First, a thank you to Bill P., Brian S., David E., Ed S, Chris B., Elliott T., Matt W-K, Carrie T., and Anonymous for your comments on the shortened season. You can read what they said by going Here. Good stuff.
Second, I’m re-posting what MillersTime Baseball Contestants predicted at the beginning of this abnormal season started. See Baseball’s Back! Your Predictions. Again, lots to show the ‘wisdom’ and a bit of foolishness from MillersTime readers.
Third, The Athletic, the newish go to source for some of today’s best baseball (and some other sports) writing just came out with the results of a baseball survey that sums up how almost 7,000 fans felt about some of baseball’s changes and new rules. A few surprises and lots of agreement on what this year’s 60-game season has revealed.
The Athletic’s state of baseball survey results: Following up as season closes by Jason Jenks, The Athletic,
As this one-of-a-kind season winds down, The Athletic wanted to circle back to see how fans felt about some of baseball’s changes and new rules.
Nearly 7,000 people responded. Let’s get to the results.
This has gone up from our survey before the season when just 66 percent of respondents said a World Series would be legitimate.
This one was really interesting. A total of 76 percent of fans of American League teams are in favor of the universal DH; the exact same percentage from our survey before the season.
NL-centric fans have pretty significantly changed their feelings. Before the season, 56 percent of fans of NL teams were against the universal DH. But after watching the DH in action, that number dropped to 43 percent. Before the season, a whopping 80 percent of Cardinals fans were against the DH; in this most recent survey, that total dropped to 58 percent. They were one of five teams whose fans were against the DH (Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates, Diamondbacks).
In the AL, White Sox fans were really in favor of the universal DH (85 percent) after watching their team rake this year. Two other AL fans crossed the 80-percent threshold, and neither should be surprising: the Yankees (81 percent) and the Twins (80 percent).
One fan had a particularly interesting comment: “Before this crazy season, I was adamantly opposed to the universal DH. Now, although I still don’t love it, I could live with it.”
Full disclosure: I hated this rule when I first heard about it. Absolutely hated it. But when I watched it … I liked it. If nothing else, it induced drama right away.
Several fans said that while they enjoyed the rule, they think it should start in the 11th or 12th inning. “Let them have an inning or two the normal way,” one person wrote. That seems like a sensible compromise to me.
One fan who liked it wrote, “The extra inning rule has added an excitement not just to extra innings but also adds even more importance to finishing a game off in the ninth.” Another added, “The extra-inning rule has been surprisingly good. I’m here for a good time, not a long time.”
But those people were in the minority. Wrote one fan, “The extra inning rule does the most violence to the fabric of the game and fixes a nonexistent problem.” Another person compared it to college football’s overtime rules. While still another said it felt like the rule was intended just to “get it over with.”
One person who was against the minimum made this point: “I don’t care for the three-batter minimum because I don’t think it helps make things any faster, making it pointless.” Our Cliff Corcoran did the math earlier this year and figured that the minimum would save … 34 seconds per game.
Here are some other reactions:
- “I like the three-batter rule if only because it allows the pitcher to show he’s more than a one-trick pony.”
- “It means a bullpen has to be filled with capable pitchers, not just specialists.”
- “Absolutely loathe the three-batter rule. LOATHE. Kills the strategy and excitement of those old games. They were like a chess match.”
- “Three batters is a superficial attempt to solve the time issue.”
This was a lot of people’s least-favorite change (The other most common answer was the extra-inning rule). One fan wrote that it turned the sport into a “carnival act.” Another liked it because it made “starting pitching have similar value to years past.”
Here are some other responses:
- “Seven-inning double header is solid idea. Over the course of the 162 game season you only would have a handful, and it keeps the players fresher.”
- “I don’t necessarily love the seven-inning doubleheader’s, but I like doubleheaders, so if that’s how we have them, then I’m for that.”
- “I liked the seven-inning double headers as long as they keep it single admission.”
- “I liked that there were more doubleheaders, so much baseball in one day. That those games were seven-inning affairs made it possible for me to listen/watch the whole thing.”
- “Seven-inning doubleheaders are anticlimactic every time.”
- “Seven-inning doubleheaders are not baseball. It’s trash. I understand it for this season just to be able to get through the games. But it’s not something I’d ever want to see become the norm.”
This one was a little surprising. Before the season, 57 percent of people were against the expanded postseason. But now that it’s here, that number jumped up to almost 71 percent.
One person wrote, “I like a limited expanded playoffs, but eight teams is too many, and the seeding is random and stupid.” Another said, “I think that expanded playoffs dilute the competition, especially the regular season.” And still another person chimed in with, “I’m most against an expanded postseason that does not reward division winners. I don’t mind an expanded field, per se, but there should be a better incentive for teams to win their division beyond just three home games in the first round.”
This one really seemed to bother a lot of people:
- “My greatest concern is growing the game. Every choice MLB makes is about short-term financial gains at the expense of future growth and engaging the next generation of fans. I mean seriously, MLB is eliminating minor-league teams, heavily attended by families and kids.”
- “Without the minors, for me it’s like one-third of baseball, because I’m the rare fan who follows all of my team’s minor league teams.”
- “Great that teams are playing, but fearful of the consequences of no minor leagues and impact on next generation of players.”
- “I am sad to see what could be the implosion of the minor-league system as we know it. … While I have been to only a few major-league games in person, much of my love of baseball comes from summers at all sorts of minor-league stadiums.”
- “Canceling minor-league baseball was bad for the players but mostly for the small towns that support the teams.”
- “I understand why the minor leagues aren’t playing this season, but I don’t like the negative effects on player development and the possible future of the minors in general.”
Here are some responses across the spectrum:
- “The D-backs being terrible ruined the whole thing for me, but as a league I think the season went better than expected after the ridiculous labor arguments and early COVID issues. Granted I had very low expectations early on.”
- “Good year to experiment. I wish that they tried more things to quicken the pace of the game.”
- “It’s a season with multiple asterisks.”
- “Short and sweet.”
- “Made the games more important.”
- “I would have liked even more experimentation. It’s been tough to get overly excited by the season when 50 percent of teams will make the postseason.”
- “This season is a joke. Players and owners alike are to blame. They fiddled around and now we’re stuck with a shortened season, ridiculous rules and accommodations to make the season ‘work.’ I’m boycotting MLB this year. I may or may not be back.”
- “The season’s sprint to the finish really has me believing a shorter season could be more fun for all.”
- “The shortened season has given us a chance to see what the sport might look like if we didn’t have 150 years of history telling us it was something else. Baseball needs to ask itself what it wants to be. Does it want to be more like basketball, with a shorter number of regular season games and a longer postseason? Or does it want to embrace its history and everyday nature and keep the regular season meaningful?”
I was curious if people would change their minds after watching a shortened season. They didn’t. At least not much.
Before the season, just 2.2 percent of respondents thought the ideal season consisted of fewer than 100 games. That number actually went down (slightly) to just 1.9 percent.
Not much change from the survey before the season, when 38 percent percent of fans expressed no confidence at all in Manfred and 47 percent said they weren’t very confident.
Thanks to all who participated in both surveys. Enjoy the postseason.