Just one season after Major League Baseball players hit a record number of home runs, they’ve set a new, less awesome mark. There have been more strikeouts than hits in MLB play through the first month of the season. April was marked by disappointing starts by stars like Giancarlo Stanton and cold weather, which has certainly contributed to the offensive struggles league-wide.
“Everyone wants more action, so I can’t probably say it’s good for baseball unless you want to go out there and see pitchers go for 25 strikeouts,” Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor told the Associated Press. “I just don’t think that would be the choice day to day for most people to come out and watch.”
Molitor is right. Baseball is in a crisis right now, trying to scramble to gain new fans and catch up to the NFL and NBA, which have taken the MLB’s spot as America’s darling. The 1998 season was perhaps the last time baseball truly enthralled Americans more than the other major sports. Fans eagerly followed the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, a race everyone now knows to have been fueled by dishonesty and steroids.
Rob Manfred’s suggestions to improve the sport, namely a pitch clock and practices such as placing a runner on second base if a game goes to extra innings can similarly only be described as synthetic. The NBA would never resort to trampolines, why would baseball try a gimmick that mocks the history and tradition of the game?
The off month may give pace-of-play proponents more motivation to push their agenda, but the game will fix itself. Professional sports have a way of innovating within themselves, and baseball has already seen that through the 2017 home run surge. Just step back, try some marketing promotions, and let the action on the field take care of itself.