Fan Explains His Abandonment of MLB

Dr. Don Matlosz: "MLB is a stale-boring-unimaginative game and group think is at its core."

Dr. Don Matlosz: “MLB is a stale-boring-unimaginative game and group think is at its core.”

Dr. Don Matlosz is a lifelong baseball fan and a longtime member of the teaching faculty at Fresno State University with graduate degrees in psychology and public health. He is also an ancient friend, and, although we both attended each place at different times, we each have earlier degrees from UH and doctorates in public health from the University of Texas. We also worked together a thousand years ago at the Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences in the Texas Medical Center. As a student of human nature and behavior. “Dr. M” ranks up there at the top in my book. He’s also bright, witty, and generously blessed with a personal aging process that places him just the other side of the “Dorian Gray” (To look at him, you might never guess that he once charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War! – Just kidding, of course, but the man is remarkable in the sense that he still plays an active game of tennis, loves swimming, hiking, mountain-climbing, and traveling to faraway exotic places. – Keep it up, Don. D0 it for me and the rest of the gang. I’ll be sure to pass the word to  Don Budge or Jack Kramer, if I run into either of them any time soon. And I hope I don’t.

Dr. Matlosz also was an outstanding youth baseball player during his upper New Jersey years. His playing days and baseball hopes would carry him all the way to a short stint with the baseball Cougars while he was at UH. Now his connection to the game is abruptly changing. While still a fan of the game and a regular attendance fan at home games of the Fresno Grizzlies, the Astros AAA club, he has decided to abandon Major League Baseball altogether. We need to allow him to explain the basis for his decision.


Why I’ve Had It with Major League Baseball

By Dr. Don Matlosz, Fresno State University

I just can’t take it anymore. MLB has become a stale-boring-unimaginative game and group think is at the core of all its problems.

The thought of sitting at a stadium, or in front of a tv for 3 hours watching 50% of the batters fail to put the ball in play, has no appeal. Baltimore vs. Houston this past week produced 52 strikeouts for the Oriole batters, a new all-time major league record for a three-game series,  and Houston also had their own fair share during the series and is on schedule to break their own MLB season record for strikeouts that they established back in 2013.

As a typical New Jersey kid of my generation, playing an endless amount of stick ball, three hours a day for eight years, taught me to hit the ball up the middle.

Ten years of organized baseball taught me to hit line drives up the middle as well as discipline at the plate. I rarely struck out, and I batted in the 3-4-5 holes in the lineup. When I did strike out, I felt like a failure. And I also disliked teammates that struck out.

I was a left-handed batter. New York Giants right fielder Don Mueller, another lefty, was also my hero. Mueller, his stance, his baseball mind, and his .296 lifetime batting average – they were all like visions etched in stone for me. And I tried to copy what I saw Mueller do. If a defense played a shift on me to right field during my time at bat, I would either drag bunt – or bunt toward 3rd base for the sake of bagging a surprise hit right from under their noses. And stealing bases was always on my mind, once I got on. I could see, even as a kid, how disruptive that bunt hits and stolen bases were to the pitcher’s mind. If you could pull them off successfully and reach base, it made the pitcher work from the stretch, something else he didn’t want to do. And that contributed even more disruption for the pitcher – and more fun for me. I loved bugging those guys. And that is not something that happens if you just walk up there, hang around for eight or nine pitches, and then strikeout, just like the guys who came before you did. I hate the thought of it, let alone the sight of it.

With pitchers today clearly dominating the MLB game again like they did in the mid to late 1960s, baseball needs a Maury Wills, a Lou Brock, or a Rickey Henderson to disrupt the pitcher again. For me personally, I also need to see solid 300 hitters like George Brett, Rod Carew, or Wade Boggs – guys with disciplined and trained-to-make-contact batting eyes out there working on the pitcher’s mind. The game also misses guys like Ted Williams or Barry Bonds, power hitters who hit for high average and also rarely strike out. Look at what MLB has today for a poster boy hitter. His name is Bryce Harper and his average is .256 as I write.

Oh well, as a tennis player, I, at least, have constant hitting and movement in my life – and those are both conditions which baseball no longer provides. Enjoy the game, if you are able. I will continue to watch the younger talent that passes through Fresno while they are still not totally caught up in the process of corruption that awaits them at the MLB level, but it saddens me too. I grew up loving baseball. Now look what MLB has done to the game.

