Bickley: A new brand of baseball may have saved a dying sport

Tuesday, 07 November 2017, 02:22:57 PM. Major League Baseball was once a dying flame. Now it's a bonfire, a sport reborn during the 2017 season.
Baseball is no longer a dying flame or a doddering grandparent. The sport is so hot that it now requires leather gloves and oven mitts. A wistful generation applauds. Even if we don’t recognize the game anymore. In the past two seasons, the Cubs have broken a curse and the Astros scored a major victory for analytics. The rebirth of America’s pastime has been fueled by home runs, advanced metrics, tricked-up baseballs, revamped swings and other accoutrements of evolution. Television viewership tells a powerful story. The past two World Series scored the highest-rated Game 7’s in history. The Astros and Dodgers produced two of the greatest games on record, including a night when five home runs were struck in extra innings alone. Pitcher’s duels are now like antique clocks. Sacrifice bunts are considered a waste of resources. Stolen bases are down. Strikeouts are no longer a shameful scourge. Defensive shifts are so effective that hitting the ball on the ground is considered a fast pass to the minor leagues.  “This is a fun time for Major League Baseball,” Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall said. “The game could be changing before our very eyes. And in a good way.” Fans celebrate during the World Series championship parade and rally at Houston City Hall. (Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports) As the game has shifted from weather-worn scouts to Harvard MBA’s, we’ve been inundated with information and algorithms. We’ve learned about WAR, WHIP, OPS and spin rates,...Read more
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