A new season of Major League Baseball launched into full swing last week (If you don’t count the ridiculous Fair Dinkum series that took place 8,000 miles away from the nearest ballpark). I love baseball, and I always have. It tries its very best to make me hate it, oh does it try. And it certainly isn’t a perfect game… or at least the way it is played in these modern times. It doesn’t take much to irritate me and launch me into rant mode, and today I thought I’d go off on a few of the things about Major League Baseball that really piss me off and make my tail frizz.
Nine is a magic number in baseball…. nine men on defense, nine innings in a game, nine centuries since the Cubs last won a World Series. So I’ll choose nine individual pet peeves I have about Our National Pastime. These are all issues I have with the game that just roast my acorns. Let’s start with….
Batting First – Postseason Off Days
Every since the wildcard was added in
1994 1995, fans have griped every October about how long the postseason drags on. Apparently, along with gluttony and vanity, playing baseball games in the month of November is also a deadly sin. I don’t get it, but every time the World Series stretches into the 11th month, sportscasters throw a hissy fit. Now with the second wildcard added last year, there are two more games to be thrown into the postseason schedule! What to do to shut up the crybabies who have probably already moved on to their fantasy football teams anyway?
How about eliminating all of the damn off days that are built into the postseason schedule to accommodate travel and television? How about one day off between playoff rounds, and NO days off during a series? It would bump up the end of the World Series by about a week! Not to mention, it would eliminate the farce that allows a team without starting pitching depth to slide by without its fifth and sometimes even fourth starters. Cutting back on off days has been suggested quite a bit by fans and analysts alike, but the almighy TV networks want set start dates for each series, along with numerous days during the postseason where only one game is being played. Hope you all enjoy many more years of November baseball!
Batting Second – Homerun “Robbery”
Sportscasters and announcers get evening wood every time an outfielder makes a leaping catch against the wall. “OH MY GOD!!! He just ROBBED him of a HOMER!!!” And when you look at the highlight, it does appear that the catch was made over the wall, justifying the oral orgasm you just had to witness. I hate to be a killjoy, but it’s one of the greatest illusions that doesn’t involve tigers eating magicians. Allow me to apply my limited knowledge of physics along with some basic observation to give you this seemingly educated analysis:
Enough with the gushing over routine fly balls already!
Batting Third – Retire the 42 Circus
Next Tuesday if you happen to tune into a baseball game on the telly, or even head down to your local ballpark to take in the action, you will probably be a tad confused as to who is who is who. April 15th is the one day each year where you can’t even tell the players with a program. Major League Baseball, in one of the worst examples of the shameful practice of trying entirely too hard to look like you care about something important, have designated that day as Jackie Robinson Day. No beef here. Jackie certainly deserves to be remembered and honored for what he did not only for baseball, but the civil rights movement in America. But can someone explain to me how turning the game into a farce…
… is the proper way to honor an American hero like Jackie Robinson? Players have numbers on their backs for a reason… so even people in the nosebleed seats can tell one player from the other! Having everyone on the field wear the same number does nothing but cause confusion, and makes exactly nobody think of Jackie Robinson and what he accomplished in his life. And while we’re at it, let’s put 42 back into play for every team other than the two (soon to be three) who already have it retired. Enough with the bending over backwards to kiss someone’s ass in the most bizarre ways possible…
Batting Fourth – Take Me Out To The Circus
I go to several baseball games a year. It used to be about 10-15 a year. as little as 20 years ago, going to the ballgame was about…. well, the ballgame! Stadiums were big, concrete mausoleums with same colored plastic seats as far as the eye could see. Nobody seems to miss these old cookie cutter, multi-purpose parks these days, but you know what was great about them? The only thing that mattered was the damn game!!!
There was none of this:
And definitely none of THIS…
Every one of those pictures came from my personal collection from my baseball travels… and I have an entire Photobucket account full of more damning evidence that the ballpark experience has become nothing but a pseudo-amusement park family outing that just happens to have people playing baseball in the middle of it. I am not amused by this. I get pissed when they talk about how much attendance in baseball has gone up the last couple decades. it’s gone up because you’ve bribed people who don’t give a shit about the game to come out and maybe spend less money than they would for a day at Six Flags. It’s an outrage, and it must be stopped before the next ridiculous between innings game starts…
Batting Fifth – Day/Night Doubleheaders
Baseball once had one of the best bargains in sports…. two games for the price of one! Doubleheaders used to be a regular part of the baseball schedule back in the black and white days, and as recently as the 1980’s, you could still find the occasional twinbill worked in to the season. Rained out games were almost always made up as doubleheaders, and that practice continued well into the 90’s and even the two thousand zero-zero’s. The last two-fer I saw was in 2006… and it ain’t for a lack of trying. The fact is, the standard doubleheader has become a dinosaur in the Major League game. It has been replaced by the evil day-night doubleheader, which allows the team to still collect the gate for tickets sold to both games, even if most fans can’t return for the rescheduled game.
