Introducing a weekly column about how one casual fan, who didn’t grow up with the game but still has a special place in his heart for Mark Lemke, will track baseball’s success this season at winning him over. He’s got a log book, a clever new acronym and he promises to crunch some numbers.
By Aaron Koos
I don’t bleed black and orange. I couldn’t tell you who hosts Baseball Tonight. And, I don’t have a fantasy baseball team, let alone three. In fact, if you’re reading this blog, rest assured, you care more about baseball and the Birds than I do.
So why am I posting on “Roar from 34,” a blog by fans for fans devoted to the Orioles and the love of baseball?
Because I think baseball is doomed and this is the first step in a season-long experiment to see if there is any future for the sport.
I’m volunteering to serve as the guinea pig in this experiment, because unlike many of the people reading this, I’m the fan that is going to make or break baseball. Of course, not me specifically, but the millions of others just like me that have moved on to other, greener pastimes. Last year’s World Series netted Fox only 17.2 million viewers, the lowest-rated series ever. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I didn’t even watch one inning. Major League Baseball is going to have to find a way to reverse this trend and captivate fair-weather fans like me if it is ever going to survive.
The prospects aren’t good, though. If 2005 was bad for baseball, 2006 is shaping up to be downright ugly. In addition to the nagging problems – the revenue disparity between teams in small and large markets, prima donna players and their obnoxious agents, tedious marathon games, etc. – this year carries the additional burden of starting under a heightened steroid controversy. Prior to opening day, The (San Jose) Mercury News predicted that 2006 would go down as “The Unhappiest Season on Earth.”
And yet, despite all this, I’m hopeful. I’ve been a fan. Now, I’ve never been on the level of the folks that started this site. They’ve suffered through strikes and lockouts, weathered cheating scandals of all kinds, and endured extended losing stretches by their team. While I can’t pretend to love the Orioles like they do, I have known the joy of listening to games on the radio over steamed crabs and Natty Boh. I’ve had my share of basement dwelling fantasy teams. I even held a season ticket package at Camden Yards one year.
Can my interest be revived? Will I ever peruse a box score again?
That is the purpose of this experiment. This blog will track my progress, or rather track baseball’s progress in winning me back as a fan. I think it could be a good indicator for the health of the sport. Plus, I feel pressured to blog. “Dude, you don’t have a blog? Oh, you’ve got to blog.”
Each week I plan to post an entry that chronicles my baseball-related activities this season. Using a highly scientific system, I will score my progress. To accomplish this I’ve developed the Baseball “CAP” formula. CAP rates my fandom in three acronym-friendly categories: 1) Current knowledge, 2) Ardor, and 3) Participation.
The litmus test for this category is whether or not I’d be able to convince you that I’m an Orioles fan in a five-minute conversation. Knowledge of schedule, roster, current injuries, player performance, game results, and the big storylines for the season would certainly be required.
Do I even care enough to engage you in a five-minute conversation about baseball? Originally, this category was going to be called “Enthusiasm” but it didn’t work with the ultra-clever “CAP” acronym.
Did I watch, listen to, or attend any games? Did I buy any merchandise? Could I be bothered to read the sports section or watch Baseball Tonight?
For each category, I’ll assign myself a batting average. Now, I won’t bore you with the ultra-scientific statistical analysis used to derive that average, but just know that I’m not just randomly assigning values, even though it will look exactly like that is the case. Really.
That’s the experiment. Simple. Elegant. Quite possibly revolutionary.
Now, on to my first CAP ratings. The numbers have been crunched (really), and the results aren’t good. I’m well below the Mendoza line in all three categories.
Current knowledge average: .127.
I know the O’s have played the Devil Rays, won the home opener, got swept by the Red Sox, and then I think they went back to Tampa, but maybe not. I have no idea of any player stats, and I probably couldn’t name the full line-up or starting rotation. I couldn’t convince Grandma that I’m a fan. So .127 is generous (but highly accurate and based on data from my comprehensive log book, which you can’t see, but which I assure you exists. Really.).
Ardor average: .000.
And I don’t even care. I went out of town and didn’t read the sports page for five days. I’m only slightly embarrassed as a man to admit this. This is a very bad sign.
Watched one Orioles-Red Sox game, off and on, and saw it through to the end. Seemed like sloppy play from Kevin Millar and Chris Gomez, plus the Orioles’ perennial inability to hit a knuckleballer that contributed to the loss. Read the synopsis in the paper for the first five games, but none since.
There you have it. According to initial CAP results, baseball is still doomed. The good news is that it can’t get much worse. Stay tuned.