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The Sports Daily > Cards Diaspora
Scott Wuerz of the Belleville News-Democrat Didn’t Like The Little League Classic

The Belleville News-Democrat is a St. Louis metro area newspaper that has been published since 1858.

The paper has won major accolades (including a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2007) and employs approximately 280 people in the area, plus dozens more at it’s weekly ancillary publications.

One of those employees is Scott Wuerz who creates the ‘Cheap Seats’ column that is run in print and online.

Here’s what his BND.com site bio says:

Scott Wuerz is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan and a veteran writer. He has penned the View From the Cheap Seats Cardinals fan blog for the Belleville News-Democrat since 2007.

Mr. Wuerz wrote a column on Monday titled ‘Enough, MLB, with the silly promotions – It’s the big leagues, not Little League‘.

I came for the #HOTTAKE, but I came away just wanting to correct several factual errors.

Pardon my crabby-old-man mode, but the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday night on a field with 2,500 or so seats is the dumbest idea Major League Baseball has hatched since it decided the winner of the All-Star Game got home field advantage in the World Series.

This is an opinion piece, so there’s no way to objectively dispute Mr. Wuerz’s claim of the Little League Classic being ‘the dumbest idea’ MLB has had since 2003 (when the All-Star Game winner got home field advantage for the World Series).

But…

To each their own.

While the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies were snug in their beds either at home or in a fancy hotel Saturday night, the Redbirds and Bucs were traveling from Pittsburgh to Williamsport, Pa. That’s a drive of 3 1/2 hours by bus.

The Cardinals stayed in a “fancy hotel” Saturday night as well.

And here’s a picture of the Cardinals plane (not bus) landing in Williamsport on Sunday morning:

When they did arrive, the Cardinals and Pirates didn’t get a lot of sleep because they had a full day of meeting and greeting young players as part of this publicity stunt to link major-leaguers with the Little League World Series.

The Cardinals and Pirates game ended at 8:51p on Saturday evening (eastern time).

The plane took off for Williamsport on Sunday AM over 12 hours later, leaving lots of time for sleep.

FWIW, it seems like some of the players enjoyed the day.

After a full day of smiling and waving their caps followed by a full evening of playing the game they were there for, St. Louis and Pittsburgh players have to spend the rest of the evening hours into the early morning getting from a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania to their next destination. The Redbirds were expected back in St. Louis, barring any delays, at about 3 a.m. Monday.

The Cardinals flew on a private chartered jet to St. Louis.

The Cardinals did not play on Monday, as it was an off-day.

Both the Cardinals and the Pirates were permitted an extra roster position for the game to alleviate any stress the extra travel incurred.

Second, the uniforms the players were wearing were ridiculous and it was insulting to the average fan’s intelligence that MLB puts these things out for the sole purpose of trying to sell as another variation of the same thing. Alternate jerseys, throwback jerseys, holiday jerseys — enough already.

When I was a kid, I wanted a jersey that looked like what the major-leaguers got instead of one that looked like it was plucked off the rack at a resale shop. So now the big-leaguers are going to wear silly, loud uniforms that look like they came off the discount rack at Gymboree?

The jerseys the Cardinals and Pirates wore were a preview of the upcoming ‘Player’s Weekend’ that allows players to show their personalities. It is an attempt to connect with a younger fan base that may or may not resonate. Too soon to tell.

Also, yes, MLB will sell these jerseys and caps, because MLB is a for-profit enterprise that people can choose to support or not support with their money.

I’m sure glad this was a road game for the Cardinals. I’d be pretty steamed if I lost a game from my season-ticket package so the team I support could go play a game in a ballpark one-twentieth the size of its usual home, so small that it was almost impossible for casual fans to get in.

Lot to unpack here from only two sentences, but let’s try.

Yes, Mr. Wuerz is correct. This was a road game for the Cardinals.

If you are a season ticket holder for the Pirates in 2017, you had two options when it came to Sunday’s game: 1) full refund of your ticket or 2) exchange your ticket to any other home Pirates game plus a food/beverage credit equal to the amount you paid for your ticket (so if you had a $50 seat, you’d pick another game to go to and also get $50 is food/drinks). Seems like a fair deal, to me.

And as for the stadium? This game wasn’t open to the general public.

There were six ways to get in:

  1. Be on a Little League World Series team
  2. Be a parent of a Little League World Series team memeber
  3. Be an invited guest of MLB
  4. Be a stadium worker
  5. Be a part of the ESPN telecast crew
  6. Win a random ticket lottery (open only to residents of Lycoming County, PA)

Major League Baseball is so concerned these days with the details it seems like it neglects its primary product. How can this happen? Either the owners and commissioner completely don’t understand their fans — or they are so self-absorbed that they don’t care about giving the people who support their sport what they want.

MLB is thinking of making the Little League Classic an annual event after the success of Sunday night’s game.

I don’t care a lick about these sideshow games, alternate uniforms, canned “occasions” and other similar distractions. I want to see the game as it was meant to be played, where it was meant to be played. Doesn’t the commissioner believe that people would want to watch the game if he and the owners didn’t try to entice fans with sparkly baubles?

If that’s what he thinks, he’s definitely the wrong person for the job.

BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field is the second oldest minor league stadium in MiLB. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

MLB spent millions of dollars renovating BB&T Ballpark, which seats about 2,500. They re-sodded the field; upgraded the foul poles, bullpens and batter’s eye to meet MLB specifications; and added an X-ray room, video room and a second trainer’s room.

Beyond the seating capacity, it is a facility that is on par with with many MLB stadiums (and may even be preferable to some like O.co Coliseum).

Also, in the first half of 2017, 18 of the 29 U.S. based MLB teams saw their TV ratings drop.

Baseball is a game that’s been around nearly 200 years. Its popularity has bridged generation after generation of Americans because of its uniqueness and its consistency. So stop trying to make baseball more like the other sports with time clocks, instant replay, silly extra uniforms and stupid promotions.

Commissioner, you’re missing a great game.

Please do not read this book, Mr. Wuerz. Whatever you do, do NOT read this book.

Here is the commissioner’s statement on the game:

Major League Baseball’s greatest responsibility is to ensure that today’s youth become active participants in our game as players and fans. The ‘MLB Little League Classic’ exemplifies our entire sport’s commitment to building a stronger connection between young people and the National Pastime. Our players will honor the great tradition of the Little League World Series and create lifelong memories for the Little Leaguers, their families and the city of Williamsport. I thank the Pirates and the Cardinals, Little League Baseball, Governor Wolf, the Crosscutters, the City of Williamsport, and ESPN for helping us organize an unforgettable weekend.

+++++

As a guy who stares a blinking cursor and blank screen from time to time, I can understand how a bad column gets made.

I can unequivocally say that I’ve made my fair share.

Mr. Wuerz needed copy and decided to go the #HOTTAKE route. To criticize an event that – at least in my opinion – was roundly praised by both the players and the fans.

That’s fine. That’s his choice. His right.

But if you’re going to have a #HOTTAKE, please make sure to dig a little deeper into the facts.

It’ll save everyone some angst. And prevent me from having to write posts like this.

Photo: Wikipedia