NEW YORK—Just weeks after Major League Baseball wrapped up its 2011 season with an unlikely championship run by the St. Louis Cardinals, baseball fans are reportedly confused and disappointed by the way dozens of storylines were left dangling.
"The Cardinals saga was okay, but I really expected it to be more of a backdrop for the more interesting stuff they'd been building up to all season," said longtime baseball viewer Mike Dietch, who on the MLB.com message boards Monday expressed his frustrations at "being left hanging by baseball yet again." "It was all Phillies for a while, and then they just disappear? And all that attention on the Yankees, but that didn't go anywhere. What was the point of the Yankees this year? And where did Heath Bell even end up? If they resolved that, I totally missed it."
"And why did they introduce that Red Sox fried chicken and beer subplot so late in the season?" Dietch added. "It was stupid, anyway, but the timing was just weird."
The 2011 season is already being criticized as one of the least exciting in recent history, with many longtime followers of the sport saying that what they call "The Show" has lost its way in recent years. Some fans said the sheer number of unanswered questions may ultimately make this season as poorly regarded as 2004's, with its predictable Red Sox victory ending telegraphed almost from opening day.
"When they stretched the finale out to seven episodes, I thought, of course they're going to at least mention something about why the Diamondbacks were so good this year or why the Twins were so bad," said Cheyenne, WY viewer Ben Harrigan, who has watched baseball every year since 1989, remaining faithful even when it resorted to tacky home run races and became bogged down in extended melodramatic steroid-abuse episodes. "But there was no explanation at all. And what happened to the Giants? They were supposed to be the next big thing, but we basically got zippo."
Not all fan reaction to the 2011 season has been negative. Although ratings for the Series were down overall, MLB surveys of those who did watch said they enjoyed the way longtime baseball character Tony La Russa was written off quietly, instead of dying in a violent drunken incident as his overall performance seemed to foreshadow.
Many also said they thought it appropriate that the Pirates' moment in the spotlight came to an end at midseason, as having them win their division would have seemed unrealistic. And most viewers expressed appreciation that the last few hours concentrated on teams other than those in the AL East.
Still, baseball's fans reportedly weren't satisfied by the way major characters were introduced and then abandoned almost at random. According to MLB personnel, among the questions most asked by fans were "Whatever happened with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun? Are they still a team or did Fielder leave?" "Why was there so much about Bryce Harper when he isn't even in the league yet?" and "Stephen Strasburg came back, right? So then what?"
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the frustration appears not to be limited to just the big names.
"I was really enjoying the whole Nyjer Morgan story for a while there—the guy was obviously headed for some sort of nutzoid meltdown—but then nothing came of it," Omaha, NE fan Peter Jowett said. "And I know lots of people were fascinated by the Indians, but they sort of got phased out. And what was that guy's name? Carl Crawford? Wasn't he supposed to be something? Weird how they all just faded into the background."
Saying they were sensitive to the needs of their fans, Major League Baseball issued a press release Tuesday thanking fans for their input and promising all their questions would be answered in due time.
"We know the drama and excitement of baseball is just as important to our fans as it is to us, and we fully realize that a Cardinals-Rangers series might have been be a letdown for many of our viewers," the letter posted on MLB.com read in part. "But we promise you, big things are ahead in 2012 as the story of the sport continues to unfold. Trust us—you won't believe what happens to Ozzie Guillen."