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Kahuna's Essay Column-Archives
October 1, 2016
There Goes The Neighborhood: In the past, we spent
a fair amount of time in this column discussing the relative
merits of Major League Baseball's replay system.
While I am of the mind that "getting the call right" is
important, I am bitterly opposed to any method of replay that
relies on challenges, or any other type of system with any other
arbitrary limits on how many calls might be reviewed. Rather, I
have always advocated that, if you are going to have a replay
review of umpire calls, there should be a fifth umpire, whose sole
function is to review all calls and make a fairly immediate
Even if baseball adopted this type of replay system, the use of
replay further erodes baseball tradition. There is no greater
example of this erosion than Major League Baseball's decision
to allow the "neighborhood play" to be open to review.
The neighborhood play, and its expert application by the most
savvy of middle infielders, is not only a time honored baseball
tradition, it is one of the little facets of the game that allows
the sport to remain a part of human expression and not the
techno-centric homogeny that organizations like the NFL strive to
The difference between baseball and football, at the highest
professional levels is sometimes similar to the difference
between a great local restaurant and an upscale chain. The local
place has its own vibe and feeling, and the chain tries to
replicate the same experience, regardless of where you find it.
Eliminating accepted oddities, such as the neighborhood play,
brings baseball one step closer to losing that special intimacy
that exists between the sports and the populace.
It seems to me that in an effort to maximize technology for the
purpose of getting all the calls right, we are sacrificing some of
the art of the game.
To drive this point even further home, the Major League Baseball
Rules Committee approved some changes last week, including a rule
which will allow a pitcher to intentionally walk a batter without
having to throw the pitches.
It is inconceivable to me how this new rule is supposed to enhance
What's next? Courtesy runners? Not having to run the bases after a
home run? Why not use a softball instead of a baseball, pitch
underhand, and let hitter use aluminum bats?
Which brings us to the suddenly hot topic of bat flipping.
Recently, there has been a lot of debate about bat flips, fist
pumps, and showing up the opponent.
One one hand, some people feel that bat flipping after a home run,
of fist pumping after a pitcher records a strikeout, are thing
that make the game more fun.
Really, I can't see how. If your team's player has just hit a key
home run, or if your team's pitcher has just worked his way out of
a jam with a big strikeout, and you need him to exhibit some
gratuitous show of emotion for you to enjoy the moment, I think,
it is safe to conclude, that you are not a baseball fan.
On the other hand, a big home run, or really any great
performance, is exciting on its own merit. It provides its own
punctuation, regardless of the (mostly choreographed) celebration
by the player involved.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Even though you have been
opposed to the wild card system in the past, don't you agree that
having extra teams in the playoffs is good for baseball?-G. D.
It depends on how you look at it.
From a business standpoint, yes, increasing the number of teams,
is beneficial to Major League Baseball. Fans of, otherwise,
mediocre teams are able to remain interested in the outcome of the
season longer. This leads to greater ticket sales, more TV
viewership, and, ultimately, greater revenue.
However, watching a bunch of barely over .500 teams lurch toward
the post-season on the backs of, something like, an unimpressive
12-15 record down the stretch, is not good baseball.
A team could stumble its way through the season, sneak in to the
playoffs as the second wild card, catch a few breaks in the
post-season, and win the World Series having won barely more than
they lost. All season.
That's not good baseball either.
October 6, 2016-Irrevocable Wavers: I realize that I have broached
the subject on more than one previous occasion, but the time has
come for Major League Baseball to take action to stop the
obnoxious fans that are sitting directly behind home plate from
making constant spectacles of themselves by excessively waving at
In most cases, these people are seen talking on their mobile
devices, presumable to their friends, as they frantically wave at
the centerfield camera.
This is annoying on many levels. First, it's hard to imagine that
these people actually have friends to talk to. So, we can only
infer, that they are only pretending to talk to someone
while they are waving.
If they do, in fact, have friends, the excessive waving is even
more silly. If you are sitting directly behind home plate, you
will be on camera for roughly three hours (five hours if it is a
nationally televised game between the Red Sox and Yankees). It is
not presumptuous to assume that people whose phone numbers that
you possess already know what you look like and may, over the
course of three hours, might be able to recognize you without you
waving your arms incessantly.
