Warning: the video below contains a bit of strong language. Though not particularly strong for Chris Rock. Just an F-bomb or two.
The latest entry in the Baseball is Dying, You Guys pantheon comes from Chris Rock, in the video below, from Bryant Gumbel’s HBO show. In it he actually says “Baseball is dying,” so it’s particularly spot-on!
The video is more of a mixed bag than you tend to see with these things. Normally baseball is dying stuff is just full of baloney. Rock’s thing contains a lot of good and accurate points in addition to some of the more well-worn, misguided ones we so often find in this genre of commentary.
On the good side, it comes from a guy who actually loves baseball and calls himself a fan. So many of these come from football writers or culture commentators who don’t feel invested in the game and seem to be more concerned with writing epitaphs than assessing the health of the sport. That aside, he also is spot-on about baseball’s waning appeal among youth, which is a problem we’ve talked about a lot around here. He also is correct — I suspect anyway and will defer to him on this — regarding its lack of cultural relevancy among people of color. At least compared to what it used to be. He also nails the no-fun-allowed, “respect the game” culture of Major League Baseball that makes it, quite frankly, a drag sometimes.
On the other hand there are some cliches here that are not made any better by virtue of their presence alongside the good points Rock happens to make. He cites World Series ratings which, as we’ve noted, aren’t a good barometer of baseball’s health. He’s a bit contradictory on the role of nostalgia in the game, opening with his love of the 1980s New York Mets but later lamenting that baseball would have people look backwards rather than forward. It’s a tricky balance, of course — one in which I wish baseball would err on the side of looking forward — but Rock himself demonstrates that positive vibes from the past are a big part of baseball’s appeal. At least to some. A part which can complicate baseball marketing efforts at times.
Anyway, I’ve spoken enough. Let’s let Chris Rock speak for himself: