Baseball 2024: Major League Ennui


“Take the horn out of your mouth…” Miles Davis


It’s proverb oft intoned on a multitude of occasions and I will once again refer to the time-tested adage; it’s the notes you DON’T play that make you a good / great musician / composer.  For those of you keeping score, that credo applies to bass players as well. Not that we’re not musicians….


From Tony Bennett to Metallica, from Slash to Andrés Segovia – from Lennon & McCartney to Rogers & Hammerstein, from Brian Eno to Leonard Bernstein … insert the iconic artists of your choice here – it’s the rhythm, tone, and the space in a performance or composition – from metal to classical – that makes for memorable music.


If only baseball in the 21st Century would heed said advice.


Seconds following the last out of the 2023 Word Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks (I had to look that up), legacy and new digital media (vlogs, blogs, YouTube channels, digital adjuncts of establishment media, X/Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard, MSN, SNY, MLB, TikTok…) commenced to “reporting” on the 2024 season which hadn’t happened yet.


The media’s intellectual insomnia of possible trades, draft choices, contract negotiations, free agent signings, new stadiums, new uniform logos, ownership transfers, front office hirings, firings, retirements; punditry in all shapes and sizes; among other ephemera resonated with cacophony. Imagine the sound of a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs. Filler. Empty calories. Mostly schtick, hardly any substance.


Let me dial up for you my favorite Carlos Santana recording “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile)” written by the master guitarist and keyboardist Tom Coster: 

Close your eyes, listen, and submerge yourself in the musical dialog between Carlos and his band – the pauses/rests, the opportunity for both the artist and listener to reflect; the necessity of each note, time to breathe, time to contemplate, the gradual build of the rhythm and harmony into a meaningful conclusion, among other attributes.


If only baseball in the 21st Century would heed said advice.


Before baseball expanded to a playoff format in 1969, the season ended in early October. And even with the extended post-season, the sport was done before the threat of snowfall, and before football – the true fall sport, and the indoors only competition of ice-hockey and hoops commenced – two sports which now conclude in summer of all seasons!


“To every season turn, turn, turn….” Pete Seeger / biblical Book of Ecclesiastes / The Byrds. 


It was time to put baseball to bed last November (gasp!). 


“Sleep is the single most important thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day – Matthew Walker.”


But no. This “offseason” – there is no such concept anymore – the din grew denser. Ohtani, Yamamoto, Alonso… over and over and over…. Too many notes!


What did we learn? The most marginal players on the teams are financially set for life – good for them. The best players are wealthy beyond the imaginations of the fans. The incentive to win is lost. Gaming stats and clinical analysis have replaced passion, intuition, and that good ol’ gut feeling. Too many notes!


“Managers are mere data applicators” – Sal Licata / SNY. Too many notes!


The insufferable inanity of post-game press conferences and on-field player interviews grows louder and louder.  Too many notes!


What did we learn? Players are celebrities – just what the world needs more of now.  Increasing reliance of analytics continues to suck the life force out of the games. Too many notes!


What did we learn? Teams don’t need to win anymore to turn a profit – gaming revenues, merch, box-office, advertising rates, and those taxpayers’ funded stadiums provide a perpetual windfall. It’s the American way, teams lose money, yet the teams are owned by billionaires who grow richer by the season. Too many notes!


Call me old, call me a curmudgeon, because I am.  Call me ‘out of touch’ with the new game – and you are wrong! The game is out of touch with nature! The game is out of touch with humanity!


The anticipation of a new season has been diluted. The spring ritual of digging your baseball mitt and cap from the back of the closet (physically or spiritually) has been watered down. The thrill of seeing your favorite players and local announcers after months of hibernation has evaporated. The constant buzz of baseball content is the stuff of Clockwork Orange (and Blue if you’re a Mets fan).


I am antique enough know that the beauty of the natural world lies in the details.  When you plant a tree, you have to give it time to grow. If you water the plant too much, the plant dies. 


Play ball 2024? I’ve drowned before the season even starts… I know, the fans will return. I will watch the games. Why? What for, I don’t know. I haven’t figured it out yet… I need more time….


Tom Semioli, February 2024