(Yes, I think about Bill Simmons while mowing the grass. It went from "thinking about the Roy Oswalt trade," to "thinking about how the Braves are screwed because they love team chemistry more than talent," to "thinking how Mike Lupica wrote an article completely counting out the Red Sox in the AL East," and finally ended with "I have enjoyed Bill Simmons' articles lately.")
that changed Friday though. I have enjoyed Bill Simmons columns, I enjoyed his book and I really thought he was getting on a hot streak. He's interesting because the NBA is his thing, while I don't know if the NFL and MLB is quite the sport he knows best. Basically, I think he would be better to stick to what he does best, because I like that better. Today's column where he feels essentially breaks down the Red Sox season and then gets WAY off topick isn't a good column for him in 2010.
I came to check the comments on my post on Thursday and saw commenter Rich had posted something how bad Bill's column was and I got emails about the columns as well. That's how I know it was a bad article, when I get multiple heads-up I should read it. I did read it and it was a circa-2002 column. It was Bill complaining about the Red Sox. In 2002 I would have loved and enjoyed this column. Unfortunately you can't go home again and it is 2010. The Red Sox have won two World Series and just any complaining about them is not understandable because the Red Sox aren't the team that is cursed anymore, but a team with a large payroll that has become a sort of mini-Yankees in nearly every sense of the term.
Basically, the Red Sox and Bill Simmons have hit the big time now. Any complaining about the Red Sox comes off as whining by a person and fan base that has become somewhat spoiled over the last 6 years. As a fan of a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2005 and is currently choking away the NL East, I can't handle whining from Bill about his Red Sox. They've had success recently, but don't be spoiled by it and assume the Red Sox have a right to make the playoffs. I don't think the average Red Sox thinks this, but Bill can't handle the Red Sox being in third place in the AL East. Welcome to the world of having an above-average team, join the rest of us at the bar for a beer.
On Tuesday night in Anaheim, with a teetering Red Sox season threatening to crumble, J.D. Drew saved Boston fans from another episode of "Papelbon, P.U." by walloping a timely double.
Papelbon is not pitching up to his current standard, but he certainly isn't a terrible closer at all. This is what I mean by saying that Bill has become spoiled. The players on his team can't just be great players, they have to be elite players. This is what chasing the Yankees over the past 100 years and getting a taste of victory has done to Bill. It is like he is just now bitterly learning the Papelbon is not Mariano Rivera, while the rest of the free world already knew this.
Two runs scored, Boston's eighth-inning lead expanded to three and when the TV crew cut to the obligatory shot of Drew pumping his fist at second base ...
Oh, wait ...
I forgot. J.D. Drew never does things like that.Because he doesn't fist pump, this automatically means J.D. Drew isn't a good player. Only good players on good teams play with passion.
If NESN launched a game show called "Guess What J.D. Just Did?" in which contestants guessed based off his expressions -- did Drew just hit a game-saving double, take a called third strike, hit into a double play, win the lottery or find out he was going to jail? -- nobody would ever win.
If NESN launched a game show like that, let's not forget no one would watch it. I've said it before, but events in this world never occur until Bill Simmons has experienced them. Once he has experienced an event he will write about it as of no other person has ever witnessed what he just witnessed. If Bill got sent to the moon, he would come back and tell us all there is no gravity and the view is spectacular, like he we didn't already know this.
What I am saying is that Cardinals, Dodgers, and Braves fans already seen the lack of any type of emotion on J.D. Drew's face. So both the Red Sox and Bill Simmons should have been aware of the fact J.D. Drew considers baseball to be work and not fun at all. I blame Scott Boras.
Really, he's the perfect player for the post-2007 Red Sox regime: someone who plays hard, looks good statistically, does everything either "pretty well" or better and leaves you cold.
J.D. Drew was on the 2007 World Series champion Red Sox team. It is weird how the post-2007 J.D. Drew is different from the 2007 J.D. Drew. I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact success makes nearly everything bearable. When the Red Sox aren't winning, all of a sudden it is because J.D. Drew isn't passionate enough.
Quite simply, he's a boring player on a boring team during a fairly boring season. It's the first Red Sox team without a truly compelling player since 1993 -- when we went 80-82 -- and even then, we had a young Mo Vaughn
It is a boring team that has six All-Stars on the roster and one of the most worthy All-Stars, Kevin Youklis left off the All-Star roster. Apparently the fans and players found the team so boring they deserved to make the All-Star team.
