Signs That The Times Are Changing In Baseball

My kids' first game and they get a foul ball.
My kids’ first game and they get a foul ball.

There were a couple of things I picked up on this past summer regarding this great game of baseball that need to be addressed.

I was at a minor league game this past July 3 at Dutchess Stadium (which is like 15 minutes from my house). It was fireworks night, so I decided to take my kids to their first baseball game. I figured I would be able to sit and enjoy a game without analyzing the players, which is almost impossible for me. When I watch a game, it isn’t the same as when your average fan watches.

I’m constantly evaluating players and the situations during the game. It’s like when a chess player tries to watch a chess match—I am thinking about what pitch the pitcher should throw next, what pitch the hitter should be looking to drive, and other stuff like that.

As it turns out, I watched about an inning of the game—the rest of the game I spent chasing my two year-old daughter around the stadium.

However, while I was watching during that half inning, I noticed something that I had never noticed before while watching a minor league game. I’m not sure why I never noticed it before, but it practically jumped right out at me during this game.

What I noticed was that the players were significantly smaller than when I was trying to break into professional baseball back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I wondered, could that many guys have been using performance enhancing drugs back then?

We all were so naive.

Here I was, a five-foot eleven-inch tall kid, weighed 210 pounds (naturally), and I was probably one of the smaller guys that would be attending professional tryouts back then. I would easily be one of the bigger guys on the field if I were to step out there at that size now. It really made me realize how much the game has cleaned up its act regarding performance enhancing drugs.

Baseball created the problem themselves, and I’m not even talking about on a home run race level. Back in the late 1990s, you knew as a player that a scout would not even look in your direction unless you fit their mold…their mold became one of a steroid user. This change has ultimately been a good one for the game.

The other thing I wanted to quickly voice my opinion on was regarding the San Francisco Giants creating a social cafe where fans can go to charge their phones, use WiFi, and Tweet. At first, I thought it was extremely cool…but then I wondered if people go to the games to watch baseball anymore? Everything is changing due to technological advances, and it makes me wonder if it is good or bad for the game of baseball, and society in general. There are tons of distractions all around us—I find myself paying more attention to my smart phone than my own kids at times…which is a disgrace.

Remember when you would go to the game with your dad, get a program, and fill out the scorecard with a little pencil that had no eraser? That isn’t necessary anymore because our smart phones give us up-to-the-second box scores. Remember when you collected baseball cards? Remember when you actually went outside and played baseball?

This past summer, I saw nothing but empty baseball fields everywhere I went.  Kids these days are staying indoors opting to play online video games and chat with their friends using video chatting. It’s nuts. Get outside and experience the game of baseball and life in general. Trust me, I played more than my share of video games growing up in the 1980s and 1990s with Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and PlayStation—but it was reserved for rainy days and the summer days where you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.

I don’t even think kids sweat anymore unless the air conditioner in the house breaks. My thirteen year-old daughter can barely last 10 minutes outside in the summer unless there is a pool nearby…then I start with my stories to her that begin with “when I was your age….”

Seems as if the times are changing…and I guess I’m getting old. If the game as we remember it is going to live on, it’s up to us to pass on the old traditions to our children and grand children. Playing a game of MLB the Show with your kids on Playstation can be fun, but nothing will ever replace the joy of going outside and playing catch.

About Mitch Petanick 248 Articles
Don't be afraid to swing at that first pitch, it may be the best pitch you see the entire at-bat. PhD in ⚾. Twitter: @firstpitchmitch. I also manage MMO's Instagram account: @metsmerized_online -- be sure to give it a follow!