I’m out.


Don Matlosz and Bill McCurdy UH Homecoming 2011

Don Matlosz and Bill McCurdy
UH Homecoming 2011

As his friend, I shall hope that something happens to temper Don Matlosz’s permanent abandonment of MLB, but I understand where he’s coming from and how strongly he feels. And this man is baseball deep. He could be another canary bird in the baseball “mine” and a powerful oracle about the ever-expanding group-think mentality that now rules the corporate culture of baseball. These decisions often create the illusion of life, even when the body of the organization seems to be flat-lining. Notable example: Bud Selig presiding over the problem of falling interest in the All Star Game a few years ago. And what did his advisors suggest? Allow the All Star Game decide which league gets home field advantage in the World Series. Any questions? Did that action make the rest of you salivate all year, just waiting for the perpetration of this new rule’s latest team victim at season’s end, if the club with the best record fails to get the home field advantage because of it’s league loss in the All Star Game? We doubt it, but that’s simply one example of group think, backed by a Commissioner who probably also thinks that hiring a better make-up artist at the funeral home will make the sadness of the place go away.

More later. Time and space are short today. – Bill McCurdy, The Pecan Park Eagle.

Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


6 Responses to “Fan Explains His Abandonment of MLB”

  1. Sam Quintero Says:

    Why does Houston need to sound the alarm:

    “Houston! We have a problem!”

    MLB, should heed the message delivered by Dr. Matlosz and how appropriate to sound the alarm: “MLB!! You have a problem!”

    I’ll add some observations later, unless others come up with equivalent observations before I get to it.

    Well stated Professor!

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    Dr. Don Matlosz was unfortunate in choosing a role model. Don Mueller was a well-below average hitter for his career (OPS+ 88) and was thus a liability to his team. Batting average is not a good measure of a hitter’s worth. Bryce Harper is an excellent hitter because he gets on base a lot and hits for power. Batter strikeouts correlate positively with runs scored, so asking a team to try to strike out less is like asking them to win less. Likewise, he wants to see more stolen bases, which he thinks disrupts the defense, but historically, teams which steal a lot of bases are not winning teams. They are just as likely, if not more, to disrupt the batter. These facts are incompatible with baseball being entertaining, unfortunately.

  3. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Completely agree with Dr. Matlosz. I see few of the fundamentals I grew up with and learned by Pony League. Combine that with the lost traditionalism of fathers playing catch with sons the game has passed me by. I’d love to unload all the crap I bought as an Astros fan in the 1970s-1980s….no one wants it, not even my kids. Jim Crane, you killed the Astros when Drayton McLane took you to the cleaners on that shriveled core of a team and you got suckered into the American League. Go ahead, scrape out Tal’s Hill and put in more idiot Chik-fil-A Fowl poles to obscure more seats with classless advertising. What a joke franchise. I enjoyed the article a few days ago on the Cardinals–there’s a class act, at least as close as you can get in the 2000s.

  4. stanfromtacoma Says:

    There’s plenty good to see currently in MLB Mike Trout is exhibit A. Clayton Kershaw is s good as any pitcher I’ve seen, and I’ve seen Koufax, Gibson, Carleton and Seaver. If somebody doesn’t want to watch that well all I can say is to each his own. It’s not just the superstars that make baseball shine. Kevin Pillar with the Jays is a joy to watch in the outfield. There are plenty of others I could mention.

    There is much I don’t like about the modern game but the negatives for me are mostly off the field. The players today are every bit as good as the players I watched when I was a kid.

  5. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Perhaps, but can they bunt, hit behind the runner or throw to the correct base from the outfield?

  6. Anthnony Cavender Says:

    Some of these comments remind me of King Lear on the blasted heath. MLB will be looking into the strike zone and the umpire’s penchant for calling low strikes. I don’t think that either Drayton McLane or Jim Crane wanted to leave the NL; they probably had no choice once MLB decided to have the same number of teams in each league and since the Astros sale needed MLB approval, the die was cast. For all that, fans seem to enjoy attending games at Minute Maid, even if the music is rather loud and overbearing. If your money was on the line, what would you do?

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