Notice how it isn't Bill Simmons fault he doesn't have interest in this Red Sox team, it is because there is just a roster full of boring players, that's all. It's the fault of the players they are so boring that Bill isn't being a rabid fan this year and has nothing to do with the fact the team isn't successful. If this boring player trend continues, Bill may have to become a baseball widow until the Red Sox start winning the AL East again.
I wish I had a public forum to annoy my readers with my whining about how my favorite baseball team doesn't win their division every year. Wait, I do have one, and I don't do that. (Of course I am aware Bill Simmons has a much, much, much, much, much larger forum than I do and I think that only makes it worse)
Really, you have to go back to 1981 (pre-Wade Boggs, post-Fred Lynn, post-Carlton Fisk) for a Red Sox team with less pizzazz than the 2010 crew.
Bill Simmons isn't a fair-weather fan at all. He just doesn't write about the Red Sox much because they aren't an exciting team. Teams that aren't exciting can't win games in his mind. Bill's seeming has nothing to do with the Red Sox not winning games, but because they lack pizzazz.
On Wednesday, both Boston papers carried front-page stories about Sports Business Journal's report that NESN's Red Sox ratings had plummeted 36 percent. (The Boston Globe also reported that WEEI's ratings were down 16.5 percent, and that male listeners between the ages of 25 and 54 had dwindled by 28 percent.)
Honestly, if I was a Red Sox fan I would be happy about these numbers. Get rid of these fucking fake-ass Red Sox bandwagon fans that think the "B" on the Boston cap looks good in public and let the real fans enjoy the team. Of course NESN and WEEI hate this decrease in interest, but as a fan of sports I always like it when ratings plummet sometimes and I think it is because bandwagon fans have quit paying attention. It still sucks to lose any fans, but those are the kind of fans you care to lose.
If Bill is trying to show how boring the Red Sox are, it is failing for me. What he is showing me is how the Red Sox were the popular team to cheer for because they were successful and now they aren't as successful (but are 58-44, which is a good record and I consider that successful), the fans who like to cheer for successful teams aren't paying as much attention.
"I don't think there's any one reason," Dad said. "Don't do the thing where you write a column and try to figure it out. There's no one thing to figure out. This is too complicated."
How about the Red Sox have had injuries and aren't playing baseball as well as other teams in their division? Is that just too damn easy of an answer and won't allow for a 5,000 word rambling column that makes the issue much more complex than it actually is? I don't get why anytime one of Bill's teams fails the reasoning has to be so complex. Maybe they just aren't very good or had bad breaks. There always has to be a list, convoluted reason, or excuse for why one of Bill's teams fails. This list, convoluted reason or excuse always turns into a theory that Bill has and that theory always turn into a mailbag question he is asked by a SimmonsClone.
But Dad, that's what I do! I love figuring things out that can't be fully figured out!
When commenter Rich referred me to this column, he said this in the comments:
Yes, Bill just said that even though things can't be fully figured out, he can figure them out... like the patterns in football bets, or who how the best basketball players of all time stack up.
This goes for me too. I know Bill is saying this tongue-in-cheek and he knows he can't figure out what is wrong with the Red Sox, but why does he have to go through this whole exercise. It feels tedious and pointless to do this as your weekly column for ESPN.
INJURIES: 10 PERCENT
I would actually put injuries higher than this. Of course injuries are no excuse and that is why you have backups, but I think injuries have played a big part in the Red Sox struggles this year, so I thought Bill would use this as a larger excuse.
Although maybe they were always injured, and Ellsbury's side certainly thinks so, which is why he read a statement accusing Boston's medical staff of misdiagnosing the fractures, and as that was happening, his teammates were subtly maligning him for not coming to games. And by the way, when this soap opera becomes the most compelling storyline of the season, you know the season sucked.
So the 2009 season sucked for the Yankees because A-Rod was found to use steroids? So every season with Manny Ramirez sucked for the Red Sox because the human soap opera was on the team? Let's change sports quickly. The Vikings 2009 year sucked because the return of Favre was the most compelling storyline?
