On Monday we began the week with a classic Baseball is Dying story. Today, from the Wall Street Journal, a “well, maybe baseball isn’t dying” story. It’s supported with polls and data which suggest that, while football is still the most popular game, the gap isn’t as big as often portrayed, it may be shrinking and that baseball is actually not dying, you guys:
By most of these measures, the NFL comes out ahead—perhaps arguably in some instances. But as the figures show, baseball is far from dead. Attendance is steady, revenue is strong, and fans spend substantial amounts of time on the game—statistics that don’t always get emphasized in the news media’s narrative about the Old Ball Game.
“Baseball is still very popular,” says Sean Forman, president of Sports Reference, a website devoted to sports statistics. “It’s just popular in a different way than football is.”
Narratives are funny like that. If you start with one and work from there, looking for data to support it, you’re always going to find what you’re looking for. If you start with data and use it to draw objective conclusions, you’re going to wind up wherever the data takes you.
Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs passed along news the other day that the Washington Nationals have been sued by three former ushers who allege that the team discriminated against them for their religious beliefs.
Grow has all of the details and the broad scope of the competing arguments in his post. The short version: the ushers are Seventh Day Adventists whose religion prevents them from working Friday night games and Saturday day games. And probably most Saturday night games, I’d guess, given that they’d have to show up for work before sundown.
Before I read the complaint, I was wondering if it had something to do with forcing religious people to view obscenity in the form of Ian Desmond’s defense at shortstop, but that is not the case.
I missed this the other day but, apparently, Matt Wieters’ timetable for returning to action has been extended a bit. He was originally slated to be eligible to come back tomorrow, and the general chatter around the Orioles was that he’d play at some point in April. But nope. This report, which I saw via Camden Chat:
Better to have a healthy Wieters who can play every day as opposed to rushing him back. Especially given that we have far less data about catchers coming back from Tommy John surgery than we do pitchers and thus hard-and-fast timetables are likely folly.
As we noted yesterday, Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven tweeted a couple of insults aimed at Detroit during the Tigers-Twins rain delay. Apparently his bosses didn’t much care for that:
Bah. I think the original comments were dumb and, tactically speaking, unwise given that anyone can find fault with any city. But this was far more in the land of harmless smack talk than real animus, wasn’t it? He was disparaging buildings, not people. I feel like it’s the sort of thing that definitely deserves some barking back — the governor of Michigan did in, what I think anyway, was good fun — but apologies and deleted tweets makes this all seem more serious than it was.
Put differently: the first rule of Troll Club is that we do not apologize for being in Troll Club. Own it, Bert!
Fun stuff from the ninth inning of yesterday’s Giants-Padres game.
Angel Pagan was facing Craig Kimbrel, with Derek Norris behind the plate. Pagan tossed his gum away and it ended up hitting Norris’ glove. Norris didn’t much care for that and the exchanged words for a minute. When they resumed, Kimbrel’s next pitch to Pagan was up and in.
Was this all about gum? Apparently so. Just ask Derek Norris after the game:
Fair enough. Maybe it’d have more gravitas as a statement if it didn’t come from someone who spends entire games spitting into and around the batters boxes where dudes have to stand all day, but he believes what he believes and expresses it clearly.