If you are lucky enough to score the best seats in the ballpark,
there is absolutely no reason to act as a distraction to those of
us watching on TV. Because, the truth is, no matter how hard I try
to ignore these buffoons, I cannot avert my eyes from them.
Which bring me to Marlins Jersey Guy, also known as "Marlins
You might have noticed that at a lot of high profile sporting
events, an odd looking guy in a bright orange Miami Marlins jersey
wearing a goofy visor sitting in some fairly prime seats.
Laurence Leavy is a Miami lawyer (which figures, somehow) that
spends a great deal of time professing his love for the Marlins at
sporting events in which his favorite team is not otherwise
involved. Leavy seems to spend most of his on camera time looking
at his phone and ignoring the game on the field, a trait he
learned, no doubt, while going to Marlins' games. At various
points of the game, Leavy likes to turn his visor askew for no
I have several problems with this. First off, unless you are a
professional golfer or Steve Spurrier, no grown man should ever
wear a visor. Particularly at a night game.
Secondarily, if you are going to spend so much time, energy, and
money to make sure that you are on television as much as Leavy
does, you should at least have the courtesy and good taste to have
a trophy wife by your side. There is absolutely no excuse for not
having a spectacularly good looking woman sitting next to you if
you have as much money as Leavy apparently does.
Now, to be completely fair, it has been reported that Leavy, and
his ugly blood orange jersey, has shown a humanitarian streak by
inviting virtual strangers to attend games with him. People who
have met him say that he is a nice guy, too. Which is great. But,
still, if you are going to be a nationally televised eyesore on a
regular basis, how about balancing the ticket by having Sofia
Vergara, or somebody, sit next to you occasionally?
I am sorry. There is no possible way that I can finish this
column, as Marlins Jersey Guy is on my TV right now, sitting
behind home plate, in an ugly orange jersey, with his goofy visor
tilted to a silly angle. And to make matters worse, no Sofia
I swear, if he starts talking on the phone and waving at the
camera, I might lose the will to live. On this, I will not waiver.
Relevant Question Of The Month: What can Major League
baseball do to improve its post-season broadcasts?-G. M.
Apart from finding a way to black out the crowd sitting
directly behind home plate, or to ban Marlins Jersey Guy, Major
League Baseball can take several steps to improve its post-season
First, it should feature more day games, particularly in the World
Despite its temptation to get primetime advertising dollars from
as many games as possible, MLB should schedule as many day games
as possible. Day games are more easily viewed by younger fans, who
may not be able to stay up, on school nights, to watch all nine
innings of many night games.
Also, as the calendar gets later in October, and the weather gets
colder in many MLB cities, playing games at night, in frigid
temperatures, means that the most important games of the season
might be played in the worst possible conditions.
If some of these games are played in daylight, particularly in
cold weather cities, the conditions would almost certainly be much
better than they would be at night.
Second, the broadcasting network should employ at least one
announcer from each team's regular broadcasting crew as part of
their announcing team. Local announcers add an insight into to the
teams that they cover that national broadcast crews cannot
Third, simply put, commercial breaks should be shorter. While I
completely understand the networks desire and need to maximize
their advertising revenue as a means of justifying the enormous
rights fees that they pay to Major League Baseball, sometimes,
less is more.
If I haven't been swayed to buy a Nissan after seeing their
commercial seven times during the course of a ballgame, I doubt
that the eighth viewing will do the trick.
That being said, I do promise to sign up for any and all one day
fantasy leagues if only someone could promise me that I will never
have to watch actual contest winner David Gomes rub his face in a
most unusual manner, and with alarming frequency, ever again.
15, 2015-Manfred's The Man (Or, Out Of My Brain On 5/15): Rob Manfred is the 10th
commissioner of Major League Baseball, and, is in many ways
different than his redoubtable predecessor.
In office for just a few months, Mr. Manfred faces a multitude of
issues, as most assuredly, all previous commissioners have.
The key issues facing Mr. Manfred appear to be (in no particular
order): pace of play, declining offense, unacceptably low national
television ratings, the evolving replay system, and a need to
address the system in which international players are signed.