I don't think this is true at all that if a soap opera becomes the most compelling storyline (which is purely a relative term) then the season sucked. The season sucked because the Red Sox aren't in first place. That's the bottom line.
Dustin Pedroia was hitting the ball so well in mid-June -- 60 plate appearances; 26 hits; 7 walks; a 5-for-5, 3-homer game in Colorado -- that Yankees friends were sending me taunting e-mails with "PEDroia" in the subject heading. Naturally, he fouled a ball off his foot in San Francisco, breaking it. This season sucks. I keep telling you.
WE'RE SO FUCKING CURSED! GOD IS PUNISHING US FOR BEING SO AWESOME AND LOYAL TO OUR TEAM! PEDROIA IS THE ONLY BASEBALL PLAYER TO EVER GET HURT WHILE HE WAS PLAYING WELL! NO OTHER TEAM HAS EVER HAD A PLAYER GET HURT AND WON THEIR DIVISION! IT'S NOT OUR FAULT WE CAN'T WIN GAMES!
(I skipped the fake Boston accent because I suck at writing it)
Victor Martinez finally caught fire in June (.954 OPS) ... and naturally, he broke his thumb.
If only Jason Varitek still played for the Red Sox...wait, nevermind, he does and he is actually playing pretty well for his age. He is hitting .263/.324/.547 for the year. Of course Bill needs to complain about the Red Sox bad luck, so I will let him.
We signed Cameron for his defense, which would have been fine if he wasn't 37 and moving like me after I sit on the sofa for too long and can't get loose. Like all Sox fans, I watched Cameron play outfield in April thinking, "Wait a second, I thought this guy was supposed to be good?" and feeling like I'd been duped.
I am all about defense, but I can't believe the Red Sox and (more importantly) the Mariners strategy of not worrying about offense and focusing on "great" defensive players didn't work. I thought for sure the Mariners would be in great shape with no great hitters (outside of Ichiro) in the lineup this year.
(Note: This one hurts because every baseball fan instinct I had told me this past winter, "We should sign Johnny Damon. I don't care if he's an oil spill in the outfield. He'll hit, he'll get on base, he'll give us 650 ABs and he knows how to handle Boston."
It isn't shocking that Bill Simmons thought the Red Sox should have signed Johnny Damon and he tells us this AFTER Mike Cameron struggles and Johnny Damon has a good year. It's interesting how Bill doesn't share this information with us before the season.
I'm all for loyalty and continuity, and we all appreciate how Josh Beckett came through in Game 5 in Cleveland three years ago -- saving the 2007 title by himself, and really, I don't know how many starters from the past decade would have come through that night -- but giving him a $68 million extension as he was getting shelled in April was just plain strange. Did he sign the contract, then go on the disabled list for 10 weeks? Of course he did.
THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY RUN THE RED SOX ARE THE FANS! WE ARE THE HEART THAT MAKES THE RED SOX TEAM BEAT! THEO EPSTEIN IS AN ASS-CRACKER AND SHOULD BE FIRED! THEY SHOULD NAME ME "GM OF COMMON SENSE" AND THEN I WILL TELL THEM IN JULY THEY SHOULD HAVE SIGNED JOHNNY DAMON IN FEBRUARY! PEOPLE WILL LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE I KNOW THINGS LIKE THIS!
Through Wednesday's games, Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall had a combined 422 at-bats for Boston. Throw in Daniel Nava (91), Eric Patterson (50) and Cash (47), and we're over 600. Add Jeremy Hermida (155 ABs, .617 OPS), poor Mike Lowell (80 ABs, .658 OPS) and Brown/Molina/Reilly, and that's 850 at-bats that should have happened for bottom feeders like the Royals, Pirates, Astros, Orioles or Diamondbacks, not a big-market team with $150 million to spend every season.
So basically Bill is saying the Red Sox are too good to have crappy players on their team. He would rather they act like the large market team they are and just outspend everyone else. I don't know if 2001 Bill Simmons would appreciate this comment that 2010 Simmons just made. He would find it very Yankees-esque.
Team Theo's lack of urgency as the injuries mounted was appalling -- on July 3, after the Pedroia/Martinez double whammy, we were still a half-game behind New York and 1½ games ahead of Tampa -- as was this past winter's much-ballyhooed commitment to defense that ignored Cameron's advanced age and the seemingly crucial fact that Martinez couldn't throw out Aretha Franklin at this point.
