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MLB is all homered out

Over the past few years, baseball has turned into one long, massively boring
snooze-fest. Ever since Babe Ruth broke out with the Yankees all the way back in 1920, the home run has been an integral part of Major League Baseball.

Recently, teams have been stacking themselves full of power hitters. In 2014, the average MLB team hit 140 home runs over the course of a season. This year, the average MLB team hit 204 home runs, an astronomical amount. Watching balls fly 400-plus feet after being crushed by monstrous power hitters has ruined baseball.

Along with power hitting usually come strikeouts and walks. In 2014, a team struck
out 1,248 times and walked 467 times on average in a season. Since then, these numbers have grown steadily. In 2017, teams averaged 1,337 strikeouts and 528 walks. Since walks and strikeouts take a long time to develop, the average MLB game time rose to well over three hours. Watching a baseball game this year was like watching paint dry.

Gone are the days of consistently good at-bats. Gone are the days when pitchers, fielders, hitters and baserunners scratched and clawed for every inch. Now, it’s sitting and waiting for strikeouts and home runs. Stolen base numbers are down, along with hit and runs. Fly balls are being hit more and bunts are harder to find than Bigfoot. Gone are the days of entertaining small ball. These days, there are clumps of innings where nothing happens, followed by a quick 10-second burst of excitement.

It used to be amazing to watch. The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays were a marvel to behold. Bonafide home run hitters such as Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Edwin Encarnacion were all playing at the top of their game. It was special. Once every team turns into home run hitting strikeout machines though, the game gets boring. After three seasons of this same format, I realize how much I miss old school baseball, where teams would fight for the majority of their runs.

An infield single with a close play, followed by a stolen base and a good at bat to
advance the runner to third, all capped off by a suicide squeeze play to score a run is more exciting than just one lonely home run, likely followed by a triplet of strikeouts.

Back when the home run was more of a rarity, we were gifted with plays like Joe Carter’s walk-off home run to win the Blue Jays their second World Series in 1993. It will never be forgotten. Kirk Gibson’s game winner back in the 1988 World Series is one of the most iconic moments in baseball. Any big fan will never forget the picture of a broken Gibson hobbling along the base paths, barely being able to move with the most excited look on his face you’ll ever see. The more home runs hit, the less special each one is.

Going forward, I only see it getting worse. Young pitchers are starting to throw 100 m.p.h., with electric breaking balls. Super-bullpens are now a common occurrence, with relievers who come in for an inning or two at a time to completely shut down another team. Young hitters like Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge (who set records by hitting 52 home runs but also struck out at least once in 37 straight games) are prime examples of where baseball is headed. In terms of excitement, the long ball falls short.

– Conner Toffan, Sports Co-Editor

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