Kind of a silly question, really. But Bob McManaman of AZCentral.com asks it, and he concludes it would not be popular if someone — say a guy named Ted Prisby — invented it today, because the only reason we like it now is because of the past:
But baseball thrives because of its nostalgia, because of the generations of memories it has produced. It’s romanticized because of its tradition, its old-time heroes and its folksy grace. Without that, baseball as we know it is nothing.
It’s those grainy images of Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Willie Mays that make us pay homage and keep coming back, season after season.
But I’m telling you, if baseball never existed, I think Ted Prisby’s new game would rank somewhere between beach volleyball and a tractor pull.
And if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his ass a-hoppin’.
I know the games is passed down in families and that the past is important to the essence of the game. But I refuse to believe that baseball is nothing more than a historical hangover or an exercise in nostalgia. I refuse to believe if, for no other reason, than any kid who is taken to a ballpark is wowed and those kids don’t know doodly squat about baseball history for the most part.
Maybe it’d be different if it were a startup sport in the mold of every other startup sport that happens. Corporate sponsors, small scale, a business model which is aimed at blurring distinctions between franchises. It would probably be a niche thing like every other new thing is a niche thing in our society, at least to some degree.
But even if baseball as it is owes so much to its history, that’s not its entire appeal. Not by a longshot.