Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Baseball and WAR


 ("Don't Let Statistics Ruin Baseball")

The issue is not whether an overabundance of numbers or calculations is causing a degradation of the national pastime, but rather whether the game itself is suited for our 21st century mindset.

We are a universe of distractions, of tweets and cellphones. We are overwhelmed with information, and most of us spend far too much of our focus and energy devoted to anything but what is directly in front of us. Baseball, with its own unique rhythm, allows us the luxury of time to contemplate and consider matters distinct from the action on the field.

The average major league baseball game is now more than 3 hours long. In a world where we expect everything immediately, where we are used to noise and hype, there are instead long moments of silence. Football and basketball are in your face, with high energy both on the field and off, as the scoreboard and sound system overwhelm our senses in a wall of sounds and images.

While the writer worries that too much attention is directed at everything but the play that is transpiring, I think, to paraphrase the great bard, the fault lies not in baseball, but in ourselves. If we can't slow down and enjoy the serenity and peace of a sport without a clock or constant demand we should look at our own possible shortcomings.

I don't believe most of those in attendance at these games are consumed by WAR. Yes, baseball could use some tweaking after all these years. And maybe it is a bit anachronistic. But while we no longer consider whether Mickey, Duke or Willie is the best center fielder in New York, or even whether Derek, Nomar or A-Rod is the premier shortstop, there will be another generation that will take the time to contemplate matters not overburdened with figures. These fans will be enveloped in the feel and texture of a sport that offers something far beyond numbers on a page.

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