Column: Baseball & Oscars fight losing battle for relevancy

Mar 25, 2022, 2:47 AM | Updated: 2:53 pm
St. Louis Cardinals' Dylan Carlson, right, scores near Washington Nationals catcher Riley Adams, le...

St. Louis Cardinals' Dylan Carlson, right, scores near Washington Nationals catcher Riley Adams, left, on a single hit by Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

              St. Louis Cardinals' Harrison Bader singles in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
            
              Local 33 head carpenter Gregg Strouth moves a wall into place outside the Dolby Theatre, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Los Angeles, in preparation for Sunday's 94th Academy Awards. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Washington Nationals' Riley Adams, right, is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a home run in the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
            
              A silhouette of a man appears through a translucent gold curtain set up on Hollywood Blvd. for Sunday's 94th Academy Awards arrivals, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
            
              Philadelphia Phillies catcher Donny Sands, left, tags New York Yankees' DJ LeMahieu out at the plate during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
            
              Oscar statues sit in a tent during preparations for Sunday's 94th Academy Awards outside the Dolby Theatre on Friday, March 25, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John Locher)
            
              St. Louis Cardinals' Dylan Carlson, right, scores near Washington Nationals catcher Riley Adams, left, on a single hit by Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Yes, folks, dinosaurs do still roam the Earth.

Come Sunday night, an increasingly irrelevant Hollywood elite — look, kids, Dame Judi Dench got another nomination! — will gather for their annual fete to an astonishing lack of self-awareness, a.k.a. the Academy Awards.

In less than two weeks, Major League Baseball will throw out the first pitch on another fun-filled season of jockstrap adjustments and dallying even longer than usual between pitches so every fielder, plus a couple of hot dog vendors, have time to shift to one side of the field.

Baseball & the Oscars.

Two relics of a bygone era, both fighting a desperate but ultimately losing battle to avoid relegation — sorry, a soccer term seemed appropriate here — to Nicheville U.S.A.

Each seems to think it can somehow become must-see viewing again, despite plunging ratings that confirm they’ve already been written off by a sizable chunk of the population.

For the Oscars, that means going to increasingly desperate lengths to honor films that people have actually seen, even though we all know snooty Academy members favor flicks attended by 14 people — all of them movie critics — at an art house on the Upper East Side.

A few years ago, they proposed an “Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” — in other words, whichever superhero movie sold the most tickets — but that plan quickly fell apart and was shuffled off to purgatory to gather the dreaded “additional input.”

With nothing more heard about whatever additional input was received, the 2022 Oscars have turned to that bastion of rationale thought and respectful debate — Twitter! — to give the fans a say on their favorite film and best movie moment.

Granted, the Twitterverse can’t do much worse than Academy voters who selected “Green Book” as the best film of 2018 solely for making white people feel better about racism, but we don’t have high hopes for anything emanating from the cesspool of social media.

Baseball, meanwhile, is looking to build on a blockbuster of an offseason in which billionaire owners duked it out with millionaire players in “Lock-Out 5: No Way Home Unless We Can Figure Out A Luxury Tax Threshold.”

Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin was compelling cinema, to be sure, but it had nothing on MLB Commish Rob Manfred ducking out of negotiations to work on his golf swing.

What a twist!

Sadly, the ending was anticlimactic. With time a-wasting, enormously wealthy people on both sides said “What the heck are we doing?” and furiously hammered out a new labor agreement that basically just prints up more money for all of them.

With champagne faucets now installed in all clubhouse showers, baseball is ready to “tackle” a far more challenging conundrum: How to attract new fans who aren’t already collecting Social Security? (Full disclosure: The football term used in the previous sentence is not an Easter egg that leads to some inside scoop on the NFL draft. Unless that’s the only way you’ll keep reading. Then, yes, it is an Easter egg related to the 12th overall pick.)

After careful consideration, the big leagues are now leaning toward pitch clocks, banning shifts and installing larger bases as ways to turn their game into a blisteringly paced action flick that sends ratings into the stratosphere.

Spoiler alert: They won’t.

We’re not saying those changes won’t improve the game. Maybe they will. We’re certainly pumped that all teams will be using the designated hitter this season, eliminating the silliest spectacle in all of sports: a pitcher attempting to swing a bat.

But baseball would need a time machine to regain its standing as the true national pastime.

The same applies to the Oscars and the sway it once held over the entertainment world, but the Academy just can’t seem to let go of that pipe dream. They’re trying to cram something for everyone into a three-hour show, including a performance of the hit “Encanto” song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” even though it wasn’t nominated for any awards.

“We’re going to make sure that everybody has their moment,” said Will Packer, who is producing the show.

Good luck with that. These are fragmented times we’re living in, with far more options available in our spare time and far more ways to consume both games and movies.

Sure, baseball and the Oscars are apples to oranges in many ways, but they share many of the same issues when it comes to remaining relevant in a fast-changing world.

Maybe, instead of trying to play catch-up, they should listen to the fans they do have. Those numbers may be dwindling, but they’re not insignificant.

A few tweaks here and there, rather than a massive overhaul, is likely all that is needed to keep those folks tuning in.

Focus on those who actually prefer dinosaurs. Forget about those who have moved on.

They’re gone.

Extinct, you might say.

___

Paul Newberry is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
24 days ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
24 days ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
24 days ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
24 days ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
24 days ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
24 days ago
Column: Baseball & Oscars fight losing battle for relevancy