THE PLACE: A CONFERENCE ROOM HIGH ATOP A TALL OFFICE BUILDING ON “PLANET SARCASM.” THE PLANET’S TOP THINKERS ARE GATHERED AROUND A TABLE, DAYS AFTER THE END OF THE MOST RECENT WORLD SERIES.
THE “HEAD HONCHO” STEPS UP TO THE PODIUM AND ADDRESSES THE ASSEMBLAGE:
Welcome to “Planet Sarcasm’s” pre-eminent “Think Tank” – “Baseball Division.” We are here to brainstorm, in and effort to come up with suggestions, ideas, possibilities and proposals for making our beloved game of baseball even less popular than it already is.
But, sir, recent ratings indicate that “Game Five” of the World Series beat Monday Night Football in the ratings by more than three million viewers – 14.1 million to 10.8 million.
Will somebody sitting next to that guy please smack him in the face? Nothing serious. Just a sharp pop to the beezer.
First, what were the ratings for the last Super Bowl?
A hundred and eight million viewers.
And “Game Five” of the World Series?
Fourteen point one million.
That would be less then, wouldn’t it? Now, what my friend with the puffy nose reports, with egregiously misplaced enthusiasm, is that one game in baseball’s showcase event of the season, the supposed jewel in the baseball’s glittering crown, outrated a football game, otherwise known as “Game 8” of the regular season.
“Game Five” of a series that will determine who this year’s best team in baseball will be outranked a midseason encounter between the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks.
It is encouraging to see how low a bar we have established here!
Let us also recall that, only a year earlier, the World Series between the Tigers and the Giants earned amongst the lowest ratings ever recorded. Proving that we are definitely headed in the right direction. Our task today, ladies and gentlemen, is to device strategies for lowering those deteriorating ratings even further. To give heart to this undertaking, let us keep in mind that today, our ratings stand at virtually one-eighth of the Super Bowl’s, when once our event dominated the airwaves. Our motto, which we should always keep in mind:
“Onward and downward!”
I believe it would be instructive at this point to examine how it is that enthusiasm for baseball has fallen so far, in hopes that this examination of its negative trajectory will point the way to even further declines. Suffice it to say – and say only once – that all of the following alterations to the game were intended to make baseball and its participants more money. It would appear that the consequent precipitous drop in the game’s popularity was merely an unexpected, though hardly unwelcome apparently as baseball continues pushing more changes in a similar direction, by-product.
In this context, during the final game of the Series, clinched by the Red Sox, they mentioned the date of the last time the Sox won the Series on their home field in 1918. Did anybody catch when that was?
September the Elebenth.
September the Eleventh, says the man with the puffy nose, making me sorry I ordered him popped on the beezer, though not all that much. We cannot allow optimism in this forum. It merely impedes our destructive progress.
The 1918 World Series ended on September the Eleventh. Does anyone know when this year’s World Series ended?
October the Thirtieth.
Give that man a candy! And a Kleenex for his nose; he’s dripping blood on the carpet.
That’s right, folks. The most recent World Series ended more than six weeks later than the World Series of 1918. Our “Summer Game” now runs substantially into the fall. A month-and-a-half past its optimal “Sell By” date.
By which time, only the die-hards remain watching, the majority having long since lost interest in a game meant to be spectated in shirtsleeves, not long sleeves, a parka, a pair of gloves, a toque and a scarf.
Now, how did this much wished for, especially if you’re trying to diminish the size of the audience, extension of the baseball season occur?
Let us count the ways:
First they expanded the season to 162 games.
Then they curtailed all doubleheaders.
What’s a double-header?
Ah, so young, so young. A doubleheader, children, is an arrangement in which a fan is provided the opportunity to take in two games played on the same afternoon for the price of a single ticket.
But that’s like giving away one game for free.
And that is why…all together now…
“We don’t do that anymore.”
Exactly. The extension of the number of games and the abolition of playing two games on the same day both contributed to lengthening the season. Then, they added playoffs, then more playoffs, and then, for the first time this season, even more playoffs. All of which, of course, extend the season even further.
Okay, so that’s what they did to make the season longer. Which is one way of losing the audience. Another way is to make the games worse. Those two are connected to some extent, because baseball wasn’t meant to be played in October. When it gets colder, it becomes harder for pitchers to grip the ball. And when you hit the ball, it stings your hands.
Both of which diminish performance and undermine the quality of the play.
However, not content with allowing weather conditions to deteriorate the game – because who can reliably count on the weather? – television, with the acquiescence of Major League Baseball whom they enrich with massive contracts, requires, specifically playoff games, to be played during hours of the afternoon in which the sun is directly in the outfielder’s eyes – making it harder for them to catch the ball. Additionally, with the afternoon shadows between the pitchers’ mound and home plate, the virtually impossible task of hitting a ball coming at the batter at ninety-five or more miles an hour becomes even impossibler.
The result, as we have witnessed during the most recent round of playoffs, being a statistically surprising number of 1-0 games. Do you know what a 1-0 game is called?
And we know how popular that is!
They extended the season into the winter. And they require the games to be played under the most unpropitious possible conditions.
How can one not think they are not trying to sabotage the entire operation?
I mean, could they possibly do any worse?
I think they can. Don’t you?
THE ASSEMBLAGE BURSTS INTO RHYTHIC APPLAUSE.
It is our solemn responsibility to find ways to take the game of baseball down completely, driving away viewers by making playing conditions even worse than they already are.
Why don’t we make them play baseball on ice?
THE PROPOSAL IS FOLLOWED BY A THUNDEROUS SILENCE. THERE IS FEAR THAT A HEAD IS MOST IMMINENTLY ABOUT TO ROLL. FINALLY, THE REVERBERATING HUSH IS BROKEN BY THE “HEAD HONCHO”, WHO SAYS,
Let’s think about that one.
It works with hockey. Nobody watches that.
Ladies and gentlemen, we may just have hit upon something.
Let’s break for lunch.