There’s a whole lot of problems with Major League Baseball. The game is slow, the season is long, there are too many elbow injuries and there’s still a lingering cloud surrounding PED usage (thanks, A-Rod).
What the game needs now, more than anything, is buzz.
Will we get that when baseball’s 30 owners vote for the new commissioner Thursday? Will the new sheriff in town feel at least a little different from Bud Selig?
“I’m sure it will,” CBS Eye on Baseball analyst C.J. Nitkowski said on The Morning Show. “I think (it’s) going to be different every time you have a different commissioner. It’s certainly been awhile. I kind of think that the new guy will hopefully bring in some buzz. If it’s Rob Manfred, he’s been around the game for awhile obviously, so maybe we won’t notice any significant changes. But there’s a couple different ways to look at it as far as the state of the game.”
“We keep hearing about national TV ratings being down, especially for the marquee events – and they are,” Nitkowski continued. “But ratings are also up really high locally, and the game is thriving financially. The issue that they have is that (the) national audience is getting older and that’s a little bit of an issue.”
“But it’s so much different than when we were kids. You can catch a baseball game nationally every day now, and you can catch it on your iPad or your iPhone or your computer every day. When we were kids, it was (the) game of the week. We were waiting for it. There was much more anticipation.”
True, but you can also catch an NBA game just about every day, and that league is doing just fine.
Nevertheless, Nitkowski feels MLB is still in a good spot. It just needs to find a way to shorten games. A recent game between Oakland and Kansas City lasted just two hours and six minutes. That’s perfect; that’s glorious. Keeping games at around two-and-a-half hours, Nitkowski said, should be the goal. The four-hour marathons have got to go.
Looking at the playoff races around the league, there’s been an interesting development in the AL Central: The Royals have won nine of 10 and the Tigers have lost seven of 10. Detroit (64-54 entering play Aug. 14) now trails Kansas City by a half-game in the standings. That’s obviously not a huge deficit, but after acquiring David Price, Detroit was considered a lock for at least the ALCS.
“Well, they have some issues, I think, still on the roster,” Nitkowski said. “The rotation is still solid one through three. I would still take (Rick) Porcello, (Max) Scherzer and David Price at the top of the rotation if you’re going into a postseason series. Even though they would like to have Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez back, the rotation can probably stay stabilized.”
But with 44 games to play, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus needs to figure it out.
“I played with Brad for a long time,” Nitkowski said. “He and I were traded together a couple times. I’ve lived with him before in spring training. He’s a smart guy. I haven’t seen (him do anything) that has stuck out to me (as being questionable). He is never going to be a guy who’s going to push the panic button. He’s very laid-back, and that has always been kind of how he approached the game. There won’t be that sense of urgency. That’s not what he does, and a lot of players prefer that. It’s a long season, and panicking really doesn’t get you anywhere.”