What Mr. Manfred, who comes from a background in labor law, with
25 years of experience in baseball, apparently does not have to
deal with is a potential for labor unrest. Superficially, at
least, it appears that Major League Baseball, and the player's
association have no impending issues of which a battle might
result. Economically, the organization is healthy, and the
players, having won virtually every important fight with the
owners over the past 40 years, are reaping the benefits.
The new commissioner made a concerted effort to adjust the pace of
play this off season and, it appears, that some tangible results
have occurred without an intrusions to the game. During the first
five weeks of the season, the average time of a game in the Major
Leagues has been reduced by approximately eight minutes. This has
been achieved without incident, so, in the short term, this can
seen as a success.
Part of the reason, perhaps, that the games are taking a little
less time may also be a result of the continuing trend of
declining offense in the big leagues. Over time, this will,
undoubtedly become an important problem.
Many suggestions have been put forth for increasing offense. These
including readjusting the standard strike zone, banning defensive
shifts, and allowing for a less restrictive substitution rules
that allows greater flexibility for pinch hitting. All of these
ideas are, in my opinion, silly and unnecessary.
To inject some more offense into the game, without any unnatural
changes to the rules, and without tinkering with the accepted
strike zone, Major League Baseball should consider returning the
check swing rule to what it was in the 1970's.
Back in those days, the determination of what constituting a full
and check swing were significantly different from what they are
now. In the past, a batter had to not only have hit bat come past
the plate, but also he had to clearly have done so without making
an attempt to check his swing. In other words, if a batter was
trying to hold up a swing, but the bat drifted past home plate as
he was attempting to withdraw the swing, and it no longer appeared
that the batter was directing the bat head toward the ball, he was
not judged to have swung at the pitch.
Now, while this may seem confusing at first, please be clear on
two things: 1. this was the concept used in determining a swing
for about 100 years, and, more importantly, 2. this is virtually
and effectively the same criteria applied when determining if
batter has offered at a pitch while bunting.
Eliminating a bunch of swings and misses, which are not really
swings at all, will reduce strikeouts, but, also, will make
hitters a little more aggressive. This will almost certainly
benefit the offense, without intrusively changing the game by
virtue of fooling with the rule book.
would also encourage Mr. Manfred to strongly consider adopting our
modified DH plan for use in both leagues.
Although I've written about, and advocated for, the modified DH
plan on numerous occasions, I will recap the basics: under the
plan, once the starting pitcher is removed from the game, the
starting designated hitter would also have to be replaced by
This would not only limit pitching changes and, potentially
increase offense by virtue of that, it would also abrogate the
argument that using the DH curtails strategy.
In this current age of specialization, where starting pitchers are
almost never expected to pitch more than seven innings, a rule
that forces managers to have to make pitching changes while
considering the affect that it may have on the team's lineup will
have the residual effect of speeding up games, as fewer pitching
changes will be made.
In certain situations, a manager might elect to send up a pitcher
to bat for a potential bunt, in an effort to save a batter for
later in the game. In this scenario, the DH would actually
increase strategic options.
quicker paced game with a little more offense might just also be
the antidote for the declining national television ratings as
is always important that the commissioner be ever mindful that
baseball is the best of games and, while it may need an occasional
tinkering, is never in need of the massive overhauls favored by
Relevant Question Of The Month: What should Major League
Baseball do with regard to drafting international players?-G. R.
This is going to seem like heresy, but it might be time for
Major League Baseball to abolish the draft.
The draft was originally introduced as a method of preventing
certain teams (mostly the New York Yankees) from signing all of
the best amateur players. Ironically, the first year that the
draft was held, the Yankees' first dynasty collapsed and, almost
immediately, the entire American League suffered financially as
the depleted Yankees were no longer a strong draw. Partly
because of the draft, it took the Yankees over a decade to
So, the unintended consequence of the draft system was a drain
The other intention behind the draft was to limit the exorbitant
bonuses paid to unproven players. Over time, this has not proven
to be effective.
Major League Baseball has tried to confront this issue in recent
years through the idea of slotting, but it has not been
particularly successful. A lot of money is being spent on
amateur players, many of whom never contribute at the big league
So, while, superficially, the idea of a draft presents Major
League Baseball with some internal safeguards, upon further
inspection, those safeguards are not effective. This being the
case, it might be time to abandon the draft, rather than to
expand it to include international players.
