With the coming of Spring Training, I’m reflecting on the changes in the game of professional baseball over the years. I’m a big baseball fan, and our family is a big baseball family. Our kids played, I coached, and we all critique the game, the teams, and the players. I’ve written in the past of baseball as a metaphor for life. It’s also a mirror of society. Baseball values young fans; the rest of society values youth, too. One need only look at how baseball has evolved over the years to appreciate how our society views aging and old age – they’re to be avoided. When Bob Gibson pitched back in the 60s, he was so effective, the mound height was lowered to give fans a greater chance to see hits and homeruns – none of which happened much when Gibson was on a standard mound. We baseball traditionalists (read, “old farts”) enjoyed great pitching, weren’t bored by the lack of hits, and valued shutouts, no-hitters, and pitchers’ duels. We regaled not only the great pitchers, but the savvy catchers who called the pitches. Strategy takes time and shouldn’t be hurried. What’s the manager thinking, what’s he saying to his pitcher-catcher battery on the mound? But younger fans need to be entertained, and so the mound was lowered. Since then, there have been more changes in deference to youth: homerun fences have been moved in closer to the infield, instant replay and challenges to umpires’ calls have been incorporated into the game, the infield “shift” has been banned, and timers have been imposed on visits to the mound and on intervals between pitches to make sure the average length of games falls within the attention spans of younger fans. All to lure them to the games. More excitement in a shorter time. More like basketball and football. Barely enough time to finish a second hot dog and soft drink. Those of us not entertained by video games, TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube take offense at the attempts to turn the gentle, slow-paced, strategy-heavy game of our younger years into a highlight reel. If we want adrenaline in the stands, we can go to a basketball or football game. Alas, though, if we want a lazy afternoon on a cool summer day with no need to rush and nowhere to rush off to, that’s harder to find these days


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