Jeff Pearlman

  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon

Five ways to make Major League Baseball more engaging

That's Cesar Cedeno stealing home in 1977. When people stole home.

That’s Cesar Cedeno stealing home in 1977. When people stole home.

I was sitting here, trying to write, thinking of ways to make Major League Baseball more engaging and exciting without ruining its spirit. Here are some quickies …

• 1. Encourage bat flips: You hit a home run, flip your bat. Toss it high in the air, whip it to the side, attach some neon strings. People love bat flips. Pitchers don’t—but we do. So do it. Dramatically, energetically.

• 2. Mic players during games: Not just in All-Star Games—in all games. Pick a different guy, have him engage with announcers. Fill us in. What are you thinking? Feeling? Seeing?

• 3. Some of the uniforms simply need to change: The Angels, in particular, are so, so, so, so, so boring and dull. You have the greatest player of the past two decades, and you dress him like a librarian. Bring back vests. Go sleeveless for a day or two. Something. Anything.

• 4. Start stealing bases again: Seriously. Like, now. Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines and Vince Coleman brought more excitement to baseball than any power hitters of their era. I know … I know—it’s statistical suicide. Do you want the game to last? Or not?

• 5. Stop dishonestly selling the game: MLB’s commercials feature loud music and swinging a bat. Then we get to the stadium and it’s a guy stepping out, stepping in, adjusting his crotch, tying his shoe, stepping back in, then out, then in, then ball one, then out. Simply put: The product doesn’t match the marketing.

Wanna know what’s great about the live baseball experience? It’s chill. It’s usually sunny and warm. There are dogs and beers. You can catch a foul ball. It’s bliss for a mom and dad with a kid. Remind us all of that. The charm. The joy. Wanna leave after five innings? Fine. Have a great time.

  • Byron

    I love baseball, but I think that they do one big thing wrong when they market the game: they focus too much on the past. Yes, I get Babe Ruth and Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and George Brett. All awesome players, but they haven’t played in decades and some of them are dead.

    Whenever someone talks about Mike Trout or Mookie Betts or Aaron Judge or Clayton Kershaw, it’s usually in the context of comparing him to the someone who excelled years ago. I get that that’s the cool thing about baseball, but it also devalues a player. Today’s player can’t compete with a ghost, a memory of someone’s childhood star. Consequently, people think that a. players aren’t as good or b. who wants to watch today’s game when it’s obvious that the better players played years ago.

    The NFL doesn’t do this. The NBA and NHL do this sometimes, but not to the extent that MLB does it. And when they do compare today’s players to yesteryear’s players, it’s usually a favorable comparison.

    Is anyone going to be Babe Ruth? Or Jackie Robinson? Of course not, but you don’t have to remind your fans of that every day.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life