Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bob Lobel: It's Getting Harder to Be a Sports Fan

By Bob Lobel  @boblobel

So, I'm driving and listening to the usual stuff on sports radio, and it dawned on me that what I used to know and talk about, I have no interest in anymore.

Why is that? 

Easy answer: Every sports conversation must carry with it a complete knowledge of the salary structure and cap space, as well as free agents, who are anything but free, just get into the game.

Smart people invariably say stupid things. On both sides of the phone.

It's crazy because the caller professes to know in detail who Danny Ainge can and cannot afford if he wants to improve his team. This harsh reality suggests that Ainge can't, because it's the NBA, and everyone should know that a team has to be really bad or really good to do that. 

Being in the middle is like the USA in the World Cup soccer draw, located smack dab in the middle of the group of death. Hosts provide little insight into the conversation because they can offer no alternative argument to an uninformed point that is fighting just to stay alive. It goes on all the time. I'm pleading for a return to more simple pleasures, like the new replays coming into baseball this year. 

I'm saying fans will have no grasp of these new decisions on various plays throughout the game. Who gets to challenge, how often and what it's about is like E = MC2. The real problems plaguing baseball are not related to salary caps and total payrolls by big and small market teams. 

No, the real task at hand for the people in charge of the game is to make it more fun for the fans. IE, speed it up. 

The decisions in baseball that provide the most angst are the ball and strike calls, because every umpire brings his or her own interpretation of where that strike zone should be. We have not figured out how to make that a better place in the game but I do offer this. I think umpires get bored and tired like players and fans alike. I say have the umpires  rotate after every two innings to stay fresh, keep the game moving and to basically be more alert so they can do a better job. 

It's a tough job anyway. I think this will help. Too over the top?  Of course it is, but the crisis for baseball is to think not as they have for the last century, but to be ready to take on the stuff for the next 100 years. I say it's great to try to get calls right and speed up the game. I also say that while baseball is in the mood for change, at least try the umpire rotation thing. 

It admits that umps are human too and it allows them a chance to enjoy their job more, and thus, do a better job at it.

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