Fans hate day/night doubleheders, players hate day/night doubleheaders, pretty much everyone hates day/night doubleheaders other than those raking in the dough from fans who can’t watch a rained out game they paid good money for, nor get their money back since the game was rescheduled. Shame on you, Major league Baseball! When Larry Bud finally retires for the eighteenth time at the end of this season, we need to campaign for Ernie Banks to be the new commissioner…
Batting Sixth – The PEDophobes
In the 90’s and early 2000’s, a lot of baseball players looked something like this:
It was no secret ballplayers were accenting their strength and conditioning programs with a little muscle in a syringe. Accusations of players taking steroids date back as early as the dominating Oakland A’s teams of the late 80’s. Baseball didn’t seem to care. Fans didn’t seem to care. And by the mid 90’s, it practically became mandatory for players to dip into the juice if they wanted to be able to run with the big dogs in the game. Major League Baseball was a den of performance enhancing junkies, and nobody cared to do a damn thing about it. Until….
Barry Bonds was never a really likeable guy, even when he was a normal sized human. Taking a cue from Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during their dramatic and totally phony homerun chase in 1998, Bonds supersized himself and went from a 40 homerun hitter to a player who could leave the park practically anytime he wasn’t being intentionally walked. Bonds re-broke the single season HR record in 2001, and was destined to break the all time record of 755 by Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. It was at this point that everyone threw up the PED stop sign…
And so baseball has worked for the past decade to clean itself up. Good. I have no issue with that. I do have a serious issue with going back and penalizing players who used PED’s back when nobody gave a rat’s ass. The Hall of Fame vote is a complete sham when locks like Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza are being cast aside by the holier-than-thou sportswriters. The Ryan Brauns and A-Rods of baseball played dirty at a time when baseball was serious about cleaning up the game, and should be booed accordingly. But to go after the guys who did it when it was the in-thing is one of the worst cases of ex post facto punishment in our time.
Batting Seventh – Instant replay
This year, Major league Baseball has finally brought comprehensive replay analysis into the game. It was something fans and players have been calling for for a long time. After all, if the technology exists, why not put it to use, right?
I may be the only person not employed as a Major league umpire that did NOT want instant replay to invade baseball the way it has wormed its way into other professional sports. What in the hell is the point of having umpires on the field if you’re not going to trust their judgement. And just wait 15-20 years down the line when we don’t have any more memorable plays like this:
Like the results or not, it’s plays like this that can turn great moments into unforgettable moments. Dallas Braden of the A’s threw a perfect game less than a month before Armando Galarraga infamously lost his on a blown call with two outs in the 9th. Galarraga’s misfortune will be talked about for many years. Does anyone even remember who Dallas Braden is? Trust me, the 1% of calls that the umpires blow are actually golden. You will miss them when they are gone. This is the only kind of instant replay I ever want to see…
Batting Eighth – Homerun Derby Silliness
The homerun derby used to be one of the best things about the All Star break. Gather together the best sluggers from each league and let them swing for the fences. Most homers before making ten “outs” won. Simple and beautiful… until MLB and ESPN realized they weren’t milking the contest for all it was worth. Now there are multiple rounds, and so many other shenanigans going on that I can’t even watch the damn thing anymore. At Yankee Stadium in 2008, Josh Hamilton put on one of the greatest shows in HR Derby history by homering 28 times in the first round. The next highest total was a paltry 8. He did not win. This guy did, despite the fact that he only hit 22 homers in all three rounds combined:
One round. Ten outs. Only one hour of Chris Berman’s and John Kruk’s annoying banter. Do it, and I will watch once again…
Batting Ninth – Pitchers batting
Wanna rile up a bunch of so-called baseball purists real fast? Mention that you think the game is better with the designated hitter. You will soon be berated and bullied with all the reasons the game is better with the pitcher batting, like…
1. More late inning strategy!
The next time I go to a game to see the manager manage will be the first time.
2. Pitchers can hit too!
Some can, but most bat about .100 and sometimes don’t even try to make contact or even swing.
3. Sacrifice bunts are good for the game and help teams win!
Yeah, up by 5 runs with a runner on second and one out…. sure.
4. Do you pull the dominating pitcher when his spot comes up late in the game with no score?
These are the same people who complain that pitchers don’t finish their starts anymore… and they want to make it easier for a pitcher with plenty still in the tank to get yanked early? Huh??
In this age of specialization and multi-million dollar contracts, why in the hell is the pitcher still allowed to bat? The designated hitter adds another skilled player to the game, while allowing the pitcher to do what they are getting paid for…. pitch! Pitchers batting are a relic from the 19th century when baseball teams were quite literally only nine guys. Let’s get with the program and get the DH in the National League so for once, we can finally have all of baseball on the same page and in the new millennium instead of stuck in the days of William Howard Taft…
I do hope Major League Baseball gets right on this list of complaints for the betterment of the game. Thank you for allowing me to rant about Our National Pastime….