Throughout sports, the only way to evolve is with leadership. The NFL is a great example, where their commissioner, Roger Goodell, has instituted a progressive way of thinking.
Some ideas may be brash and some might be disliked, but the forward way of thinking will eventually lead to a better league for both the players and fans.
Baseball, on the other hand, is living in the past, and Bud Selig is leading the time machine. An American sport more rich in history than any other, our pastime does not marvel at its current glory, but instead spotlights accomplishments from decades ago. When a player approaches a record in the present, they are usually condemned as unworthy to pass the former holder.
If the game is in the past, evolution can never occur. While other sports have accepted technology into their sport, baseball has hesitated to an almost indefinite level, showing no sign of budging.
Consistent instant replay would not only make baseball much more efficient and accurate, but would not slow the game down that much at all. But Selig and some of baseball’s biggest supporters frown at the idea, claiming the game has never had it, and obviously does not need it.
When Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game but was unfortunately robbed by an umpire who did not mean to make a poor call, an obvious response from the league would be to overturn the call and award the pitcher his most prestigious personal achievement possible.
However, a slow-to-act and tentative office felt that tradition does not reward a human’s error, and that the one-hitter would be the call.
Would this have happened in a different league, with a more powerful leader? Frankly, it’s doubtful.
Let’s not mistake, Selig loves baseball more than anyone, but he has became almost afraid to pull the trigger on some of the most important issues the game faces. Granted, he went after steroids with a serious vengeance and finally laid down a set of rules that punish an offender. The problem is it took until after steroids had made its most prominent effect, when nobody cared to do anything.
Issues like the aforementioned instant replay and game improvement in general are not being addressed and don’t appear to be on the shortlist. He is seemingly delaying the inevitable until he finally leaves his post, which he just prolonged for another three years.
If baseball wants to be near the top of the sports world in America again, new leadership is necessary. The game needs someone who not only loves the game, but wants people to love a better game in the future.
Our pastime is dying around us, and nobody seems to want to do anything about it. While football provides excitement and fresh looks and storylines every season, baseball goes through the motions, plodding its way to what will hopefully be an exciting finish.
There is no parity, which is fine if you’re the NFL, because any two teams can enter the Super Bowl and get a giant rating. However, if the Yankees or Red Sox don’t find their way to the World Series, the ratings plummet on anything short of a miraculous Fall Classic.
Baseball is not constantly driven into our homes, which in a world of technology is the best way to advertise anything. Open your sports browser in the baseball offseason and see how long it takes to find any baseball story on your front page. It’s nearly impossible, unless a blockbuster trade goes down.
In the football offseason, however, they reach the top of the list nearly every day, making it a year-round event culminating with a thrilling season.
If America wants baseball to be a similar event, it needs someone who is willing to relentlessly promote the sport until we accept it like we should.
Until then, Selig will continue to drive the sport into a purgatory of sorts, where progression is only a myth, and its evolution will be a distant hope.