28 October 2008

He can't get no satisfaction

Jeff Passan fires up the Complain-o-Matic 5000 for his latest column at Yahoo! Sports. I can only assume Passan had mechanical help on this one, because no human with a functioning cerebral cortex could've written this paragraph.

It’s awful, embarrassing even, that the country became so indifferent to what once was the most popular championship series in sports. Even worse, Major League Baseball, fat and happy with its coffers growing and ticket sales booming, watched idly as the number of people viewing its championship series dwindled to a record low in Game 3
"It's so crowded, no one goes there anymore." Thanks, Yogi.

Passan does get around to a couple of worthwhile arguments in there. Baseball does need to consider the climate effects of pushing the season so late into October, either by trimming needless off days from the playoffs or starting the season earlier, trading some bad weather days in late March for a cleaner forecast at your marquee event.

But most of it is sheer dribble. Passan wants to gripe about Selig changing the rules on the fly to prevent a situation where the World Series was awarded to the Phillies even after Tampa Bay had scored to tie the game in the top of the sixth, but can't find anyone who'll say it wasn't the right move. He also drags out the annual hobbyhorse of sportsriters; World Series games start too late and the childrens can't watch them, therefore baseball will be extinct by the next generation. World Series games have started at 8:30 Eastern since at least the early '90s, and we're still here, perhaps because the East Coast isn't the only part of the country. The reality is that games are not going to start before 8 PM Eastern as long as baseball wants to remain on network television, and, if they don't, Passan and the like will complain baseball didn't make the compromises necessary to stay on free TV.

Passan then closes on his most reprehensible note, claiming the Rays don't deserve to win the Series because they have a small fan base. Passan seems amazed that a team which has never won more than 70 games has very few fans and declares this unsatisfactory, hoping, apparently, that condemning the Rays to more losing will magically increase their support . (This would be more ironic if Passan were one of those sportswriters who regularly complains about the lack of parity in baseball.) I am again amazed that this is all the logic it takes to become a national sportswriter, and wonder how on earth I haven't yet managed to ascend those heights.