What changes have people seen in baseball?
After I wrote about how baseball has changed since “Why Time Begins on Opening Day” was published, I asked in Quora what changes people have seen during their time as baseball fans.
Here are some of the highlights, with full answers linked.
Saturation coverage. I watched Aaron surpass Ruth in a Monday night game in 1974, and later during the game and in the late news and in the morning news, saw the replay maybe a dozen times. This was unprecedented, seeing a critical replay more than once or twice — that’s how big the home run record was.
I thought this was a really interesting point. I can remember when I had to wait for the local TV news to get Yankees highlights from the night before, when it was a big deal that a local station picked up the Yankees games from WPIX.
Now I can see every Yankees game, or any other game I want.
1. Hyper-commercialization. There was a time when Baseball was more dignified than Football / Basketball in that there weren’t ads posted EVERYWHERE in ballparks. That sure has changed.
2. The noise level. One thing that I loved about baseball was how calm it was — how serene. You could go to a game and RELAX — not any more. Every player has an idiotic “walk on song”, every half-inning break has some dumb loud computer game / ad / distraction, usually replete with bad old rock and roll at max volume.
There are so many ads now, I hardly notice them, which is probably not what the companies plastering their image wherever are looking for.
I have less of a problem with walk-up music and more of a problem that so much of it is terrible.
Impact of advances in orthopedic surgery
How many careers have Dr. Frank Jobe, Dr. James Andrews and their ilk saved?
At some point things like defensive shifting and max effort throws from pitchers will wane in use. Something else will take it’s place. Teams are always in search of an advantage….they’ll always find new ground or revert to old practices.
I can envision players specializing in bunting and highly controlled split grip swings coming into the fore in an effort to defeat defensive shifts…this approach hasn’t been seen in decades…but at some point something will change.
I don’t know if split grips will ever come back into vogue, but I thought the “Everything old is new again” was an interesting take.
The World Series was played in the daytime so we would sneak our transistor radios to school and try to listen without getting caught.
Some teachers brought radios to the classroom and allowed us to listen to games in class.
Now, on the rare occasion there are afternoon games during the week, I try to listen on my phone.
1. Much greater use of relief pitchers. Back in the 50s and 60s, I don’t even recall the terms of closer and set up man. In the modern use of pitchers, Sandy Koufax might have gone 18 — 6 instead of 26 — 8, but he probably would have pitched 5–6 more years instead of retiring at 31.
2. Players are much bigger. In the 50s and 60s, few players were 6′4″ and taller. Now it seems like the majority of players are 6′4″ or more. You had great HR wrist hitters like Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks, who were about 6′0″, 180 pounds; and the great Willie Mays was 5′10″ 175 pounds. Today, the same players might be 20 — 30 pounds heavier.
3. Hank and Willie hit 755 and 660 HRs and could hit the ball close to 500 feet, so I don’t know what the additional weight would have done for them. All three played to 40 or more. But weight training now is widespread- for about all players. Take Robinson Cano, a fine hitting 2B man with medium range power at 6′0″ 210. I believe he would have played at 190 in the 50s and 60s.
At minimum, Sandy Koufax would be Clayton Kershaw, and I’m not even sure you could guess how much money Willie Mays would make.
All in all I think the game changes every year but it always progresses and gets better and faster and stronger. It will interesting to see what the game is like in 10 years from today.
Ain’t that the truth.