OPINION: Crowding the mound

Dante Centofanti NEW Headshot

Dante Centofanti

Every sport in America has its own distinct and creative traits that make it unique. When it comes to baseball, it’s clear that its biggest defining trait is patience. While baseball has its own flaws like any other sport, it’s perfect in its own way.

Patience is something baseball teaches, not only because the games are generally longer than that of any other sport, but also because of its flow. In the iconic “Ken Burns: Baseball” documentary, Bob Costas, one of my idols, called baseball a “human enterprise.”

With the recent MLB rule changes discussed by the MLB and its Players Association, it begs us to ask ourselves just how much patience we have as human beings. Now this isn’t going to be another example of someone getting on their soapbox about how things were better in the old days, because — contrary to what your grandfather says — not everything was better back in the old days. To be successful means that you need to evolve, something America’s Pastime has struggled with.

Baseball is just not a sport that millennials flock to. One thing I’ve noticed is that even the millennials who play or have played baseball aren’t particularly interested in sitting down and watching baseball, let alone listening to it on the radio. Baseball is a sport that always relied on legends with recognizable brands, such as current stars like Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Francisco Lindor. However, I would bet that more obscure sports figures like Nick Young or Johnny Manziel would be more recognizable to the average sports fan than any of these aforementioned baseball superstars.

Baseball’s slow pace has given it the reputation of being an “old person sport,” but since when has enjoying a sport that promotes patience and mental strategic thinking made you an old man?

Our generation is a generation that promotes loving and acceptance of others with a desire to create change, so it’s understandable that our generation would be the one that would want to change the age-old rules of baseball. That said, baseball has a beauty to it that shouldn’t be bothered.

Can you imagine if you’re an umpire and you would have to go tell Casey Stengel that Tom Seaver is taking too long between pitches? Or having to tell Bobby Cox that John Smoltz hasn’t reached his batters limit. You would need Seal Team Six to get them out out of the game.

I’ve always been an advocate for change in sports, but at the same time what are sports without their traditions? The pace of play in Major League Baseball is not a tradition per say; it’s more the defining crux at the heart of the game. If we can’t recognize that there is no place for a clock of any kind in baseball, then quite frankly I don’t know where we’re going as a country. The mere thought of time playing a factor in baseball is mind boggling to me.

As Costas once said, baseball is “imperfect and flawed. It doesn’t embody perfectly everything that’s worth while about our country or about our culture, but it comes closer than most things in America life.” While baseball is an imperfect game, it’s still beautiful in its flaws.  

Dante Centofanti is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].