I have already complained that Bill is using his weekly ESPN column as a way to vent about how angry he is the Red Sox don't win the World Series every year, but there are a bunch of teams that have needs and haven't addressed them. The Braves have needed an outfielder (and possibly now a second baseman) since early May, the Yankees need another starting pitcher, the Mets need another starting pitcher and possibly a second baseman, and the list could on. It's not like Theo Epstein is a terrible GM for not plugging every little hole on the Red Sox roster immediately.
The bigger issue: For all their bluster about building a monster farm system, the Red Sox aren't exactly teeming with can't-miss prospects.
It isn't exactly easy to build a great farm system when you are picking in the upper 20's every single year. Building a farm system is one part luck and another part great scouting. Bill knows this, I know he does, but I don't know why he ignores it.
But take it from a guy in an obsessive, ultradorky AL-only keeper league with a 25-pick minor league draft and a full farm system:
Bill believe he is an expert on AL farm systems because he is in an AL-only keeper fantasy league. That's all I have to say about that.
(Note: ESPN's Keith Law had Boston ranked as his No. 2 farm system in February. When I e-mailed him for a July update, he wrote back that many of its top guys were underperforming and added, "They're not No. 2 anymore. Definitely still top-10." I'm not pumping my fist.)
What a self-important jerk. What's wrong with a top-1o farm system? At some point, Bill has gotten the incorrect perception that the Red Sox are important and above all the other teams in MLB. It's not true. The Red Sox don't have the best team, the best farm system, and the best GM. They don't have the history of the Yankees, though Bill probably likes to pretend they do, and they have won 2 World Championships over the last 91 years, which makes them not one of the most decorated teams in MLB. I have nothing against the Red Sox, but this isn't the fall of the Roman Empire. This is a good season by the Red Sox while two other teams in their division are having better years.
Every person wants his team to be the best, but Bill seems to believe the Red Sox have a right to be the best and for some reason he expects the best. Above-average is no longer good for him for some reason. Who gives a shit about prospect rankings anyway? Where was Brennan Boesch ranked before this year in the Tigers farm system by Baseball America? 25th.
you can't expect a nine-figure baseball team to capture the daily imagination of a big market without a player who passes the Remote Control Test (when you don't flip channels because you know Player X is coming up) or the We Can't Go Get Food Yet Test (when you don't make a food/drink run at a game because Player X is coming up) or even the Every Five Nights, I Know What I'm Doing Test (when you have a transcendent pitcher who keeps you in front of the television every five days).
If there was a God who cared about humanity, Bill Simmons would quit holding teams to bizarre standards that he himself sets for that team to "capture the daily imagination" of a market. In the beginning, he made up a few theories and it was all fun and games. Now every fucking, single idea has a theory behind it with some rule that has to be explained so we all know what the hell he is talking about. I guess you never have to think of a real reason why something happens if you can just make up reasons as you go.
I really, really like Lester, my favorite current player (and someone quietly enjoying a monster season) mainly for everything he's been through.
Lester has been so quietly good this year he made the All-Star team. This team is for players quietly having a good year like Roy Halladay, Miguel Cabrera, and Albert Pujols.
It's been the elephant in the room for three years. Do I care as much as I did? I think about this question constantly. The short answer? No. It can't mean as much. It will never mean as much. Before 2004, rooting for the Red Sox wasn't about just sports. It was about mortality.
When he says it is about mortality, he means that I want to kill myself because I spend the first decade of my life hearing about how cursed the Red Sox were and will probably spend the rest of my hearing about how awesome it was for the Red Sox to win the World Series when they broke the fake curse. It was a good story, but I am done with it.
Cubs fans know what I mean. So do Vikings fans, Indians fans, Maple Leafs fans ... only the true sufferers know.
Shut the hell up about the true sufferers. It's pathetic and feeble. Red Sox fans aren't sufferers anymore no matter how much they want to be. I am sure Bill is thinking up some curse right now to associate with the Red Sox so they can get sympathy in the future.
Too many people cared too much.
Or not enough as the television and radio ratings for 2010 show.
