fighting the lack of good ideas

technology and baseball

I subscribe to a slew of RSS feeds on a couple different sites, from technology to world news, sports to medicine, there’s a bunch of really cool benefits to getting news feeds.

This morning I noticed an item on Wired about technology’s impact on baseball (original story). In it, Tony Long shares his love and frustration of technology in the grand ole game of baseball.

I agree with his premise: technology has done more to harm the game than help it. Beyond improvements in medical procedures to get players back up to game speed in an amazingly short time, the focus on technology in the game has made it a lot less fun. When I was a young kid, watching baseball was fun because you could get mad at the umpire for calling a strike on your favorite batter, or calling the pitch a ball which clearly wasn’t.

Improving players’ abilities through video analysis of their swing/throw/slide/whatever has made for a more equal pairing between players than should exist. Knowing about the guy who’s pitching to you should come from your experience, and maybe watching a few other games he’s pitched, not inspecting every throw he’s ever made ever caught on tape.

Another problem with this focus on technology has been the balooning cost of keeping players and of going to a game in person. The last major league game I went to cost $50 per person. The last minor league game I went to was $7. You don’t see such an intense focus on improving players through analysis in the minors, which makes those games lots of fun. From where I live in NC, I’m within 30 minutes of three minor league teams (Bulls, Grasshoppers, Indians), and I can go to Elon games for free.

College and minor league teams don’t spend lots of money on technology to improve their players because they don’t have to. Their players are out there for fun – not money. Most minor league players have other ‘real’ jobs, and college players have classes – and sometimes work – to attend to. Somewhere along the lines, those few who make it to big leagues get caught up in a very powerful money-making machine. The owners, the league, radio and tv broadcasters – they’re all trying to make money off the game. To make more money, and to justify $10-million-a-year contracts to a guy who’ll only be able to play for 2-8 years, the owners and the league have pushed for technological improvements. They’ve pushed for a unification and standardization of what used to be a ‘game of inches’. Now it’s a game of microns.

I love watching baseball, but have become less and less fond of the majors over the past few years. As much as I love technology in other arenas, I wish it would get out of the way in sports.

Bring back that game I liked as a kid.