Television network ABC recently rolled out its eighth season of the reality show "Dancing With the Stars", where C-list celebrities and B-list athletes couple up and dance with A-list ballroom dancers to the delight of D-list judges and former game-show hosts. I've never seen the show, but my gramma tells me that they sometimes have football players as contestants. Wikipedia tells me that such luminaries as Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Jason Taylor have taken a twirl around the parquet floor in past seasons to varying levels of success, which got me to thinking: why have we never seen a baseball player on "Dancing with the Stars"?
After all, perhaps ABC could improve on their already stellar ratings by luring this lonely baseball blogger to tune in. Heck if I knew one of our recently retired boys of summer were invited to foxtrot and tango with a comely Pole, I'd set my DVR to 'record'. Picture portly Tony Gwynn doing the mambo or mustachioed Mike Piazza tripping his way through the paso doble. It's ratings gold, I tell you!
Maybe the ad wizards at ABC take one simple glance at their subsidiary ESPN's ratings for Monday Night Football and compare it to ESPN's ratings for Sunday Night Baseball and consider it an easy pick to pluck football players for the show. After all, lots more folks watch individual football games than individual baseball games because football games are ten times more rare. Still, that doesn't completely explain why we haven't seen David Ortiz prancing around in a tu-tu yet.
Perhaps this lack of respect for the sport is just an symptom of a underlying problem: baseball has no marketable and popular stars that everyone loves anymore. Think about it: ever since your mom's favorite player Cal Ripken retired, baseball's biggest stars have either been dastardly steroid users, Yankee playboys, or Dominicans...or all three. Ask your fat Aunt Shirley to name three current players and she'll run off the names Clemens, Bonds, and A-Rod before you can tell her that two of those guys couldn't even get a contract out of Bill Veeck's cold dead hands today, while the third guy shares Aunt Shirley's bad hip problems.
So while baseball continues to increase in popularity, why do its most popular players continue to get more dastardly and controversial? And why are they being left off Middle America's favorite distraction besides county fairs? If you were to cast a current or recently-retired baseball player to appear on this show, who would it be? Curt Schilling? Mark McGwire? Rickey Henderson?