The Squared Diamond

Derek Zumsteg

I was minding my own business at my local grocery store, doing some academic research (how much beer can one man buy without use of baskets or carts?), when I saw Hollywood Hulk Hogan on the front of TV Guide. I nearly dropped my beer (don’t worry, I didn’t).

What baseball needs to do is take a lesson from wrestling. No, hear me out.

Baseball needs a strong commisioner to protect the integrity of the sport. Both WWF and WCW have strong commisioners who take a direct role in the promotion and protection of their empires. This has a lot to due with the fact that their fortunes are tied to their leagues. I think the league commisioners and Bud "Smokin" Selig should, as a condition of their positions, be forced to stake their entire fortunes on the health of the game. I would love to see Selig’s incompetence rewarded with destitution.

Baseball needs stories. Sure, wrestling has stupid stories. I mean honestly, is there anyone out there that thinks any of the storylines currently in use have a shred of believability? But it does have narrative. You know which battles may actually be worth tuning into, and which will be amusement (like those flying Mexican squad matches). Baseball, first, needs to do a better job with the stories it already has. Schedules should be unbalanced so that teams play their division rivals more often, where games really affect the standings. Play up the storied rivalries hugely.

And when the Royals play the Brewers? That’s a comedy game! Watch the inept batters face inept hitters. Watch wacky minor-league thugs break each other’s jaws! I’m sure more people would tune in for that then another thrilling 5-4 match between #4 starters.

Baseball players should also be allowed to use microphones and PA systems. Wrestling does this all the time, I noticed in my study. And I would love to see Jose Canseco step to the plate and rile the crowd up with some half-literate taunt and be beaned. I’m available to script trash talk, by the way, if you’re out there listening. Wouldn’t that make baseball a little more personal, more lively? I think so. Catchphrases for players we could chant, etc., etc…

Baseball needs a labor deal. They could learn a lot from wrestling, where leagues compete for players and the scrubs to fill out the cards. Wrestlers fight with the commisioners! Fill their new cars with ce-ment! Just think of the rivalry between the commisioner of baseball and the dirty likes of Roberto Alomar and Albert Belle! I’d pay cash money to go to games again if it meant I might see baseball owners and officials chased around the stadium.

Baseball also needs commentators with personality. I’m tired of hearing Announcer One talk about clutch hitting while Announcer Two talks about speed and defense. If we’re not going to be provided with intelligent commentary, at least make it interesting. All games should have a broadcast crew consisting of:

  • A straight play-by-play man who roots for the team in a reserved, earnest way
  • An evil guy who roots for the other teams
  • A monkey

Wrestling’s a laughable ‘sport’, ill-staged, but it’s making huge amounts of money. Baseball could take lessons from the success of a sport that’s not even a sport. Baseball already has the personalities, the stories, and, moreover, it has an actual sport played by skilled athletes. That its ratings hardly compare to flabby, balding men in tights should tell us that something’s gotta be wrong with baseball’s approach to self-promotion.

And come on, admit it’d be fun.

about the author

Derek Zumsteg prefers boxing to wrestling and considers Oscar De La Hoya the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport today. You can e-mail him (Derek) from our Contact Us page.

Published March 31, 2005

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