Some of the Bobby Thomson remembrances I’ve seen over the past 24 hours have made references to baseball’s “Golden Age.” Forbes’ Tom Van Riper ain’t havin’ it, though:
Nostalgia holds that the 1950s represented baseball’s golden era. They
didn’t. Thomson’s famous ninth-inning, final-game homer off Ralph
Branca to give the New York Giants the 1951 National League pennant over
the Brooklyn Dodgers occurred in front of 34,000 fans in the
55,000-seat Polo Grounds. These days, can anyone imagine a post season
game played in front of 19,000 empty seats?
I’ve always focused so much on those left field seats in the film of the homer that I’ve never realized that there were that many empty seats that day. Worth noting that, given the park’s configuration, there were a ton of bad seats in the Polo Grounds, but I think the point still holds.
Baseball certainly held greater sway in the public consciousness than the other sports did in the 1950s, but sports didn’t hold as much sway as a whole like they do now. In some ways that was a bad thing. In some ways it was a good thing. Times were just different. I think the most we can say about it is that applying the term “Golden Age” to any age at the expense of others is an exercise in comparing apples to oranges.
MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke have retired.
Davidson, 64, was known as “Balkin’ Bob” for his tendency to call pitchers for balks. Davidson has also made a name for himself picking fights with players and managers, as well as unnecessarily escalating situations.
Hirschbeck, 62, didn’t quite have the reputation Davidson had, but he had a couple of notable incidents on his profile as well. Last year, when ejecting Twins slugger Miguel Sano, Hirschbeck said, “Get the [expletive] out of here.” In 2013, he threw a drum of oil on a fire that very easily could’ve been snuffed out with Bryce Harper.
Joyce, 61, was a well-liked and well-respected umpire who will go down in history for one mistake. On June 2, 2010, Tigers starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game. Indians second baseman Jason Donald hit a weak grounder about halfway between first and second base. Miguel Cabrera went to his right to field it and flipped to Galarraga covering first base. It was a close call, but Joyce incorrectly ruled Donald safe, ruining Galarraga’s perfect game. To both Joyce’s and Galarraga’s credit, both handled the mistake with the utmost class.
Craig also wrote in detail about Joyce a few years ago. It’s worth a re-read.
Tim Welke, 59, actually announced his retirement last year, but I guess it wasn’t made official until recently. He underwent a left knee replacement procedure in January last year and then had his right knee replaced five months later.
CNBC, citing Reuters, reports that Facebook and Major League Baseball are in discussions to stream one game per week.
Streaming is becoming more and more ubiquitous as it’s a more convenient way for people to access media they like. MLB Advanced Media, which handles MLB’s streaming service, is worth several billions of dollars. Last year, Disney paid $1 billion to purchase a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, the independent company MLBAM launched for its streaming.
Millennials and “Generation Z,” in particular, are driving the streaming trend. Forbes, citing the Digital Democracy Survey in 2015, reported that 56 percent of millennials’ media consumption was done via computer, smartphone, tablet, or gaming device. Those 30 years and older rely on television to watch film and TV shows at a clip higher than 80 percent.
Twitter is already in the sports streaming arena. It streams MLB, NFL, and NHL games as well as the PGA Tour.