In this corner: Selling ‘sex’ in Major League Baseball
I was visiting my grandmother this summer when I was taken hostage to a concert. This wasn’t any ordinary concert. No, this was an old person concert. There I was the only person without gray hair and under the age of 50. I heard swing, polka and all the other greats from about 70 years ago. Most would have fallen asleep after 15 minutes of such “boring” music, but I stayed awake. I’m glad I did, because I learned something.
I learned that music in the 1940s and 1950s was the best. All a musician needed was a microphone with either a piano or brass instrument to accompany him or her. It didn’t take much to please the ears of folks back then, but it’s a totally different story today.
It seems every song needs attributes nowadays: auto tune, a great producer, some random girl that sings, and bass. The simplicity of classic music has been fist-pumped in the face by 21st century music.
Then there are the lyrics. What do we hear on the radio today?
“Girl back that a** up!”
“Come back to my crib and get nasty.”
Whew, that’s enough to make a school boy run and cry to his mother. I even have a hard time listening to the lyrics of our time, yet if it has a good beat, I’ll probably like the song.
The beauty of the music of the 40s and 50s is lost in lieu of the better sounding and sexier genre. This same trend has happened in my favorite sport, baseball. Baseball has been called our nation’s pastime, so it has to have been around for quite a long time, over 150 years to be more specific.
With that said, baseball must have some type of tradition to hold on to, right?
See, that’s the problem. Baseball is not anything like the game that started in the late 19th century. Back then, pitchers could pitch over nine innings in consecutive days and batters never dreamed of hitting 50 home runs in a season.
Today, baseball fans watch games to see something “exciting” or, dare I say it, “sexy.” What constitutes these two labels? It sure as heck is not good pitching. There are very few fans that respect a good ‘ol 1-0 baseball game anymore. I’m even guilty of being bored during a low-scoring game, it happens to the best of us.
Much of this excitement derives its strength from one play, the home run. It seems in our time that home runs are coming more often than before, which brings even more fans to the park. Sometimes I feel as though pitchers are viewed as antagonists to the sluggers’ quest for home run fame.
The records that matter in 2013 are the single season home run total, career home run total, and runs batted in. No longer are batting stats such as hits, on-base percentage, and batting average the complete estimate of a batter’s success. This is a shame, because baseball has lost its beauty.
Way back when, stars like Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial and Lou Gehrig made their names from batting average and hits, not just the long ball. Some even hit so well that their home run totals reached upwards of .500, but it was the beauty of their hits that mattered most.
Adam Dunn is an MLB star and here is his line: .237 BA, 28 HR, 73 RBI, .340 OBP. “Wow, he hits a lot of home runs,” is the typical response of an average fan. However, what this line screams to me is “hey, he sucks at getting on base!” I’m in the minority at this point, so forget my point of view because he’s making over $10 million a year.
So many wonder why steroids are taking over the MLB headlines this summer. Well, I find it pretty easy to explain. The more home runs you hit, the better you seem, the more money you make. This is why steroids are withstanding the test of time.
Now, many wonder why Alex Rodriguez is in the game and ESPN covers him like no one else. It’s simple, as Miley Cyrus would put it, “we can’t stop.” He is the most polarizing figure in the sport whether we like it or not, just like Cyrus’s hit plays on the radio every 10 minutes.
So when you hear Robin Thicke’s summer hit “Blurred Lines,” just think of a juiced-up baseball player bashing yet another home run. But people love that song, so I assume people love home runs just as much.
Through all of these comparisons, one thing remains the same: people fuel them. Players will do whatever they need to do to please the fans, who in turn give their money to the team that pays said players. So hey you, baseball fan, it’s all your fault! I’m only half-kidding; it’s more 50-50 when it comes to blame.
But what are we to do about the ugliness of baseball? There’s really nothing we can do, except hope for a culture change. Until then, enjoy each and every low-scoring pitching gem, because they are slowly becoming scarce.