Behind the Mic: Watching Baseball

The Chicago Cubs have me watching baseball again.  And I would suspect a larger number of people will tune in to see if the Cubs can win their first World Series since 1908, 108 years ago. Teddy Roosevelt was the president.  They last played in the World Series in 1945.

The Cleveland Indians have not set the baseball world on fire either.  Their last World Series victory was in 1948 during the Harry S. Truman administration.  They did play in the 1997 Series and blew a ninth inning lead and lost in the eleventh to the Florida Marlins.

It will be very interesting to see if this storyline catches on with ALL fans.  World Series ratings have declined steadily, with three of the last four years owning the lowest ratings in history.  I, for one, became interested enough to watch the Cubs in their playoff games.  I enjoyed the games and was also frustrated by the sport.  There are things wrong with baseball.  With that in mind, I, along with many others, have come to some conclusions:

  1. There are too many playoff spots. Ten teams make the playoffs: five American League teams and five National League teams.  There are a possible 42 games that could be played to decide the overall champion.  42 games!  With the current set-up of three divisions, changing the format would be difficult.  Eliminating one wild card berth only reduces the playoffs by two games.  We are stuck with this system.
  2. The games take too long. This is the biggest drawback to truly enjoying baseball.  Pitchers take too long to pitch.  Batters take too long to get ready to hit.  Managers have too many options available that only slow down the game.  So, what is there to do?  Here are a few suggestions:
  • Hitters must stay in the batter’s box.
  • Pitchers must throw a pitch in 20 seconds.
  • 2:00 breaks between innings.
  • Three mound visits per game, not counting pitching changes.
  • Limit the number of pitching changes per inning.
  1. Start games earlier. I know this is an East Coast problem, but would it be bad to actually finish games BEFORE midnight?  Regular season games take around three hours.  The playoff games usually take around 3.5 hours.  Throw the first pitch at 8:00pm and the problem is solved.  Wait to 8:30pm and lose a big part of your audience.
  2. Young people are not watching. Because of reasons #2 and #3, young people have just not been turned on to the sport as far as viewership is concerned.  Sure the seats at the ballparks are filled for the most part and television revenue is up, but overall viewership is way down and the long-term outlook as far as interest has to be in trouble.
  3. The All-Star game winner gets home field advantage for the World Series. The team with the best record during the regular season should get home-field advantage.  The powers-that-be should not use a game that is so unlike a real game.  Enough said.


  1. The Cubs actually won back-to-back World Series in 1907 and 1908.
  2. The Indians lost three World Series match-ups in 1954, 1995, and 1997.
  3. Indians’ manager Terry Francona led the Boston Red Sox to a championship in 2004, following an 84-year drought. Ironically, he was hired by the Red Sox over Joe Maddon.  More irony in that Cubs’ General Manager Theo Epstein hired Francona over Maddon in Boston and hired Maddon in Chicago.  He seems to know what he is doing.
  4. Joe Maddon grew up in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He attended Lafayette College and played baseball and football.  He received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Lafayette in 2010.  As a player, he was never able to go higher than Class A in his baseball career.
  5. On Friday, October 28, the RCN-TV crew will have the Parkland – Emmaus game LIVE at 7:00 PM. Emmaus can win the EPC South championship with a win.  That game will be followed by Easton-Nazareth.  That game is on at 10:00 PM.  The crew will have Georgetown at Lafayette on Saturday LIVE at 12:30PM.  Freedom-Liberty will be on at 7:00PM.  By the way, you can catch both of these award-winning bands on November 10 (8:00 PM), 11 (6:00 PM), and 12 (8:00 AM).

And that will end the regular season with District playoffs up next!


Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 9-4-1; Overall – 64-41-1 – 61%)

 Gary's Picks

Week Eight



Behind the Mic: What’s in a Name?


The US Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration. They did it because they considered the name “disparaging to Native Americans.” This would mean that the team would NOT have exclusive rights to the trademark, thus allowing others to sell merchandise using the Redskins’ logo – possibly a PR and financial disaster. Owner Dan Snyder has vowed never to change the name and has appealed the decision of the Patent Office.

There are other examples of teams dealing with similar controversy. In 1997, the Washington Bullets looked to change their name because of the rise of gun violence across the country. They became the Washington Wizards. Not the best choice since Washington is predominantly African-American and a “wizard” is the name for someone highly ranked in the Ku Klux Klan. This was a true case of “out of the pan, into the fire.”

The Kansas City Chiefs have faced attacks similar to the Redskins, but they have fought any attempt to change their name. So, too, have the Atlanta Braves. They have discontinued use of their “screaming Indian” logo, but continue to come under fire by Native Americans. Other teams of note are the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks (considered a derogatory term for Canadians), the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Indians, even the Boston Celtics (their pot-bellied, pipe-smoking Irish leprechaun has been considered offensive by some).

Perhaps the worst choice came when an Ontario professional baseball team called themselves the London Rippers named after Jack the Ripper and their logo featured the image of Jack holding a baseball and a bat in a very menacing way. Fortunately, the team suffered financial problems and lasted only one season.

So, what’s in a name? Well, there once were more than 3,000 American Indian mascots and names used in athletic programs across K-12 programs in the US. More than two-thirds of those have been changed. So, amid all the controversy, it does appear that eventually all teams will have to consider what underlying meanings their nicknames and logos contain and whether tradition wins out over real and/or perceived insult.

Watching the appeal process by the Washington Redskins versus the US Patent and Trademark Office will be very interesting. I believe, since the trademark was first registered over 40 years ago, the Redskins will win their appeal. Whether they win in the court of public opinion, however, is a completely different story. Here, I suspect they will lose. There are just too many groups, ironically, “circling the wagons.”

1. Now that baseball is past the mid-season, are Phillies’ announcers Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs improving? They certainly had plenty of room to get better and generated a great deal of negative criticism when the season began. My feeling is they are getting a wee bit better. Stairs still has trouble with mumbling and completing sentences. Moyer’s is more interesting, but his delivery is just plain boring. From the reports I have read, Comcast sees them as works in progress. They believe they are getting better and have confidence in their ability to stay long-term. I do not see the Philly fans being so patient.

2. The Phillies started the season at 15:1 odds to win their division. That has now dropped to 100:1 and even that seems too high. The Cubs, by the way, are 1000:1 to win their division and the Astros are 5000:1. Right now it looks like the Dodgers against the Angels in the World Series.

3. With football camps now beginning their workouts, you might be interested in the Las Vegas odds for the 2015 season. The Seattle Seahawks are favored to win the NFC Championship and the Denver Broncos are favored to win the AFC title (sound familiar?). Seattle beat Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl last year. The Broncos are 6:1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Most fans felt the same way last year. The Eagles are 15:1 to win the NFC and 28:1 to win the Super Bowl, listed as the 10th best team in the NFL.

4. Speaking of last year’s Super Bowl, it was the most watched television program in history with 111.5 million viewers. The halftime show which featured Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers had 115.3 million viewers. I guess many of the wives just wanted to watch the concert.

5. A final note concerning the Blue Mountain League. The teams are in the playoffs now with the semifinals and finals on the horizon. If the playoff games are as competitive as the regular season, get out and watch a game. It is good baseball.