Baseball is dying, you guys

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This week The Week has administered last rites. After noting the usual differences in TV ratings, revenues and public opinion polls, we get this:

But this is about more than money or sports. It’s about a societal shift away from a certain kind of America where baseball made sense — where it was just so naturally and obviously illustrative of who we were as a people. Today, we are changing— and fast. Yet baseball is changing very little. It’s as if baseball can’t keep up, particularly for an increasingly distracted and impatient people.

Life is too fast now and baseball is quaint. Football is fast and violent and popular and that’s what we are too. The old thing about how baseball being what we once were as a nation and football being what we are as a nation is trotted out. And it’s not an altogether wrong observation.

But it’s an altogether irrelevant observation unless you are the sort who thinks that in this day and age — with as heterogeneous a populace we have in America and with all of the technological and entertainment options at our disposal — it makes any kind of sense to name any one pursuit a national pastime or to hold any one form of entertainment as emblematic of Who We Are as a people.

Baseball is a sport. It is an entertainment. It is one of many. On its own terms — the terms on which it judges itself and which its fans/customers judge it – it’s pretty darn healthy. It has some challenges, of course, but it’s doing just fine. It’s not going anyplace. Most of all, it doesn’t preoccupy itself with existential questions like the ones the Baseball is Dying crowd pose here. Why should it? What can it do about the nation being different now than it was 100 years ago other than say “well, duh?”

There are two reasons to worry about such existential things when it comes to baseball: (1) nostalgia; and (2) it provides good wank-fodder for especially writerly writers trying to make some Very Important Social Commentary Point.

Which, actually, presents its own existential question: if baseball actually does finally up and die, what will these people use as a symbol for their fears and anxieties about an ever-changing, ever-evolving world?

(Thanks to Jon Star for the heads up)

Fans allowed at NLCS, World Series in Texas

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Fans can take themselves out to the ball game for the first time this season during the NL Championship Series and World Series at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Major League Baseball said Wednesday that about 11,500 tickets will be available for each game. That is about 28% of the 40,518-capacity, retractable-roof stadium of the Texas Rangers, which opened this year adjacent to old Globe Life Park, the team’s open-air home from 1994 through 2019.

The World Series is being played at a neutral site for the first time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be played at one stadium for the first time since the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Browns at Sportsman’s Park in 1944.

Some of the seats will be included in presales for Texas Rangers season ticket holders on Friday and subscribers on Monday, and others are set aside for MLB and players.

Tickets are priced at $40-250 for the NLCS and $75-450 for the World Series, and 10,550 seats in the regular sections of the ballpark and 950 in suites will be sold in “pods” of four contiguous seats.

Each pod will be distanced by at least 6 feet and a checkerboard pattern will be used, with alternating rows of seats in the middle or rows and at the ends. Unsold seats will be tied back.

No seats will be sold in the first six rows within 20 feet of the field, dugouts or bullpen. Fans will not be allowed to the lowest level, which is reserved for MLB’s tier one personnel, such as players and managers.

Masks are mandatory for fans except while they are eating or drinking at their ticketed seats. Concessions and parking will be cashless, and the team’s concessionaire, Delaware North, is planning wrapped items.

The NLCS is scheduled on seven straight days from Oct. 12-18 and the World Series from Oct. 20-28, with traditional off days between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6, if the Series goes that far. The Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series all will be being played at neutral sites because of the coronavirus .pandemic.

MLB played the entire regular season without fans and also the first round of the playoffs with no fans. For the first time since spring training was interrupted on March 12, club employees and player families were allowed to attend games this week.

While Texas is allowing up to 50% capacity at venues, MLB did not anticipate having government permission for fans to attend postseason games at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles or Petco Park in San Diego, where AL playoff games are scheduled.

Globe Life Field has been the site of more than 50 graduations, but the Rangers played their home games in an empty ballpark.

The Rangers will recommend to MLB that the roof be kept open when possible, executive vice president of business operations Rob Matwick said, but the team understands it will be closed in the event of rain. Matwick said MLB made the decision not to sell seats for the Division Series.

Other than 1944, the only times the World Series was held at one site came in 1921 and 1922, when the New York Giants and Yankees both played home games at the Polo Grounds. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923.