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Murph: Why the debate over foreign substances is a good thing for MLB

© Sam Navarro | 2021 Jun 1

How funny that it took a foreign substance to make the All-American game a talking point around the water cooler again.

I drive in every morning pre-5 am, and listen to the national talking heads discuss Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers and, when pressed for a topic, more Aaron Rodgers.

If an emergency breaks out, they default to Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes or, in case of emergency, the rookie QB class of 2021.

Just one example of how baseball cannot penetrate the national consciousness.

Unless you use . . . a foreign substance!

God bless America/Land that I love/Stand beside her/And guide her … with a foreign substance on your fingertips.

How about these names, too: Pelican Grip. Spider Tack. Goop. 

Anyone for a heapin’ helpin’ of former Oakland Raider Lester Hayes’ Stick’um?

The report by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says that the use of foreign substances is so widespread, Major League Baseball is beginning a crackdown. And then we got personal: Josh Donaldson called out Gerrit Cole. Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay called for the breaking of Josh Donaldson’s rib. It made news.

Finally, for one brief, shining moment, MLB could partially dent the NFL hegemony!

I consider this a small victory.

Sure, I’d love for baseball to be in the consciousness of every American sports fan. I’d love for it to be marketed better, to be more appealing to young African-Americans, to have stars celebrated and promoted.

But for now, I’ll have to enjoy the small triumph of hearing ESPN tease, at the end of another Aaron Rodgers segment, a review of the Donaldson-Cole showdown.

We’ve reached that point in sports where buzz matters. Sports talk radio, which blossomed in the 1990s, has given way in the last decade to the blanket all-day coverage of ESPN. Stephen A. Smith is a household name. “Alerts” come to our phones in the forms of opinions or takes. I am watching in front of my eyes the young teenagers of today get embroiled in mock drafts, Trey Lance vs Mac Jones debates, and fantasy football on a maniacal level.

Can baseball ever reach this audience?

For the Murph and Mac Show, and for KNBR listeners in general, this isn’t much of a debate. We are a strong baseball town and market. Yes, the 49ers may rule the roost, but the Giants aren’t too far behind. You can’t say that in a lot of towns. The only towns in my many sports media travels that value baseball with any sort of heft are Boston, New York and St. Louis. Philly and Chicago, sort of, but they’ll take the NFL any day over MLB.

So for us, the Giants and baseball will always matter.

But for 90 percent of the markets in this country, baseball is dying a slow, agonizing death.

That’s why the foreign substance debate is welcome, in my eyes. 

Get people talking the game. How many general sports fans would have cared about a Yankees-Twins Wednesday night game in June? 

I’m just happy I was able to pound the keyboard with my fingers sticking to these keys. No more Spider Tack before a Jock Blog.


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