I still love Major League baseball, but…

I admitted to my email subscribers that I was now a card carrying curmudgeon. I’ve earned it, and I’m going to play the card I’ve been dealt. So, let me start by laying into Major League Baseball, which I have loved since the 1950s. First, a little background.

I was the kid who rode his bike up and down the alleys and up and down the blocks, knocking on doors, hollering at open windows, trying to get up a game of baseball in the field behind the American Legion. I was the instigator. But when my Milwaukee Braves were playing the Cubs, whose games I could pick up on the radio (in Northern Indiana) , I was also the kid who could and did spend a whole summer day up in his room listening to a double header on the radio and keeping a scorecard of both games.

I used to wonder what the big deal was about speeding up the game; hell, I thought they went too fast. Today I can watch every Braves game on TV since I live in Alabama. But I don’t have the patience to actually sit and watch a whole game. I hit the record button and then come and go as I please. Even if a game is going well, holding my interest, I like to let the recording get ahead a bit, not only to cruise past commercials, but to protect against the dreaded umpire replay consultation–you know, three or four umps standing around wearing headphones for five minutes. I prefer to get the bad news fast, with no drama.

So that’s where I am today. Bitching and moaning in front of the TV, trying to make my wife, who is sitting at the other end of the sofa reading a book, understand the folly of it all.

I’ll usually remind her that when I was a kid most major league players carried a lunch bucket in the off season. They were playing a kid’s game, but they were men, not multi-millionaire boys. And when they hit a home run that won a game, they shook hands with the third base coach and the guy on deck and then headed for the dugout. They didn’t jump up and down like a bunch of little girls and wrestle each other in the dirt and get buckets of water and GatorAide dumped on them.

Here’s another thing, while I’m at it. All this Memorial Day weekend, the major league teams wore olive drab hats and lettering on their uniforms to honor our military and its fallen members.

On Mother’s Day, they wore pink hats, gloves, shoes, lettering, etc. Here’s a thought: How about going out there and looking like the team Mom has pulled for all these years so she can get the total experience she expects?

I think the whole thing might have something to do with political correctness. We have to show how much we care or somebody might feel we haven’t done our part and maybe some would be offended by that.

How about writing a nice big check to the American Cancer Society and the Wounded Warrior Project, and then go out and look like the ballclub everybody wants to see.

Uh oh. I think I’ve started to curmudge and can’t stop. So, what’s up with the instant replay? Call me crazy, but that also might be linked to political correctness.

We HAVE to get it right. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair. Who says so? Baseball rules call for a decision by an umpire who is an integral part of the game. They don’t say it has to be right. Still, you have to wonder why they don’t care about getting balls and strikes right? That would be the easiest thing to monitor electronically. But they don’t do it, despite the fact that I can tell you with absolute certainty that more games are won or lost on bad calls behind the plate than by the occasional eyelash play at first base. It isn’t fair.

And here’s an unintended consequence of instant replay. When a runner beats the throw to a base, he used to be considered safe. That was the object. Get there before the throw. Now fielders have learned to keep the ball held against the runner as he pops up into a position of standing on the base, the fielder knowing that freeze frame replay might show, somewhere in the process, the runner’s foot losing contact with the base by a quarter inch.

And that runner is out, even though he beat the throw, didn’t slide off the bag and was called safe by the umpire. For shame. You’ve changed the game–and not in a positive way. I think changes in the rules of how and when to slide hurt the game, too. Back in my day, a runner would run smack into the catcher, the shortstop or the second baseman and try to knock the ball out of his hand if he had to. And the fans liked it. They loved it.

Today, the players are such high-priced commodities that everything possible must be done to avoid injury. Ironically, the fans pay dearly to support the astronomical salaries that result in an increasingly watered down game.

Replay has taken a lot away from the game, including arguments—which the fans used to get a kick out of. Now they just get a kick. Here’s a couple more examples:

They shaved 60 seconds off the game with the instant walk, but messed with the integrity of the game and all that might have and often has happened when a pitcher tries to throw four intentional balls. And what’s up with the sloppy ol’ pajama pants that are so long they touch the ground? And who in the hell actually thinks he looks good when the visor on his hat is as flat as it was when it came out of the box? In my day, only a nerd would wear something like that. We invested a good deal of time bending out bills into just the right shape. And we liked it. We loved it.

Whew! That was fun. I could go on and on, but just for fun how about taking a look and comparing these two following videos–one with 2017 early season “walk-off” home runs that meant very little in the first weeks of the season, and a video of Eddie Mathews hitting a “game-winning” home run in the World Series, back when men were men.


In the next one, either the announcer didn’t realize the ball was going out, or, more likely, it was voice-over, not play-by-play. But note that the Yankee pitcher knew the ball was out. He started walking off the field right away.


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