We often attribute baseball's startling fall from grace in America to its slower pace and lack of action. It's supposedly a 19th century game trying to keep up with a Play Station generation, right?
Well, I think it's more about the professional weenies who have played and managed the game over the past 20 years. The actual sport -- meaning the product we see on the field -- is weak and void of any compelling storylines. The guys who play the game are boring and bland. They lack personality and punch.
You don't believe me? Then why is Moneyball -- which is actually about business and finance! -- far more interesting than anything that has happened on a baseball diamond during the last 10 years?
Take Jose Reyes of the New York Mets.
What did Reyes do? Leading the National League in hitting on Wednesday -- the final day of the 2011 season -- he asked out of the final game after he got a hit in the first inning. He wasn't hurt. He just didn't want to play anymore. He didn't want to jeopardize his batting average. So 12 minutes into the last game, seeing that his closest competitor in the batting race (Milwaukess Brewers Ryan Braun) now needed a 3-for-3 or 4-for-4 perfect day to beat him, he simply punked out. Justin Turner pinch ran for him and Reyes' day (and fan respect) was over.
Isn't it ironic that Reyes' cowardly act came on the 70th anniversary of Ted Williams playing both games of a doubleheader on the final day of the 1941 season? Williams could have sat on the bench and kept his .400 record in tact, but he didn't. He played, went 6 for 8 on the entire day and finished his season at .406.
Baseball. Where personal records are now more important than pride.
So while you had Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys playing with a punctured lung and Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles playing with a broken hand during NFL games this week, you have a baseball player not wanting to play the last game of the season because it might jeopardize his personal record.
Romo said, "Hey, this is football. There are a bunch of guy in the lockerroom who would do the same thing. We play football."
Notice they don't play baseball, where the game has gone from fun and excitement to talk about the sacred pitch count, ties at the All-Star game, meaningless interleague play, using four middle relievers during the sixth inning, four-hour games, and giving guys days off in between road trips.
What if you're a young Mets fan who went to the game today in hopes of seeing Reyes finish out the year with a great day? What kind of lesson do you possibly take away from the game?
That being selfish is smart? That putting your personal betterment ahead of the team is the way to go?
Classy, move Reyes. Job well done.
What I wouldn't do for Braun to have a perfect night and nip Reyes by a point.
Now that would be justice.