uring Sunday's sixth and final game in the National League Championship Series, the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers combined to hit six home runs — in the first three innings, no less. The Cardinals won 12-6, and now face the Texas Rangers in the World Series, which begins Wednesday. The Cardinals, Rangers, and Brewers all have high-powered offenses and shaky starting pitching staffs. And with shot after shot being hit out of the park in Sunday's critical Cardinals-Brewers game, there's renewed debate over whether the recent home run boom — statistics show a surge in longballs beginning in the late '90s — is making the game less exciting. Do home runs really make baseball boring?
Yes. They make the game harder to watch: When a player lashes a home run over the outfield fence, "nothing really happens," says Linda Holmes at NPR. "The ball isn't even in play." The resulting (non)action is anticlimactic, and when the home runs come fast and furious, the game just feels repetitive. Really, homers "aren't that much more exciting to look at than fly outs." And in many smaller ball parks, plenty of home runs would actually be fly outs. Plus, no sports fan should get excited over anything that involves "trotting."
"Crack! Smack! Conk!: Do home runs make boring baseball?"
Homers are only a problem if there's a surfeit: Like most things in sports, says Craig Calcaterra at NBC Sports, home runs are exciting "if there aren't too many of them." It's just like stolen bases and bunts — they're thrilling in large part because they don't happen that often. Home runs don't make for boring baseball; too many home runs make for boring baseball. "The key to baseball is variety and surprise and those 'holy crap' moments."
"Do home runs make baseball boring?"
And in this case, it was the pitchers' fault: Sunday's Cardinals-Brewers showdown was "a hot mess of a baseball game," says Andy Martino at the New York Daily News. Yes, there was an obscene amount of home runs. But that's only because "the pitching was straight-up Little League." Thirteen pitchers took the mound, with none throwing three full innings. The game may have devolved into a veritable home run derby — and that may have been boring — but the real problem with Sunday's game had nothing to do with the hitters: "The pitchers stunk."
"St. Louis Cardinals will play Texas Rangers in World Series after beating Milwaukee Brewers in NLCS"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: April 16, 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Can these 4 couples really afford their dream houses?
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
Subscribe to the Week