I love baseball, I always have.
I’ve been going to baseball games so long I don’t even remember my first game. I was born in Sept. of ’83 and my father was taking me to Met games in ’86. The Mets won in ’86, and were competitive for the next few seasons, I actually grew up thinking the Mets were winners and the Yankees were losers. The rest of my family were Yankee fans so I began to learn of their history. I started to watch Yankee games (secretly), and my favorite player became Don Mattingly. He was already a legend, and the Yankees were actually the underdog. I mean, up to that point, in my lifetime the Mets were much more successful than the Yankees.
In 1994, the Yankees were in first place, and it looked as if they would play the Montreal Expos in the World Series (at least I hoped) and then the strike happened. I was crushed. That was a big year for me, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, the Knicks went to the Finals against Houston, and aside from football, it looked like New York would have one of it’s best years ever, sports wise.
Even though I am a Yankee fan, I’m not a Met hater, at all. My father is my best friend and we love the game, though he does hold a slight grudge that I jumped ship. I went to a Yankee game as a young kid and bought him a Yankee hat at the stadium and when I brought it home he said, and I quote, “thank you son, I appreciate the gesture, but if I put this on my fucken head will explode.” I realized at that moment sports was serious in my home. My mother even let me miss school anytime I had opening day tickets. No questions asked. I have attended every banner raising in New York baseball since 1987. No bullshit, I have ticket stubs to prove it. Suffice it to say, I love baseball, and the game I love is becoming unrecognizable.
Baseball is the most unique sport. It is the only sport where the defensive side puts the ball in play. It is the only sport without a clock, the only finite component of the game is the out. As Earl Weaver said, “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.”
The dimensions of every home ballpark are different and can be customized to benefit the home team. No other sport is like baseball. These are the changes that are making me sick:
- You can’t attempt to break up double plays.
If you didn’t attempt to break up double plays when I was growing up it was viewed as not trying hard enough. Chase Utley breaks Ruben Tejada‘s leg and something that has been a part of the game since the beginning of time is now illegal? That’s ridiculous. It’s unfortunate he got hurt but one player getting hurt isn’t reason enough to change that rule.
- You can’t run over the catcher.
Same thing here. Buster Posey gets hurt at a play at the plate and the rule must change. Pete Rose barreled Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game, and this is what Fosse had to say about it in an article by FoxSports in July 2015, “I wouldn’t change a thing,” Fosse told CSN Bay Area recently. “Long after I’m gone, I’m sure they’ll still be showing the play. It’s part of the great game and I would never, ever say there’s any animosity or hard feelings about anything, about playing a game that I loved and still love.”
Nobody broached the idea of eliminating the home plate collision back then, they weren’t soft.
- You can no longer pitch inside.
You don’t even have to hit a batter to receive a warning anymore. If the hitter reacts or the umpire so chooses the inside part of the plate will be taken away. Imagine if Bob Gibson had to pitch under such conditions. This was his quote in an article written by Curt Schleier in Oct. 2015, “with the way umpires protect the hitters these days, by warning pitchers who throw the ball too far inside. To me, that was what inside meant. You threw the ball a few inches off the inside corner to prevent batters from stepping into a pitch on the outside corner.” Hitters today already have extra protection from all the pads they wear up at the plate; they don’t need more from the umpire. In my day, hitters understood if they dove out over the plate, they were liable to get plunked. To me that was an unwritten rule that made sense.”
Why take that out of today’s game? It’s ridiculous.
- Instant Replay
This is a tough one for me. My initial instinct is to hate instant replay. Human error is a part of the game, especially in baseball, where it is actually a stat. Blown calls will always be a part of every sport, whether there is instant replay or not, there is no way to guarantee a 100% success rate. But, I acknowledge that umpires miss calls and it is very frustrating. My biggest problem with replay is that not everything can be reviewed. If your goal is to get the call right, why wouldn’t you be able to review any controversial play? Oh, I know why, because if we start reviewing everything it will SLOW THE PACE OF PLAY! You’re so worried about games taking long that you implemented a rule that can only make them take longer, smart move. You should be able to either review everything (except balls and strikes, of course), or get rid of it.
- The Pitching Clock
This is one they are thinking about implementing for this upcoming season. Remember earlier when we were talking about some of the things that make baseball unique? Yeah. No clock was one of them. While this isn’t a game clock, as it is in other sports, it’s still something that is really not needed and something I find completely ridiculous. Some pitchers work fast, some work slow, it’s all part of what makes baseball so different from every other sport. I’ve heard some people say, “it’s not that big of a deal, you won’t even notice it.” If that’s true than it’s useless. How many minutes will be shaved off the game if we introduce this clock? If we won’t notice then what is the point? If pace of play is a problem for you how did you get into baseball in the first place? Very few die hard fans feel the game needs to move faster, and gaining new fans hasn’t been a problem for the last 100+ years, it’s not going to suddenly be a problem now.
Baseball is great. It used to be even better. Stop changing our national pastime.
“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.”
Leave baseball alone. The Other Ten Percent