There's a line we've always loved in the Gandharvas song "Downtime": "Some just want to smear themselves across something beautiful".
It's the first thing that ran through our head as we read Bruce Dowbiggin's column this morning in the Globe and Mail. Because when something kinda marvelous happens, apparently, the best way to react to it is to slap heaping globs of your grumpy old man goo all over it, lest someone enjoy the moment.
Dowbiggin's kinda pissed us off in recent months because of just how ill-suited he seems to be for the media critic role at the Globe. Stepping into the space that William Houston made a consistent must-read, he's done precious little reportage, while generally falling back on a grumpy old white dude routine, asserting that things were all so much better before when stuff was simpler, and we had two channels and a radio station and papers came out in the morning, and we were all happy to just sit and wait for our news and listen to very few authoritative voices. It was all so much better then.
Sorry, we just got a little weepy for a second. Or those tears might be as a result of our gag reflex.
Okay, let's not delay this any further, you guarana-addled, short-attention-span Twitter-gossip-porn-addicts. Walk with us, won't you, as we examine the turd-tacular brilliance that is Dowbiggin.
Halladay’s gem just what baseball ordered
Not "what the Doctor ordered"? Such restraint from the headline writer. How dignified.
Roy Halladay’s historic no-hitter was just the Doctor that baseball ordered.
HEYO! DOWBOY IN THE HOUSE!
Certainly the sport needed the jumper cables of Halladay’s gem...
Gems and jumper cables. We never tire of Dowbiggin's ability to mix metaphors.
...after another season of declining youth interest.
Ohh! Declining youth interest! Surely, there must be a number that Bruce will quote forthwith to validate such a statement.
TV ratings are stagnant, baseball’s stars don’t transcend the TMZ culture, and the taint of performance-enhancing drugs has left its image tarnished. Fairly or not, baseball has become yesterday’s game.
Okay, seriously. What the fuck is this "TMZ culture" that you speak of? TMZ, or Perez or Deadspin or whatever are just websites that some people occasionally breeze past. It's not an all-encompassing way of life or a worldview.
And moreover: How many sports stars actually "transcend" into that strata of household names? As much as we love sports in general and baseball in particular, these interests have always been niche pursuits. Everybody and your auntie knows and loves George Clooney. Not everybody knows or cares who Albert Pujols. Much like I could not care less about Kyle Somebody who's a NASCAR superstar.
Oh, and we're still waiting for some numbers to back this shit up.
Halladay’s gem in a Philadelphia uniform is, in many ways, a metaphor for the demise of Canadian baseball, which peaked with Toronto’s World Series wins in 1992 and 1993.
A metaphor!!?? Perhaps a mixed metaphor? Or just a bad metaphor?
And really: Can we give it a rest about how popular baseball was in 1993? Given the change in the sporting landscape in Toronto and across the country, it's hard to conceive of a return to that level of popularity. So why bemoan it? That was an extraordinary moment, but you wouldn't say that hockey's popularity dropped off significantly last year after the Olympics because 10 million watched the gold medal game, but only 1.5 million tuned in every week to the 7 pm Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, right?
In this nation, baseball has been reduced to a rump of one MLB club and a scattering of homegrown stars such as Joey Votto and Justin Morneau. Its postseason is largely relegated to cable TV.
What in the fuck does this even mean? A rump? TV numbers were up and have been up for the Blue Jays and baseball over the past few years. And cable TV is not a place to which sports are relegated...IT'S WHERE SPORTS LIVES. Baseball is no more "relegated" to cable than Monday Night Football has been relegated.
It’s a big comedown for a sport that defined the United States and Canada of the 1970s to ’90s. Baseball was a trendsetter that grabbed a generation of fans, popularizing fantasy sports via rotisserie baseball. Revolutionary thinkers such as Bill James were precursors to the blogosphere of today. The advent of free agency in baseball freed the stars of all sports to pursue bigger markets. And filmmakers like Ken Burns and Ron Shelton mythologized the sport through films like Bull Durham, and TV documentaries like Burns’s Baseball and music.
Okay, so we see what you've done here: You've exhausted every bit of baseball's history and its pop culture presence over the past 40 years into one heaping, steaming paragraph, perhaps so that we'll see that all was good and happy before, just as you pull the rug out from under us. Give it your best shot!
To a generation of baby boomers, baseball was hipper than thou.