31, 2014-Opening Arguments: Today,
a new season of Major League Baseball begins.
Never mind that there were two games played in Australia a week
ago, and that ESPN has continued their tradition of hijacking
opening day with a Sunday night game. All around the country,
today is actually opening day.
As occasionally happens, this season opens with a few changes in
how the game will be played.
The first major change is the introduction of the new replay
system. While, I have used this column to warn my readers of the
evils of replay, I accept that, despite its limitations, replay
has its place in baseball.
What I object to, is the challenge system that is being used to
I'm sorry, but I thought the point of having a replay system to
augment the umpires on the field was to get as many calls
correct as possible. But, apparently, thanks to the gimmicky
challenge system, there can be no rational argument that
suggests that getting all the calls correct is the
Evidentially, Major League Baseball has decided that it is far
more important to continue its Bud Selig led destiny to become
the summer alternative to the NFL, rather than maintaining its
traditional position as America's national pastime.
Why else would the Selig sycophants adopt a system that
unnecessarily demands that managers selectively attempt to get
incorrect calls overturned?
The reason, unfortunately for baseball fans everywhere, is that
Mr. Selig looks toward the NFL with a combination of envy,
admiration, and idolatry.
This, in and of itself, is egregious enough: the commissioner of
baseball should not be seeking to follow the lead of any other
sports league; but, more importantly, as I have pointed out
before, the NFL system is ridiculously flawed.
On the other hand, baseball finally followed the Federal
League's lead, 21 years after the fact, and instituted a policy
that will reduce violent collisions at home plate.
Why it took so long, is anybody's guess, but at least, Major
League Baseball is making a step in the proper direction. After
all, base runners are not allowed to launch themselves into
fielders at any of the other bases, how did it become completely
acceptable to do so at home plate?
In any event, baseball is back, and for the next six months, we
can enjoy the crack of the bat and the pop of the mitt,
regardless of what the present commissioner tries to do to
interfere with that.
Relevant Question Of The Month: What would be your first
actions if you were to replace Bud Selig as commissioner of
Major League Baseball?-J.S. Sarasota, FL
If I were named to replace Selig as commissioner, I would do
several things immediately.
I would introduce measures that increased the pace of the game.
I am not specifically talking about shortening games, although I
suspect that this would be a consequence, but rather,
eliminating periods of inaction.
The amount of time that occurs in between innings would be
reduced. TV stations are not selling out their station breaks,
and fans are able to go to the concession stands in many of the
newer parks without missing anything happening on the field, so
the amount of time allotted for in between innings is no longer
would also direct the umpires to stop allowing batters to step
out of the box as frequently as they do. Conversely, I would
instruct the umps to keep the pitchers from wasting time on the
second thing that I would do as commissioner is to begin and
enforce a policy of ejecting any fan from the ballpark that is
talking on a cell phone and waving at the camera for a period of
more than two seconds. Or anyone who does it more than once a
17, 2012-Happy Birthday, Carlos May-Today,
former American League all-star outfielder Carlos May turns 64.
Other than making me feel old, this is significant because of
how easy it is to remember. To my knowledge, Carlos May is
the only Major Leaguer of which I am aware that wore his
birthday on his uniform.
May played the majority of his big league career with the
Chicago White Sox and wore jersey number 17. The Pale Hose were
not only one of the teams that put players' last names on their
jerseys, they were the first team to do so. As a result, when
May broke in, his jersey proudly announced his birthday. May 17.
And that's not even the most interesting thing about Carlos May.
After breaking in with the ChiSox in 1968, May spent the off
season in the Marine Reserves. It was during this time that May
accidentally (I presume) blew off part of his thumb in a mishap
involving a hand grenade.
May recovered from his injury sufficiently enough to post a .281
batting average, with 18 home runs and 62 RBI, in 1969. May
finished third in that season's AL rookie of the year balloting.
In 1972, May had his best season as he hit .308 and was named to
the all-star team for the second, and final, time.
