Tim Barto: Throwing the baseball out with the bathwater



It’s February, a time when pitchers and catchers should be reporting to sunny southern climes for spring training, a benchmark that signals the baseball season is not far off.

The simple phrase “pitchers and catchers have reported” usually gives baseball fans butterflies in their stomachs, much like a middle school crush but without all the hormonal imbalances.

Yet, the well-groomed ballparks in Florida and Arizona are vacant this year due to a lockout, a defensive move by the billionaire owners to prevent an inevitable strike by their millionaire ballplayers. 

And not too many people in the general public seem to notice …. or care. And Major League Baseball should take notice.

The countless dozen or so of you who put up with my public whining and gnashing of teeth in 2021, are well aware that I have given up on Major League Baseball over their decision to inject politics and “wokeness” into what used to be our national pastime. I want desperately to have my game back but, in a perverted twist of Michael Corleone’s now-famous line in (the still disappointing and utterly unnecessary) “Godfather III, just when I thought I was being pulled back in they push me away. 

Major League Baseball lost viewers and followers in 2020 because it opted not to punish Houston Astros players who blatantly cheated, then thought it a good business decision to align with Black Lives Matter and their flag-kneeling minions. 

In 2021, Commissioner Rob Manfred doubled down on his decision to alienate his fan base by pulling the All-Star Game from under Atlanta’s feet because the players’ union hierarchy and a few “woke” corporations considered the laws that the State of Georgia passed to keep their elections fair and honest to be blatant evidence of racism, and therefore unworthy to host the Midsummer Classic. (The Atlanta Braves, by the way, were still allowed to play their full season of home games and, in rare moment of justice, won the World Series over the Astros, for which Commissioner Manfred had to present the Braves the victor’s trophy.)  

Baseball attendance is down. TV ratings are down. Merchandising is down. Sure, Covid was a factor in all that, but to put a halt to the season before it even begins, especially when fans are willing to forgive and return to the game, is not just stupid, it’s suicidal.

It’s like the commissioner, owners, and players had a Zoom call with Dr. Jack Kevorkian and asked him the best way to kill the goose who laid all those golden eggs that made the players millionaires and kept the owners in billionaire status.  

This makes no sense. The economic arguments being made by both sides, center around their collective bargaining agreement. The CBA sets the rules for almost all financial aspects of the game, including minimum salaries, free agency, revenue sharing, and luxury taxes. 

As a fan of the game – the game of baseball, that is – I would rather they concentrate on making the game more watchable. Three-and-a-quarter-hour games with an average of 17 strikeouts per game are boring. I can no longer argue with people who say the game is boring – because it is! 

And now we have contrived rules: Designated hitters, extra innings starting with a runner on second base, defensive shifts that are completely ignored by hitters who refuse to try and hit a ball through the gaping hole on the other side of the diamond, video reviews that disrupt the flow of the game, and most recently the idea of using clocks to speed up the game – the game that for over a century and a half prided itself on being the only major sport without a clock.

The two sides seem to not care that Dr. Kevorkian is actually plunging that needle into the goose, as well as their collective arms. 

Baseball should take a good, hard look at what just happened with the Winter Olympics. For various reasons, not the least of which was a totalitarian regime using the Games as a propaganda tool a’ la Nazi Germany in 1936, the 2022 Winter Olympics garnered the lowest TV ratings in history. It shows that American sports fans are willing to stay away from watching sports.  

And it’s about time.

Tim Barto is Vice President of Alaska Policy Forum, and President of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks Booster Club.


  1. Baseball is really not made for TV, one thing not mentioned is baseball’s elimination of an entire tier of minor league teams taking away low cost family entertainment from many mid size cities. If the DH is eliminated my Milwaukee Brewer time will go away.

  2. The ballparks in Arizona and Florida are not empty. They are just full of minor leaguers instead of Major Leaguers.
    Either way, I want full baseball back… And make opening day a national holiday.

  3. Americans, and people in general, would be much better off without ANY of the mind-numbing nonsense that is professional sports. Leave playing games to the kids, and engage in a meaningful activity instead.

  4. I love baseball so much. It’s one of the true joys in my life. I didn’t watch at all in 2020 because of politics. I didn’t watch the All Star game, because of politics. I absolutely cannot stand this commissioner. I miss my all American game so, so much.

  5. I consider myself a connoisseur of the game, even ‘the game within a game’ but can’t hardly watch more than an inning or two before I have to turn the channel or do something else. Playoffs are more interesting and hold my attention longer but absolutely loved the ‘poetic justice’ of Atlanta winning it all last season. I gag at the ‘issues’ baseball feels it has to absorb. I can watch an entire football game ignoring my personal hypocrisy of ‘the agenda’. Baseball has got to do something radical to get back into desired viewable entertainment to be equitable in the future. The ‘purists’ are even now gagging at the possibility of an all encompassing DH. The purists are going to watch and bet no matter what. The casual fan is going to be the ones to cater to. The owners for the most part see this; the players association reminds me of our public school system that has a monopoly and will not budge until toppled. The crash will be ‘great’ for both.

  6. Yeah, put the DH’s in and let the camaras and computers make the calls of strikes and balls and out. Let’s take all of the human factor out of baseball and play it as a video game. And then the owners can sell video games instead of paying millionaire players. Dr Kervorkian, where are you? Game over!!!

    • The DH doesn’t take the human factor out of the game! My suggestion is 3 balls and 3 strikes and experiment with 2 balls and 3 strikes…..maybe 4 outs. maybe 8 fielders not nine. Time a pitcher between pitches for sure. stolen bases and errors determine ties after 9 innings. Want to see a pitcher learn how to play 3rd base… take away an infielder. Move the mound back 10 feet. None of these are reducing it to -human factor.

  7. I am quite disappointed with this agreement that now puts the season in motion. The money is shrinking as the product appeal is. Both sides do not realize how fast it is happening. The not addressing the “shift’ issues just elevates the head in the sand mentality. Rather than adjust strategy to force defenses to not shift the coaching is minimized to elevate individual stats that allow hitters to be individuals rather than team players. Try to imagine a professional basketball player that can only drive or dribble with one hand. A football team that will only run to the left or never throw to the 4 or 5 receiver. The opponents strategize accordingly!

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