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Baseball – Will Changes to the Game Impact the Hobby?

Taking My Hacks

Joe Orlando - February 14, 2019

The arguments rage on between the traditionalists and those who yearn for evolution in baseball.  Should the season remain 162 games?  What should we do with the DH?  What can we do to reduce the average time of games?  There are so many different subjects that the old school and new school love to debate.  It's the long, rich history of the game that makes these ­debates so interesting.

The changes, or potential ones, that we can discuss are not limited to the rulebook either.  The strategy and use of the so-called "advanced metrics" have also made a big impact on the way the game is played and how individual players are evaluated.  Even though I am a big supporter of science, some of these metrics can be given far too much weight in my opinion.  There are intangibles like team chemistry and leadership that are hard to measure in statistics.

More importantly, when relating this subject to the hobby, will the apparent youth movement in baseball impact collectors in the future?

Let me explain.  For those of you who follow baseball closely, you have probably noticed that teams have become more and more confident in bringing up very young players and less and less confident in extending deals to veteran players who were once stars.  Now, the cynical side of me immediately thinks that this probably has more to do with money than anything else.  In the past, even mediocre veterans could garner significant salaries when they were past their prime.

It appears to be a little bit of an about-face after some teams were criticized for doling out long, lucrative contracts to players that extended well into their post-prime years.  Conversely, maybe more teams are comfortable with less experienced players and feel like they can bring energy to the team.  Whether it is all about money, partially about money, or not about money at all, it can impact the way people collect over the long term. 

Here's why: Baseball, more than any other sport, is one where their fans care about statistical comparisons between players of different generations.  While it's true that a measure of a player 50 years ago is different now because of the advanced metrics being used, that doesn't change the fact that the basic career numbers of each player are going to be much harder to compare and the exclusive clubs we have all been accustomed to referencing may have fewer and fewer new members at some point.

You need time to accumulate big career numbers like 300 wins, 500 home runs, or 3,000 hits.  Recently, it appears as if more teams are showing less patience with former stars who have encountered dips in their performance.  Teams seem quicker to react, and replace, in these instances.  When these once-standout players show signs of decline and/or enter a certain age range, they are becoming more expendable.

Assuming this recent movement stays en vogue and careers are cut shorter, a healthy percentage of players are not going to get the chance to pile up the kind of career numbers needed for those comparisons between contemporary stars and legends of the past.  Nor will they be able to compile the numbers required to enter exclusive clubs or reach classic milestones.

The players are starting younger, and maybe that will help counteract any reduction in veteran participation, but all we can do is wait and see.  It's one thing to replace the traditional measures of what is considered successful, but collectors who have an affinity for statistic-based clubs may struggle to add new names to their checklist one day.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
CEO, Collectors Universe, Inc.

Article provided by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) at

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