May's brother, Lee, who was born in March (on the 23rd, and he
did wear number 23 for part of his career), had an 18 year big
league career. The elder May hit 354 home runs, but he had two
On May 15, after being called out on a very questionable strike
three (which was preceded by an even more questionable strike
two), Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays reacted as you might
imagine a person might if his thumb had just been blown off in a
hand grenade mishap. Lawrie launched his helmet into the ground
and it bounced up and struck umpire Bill Miller.
While Lawrie may not have intended to hit Miller with the
helmet, he certainly did hit him with it, and, it certainly may
have been his intention anyway.
Major League Baseball suspended Lawrie for four games. This is
interesting in that it came a few days after Phillies' pitcher
Cole Hamels was suspended for five games for admitting to
hitting the Nationals' Bryce Harper with a pitch on purpose.
So now, follow this logic: if a pitcher hits a guy with a pitch,
it's part of the game, unless he says he did it on purpose.
Then, it costs him five game (which was virtually pointless as
he did not miss a start). If a player drills an umpire with his
helmet, he gets suspended for only four games, presumably
because he did not admit to doing on purpose.
In effect, Major League Baseball has determined that a pitcher
hitting a batter with a pitch is a more grievous offense than is
firing a projectile off of an umpire. Also, it can be concluded
that hitting a batter with a pitch (in the ribs, by the way) is
equal in offensiveness to spouting unpopular political rhetoric.
Now that the furor has died down regarding Ozzie Guillen's
pro-Castro verbiage, it occurs to me that almost everyone
involved managed to be slightly more hypocritical than the
person to their immediate left.
First, with all due respect, the Cuban-American community
displayed some hypocrisy by endorsing any sort of boycott of the
Marlins. While I certainly understand their passion and the
accompanying reaction, it is fairly incongruous to boycott
someone who endorses a political figure, partly because that
political figure is responsible for not allowing his
constituency to endorse other political figures.
Trust me, I am not supporting the Castro regime or Guillen's
comments, but the fact is that this is America and we do not
believe in censoring speech. That is something that they more
typically do in Castro's Cuba.
While I do not agree with Guillen's commentary, I cannot
understand how he shouldn't be allowed to voice his opinion.
Conversely, I do not deny the Cuban-American community's right
to protest, I only find it hypocritical. However, I find the
reaction of the Marlins' front office far more hypocritical. In
case you forgot, the Marlins suspended Guillen for five games as
a result of his statements. While they have the right to
discipline an employee for, shall we say, poor public relations,
it is my contention that the suspension was unwarranted.
I'm not saying that the Marlins should not have reacted,
instead, I am suggesting that if the team found Guillen's
comments to be that offensive that they should have fired him.
The suspension says, "look, we would like our potential
customers to stop be angry, but, frankly, we are not all that
outraged ourselves." A firing says, "we agree. Guillen
has gone too far."
Finally, nobody was more hypocritical than Guillen himself.
First, he made the statements. Then, he tried to back away from
them. Then, he apologized by claiming, A) he didn't mean it; B)
he was just joking; C) he may not have said it; and D) he was
So, in reality, how contrite can an apology be when you may or
may not have said it, did or didn't mean it, may have or may not
have been kidding around?
Now, you may have concluded that what Guillen did is not,
technically, hypocritical, and you may be right. But, it is
possible that I didn't actually write that. Or that I did, but I
didn't mean it. Or that I was kidding. Or not.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Which is correct, RBI or
RBIs?-P.M. Florham Park, N.J.
I assume you mean to ask for the correct terminology for the
plural of a run batted in. Both RBI and RBIs are accepted.
Technically, RBI, as in runs batted in, is more precise. In
actuality, the most precise term would be RDI, as in runs driven
in, as that is what the statistic truly measures. Some runs are
batted in, but all of the runs that a batter brings home are
driven in. Here's an example: an run resulting from a bases
loaded walk is a run driven in by the batter, it is not batted
in. Similarly, a hit by pitch with the bases loaded results in a
run driven in, as the ball was not actually batted.
