I, like you, know lots of people who watch lots of baseball.
Many households in Southern Illinois play host to the Cardinals or Cubs almost nightly from April to October. I personally prefer any baseball game to regular TV.
Baseball has a problem, and I’m not talking about pace of play. I’m talking about umpires.
Most people, me included, aren’t watching every pitch studiously. The game is on while we’re cooking dinner, doing dishes, tending to our children and having conversations. Innings can go by without actually sitting down to absorb the action.
In these moments, no one puts much thought into the imperfections of the game. We’re not critiquing every pitch, at-bat or managerial decision. It’s baseball season, so baseball is on, simple as that.
Still, one thing nearly every fan, from fair-weather to fanatic, shares is tendency to overreact to things that happen in early April.
It’s inevitable. Teams start fast. Teams start slowly. Players surge. Players struggle. Fans are overjoyed. Fans are disappointed.
Tell someone it’s too early in the season to jump to conclusions, and you’re likely to be told how wrong you are. Maybe it seems worse -- as so many things do -- because of social media.
At this time next week, every MLB team will be playing games that count.
I’ll never understand it. Some of the most informed baseball fans I know were ready to give up on the 2019 Cardinals a week ago. Now, some of them are ready to order World Series tickets. What a difference a four-game sweep of the Dodgers can make.
Of course, everyone should know that neither conclusion is logical. Nothing that has happened in the first couple weeks of the season is enough to prove how competitive any team will be over the next 150 games.
After spring training, it was reasonable to believe the Cardinals would be a playoff-caliber club. That still holds true. It was also reasonable to believe the Cardinals weren’t good enough to be a true World Series threat. That also still holds true.
The team was flawed then, and it’s flawed now. It’s not flawed to a point of being uncompetitive, but there are issues.
Baseball is best-suited for the even-keeled fan, which seems to be a dying breed. My suggestion: Throw on the game. Enjoy it. Let baseball part of your life. Just don’t try to judge your favorite team based on one game, a couple weeks or a handful of performances.
On Opening Day and for the foreseeable future, Paul Goldschmidt is going to bat second in th…
It’s not that early-season games don’t matter. Obviously, they do. They count just as much as games in September, no doubt.
The difference is that in September we have evidence-based expectations of what the team should be able to do. We know exactly what everyone is bringing to the table. When the Cardinals face the Brewers and Cubs in September, we’ll do so with a season’s worth of knowledge.
For now, we’re still figuring out what we’re watching. We’re still figuring out what’s reasonable to expect.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be emotionally invested. Just try to keep it in perspective.