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3:27 AM Wed, Sept. 26th

Editorial: Get kids to play, smile to preserve baseball

In this photo provided by Jason P. Skoda, Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo holds one of two bear cubs during spring training baseball, Friday in Mesa. The 10- to 12-week-old cubs were brought in from Bearizona, a wildlife park in Williams.

Jason P. Skoda via AP

In this photo provided by Jason P. Skoda, Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo holds one of two bear cubs during spring training baseball, Friday in Mesa. The 10- to 12-week-old cubs were brought in from Bearizona, a wildlife park in Williams.

Earlier this week Courier sports columnist Jordan Kobritz wrote about Major League Baseball’s growing generation gap.

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that half the television viewers during the 2013 World Series were 55 or older, according to data collected by Sports Media Watch. Also, in the five-year period leading up to 2013, the median viewing age increased by one year annually, suggesting that baseball is a dying sport.

I know, anecdotally, of some representative examples. When people go to a Diamondbacks game, fathers I know watch every play and the children are ready to leave as soon as possible – or they spend their time going for frozen yogurt or pretzels.

The answer in part, according to the league, was to hire Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who hopes to entice kids away from their video games with suggested changes – which include starting every inning with a runner on first base; beginning each inning with a different count; determining the length of an inning by the number of batters instead of the traditional three outs; and requiring players to steal in order to create more action and excitement.

I am very opposed to those ideas, which tweak the game in the wrong direction. Don’t change the game; in fact, I favor simply what MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “The biggest and strongest indicator of fan affinity as an adult is if you played (the game) as a kid.”

Hook them as a child, you’ll have a lifelong fan, I say.

Other than that I chuckled at an Associated Press news item Friday that reported Cubs meeting cubs, which happen to live at the Bearizona wildlife park in Williams.

Seems the Chicago Cubs were visited by actual cubs at spring training before their daily stretching program. The 10- to 12-week-old cubs were brought in “to keep spring training light before the workday begins.”

It may not have been a public visit, where the fans could participate too; however, this way of keeping the business of baseball light-hearted put a smile on my face.

Seriously though, it will be a sad day if baseball fizzles for lack of a fan base to enjoy watching “the game.” (Emphasis added … yes, it is a GAME!)

That said, news this week of the Arizona Diamondbacks wanting stadium upgrades – or they may sue Maricopa County – although seemingly justified for lack of maintenance on the county’s part, smacks of baseball’s rich owners forgetting the fans (and taxpayers who already paid for the stadium).

What, they need a bigger swimming pool at the ballpark?

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