When things finally turned in 2004, and then again in 2007, deep down, we all knew it would never be quite the same. Are you the same after losing your virginity? What about after having a kid? Winning the World Series was a life experience just like those. So no ... rooting for this franchise would never be quite the same.
See Bill KNEW the television and radio ratings would take a dive. He KNEW that he wouldn't like the team as much. Bill knows everything. So it is not his fault nor the fault of anyone affiliated with the Red Sox they don't care as much, it is just their 2004 championship was so much greater than any other championship in the history of sports, everything including the second coming of Christ pales in comparison.
The bandwagoners who showed up post-2004 (the Pink Hat Brigade), coupled with the owners shrewdly turning Fenway (and the blocks surrounding it) into a cash cow on par with Facebook and the Kardashian family, coupled with the experience of attending home games (not the same) ... yup, it's made it a little less fun for die-hards.
I do feel sympathy for Red Sox fans on this issue. I attended a Braves-Red Sox game last year and I had plenty of people around me (8-10) who were Braves AND Red Sox fans. Go screw yourself if you do that.
Look, I don't want to be Grumpy Old Man. I really don't. But I probably attended 100 Fenway games just from 1998 to 2002; the level of baseball sophistication in the stands was unparalleled. We worked with Pedro like Frick and Frack.
It is common knowledge the Red Sox have the most knowledgeable fans in the history of baseball. The team with the least loud fans? The Braves. I think some of them believe they are going to a museum or a movie where they can't make too much noise. Going to a game depresses me.
Anyway, bandwagon fans ebb and flow as TV viewers depending on entertainment value, and this season hasn't been so entertaining. There's some of your 36 percent.
That is THE 36%...or at least 30% of it. It goes for every team, but when the Red Sox "fans" jump off the bandwagon, we all tend to notice more...probably because I point it out.
For the past week, every media outlet has tried to talk us into A-Rod's 600th homer -- as if the moment means something, because, after all, just six other people have done it!
I wish Bill wouldn't be such a wimp and say exactly what he means. It is not like ESPN will fire him or could hurt him in any way. He is at the point where he can make good money without ESPN. He just needs to say that ESPN is who has rammed this coverage down our throat. They show every A-Rod at-bat and they interrupt coverage of other games to show A-Rod hitting. It is not every media outlet, but ESPN mostly who does this.
I don't care as much about the championships teams during this hideous era -- everyone had cheaters, and everyone was playing by the same (lack of) rules -- but it gets dicey once we're putting careers in perspective. Whether it's the legends we almost definitely know (Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, A-Rod, Manny, etc.),
the guys we suspect but don't know for sure (Gagne, Gonzo, Ortiz, Belle and Piazza, to name five)
I thought we knew about Gagne, Belle and Ortiz. Didn't they all either test positive at some point or were in the Mitchell Report? I thought so, though I am losing track at this point.
So really, my single favorite thing about being a baseball fan other than watching games -- comparing new guys to old guys -- was brutally murdered.
Also -- and this is important -- I'd rather have the title regardless of how we won it, so say whatever you want. I don't care. Remember, Sox fans were "drug addict ready to turn tricks for crack"-level desperate at the time. And if you can find me a team from 1995 to 2008 that didn't have some chemical help, I'll give you a trillion dollars.
I like how Bill Simmons goes on and on about how steroids have ruined the game of baseball for him, but he is perfectly fine with the Red Sox winning a title with players who tested positive for PEDs. So basically, in some ways he is perfectly fine with his single favorite thing being ruined because of PEDs because his team really needed to win. This is also known as the same justification PED users had for using the drugs they used.
"But the team needed to win and I needed to feed my family. Everyone else was doing it, so why shouldn't I?"
So Bill Simmons hates the Steroid Era and loves it all the same. Go figure.
The hangover of steroids in baseball has nothing to do with the Red Sox not having a good year this year. I would think a baseball-wide problem like the hangover of steroids would affect each team and not just the Red Sox. I guess I would think wrong.
THE DECLINE OF BASEBALL IN GENERAL: 5 PERCENT
MLB's defenders will point to attendance numbers (dropped in 2008, held tight in 2009 and 2010), its history (by far the most significant of the four major sports), its World Series ratings (still better than the NBA Finals) and a new generation of younger-than-25 stars (Strasburg, Heyward, Price, Longoria, Posey, Santana, etc.) who rank among baseball's biggest talent boons ever.
