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner hit a ball traveling 92 mph out of the park at 112 mph.
Baseball has stood at the forefront of larger national conversations for a hundred years. Baseball is fascinating, on and off the field, action or “no action.”
So, I’m sorry you had to find out this way, but I’m afraid you suffer from being a boring person.
Or at least a person who cannot entertain himself or herself without increasingly loud external stimuli.
There is obviously a difference in experience between watching a game on your favorite broadcast device and attending a game in person. The commercial breaks are for such activities as dragging the infield (the former province of Bonnie Brewer — remember her?), videos on the scoreboard, running to the concession stand or bathroom, etc. If you’re not doing anything, the between-innings period can get tedious, and for that you can blame TV.
It should be obvious that the billion-dollar entertainment center that is now a major league ballpark is (in addition to pulling as much money out of the wallets of fans as possible) an attempt to attract the non-hardcore baseball fan. That may be a hopeless case, and one wonders why a sport would seek to attract non-hardcore fans at the risk of alienating their hardcore fans, who are much more likely to purchase season tickets than someone who might go to a game if he or she has nothing better to do.
The operating assumption is that hardcore fans won’t stop going to games as MLB tries to attract younger, less interested fans. How likely is that?