Friday, January 2, 2009

Everything Changes

Yesterday, the MLB Network debuted by showing Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956, in its entirety, and a nostalgic conversation followed amongst many Yankee fans:

The players look almost normal-sized!
Look at how light the bats look!
The mound was so much shorter!
Yankee Stadium looked so different!
The racist comments!

To me, a medievalist, fifty years is nothing. Fifty years ago is current events when I'm used to reading and writing about events seven hundred years ago.

So it's a small miracle that a game with the history and impact in baseball could change so much in such a short time.

To many of us, fifty years seems like a long time--half a year, if you will.

So it should be no surprise that the game changed, and the only question should be one of degree--how much has the game changed?

On the flip side, though, it makes you wonder:

How much will the game change in the next fifty years?

Will we see women break the gender barrier on the field? Expansion to other states or perhaps another Canadian city? There will almost certainly be new scandals, new banned substances, but there will also be new records that seem unbeatable, new icons, new legends.

That's the thing about this game.

We're always looking towards the past--we have the luxury of doing that in our sport. Unlike football, which is relatively young, our championship game is almost 110 years old--there is no one alive today old enough to have remembered the very first World Series. (There's also probably few, if any, alive that remember the last time the Cubs won, but that's another story).

Sometimes, though, we get caught up in the past and forget about the future. It's changing now--with Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, prospects names are becoming more familiar, and now even casual Yankee fans will know a little something about the Scranton or Trenton teams.

The game that we hold so dear will change between now and 2059. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.

There will be people that utterly despise the changes, like some still do the designated hitter, and others that welcome them and think they are completely necessary.

The constant, though, is that someone will still be here, watching it. Hopefully it'll be us, but the important thing isn't how the game grows, the important thing is that it will.


  1. the ballparks are so much smaller. look at the Hodges' hit that Mickey Mantle caught. That would've been in over the retired numbers in the renovated Yankee Stadium, but Mickey wasn't anywhere near the warning track.

    Those large ballparks - i'd love to see newer parks add some of that element, to increase the impact of speed. You'd get more triples, inside-the-parkers. The triple is a great thing to watch, when a fast runner turns it on at second.

    There'd be faster CFs, and a bit more speed added. I wonder if it would ever happen -

  2. 'Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose'

    Have no fear for the game's future, Rebecca, the enjoyment will be just as great!

    Oh, and if you want any help with British history - let me know.


  3. No doubt there will be changes in 50 years. We've gone from little offense and high mounds to the infatuation with the home run. I think the future holds more of a technical improvement like more instant replay issues or even computerized strike zones in 50 years.

    The idea of bigger ball parks would be nostalgic but not very likely with the way baseball trends. Players get paid, seats get filled, home run derbies get televised because of the home run.

  4. Really enjoyed your piece on Pete Abe's blog today. I know how hard it is to condense an idea into 500 words, so kudos to you. Keep up the great blogging too.

  5. Ahhh.....
    turn and face the strain

    Oops, had a flashback for a sec.

    What I found amazing about the MLB re-broadcast was - Bob Sheppard's voice. Hard to fathom but at the time (1956) he had been doing the PA for the previous five years too!