Sure, there may be no statistical evidence provided here that baseball is declining in popularity, but Bill Simmons isn't as interested in baseball as he used to be and his opinion represents the opinion of the entire world. Just ask him, he will tell you. Since his interest in baseball is declining so is everyone else's.
The attendance numbers didn't keep plummeting only because of discount deals and cheaper tickets. Shouldn't baseball worry that the onslaught of new ballparks (20 since the Skydome in 1989) caused an ongoing attendance bump that's soon coming to an end? The honeymoon "we have a new park!" stage eventually wore off in Baltimore, Cleveland, Toronto and Houston. Who's next? When the dust settles, attendance will hinge on the same thing it always did: winning.
Bill's evidence of baseball declining in popularity is based on his opinion that the new ball parks are what is currently keeping attendance high. It is always interesting when a writer uses his own opinion as proof for a hypothesis he is trying to prove. Bill's first item of proof that baseball is declining in popularity, which leads to the Red Sox having a bad year (see how many degrees of separation we are getting from Bill's original point of this article?) is based on him speculating what will happen in the future.
Especially in the 65-Inch HD Plasma/DirecTV Package/"Screw It, I'd Rather Just Stay Home and Flick Channels" Era ... which will become THE long-term problem if they don't solve the time issue (more on this in a second.) And what happens if the big-market/small-market chasm keeps growing?
We don't know what will happen and that's my exact point as to why this isn't a compelling piece of evidence that baseball is declining in popularity and this is why the Red Sox are having a bad year.
There isn't a single baseball star who could have gotten a 4 rating for switching teams, much less a 9 rating like LeBron did. Right now, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are the only mainstream famous baseball players. That's the list.
I disagree. I think Albert Pujols is mainstream, Stephen Strasburg is getting there quickly, Tim Lincecum will be there before too long, Jason Heyward may be more hype than player right now (there is A LOT of hype around him), and Joe Mauer would cause quite a fury if he switched teams.
Just look at what happened to poor A-Rod in New York -- within eight years, they drummed out every interesting quality he had. It's like listening to a robot. I am just happy to be a Yankee. I just want to win. Please recharge my battery; I am running low.
This is crap. Alex Rodriguez has always been mostly a boring person and a boring interview. I would love to hear Bill's opinion on what interesting qualities he had that were drummed out of him.
Actually, my criticism here doesn't even matter...what does how A-Rod speaks have to do with the Red Sox having a bad year?
And a better example for my young son. But still, how can you stand out in 2010's Look At Me Society when you're competing with stuff like "Do you realize the Bengals have two wide receivers with their own VH1 reality shows?" and "Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are now shopping their documentary about the 2010 free-agency period?" It's the Look At Me/Instant Gratification/Twitter/Snooki/Lady Gaga generation ... and poor baseball fits in about as well as Bud Selig at a Drake concert.
BECAUSE ONLY BLACK PEOPLE GO TO CONCERTS TO SEE R&B SINGERS! WHITE PEOPLE AREN'T INVITED!
We're feeling the effects of two solid decades of World Series games ending well after the bedtime of any prospective young fan. And don't kids have dozens more choices in 2010 than they did in 1975?
One of those choices is to watch every single MLB game available on satellite. I think we are getting a bit off point here. So the 2010 Red Sox had a bad year because kids have better options to watch on television in the year 2010 than they did in 2008 and 2009? We all know that only kids watch baseball too. I am sure no adults over the age of 18 years old watch any baseball games.
I like how this article has gone from describing what is wrong with the Boston Red Sox to the answer being that Major League Baseball is in decline. This is because there is no way the Red Sox could have a bad year (58-44 is not a bad record) without there being a huge problem with baseball in general. If baseball were healthy, then so would the Red Sox be healthy.
THE TIME OF THE GAMES: 55 PERCENT
I'm not going to argue the time of games in baseball are not very long and there is a lot of dead time. It is mostly due to the specialization of bullpens and umpires allowing pitchers and catchers long amounts of time to pitch or get in the batter's box. I thought this was pretty well known.
55% of the Red Sox problems this year is due to baseball games being too long? Am I supposed to believe 36% of the people who watch the Red Sox games have quit watching because the games are (I'm guessing) 10 minutes longer at the most this year? Don't the Red Sox and Yankees always draw great ratings? Aren't those generally the longest games that could ever be played. A three-game series takes 5 days to complete. Those games take forever and there is still interest from fans.
