Spring Training opens this week and Major League Baseball is coming off a 2014 season when only one player — Nelson Cruz — hit 40 home runs. Kansas City, as a team, hit 95. In 2014, there were 4,186 home runs, 748 fewer than in 2012. The 2014 total was the lowest home run output since 1995 (4,081). Meanwhile, the sport is in pretty good shape at the gate with total league attendance in 2014 coming in as the seventh most in MLB history (73,739,622).
How is this possible, especially since the game has become 3+ hour marathons of bunting guys over and .225 hitters? The extra wild card helps keep more teams in the mix late into September. You suddenly have Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Baltimore fans back to go with the cities that have always drawn well.
But I hate competitive balance when it means 3-1 and 2-1 games. If I’m going to invest 3+ hours to a game in mid-July, I want fireworks. I want some juiced up monster walking to the plate in the 8th ready to go yard in a 9-7 game. I want pitchers to get throttled. I’ve said it over and over, I miss the home run era when I could watch batting practice in Cincinnati (at Riverfront) and watch Mark McGwire hit 15 balls into the red seats. I don’t want to see Jose Altuve working on hitting the ball the other way.
Happy Spring Training, baseball purists.