Reason #5: It’s not the way to grow the game
MLB is making all this fuss about pace of play because they want to appeal to the younger generation with a fast-paced game. But that’s not the way to appeal to this generation. The young generation enjoys drama, personality, and social media.
The action has shown an increase with the record amount of home runs hit in 2017 and 2018. Everyone loves the long ball. The postseason gave us plenty of drama and there should be more drama mid-season. Bat flips cause drama and it makes the game interesting. And young kids imitate their favorite players batting stance, swing, and, you guessed it, bat flips.
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Putting the personality of star players on display is what baseball needs to do to grow the game. Baseball players need to forget about the unwritten rule regarding bat flips and showing up the pitcher to grow this sport. Young fans love bat flips and displays of emotion from players. That needs to be encouraged if the game is to appeal to younger fans. In basketball, players get dunked on and posterized all the time and kids enjoy it. A bat flip should be on that same level.
The thing the young generation loves most of all is fun. They want to have fun and if they are to be convinced that baseball is a fun sport to play and to watch, the players need to go out there to have fun. Everyone needs to join in Bryce Harper’s quest to “Make Baseball Fun Again”. If the players look like they’re out there just having fun, having the time of their lives, kids will see that and want to join in. The Milwaukee Brewers are a model example of this.
Young kids want something that can be put into GIFs and memes. They want something they can laugh at and enjoy. Player celebrations are easily converted into GIFs and memes and it makes the kids want more. You can’t do anything with a countdown clock. That’s not something kids can enjoy seeing. It doesn’t appeal to them in the slightest.
MLB needs to market its star players much better if they’re going to grow the game to the younger generation.
When there’s a big strikeout to end an inning, we love to see the fist pumps and the screaming as the pitcher walks off the field. When there’s a big hit, fans love the celebrations. Remember when Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers hit a walk off home run and he jumped on to home plate and the entire team fell down? You can bet there were a lot of youth baseball teams that re-enacted that same celebration when they hit a home run after that, and they still do, all over the country, all over the world.
Look at the Gauntlet the Milwaukee Brewers ran in 2017. After every home run the team would go through the Gauntlet and Brewers fans couldn’t get enough of it. It was something that fans fell in love with and Brewers fans identified with the team more, they engaged with the team more, and the Gauntlet with the seemingly free spirit personality of the 2017 Brewers brought more fans to the team, and probably, the game of baseball itself.
The Gauntlet was so big that the Brewers even had a Gauntlet Bobblehead giveaway last season. It’s that display of emotion and personality and fun that young fans enjoy. And it’s what will keep them coming back.
It’s inconceivable to me, that cutting the game down, is going to help grow it. It doesn’t make any sense. With shorter game times, it means less time to sell beer, hot dogs, brats, burgers, popcorn, etc. That’s less money coming in, meaning less profit. I would argue that ticket prices should be lowered if this is what MLB wants to do. If they want to shorten the game and risk taking away from the product on the field, tickets shouldn’t cost so much. If we’re only getting 2:50 of baseball instead of 3:00, shouldn’t ticket prices be lower?
Let’s face it, the players don’t want the pitch clock, the older fans don’t want the pitch clock, and the younger fans that this is suppose to appeal to, don’t need the pitch clock. No one wants this pitch clock except for the Commissioner’s Office.
A pitch clock is not the way to grow the game of baseball. It’s an unrealistic way to improve a pitcher’s pace, it increases risk of injury, players will find ways to avoid the clock, it messes with player’s jobs, and it’s simply not the way to grow the game of baseball.
Rob Manfred is making a big mistake by pushing this pitch clock through. It’s shortsighted and dangerous as he risks alienating not only the older generations of fans, but the young fans as well, when this pitch clock backfires.
The Milwaukee Brewers have had some of the fastest working pitchers in the league in the last few years. And those pitchers have each seen their share of arm injuries.