We can save baseball, but only with fire

baseball.5 - We can save baseball, but only with fire

The crack of the bat. The scent of freshly cut grass. The sizzle of human hair igniting. The baseball of our youth was a veritable feast for the senses, a spectacle worthy of being known as the nation’s past-time. But try explaining that to the youth of today. Likely as not you’ll be met with blank stares. The more polite amongst them might gruffly point out that they find baseball ‘dull’ or ‘boring’. For those of us who raced downstairs to check the box score over breakfast every morning, the situation is heartbreaking.

Mr. Manfred, baseball is dying. Families no longer spend their hard-earned cash on trips to ballparks. Rather than watch overpaid players loafing about, they choose to spend their time elsewhere. Prices are high, games are long, and — frankly, we need to talk about this — the rule change that prevents players from catching fire when hit by pitches has been a disaster. The old ways were better:

Who could forget the first time they saw a batter aflame, pine tar roiling as they prepared to charge the mound? In day games it was spectacular enough to see the fire build and the acrid stench of burning fabric sharpen.

But for the lucky few who got to watch it happen under the floodlights, the effect was magical. A column of flame ripped across the infield grass, leaving charred footprints in its wake. The screams of the pitcher as they were charged down and extinguished by a vengeful fire-spirit stirred our very souls. The dismay of the infielders as they absorbed the carnage. That was baseball.

I understand the need to protect our stars, Mr. Manfred. I really do. But what we really need to protect is the institution of baseball itself, without whom the stars are just grown men playing a children’s game. As MLB commissioner, you have been tasked with an almost sacred responsibility. Do the right thing, and be the spark that brings baseball back to life.

America will thank you.

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