This is possibly the stupidest sentence ever to appear in the Globe and Mail. And they once accepted content from Rebecca Eckler.
First, Brucey, you're misusing the term "hipper than thou". It's a pejorative, and that's clearly not how you're using it here. And secondly, stop reducing shit to the motherfucking baby boomers versus other generations. That is the most tired line of thought perpetrated by LAZY, ARROGANT, SELF-ABSORBED boomers who can't conceive of a world that they don't define and own.
Go to a fucking ballgame, and look at the make up of the crowd, because you'll find that those of my g-g-g-g-generation outnumber the older crowd significantly. And there are kids, and snot nosed teenagers, and 20-something texters, and all sorts of folks. Look beyond the press box, and beyond your own shoes.
But as the postseason started in 2010, MLB seems a shopworn commodity. While its website is respected, MLB’s media profile lags behind the NFL, NCAA and NBA in stickiness with the celebrity generation.
STICKINESS! GLADWELL! BOO-YAH!
Again, this argument is in no way backed up with any numbers. And "media profile" seems to be a clever way for Dowbiggin to hide behind vague terms in order to build his straw man argument.
Televised baseball has produced no media stars since Bob Costas and Pete Gammons.
This all depends on how you define "star", because frankly, we put a whole host of names into that realm. Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, Buster Onley, Ken Rosenthal, Matt Vasgergian, Joe Buck...Whether if you care for what they are selling or not, they are recognized faces of the sport amongst the cognoscenti. Plus, Gammons was never a household name beyond sports fans, and Costas made his name by being ubiquitous, not necessarily just as a baseball guy.
And moreover, the game has evolved significantly over the past 20 years, to where the LOCAL tv guys are the stars within their own market. Baseball is a niche, just as every sport is a niche, and within it are 30 other niches, each with their own star system.
Even Burns is kicking the body, blistering the sport over its steroid scandal in a new documentary.
Blah blah blah steroids blah blah blah.
Baseball’s failure to connect is often attributed to the steroid culture that soiled its reputation. In reality, the malaise can better be traced to other causes. Principally, baseball has lost the African-American community. Only 9 per cent of MLB players now are black. Even more crucially, baseball has been passed over by the NBA, NFL and NCAA in the African-American community, a crucial driver of the larger American youth culture. LeBron James’s move to the NBA’s Miami Heat epitomized that void, dominating headlines in the heart of the MLB season.
Baseball is 9 per cent black, in a nation that 13.5 per cent black. There's undoubtedly a discrepancy there, but is the marginal lack of interest amongst one population group is not exactly what we'd be hanging our argument on. (Though we suspect he's done so because it seems like a bit of an unassailable one...Won't someone think of Jackie Robinson's legacy?!)
But what has always bugged us about that discussion around the number of black players is the fact that the true multicultural evolution of the league isn't accurately captured. The Latin and Asian influence are nowhere to be found here.
As well, baseball’s video games are not as sticky with younger generations as those of other pro leagues, which introduce sports to the video/Internet generation.
Again, with the sticky. But we're not seeing anything to back this up. Is this because his kids prefer Madden?
Here's the real crux of the problem with MLB video games: They pulled them out of EA Sports, and now no longer have a decent single game that covers all platforms in the same manner that EA's Madden or NHL games do. So you have people split between two franchises (The Show and 2K), which doesn't allow for that transcendence that Dowboy seems so fond off.
There’s more in the generation gap. The length of baseball games – often pushing four hours – turns off kids who crave the NBA’s accelerated experience. Late TV starts on the Eastern seaboard mean postmidnight finishes. Soccer has replaced baseball as parents’ preferred sport for their kids in many communities. And the relentless Yankees/Red Sox obsession gets a bit old. Which is the best way to describe MLB’s following. Without new stars to transcend the culture, baseball is seen as your father’s game, a sport of yesterday.
Speaking of long, you've probably checked out on this post by now. If you haven't, or if you've returned after a solid five minutes over at Bangbros, then welcome back. Tissue?
This last paragraph is once again a lot of anecdotes that are not connected, but are forcefully mashed together into one heap. All of it amounts to a bunch of vague, unsubstantiated observations used as a club to hammer away at a point where there is no other solid argument available.
Which, to be frank, is what we'd expect from one of those dirty blogging tweeter TMZ types in their basements.