I just don't know if fan interest is really declining because of the length of games. Maybe fewer people get interested in baseball because the games take longer, but I don't know if someone who watches and enjoys baseball would quit watching because the games got 10 minutes longer. I also don't know if this is 55% of the reason for dwindling fan interest in the Red Sox.
By the way, have you ever looked around during a baseball game these days? It's 35,000 people texting or writing/reading e-mails while they wait for something to happen. BlackBerrys and cell phones were either the best or the worst thing that ever happened to baseball. I can't decide. When an incoming text is more exciting than a baseball at-bat, something has gone horribly wrong.
I won't deny baseball games are too long, but that is just the nature of the game. Those people are still at the game aren't they? So there is still some interest on the part of those texting or calling others while at a baseball game.
I went back and examined the times of games of my most memorable Red Sox seasons (1975, 1978, 1986, 1999, 2004, 2007) along with 2002 (when we first worried that games were becoming too slow) and 2010 (through 101 games). Check this out; it's incredible.
By "incredible" Bill means not really that shocking for anyone who has followed baseball over the last couple of decades. Again, is this really affecting fan interest in the Red Sox. Bill is yet again trying to use the Red Sox "bad" season in regard to fan interest and say it is a baseball wide problem with fan interest. I don't know if it is true.
Then after throwing out the length of games for the 1999 season Bill throws out this gem:
(Note: Not much different than 1986; 102 games ended in three hours or less. By the way, it's flawed to say these numbers reflect baseball as a whole. The DH slows things down in the American League, you might have more hitters who milk pitch counts in a specific year and some pitchers work faster or slower than others. The slowest Red Sox pitcher ever was Jeff Gray. He made Jonathan Papelbon look like a quicker draw than Rick Pitino. If you had an entire bullpen of Papelbons and Grays, that's skewing your number obviously.)
So that whole part Bill wrote about previously in regard to baseball as a whole having a problem with people who don't want to spend three hours watching a game doesn't apply to the National Leaguen at all? It stands to reason if the Red Sox are being affected 55% by the length of games then other teams would be affected by this as well. Wouldn't it? It is not like Papelbon pitches 8 innings every game or anything. I find it hard to believe the length of games is affecting this specific Red Sox team and fan interest in the team by 55% and no other team has this same problem. Are Yankees fans not affected by the longer games?
Joe Posnanski does a better job of covering this issue than I do and he comes to the conclusion it isn't the length of the game, but the pace of the game. What's the difference and how does that difference impact the fan? I don't know exactly, but I don't believe fan interest would dive so much because of the pace of a game.
According to Posnanski's post, the teams that played the fastest in the American League last year were Chicago, Seattle, Texas, and Oakland. It stands to reason if fan interest in the Red Sox dives by 30-something percent and the major reason is the pace of the game that fan interest would increase in the previous four teams. I am going on a limb and say that is not true at all. I don't know if these teams have seen increased interest from fans. Bill is on to something with the time of games, but I don't think it decreases fan interest in the Red Sox.
2007 Red Sox
2 or less -- 0
2:01-2:30 -- 11
2:31-3:00 -- 48
3:01-4:00 -- 97 (5 extra)
More than 4 -- 6 (2 extra)
(Note: Uh-oh. One-hundred three of 162 games dragging past three hours??? Call it the Tipping Point ... as in, "I'm tipping over because I just fell asleep." I blame the recent frenzy of milking pitch counts, the constant preening between pitches and more frequent pitching changes. Yes, I look forward to those arguments being struck down by an angry blogger within the next 48 hours.)
Yeah, I'm not angry, but I do like how Bill looks down a bit on the very thing (blogging and giving his opinion) that got him where he is today.
2010 Red Sox (101 games)
2 or less -- 0
2:01-2:30 -- 1
2:31-3:00 -- 41
3:01-4:00 -- 53 (7 extra)
More than 4 -- 6 (4 extra)
(Shaking my head.)
What a nightmare. I'm the same guy who once created the 150-Minute Rule for all movies, sporting events, concerts, even sex -- if you edge past 150 minutes for anything, you better have a really good reason. The 2010 Boston Red Sox have played one game in four months that ended in less than 150 minutes.
