The booing of the president, a postscript

In this post, I discussed the booing of President Trump during Sunday’s World Series game which I attended. Trump wasn’t just booed. Some in the crowd chanted “lock him up.” (I didn’t include this outrage in my eyewitness account because the folks near me didn’t indulge in it.)

Some on the left have criticized the chanting, though not the booing. However, many defend both.

Perhaps the most bizarre defense comes from Neera Tanden, president of the left-wing Center for American Progress. She stated: “I actually applaud when [Trump] faces a mass protest by everyday citizens who were not organized, who turned his own words against him.”

Tanden must not have been at the game. In no way was this (virtually all white) crowd comprised of “everyday citizens.” Not in Washington, D.C. and not at these prices. This was largely a crowd of the well-heeled and the well-connected in a town dominated by left liberals.

Also, did Trump ever use the words “lock her up”? Not that I know of.

The game was televised by Fox Sports. It did not cover the booing and chanting, and has received criticism for this.

I think Fox Sports made the right call. For one thing, the booing and chanting occurred during a commercial break. Fox would have had to go out of its way to show this.

More fundamentally, Fox was there to broadcast a baseball game, not a temper tantrum, unrelated to baseball, by left-liberal fans. Why should Fox’s sports division provide a platform for the political views of Trump haters? If its news division wants to cover the booing and chanting, it can do so in a news program.

Critics of Fox note that the broadcast did pan to President Trump at one point. But the fact of Trump’s attendance is sports-related. It highlighted the importance of the event. As announcer Joe Buck said when the cameras showed Trump: “It’s the World Series, the president and the first lady of the United States. . .are here at the game tonight in their suite.”

The World Series can use some promotion. Television viewership of the Series is down this year (a problem that might have been exacerbated had Fox televised Sunday’s display of anti-Trumpism).

Saturday’s game (Game Four) was the lowest rated and second-least watched World Series game on record. Sunday’s game (the one Trump attended) did better, but was crushed by the Sunday night football game in the NFL’s biggest ratings “win” over a World Series game in ten years of head-to-head matchups.

What’s the problem with this World Series? The games, though often riveting for this Nats fan, haven’t been close. Also, they are taking way too long to play.

But the underlying problem is that baseball simply doesn’t appeal to modern sports fans as much as pro football does. Pro basketball too is outstripping baseball among younger fans.

Baseball is trying to counter this trend. Its latest ad boasts that, today, “we play loud.” The promotion juxtaposes color shots of players manifesting “loudness” with black and white photos of staid players from the distant past. In one shot, a modern player throws a bucket of Gatorade (I think) at the image of an old-time Yankee pitcher.

It’s true that players like Juan Sota and Ronald Acuna, Jr. (to name just two) play “loud.” But the nature of their sport doesn’t enable them to play as loudly as pro football and basketball stars do.

There’s nothing major league baseball can do about this. However, it can (and should) increase the pace of play. And, while this might not improve ratings, baseball can and should use an electronic strike zone, thereby taking arbitrary umpiring out of these key decisions.

NOTE: The original version of this post stated incorrectly that CBS, not Fox, broadcast the game.