I’m not sure I’ll recognize Major League Baseball when Opening Day arrives. First of all, they’re still starting the season in March rather than the first Monday in April. They’ve ignored tradition and no longer allow the Cincinnati Reds the privilege of being the first game of the season.
Now, thanks to the moronic decision to allow the Houston Astros to move to the American League, we will have an interleague game every day of the season. As a result, their dilution is complete and there will be little excitement except for the crosstown rivalries, and they’ve even cut back on those.
At a recent owners’ meeting there was a rule change, eliminating one of the last vestiges of old time fun baseball, the fake to third, throw to first move. According to this story in The New York Times, it was done in the name of speeding up the game. I still question why people feel the need to speed up the game when a 60 minute football game takes over three hours to play and no one tries to speed them up. (You’d think with 56 guys on a team, they’d be hustling on and off to keep the action moving but no such luck.)
This pickoff move, which admittedly works only rarely, is done to hold the runner on first, impeding the chances of a stolen base. This tool in the pitcher’s arsenal is now gone, and should he try it, will be called on for a balk (a tough enough rule to comprehend before adding this new wrinkle).
I strongly question why Commissioner Bud Selig is allowing the game to be altered to the point where a lot of the fun, joy, and excitement are being drained away. As it stands, I think the only thing separating the two leagues is the “experimental” Designated Hitter. I’ve long felt that too should be jettisoned to keep the game purer and let the owners get their money’s worth from the pitches by letting them hit two-three times a game. No doubt the Players Union would vehemently object should that happen.
With two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report, I am trying to muster excitement for my New York Mets, which remains cash-strapped years after the Wilpons allowed Bernie Madoff to steal their money. Without significant moves to improve the team for 2013, they went ahead and raised ticket prices, which is a way of them asking me to stay home and watch the games on cable.
If I really want to enjoy the game, I will have to get more competitive in my fantasy league, hoping my Final Frontiersmen can climb out of the basement this season.