Baseball vs. Aliens: The Game has Changed

By William Coppola

Where is the next generation of big league players coming from? What will the motivation to attend a baseball game come from in the next ten years?

I guess you’d have to start with youth baseball. Or better yet, the youth of America.

You don’t just pick up a bat at 18 years old and say, here I am, play me. It takes years to develop the skills to play the game of baseball well at the major league level. When I was a kid, my friends and I would play ball,all day in the street, or any other field we could find. We would play three or four on a side. We had no umpires and settled all calls quick and fair. Few arguments. No instant replay.

We had “make believe” runners. Lefties, ran home to first, to second back to first and home. Righties ran home to third, to second to third to home. We learned baseball skills and developed baseball instinct on our own.

None of us had $60 per hour pitching and hitting coaches. Just long happy days, playing ball. Today’s youth will only play in organized leagues,with umpires, uniforms and where everyone gets a trophy.

When was the last time you saw kids playing in the street or in a lot playing ball without adults around, or outside playing anything for that matter? The new generation for the past number of years is more interested in killing aliens on their Play Stations.

The best players for now and in the future, are coming from other countries. They play more baseball from an early age, than American kids do. They want it badly and are willing to put in the long hours, days and years, to become successful in this game.

As for the next generation of fans? Good luck with that one. Many young adults today, are more interested in fantasy leagues, than going to a ballpark to watch a game. It is very rare to see a fan keeping score at a game today and many come to a ballpark to be entertained with things other than the game.

Yes, the game has changed. Not that long ago, players were your neighbors. Today, the players make so much money — with the gap between an average fan and these millionaires is like the distance from the Earth to the moon.

Unless they’re at a team sponsored event, today’s stars hide from the public. And with the cost of going to a game so high, kids only see players on TV, not the same as seeing them in person. I mean, which would you want to do as a kid: kill aliens on PlayStation or watch paint dry on TV?

Baseball ranks a poor third to football and basketball in television ratings, yet it remains the national pastime. But if you ask a young prospect today about his goals, don’t be surprised if it is to be a big league ballplayer — and drive a Lamborghini.

It is what it is. And it saddens this old baseball man to see what the game I love has evolved into.

William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and advanced scout.


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