Baseball for first-graders
Photo: Mack McCoy
Jake Fraley is greeted at first base by teammates and coaches after drawing a walk to end last night's Mariner game in the 10th inning. Not that you could see it if you didn't have cable.
April 2, 2021
The 2021 baseball season started yesterday, and from Miggy's home run in the snow to the Mariners' eighth-inning comeback against the Giants (which our closer gave back on four pitches in the ninth), there was much joy in Mudville, particularly after last year's pandemic-shortened, fan-free season. But a few things could still use fixing. I'll start with the easy one first.
3. Opening Day should never be April 1. C'mon. April Fools Day? You look like clowns.
2. Help a brother see his local team. Being cable-less forever, I bought the MLB.TV package yesterday and watched some of Blue Jays vs. Yankees, Minnesota at Milwaukee, Atlanta-Philly, Arizona-San Diego, etc., etc., and onto the west-coast games of ChiSox-Angels and Astros-A's. After the ’Stros put away Oakland 8-1, there was still one game going but I didn't watch it. I couldn't watch it. It was my team, the Mariners, playing the Giants at the park two miles from my home. But of course your local team is blacked out in your MLB package so you don't get to see them. I guess I'll have to investigate Xfinity-free ways to watch the M's. Or maybe I'll just root for the Angels. Either way, MLB needs to work on this.
1. Kill the “ghost-runner on second in extra innings” rule right now, bury it deep and salt the earth around it. I've been watching baseball since about 1969, more than 50 years now, and I can't think of a more idiotic, infantilizing rule change. The DH is genius in comparison. The ghost-runner rule takes a problem that isn't a problem—extra innings—and tries to speed up the result, because ... because that's all baseball commissioner and nonfan Rob Manfred can think of doing with the game. He wants to make sure baseball appeals to non-baseball fans. As for baseball fans? Apparently he doesn't give a shit. Does any other professional sport do this? “Hey, they keep tying, how do we end this fast?” In football, basketball, hockey, you keep playing overtimes like men until someone wins. Yes, there's soccer, and the idiocy of penalty kicks, but one shouldn't follow soccer's idiotic example here. And remember, soccer is long, low-scoring and the most popular sport in the world. Long and low-scoring doesn't have to mean unpopular, Rob. Stop trying to fix the thing you think is the problem that isn't the problem. Imagine if in the Borg vs. McEnroe tie-breaker that just kept going and going and going, the USTA decided, “Oh, we can't have that, this hugely popular thing that's got everyone talking about and watching our sport. Now: How would we solve this if it was first-graders involved?” Yesterday, four games were decided with the ghost-runner rule and to me they already have asterisks. And it mostly went my way! The Yankees lost because of the ghost-runner, the Mariners won. But I stopped watching the Yankees game when it went into extras and I refused to pay attention to how the M's game—which I couldn't watch because 2)—turned out. The great joy of the day turned sour. I was stunned when I realized this was still a thing; that this temporary, pandemic-season innovation was going to be permanent. I felt like Don Corleone gazing at the corpse of Santino. Look what they're doing to my boy.
Worse, they're not done.
OK, make that four things I'd change about baseball: #FireRobManfred.
How do you feel about the free-runner-on-2nd-base-to-start-extra-innings rule?