7, 2011-Something Fishy: In
an April 6 game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago
Cubs, played at Wrigley Field, Aramis Ramirez hit a home run
into the left field bleachers. This was significant because a
fan reached out over the basket designed to prevent such things
and caught the ball. The Diamondbacks did not argue and the
occurrence went largely unnoticed, except for the opportunity
for people to drag out references to Steve Bartman.
However, the fact that no action need be taken did not prevent
Commissioner Bud Selig from issuing a directive to all of the
teams to take whatever measures were necessary to ensure that
fans could not interfere with balls in play.
The Commissioner's office told the Florida Marlins that they did
not have to worry about it.
In a related story, the Florida Lottery announced that for the
remainder of the baseball season, the daily three digit lottery
game's winning numbers would be determined, not by a drawing,
but instead by the Marlins' paid attendance for that day's home
When asked what provisions would be made if the Marlins' paid
attendance for any given game exceeded 999, the lottery office
spokesperson convulsed in laughter.
You may have also noticed that, this summer, former
Twins/Rangers/Pirates/Indians/Twins (again)/Angels pitcher Bert
Blyleven will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Apart
from immediately creating a vacancy in the Hall of Mediocrity,
the election of Blyleven causes a few problems. Chief among
those problems is, what is the criteria for electing a player to
the Hall (of Fame, not Mediocrity)?
In case you were unaware, Blyleven compiled a 287-250 record in
22 Major League seasons. So, essentially, Blyleven was a little
better than one game over .500 per season. Contrast this to,
say, Ron Guidry, who generates very little Hall of Fame support.
In fact, Guidry last appeared in the voting in 2002, when he
garnered a mere 23 votes.
In his career, Guidry went 170-91, which is 79 games over .500.
Guidry and Blyleven are essentially similar in career numbers
for ERA, strikeout ratios, and runners allowed averages.
Guidry's winning percentage is a stout .651, while Blyleven's is
.534. While it's true that Blyleven pitched around twice as much
as Guidry did, it's not like he was winning a lot of those
games. Heck, he was barely winning better than half of the
So, I ask you, other than his high career strikeout total, which
is largely a product of the Twins and Angels being willing to
pay him to go something like 14-13 every year, and his own
campaigning for his induction as he announces Twins' games, what
makes Blyleven a more suitable Hall of Fame candidate than
Not to mention Allie Reynolds (182-107, plus two no-hitters),
Jack Morris (254-186),or Ed Ruelbach (182-108, 2.28 career ERA)
I'm not saying that Guidry, Reynolds, Morris, or Ruelbach fit my
criteria of a Hall of Famer, but they certainly appear to be
more deserving than Blyleven.
Now, there are people who are willing to tell you that Blyleven
was one of the 25 greatest pitchers in baseball history (they
are out there, but I refuse to link to their sites), but Bert
was seldom, if ever, even considered the best pitcher on his own
Tommy John (288-231) has a career of similar length to
Blyleven's, not to mention more wins, a better winning
percentage, and a very popular surgery named for him. It does
not appear that John is getting into the Hall anytime soon. Nor
No offense, but Tommy John is just not what I think of when I
think of a Hall of Fame pitcher. And neither is Bert Blyleven.
Let me put it this way, it's Game 7 of the World Series, you can
pick any pitcher in baseball history to start that game. Are you
And if you do, and I pick Walter Johnson, or Sandy Koufax, or
Lefty Grove (or Ron Guidry for that matter), who is probably
winning that game?
Relevant Question Of The Month: What do the Barry Bonds'
perjury trial jury have in common with the Florida Marlins
current ballpark?-R.M. Hollywood, FL
They both only need 12 chairs.
2010-Conclusive Proof That The Wild Card Stinks: Since
its unveiling, we have been arguing that Major League Baseball's
adaptation of adding a "wild card" team to the
playoffs is not only a detriment to the concept of the pennant
race, it actually stifles excitement during the season. This
season offers a perfect example of both points.
In the American League, the Yankees and Rays spent the last few
days of August and the first few days of September in a dead
heat for the division lead. Did the fans of both teams spend
every conceivable moment obsessing about the possibility of an
epic, down to the wire, finish? Did the beat writers of both
teams file story after story detailing the every move of the
race? Did the whole baseball world focus its attention on the
two teams with the two best records in baseball battling each
other in a pulse pounding final month of the season? And,
finally, did Major League Baseball reap the untold benefits of
such a race?
