November 1, 2023

Take me away from the ballgame

Does anyone care about the World Series anymore? More to the point of this site, does anyone watch it anymore? The first three games of this year’s series between Texas and Arizona were three of the four least-viewed World Series games in history, with Monday’s Game 3 the rock-bottom lowest of all time. Granted, the two games were still the most-watched sporting events of the weekend, and that’s a story in itself; witness this report on how sports fans are increasingly having trouble finding the games they want to watch, what with how they’re all spread out on different services—completely unlike the days of classic TV, I might add.

Be that as it may, there’s still something kind of sad about how irrelevant the World Series appears to have become, and this from someone who stopped watching baseball a decade ago. Are there others like me, others in such significant numbers as to cause these plummeting ratings? (Others like me? You’d better hope not.) Is it that young people consume sports differently, or haven’t been brought up as fans of the sport? And don't forget the role that baseball's management has played in all this, from a tin-eared commissioner to greedy owners and players, the sport seems to have done everything it can to alienate long-time fans while simultaneously failing to attract younger viewers. (And why should I even be writing about baseball on November 1?)

At any rate, what brought this to mind is a piece I wrote a few years ago on one of the cultural touchstones of 1968: José Feliciano's controversial performance of the National Anthem prior to Game 5 of the Series. Would this be quite as controversial today as it was then? Probably not; we've heard all kinds of renditions of the National Anthem since then, and compared to them, Feliciano's version is not only tame, but respectful. Furthermore, even if it was controversial, would it still create a national storm, or would the conversation be mostly played out on social media by people who hadn't actually seen the original performance and were relying on soundbites from their favorite internet mouthpieces?

I've heard it said that baseball has become a regional rather than national sport, and that it's still popular at that level, but it's hardly part of the national zeitgeist anymore, and I think that's unfortunate. I know times have changed; there's very little about pop culture than hasn't changed in the last couple of decades. But that doesn't mean we can't mourn its passing, does it? TV  


  1. Ever since my dad took me to see a Pirate game at the now long-gone Forbes Field in Pittsburgh back the late 60s, my love for Baseball has lasted a lifetime. I can still remember my Grandpap sitting in his rocking chair listening to the Pirate game on his transistor radio (the high-tech gadget of the day). When physical ailments prevented him from leaving the house, he could still enjoy the game from where he sat.
    Living in WV I don't get to see many Pirate games anymore. I didn't realize how much I missed them until my stay in the hospital this past summer. A cable station showed a few games. On the chair next to the hospital bed, I imagine my grandpap, who died in 1969, was there watching it with me. I could almost hear him cheer when a homerun was made.
    Baseball might dwindle in popularity, but there are still those of us who love the game, and how it brought generations together.
    Thanks for the brief respite from horrors of the news. Your blog has that effect.

    1. Thanks, James. That's a wonderful memory of your Grandpap and growing up with the Pirates. I wish I'd had that kind of experience - not complaining, just didn't grow up with a dad. But my grandpa and I used to watch the fights on TV, and I think that's why I was a boxing fan for so long!


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!