That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Baseball and Social Media are imcompatible

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during a news conference following a meeting with MLB owners, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

By Amaury Pi Gonzalez

OAKLAND–For those of us that were raised where paradise was watching a baseball game on a slow-sunny Sunday afternoon, scoring with the game program, eating peanuts and hot dogs, and drinking a soda, it would be a travesty for somebody to scream, “let’s go, this is too slow!”.

Let’s comeback to the present(2017)

Commissioner Manfred is addressing the pace of baseball today. The game is too slow for today,(some say) so they’re trying to “speed it up”. Miami Marlins president David Samson said Major League Baseball is aware that despite much talk about the need to speed up the game in recent years, the problem has gotten worse. “Pace of the game is critical “Samson said “We know that from our fans and TV partners. We have to recognize the reality of life today, which is that attention spans are going down and choices are going up. Whatever business you’re in, you have to adjust”.

If you attend baseball games or if you cover them in the media, you are used to seeing people pulling out their cell phones and filming or taking photos, during the game. Even worse, some people come to the baseball game to talk over the phone, the game is secondary to them. Some people cannot take the pace of the game, not because the game is slow, but because they seem not to have any time for relaxing, leisure time is not on their agenda. And let’s face it; there is a big addiction to social media in our country. More people at baseball parks are getting hit by balls and bats, just because they’re not watching the game and their hands and fingers are not ready to catch the ball because they are busy texting. Ask your eye doctor how difficult is to focus your eyes from texting, to a live ball coming at 80 mph at your head. The ball gets there in a split second. Faster than you can sent an emoji.

Baseball is totally different. It is a game, and just like chess, you cannot make a move every two seconds, if it ever became that, it would not be baseball. It is a slippery slope for baseball to cut the time for this and cut the time for that, and tell the hitter to rush up to the plate and the pitching coach to run up to the mound to talk to his pitcher. I don’t think they will eliminate the umpires “yet”. We do not see arguments that go on very long anymore, but eventually umpires will be a thing of the past. Someday (sooner than you think) we will have a computer on each base making the call,it would be so small that could be inside the bag, so nobody could see it. The rhythm of baseball is unlike any other sport, and I believe that is much of its charm. When I first started to watch the game of baseball as a little kid it was my father who thought me and took me to the old Cuban Professional Winter League games in Havana. I would ask a lot of questions, and he will try to explain, but always told me, watch the game, watch the game and the more you see it the more you will understand it and enjoy it. The more I watched baseball the more in-love I became with the game. when my father told me “this guy is a good hitter, he is going to try to advance the guy at first, and hit behind him”I did not have Google to tell me “what the hell is hitting behind the runner”? So I learned, because one thing baseball teaches more than any other sport is patience.

Of course in the mid to late 1950’s the biggest technology we had in our house in Havana, was a Hallicrafter television(Hallicrafter,a radio manufacturer, later made televisions and then that company became Sylvania). Back them they televised a game of the Cuban league each week. However, we preferred going to Estadio de El Cerro(now Estadio Latinoamericano, because the Castro’s changed every name of everything in Cuba). But one thing the government there could not change, was “beisbol”. Not even the communist could speed the game! In a country which government blames the US for everything bad under the sun, for over 50 years, baseball in Cuba remained the same. Until a couple of decades ago when they established the Designated Hitter,(sorry NL fans) that has been the only major change there, when it comes to baseball. Even with the old Soviet Union influence in Cuba, Cubans never really took up to Soccer/Futbol. Baseball was, is and will be “the game “for Cubans.

The main reason Major League Baseball is looking to the pace of the game today is basically because of economic reasons. Although the game today is as wealthy as ever. We have hundreds of channels today on television, radio still the place where baseball really can find refuge from high technology, and way too much information. Do we have too much information? Common sense tells me that if a hitter squares a fastball coming at 98 mph, that ball with leave the bat at way over 100 mph. Yet on television that is another added feature, to keep people involved in the game. For the millenniums baseball might be too slow, and they would probably like to see the game reduced to three periods of three innings each,(no more than 10 minutes for each inning) and read about the game via Twitter with 147 characters. That’s it. They would say, “No more time for that, I have to do something else”. And of course, extra-innings would be abolished. Some would say “just end the game with a tie”,we have to go… Newspapers will soon be museum items, just like the old Olivetti,Underwood and Remington typewriters.

I love technology, although I do not do Twitter, I enjoy all the advances of today’s social media. I am in no way against social media, I enjoy just about every advance in technology, except for the cars that do not need a driver. However, it is more and more evident that while social media seems to be perfect for many things, it is not for baseball, if you are a purist, It can’t be.

I do believe Major League Baseball is trying to marry social media to the game, and more important – compete with the other sports that are restricted by the clock, but I am also not in favor of changing the game that much. It might just be that Baseball and Social Media are incompatible. We will see, but it could be a very rocky marriage.

Amaury Pi-Gonzalez begins his seventh season as play by play for Fox Sports West(Deportes)LA Angels of Anaheim and on the radio for the Oakland Athletics, where he began his broadcasting career in 1977.

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