Attendance is down, TV ratings are stumbling, and the MLB is scrambling to change rules to make the game more appealing. The new generation of sports fans doesn’t want to sit through nine innings of guys playing catch. The attention span of the 18-34s is short and declining with every new cat video (sidenote: Cats are stupid. Grow up and watch puppy/dog videos). Nevertheless, the MLB has an industry leading media department that has done wonders to bring the game to this demographic. Now they just need the content to be more appealing to the “entertain me or get the fuck out of my face” attitude of today’s consumers. Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa may be those pieces of content.
Joining a wave of young talent led by a rogue and mohawked right fielder named Bryce Harper and a thick-necked purebred animal name Mike Trout, Bryant and Correa will be right alongside the other low-20s aged players who will be changing the game for the foreseeable future. Winning the Rookie of the Year awards is just the start of two careers that will define the direction of the game and the MLB as it tries to carve out its own share of interest among sports fans.
Kris Bryant, like the above mentioned Trout, is a somewhat soft-spoken power hitter with natural athleticism and an uncanny ability to provide awesome gifs:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 6, 2015
He won ROY honors and it wasn’t close, as the other candidates didn’t even draw a vote. In 151 games Bryant put together a .858 OPS with 26 home runs and 99 RBIs. He put up other impressive stats, but more importantly he hits baseballs really far. He’s already made Cubs management regret putting a video scoreboard so “close” to the field of play as he’s peppered it with home runs multiple times. Speaking of the Cubs, it helps that Bryant is on one of the most popular teams in the MLB and a franchise that can drive significant revenue when the fans are interested. Plus, I mean, those eyes…so dreamy:
— MLB (@MLB) November 16, 2015
The Houston fanbase doesn’t have the capabilities that a Kris Bryant-led Cubs crowd does, but Carlos Correa will be sure to bring out the best from Astros fans. Just reaching the legal drinking age this past September, Correa earned the Rookie of the Year award in the American League by posting a .857 OPS, 22 home runs and 68 RBIs…in only 99 games. Consistently described by most scouts as a “can’t miss” talent, you can’t help but watch Correa and think of a young Alex Rodriguez.
— All Sport News (@All_SportNews) September 29, 2015
Correa has simply superior athletic skill that can be appreciated in short bursts, which is just what the new generation of sports fans has time for.
I am more of a baseball purist. I enjoy a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. I enjoy when a pitcher has to step off the mound and gather himself because his mentality wasn’t quite right. I appreciate the inches of the game, which in most cases are the difference between a foul ball and a home run. The ground ball out, which is never a play that is remembered at the end of the day, is one of the most beautiful things in sports to me. The pitcher executes his pitch to get the batter to make subpar contact to the fielder who then gathers the baseball and throws it within a given radius to retire the batter, who is running in a straight line as fast as he can to save one more precious out, of which each offense only gets 27 of during each game. Poetry.
But I am a dying breed. The MLB recognizes this, which is why shot clocks are a thing now and one game playoffs are determining the fate of teams who just played a 162 game season. Stupid. One of the dumbest playoff formats in all of sports in my opinion. But I get it. It’s entertainment. It’s what fans are now accustomed to. It’s why Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa are so important. While they’ll provide us hardcore fans with gaudy numbers to argue over while discussing their place in baseball history, they’ll also be providing short bursts of flashy and extreme talent. They bring an extreme athleticism to a game that sorely needs it, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.