Of course not.
Why, you may ask, does this potential race, cause barely a
ripple of excitement? Because, it is an almost foregone
conclusion that, despite how the pennant race is resolved, both
teams will be in the playoffs. So, you may rightly ask, who
really cares? The answer, thanks to the wild card, is virtually
It gets even worse than that. Currently, the White Sox trail the
Rays (as of September 5) by eight games for the wild card. The
wild card, you may recall, is designed to give mediocre teams
the illusion that they are still alive for the playoffs during
the last month of the season. The Pale Hose have almost no hope
of catching the Rays for the Wild Card. They do, however, have a
realistic chance of tracking down the Twins, who they trail by
three and a half games, for the AL Central crown.
So, the bottom line here is, if there were no such thing as the
wild card, there would be a potentially classic race evolving in
the AL East, the Twins/White Sox race would be exactly what it
is going to be anyway: a winner take all fight for the AL
Central, and the last month of the American League season would
actually much more interesting than it will end up being under
the present scenario.
The point may be even more evident in the National League.
In the NL East, the Braves and the Phillies are currently
separated by one game, but it appears that the media, as well
as, the fans are not completely focused on the implications of
this race. Why? Well, the Phils hold a three game lead in the
wild card chase over the Giants.
So, the Giants are the beneficiaries of the wild card, right?
Wrong. The Giants woke up on the fifth of September closer to
first in the NL West than they are in the wild card
So, instead of creating manufactured excitement for mediocre
teams, as is its intention, the wild card has suppressed the
real excitement of honest to goodness pennant races involving
good (or even great) teams.
Worse yet, the real possibility exists, that, thanks to this
ridiculous system, the World Series may, once again, be denied a
match up of each league's best teams, as a lesser team is
granted the opportunity to have a hot week and claim a league
championship that they didn't really deserve.
Congratulations, Bud, on another great job.
Relevant Question Of The Month: What do you think MLB's
proposal to add more teams to the post season?-S.G. Freehold,
Despite what you may think, I am all for it. In fact, instead
of adding a few more teams to the playoffs, I think that Major
League Baseball should invite all of its teams to the playoffs.
What they could do, is, start the playoffs in April. Right after
spring training. Then, they could have a playoff that has every
team playing an equal number of games against all of the other
teams in their league. Then, all they would have to do, is to
figure out which team had won the most games and award that team
the league championship. The two league champions could then
meet in the World Series.
2010-If Federal League Had Its Own TV Channel: What
if Federal League had its own television channel? What would
that look like?
First, let me tell you, that if we had a channel (notice how I
called it a channel and not a network; MLB Network is not a
network at all, it is one single channel, as opposed to a bunch
of channels unified by common programming), it would show a lot
of baseball. But, unlike the MLB Net..er, channel, it would have
far fewer annoying announcers. Hazel Mae, I am talking to you.
Another distinct difference from the MLB Channel would be that
our highlight show would not be repeated all through the day.
Once would be sufficient. You would think that the programming
people at ESPN (ESPC?) or the MLB Channel would be aware that
shows can be digitally recorded by approximately 106% of the
population. Under those circumstances, you might assume that the
need to repeat the same program 11 times in a row would be non
Original programming on the Federal League Channel would include
our own version of Dr. Phil. In the Federal League
edition, players appear on the show to whine about bad umpire
decisions and how those decisions have ruined their lives. The
twist here is that Phil Laufman ridicules the guests and their
concerns and then refers them to counseling session. With an
Also, on our channel, Dancing With The Stars will feature
members of the Hollywood Stars dancing with celebrity
Apart from Dancing With The Stars, there would be nothing
on our channel that could be vaguely classified as a reality
show. I don't know about you, but I remember a time when every
station had a reality show every evening. They called it the
news. Ironically, nowadays, most news broadcasts do not qualify
as reality programming. If you get my meaning.
Several hours a day would be devoted to broadcasting live games.
When live games were not available, "classic" games
will be shown. Please be aware that on our channel, the term
classic will not apply to a game from extraordinary recent
memory. Such as, last week. Or yesterday.