Here's the problem with Bill's argument. There isn't a difference really in 2007 and 2010 in regard to game length for the Red Sox. The Red Sox are on pace to have more games that last more than four hours in 2010 compared to 2007, but they are also on pace to have more games that last between the time of 2:30 - 3:00 hours and fewer games that last 3:00 - 4:00 hours in 2010 than they had in 2007. So really if you look at the numbers, it appears Red Sox games may be shorter in 2010 than 2007, which doesn't explain why Bill seems to be so determined to prove the longer games are the problem with the 2010 team.
And no, it's not just them: Fifty-eight percent of 2010 Yankees games have extended past three hours.
This part of the column is a rambling mess. So why aren't Yankees game broadcasts suffering such a downward trend in viewership? If this problem affects the Red Sox why doesn't it affect the Yankees? Why is Bill trying to take one "bad" Red Sox season and try to turn the reason for it into a baseball-wide problem? I can't figure out why the Red Sox are a boring team because the games MAY be longer than last year...though this point is completely arguable.
1. We need to dump the DH. Like, right now. It's stupid, anyway.
I don't like the DH personally, but I am still very confused because I thought this column was about the Red Sox having a bad year. Seriously, this part feels like a complete mess to me. So Red Sox dwindling fan interest is because of the presence of the DH? The same DH the Red Sox played with for the previous 36 seasons? Bill is trying to pretend the dwindling fan interest isn't because the Red Sox aren't in first place and the bandwagon fans have jumped off. I bet that is the core of the problem and I don't find that to be a problem. The Red Sox were a fad for some people and they can stop watching Red Sox games for all I would care.
2. We're only a few other tweaks away from getting these games to a manageable time. What about giving managers six timeouts during a game in which they can cross the baseline, and that's it? What about a 15-second pitch-clock? What about giving hitters three seconds to leave the batter's box, or it's another strike? (Unless you've tipped a ball off your foot, caught something in your eye or desperately need to adjust your boys.) What about two minutes between half-innings for commercials, then the next hitter has to be standing in the batter's box at 2:01?
These suggestions don't bother me at all. Again...is this really 55% of the reason for dwindling fan interest in the Red Sox?
The most damning fact about these interminably long games? They pushed some die-hard fans toward English Premier League and World Cup games mainly because we knew those games would end in less than two hours. (Yes, you're reading one of them.)
I wish Bill would be more honest. It is not the league of the games that causes him to not have as much interest in baseball. It's that he can't talk about the Red Sox being cursed anymore and they aren't currently leading or close to leading the AL East. It's ok to admit that. He dumped the Bruins and made an excuse for that. He always has a reason for his own personal dwindling interest and it never is, "they aren't winning and I don't want to watch them lose."
The big question? Will Bud Selig do something about it?
Bill then questions some of the things Bud Selig has done, which are valid criticisms of Selig. Yet again, it is always the owner's fault, the GM's fault, or the commissioner's fault Bill doesn't have as much interest in his Boston-area sports teams. These faults just happen to coincide with times when the Boston-area sports teams aren't winning. It is not a coincidence. I am not calling him a fair-weather fan, but calling him a fan who can't admit his interest wanes when his team isn't winning.
Team Selig has done a terrific job of keeping fans coming to ballparks. Now it should start worrying about keeping them awake.
This is the closing sentence to a column that is about why the 2010 Boston Red Sox team isn't as exciting as previous Red Sox teams. It's not the Red Sox or the Boston fans fault, but baseball's fault. It's the typical attitude that if there is something is wrong with the Red Sox, then this problem has to be league-wide, when this may not be true. Regardless of this, Bill's reasoning for dwindling fan interest isn't due to the length of games. I just can't believe 30-something percent of people have quit watching Red Sox games because (or 55% because) they feel a little bit longer. If the Red Sox were in first place of the AL East and the games were still "long," would fewer viewers still turn in to Red Sox games. I actually think so.
If Bill was going to write a column about the problems with the Red Sox, the problems in my mind start and end with the players and the injuries the Red Sox have had. Of course admitting this would also admit Red Sox fans are like other fans and don't like following teams that don't seem to meet expectations. There's a name for people like that and every team has them.