Lastly, I envision the Federal League Channel to have at least a
few hours of programming reserved for the odd ramblings of yours
Relevant Question Of The Month: What do you think of the
MLB Network?- J.H., Hudson, NY
I like it. I like it a lot. I do wish, however, that the
announcers would steer away from the disturbing trend of being
Baseball, unlike most other sports, does not need to promote a
sense of drama to be engrossing. Drama, in baseball, will occur
naturally, at various points in the season. It does not need to
be manufactured by loud noises.
2010-Upon Further Review: The
immediate impact in the aftermath of umpire Jim Joyce's blown
call in Armando Galarraga's imperfect perfect game will that the
least baseball savvy amongst us will call for baseball to adopt
an expanded instant replay policy.
The first thing the pro-instant replay crowd ought to realize is
that instant replay, at least in sports leagues that have plays
subject to replay review, is never instant. In fact, most replay
reviews are painstakingly long. This begs the question: if you
cannot make a discernable call after two or three views of the
play, how can feel certain of getting the call correct after
six? Or eight? Or 23?
Most replay advocates point to the success of the NFL's replay
system as justification for baseball's case for expanded replay.
The answer to this is quite simple. In Super Bowl XL, the
officials had two major, game changing, reviews and got them
This, to me, is the strongest argument against replay. If replay
reviews are not 100% completely, undeniably, accurate (which, of
course, they are not in any other sport that utilizes them),
than they have absolutely no place in sports.
Further, the argument for replay is a little self defeating if
you accept that the fact that replay reviews will not be 100%
accurate. As it stands, the umpires probably get better than 99%
of all reviewable calls correct. How much better can replays do,
especially if they cannot get them all correct?
Now, those of us who saw the almost perfect game live almost
instantly knew that Joyce blew the call, and, it's true, it is a
shame that Galarraga was unfairly denied his perfect game. But,
weep not for the Tiger hurler. It is likely that history will be
kinder to Galarraga as a victim of a bad call than it would of
had he completed the perfecto.
There have been only 20 perfect games thrown in major league
history and, more than likely, most of the outraged fans calling
for justice, cannot correctly identify half of them. However,
Galarraga's name will be forever celebrated in baseball lore as
the almost perfect pitcher. If you do not believe me, tell me
anything about Harvey Haddix's career other than his 12 perfect
innings against the Braves on May 26, 1959. Haddix lost the game
in the 13th inning and, like Galarraga, also has not been
credited with a perfect game. Yet Haddix is much better
remembered than Charlie Robertson, who once did throw a perfect
It would wrong of me to leave this topic without commending
commissioner Bud Selig for, despite his obvious inclinations to
always to do otherwise, making the proper call in resisting the
urge to overrule Joyce's call and retroactively award the
perfect game. Had Selig ruled otherwise, the dangerous precedent
of next day officiating would have served as an open invitation
for every crybaby whiner to seek administrative redress to any
call which may offend their prissy sensibilities. And there is
already enough whining in some baseball circles.
Even more important, to me at least, is that had Galarraga
achieved his perfect game, we would have been denied the
opportunity to see exactly what a classy individual he is. His
handling of the entire situation has been first rate. As has the
Tigers' fans, and Joyce, for that matter. In the end, that is a
Speaking of the Tigers reminds one that it is oddly appropriate
that legendary Tiger announcer Ernie Harwell left this earth and
merged with the infinite in this, the Chinese year of the Tiger.
I'm sure Ernie is smiling about that as he chats with Connie
Mack or Socrates. Both of whom, I am fairly sure, disdain the
idea of replay reviews in baseball as well.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Don't you think that it's
about time that MLB adapted a replay policy similar to the NFL?-
B.H., Anniston, AL
I think I sufficiently covered this topic in the column
But, in case you somehow still do not get the point, baseball
has already been corrupted by the wild card and inter league
play, do they need to try to be more like the NFL to suit you?
2009-A Rose By Any Other Name: Despite
the title, this article has nothing to do with Pete Rose. Even
though, if it did, it would probably boost our traffic and, thus,
please our sponsors, but, it doesn't.
Instead, this article bemoans the loss of the great baseball
tradition of players having creative and memorable nicknames.
Long gone are the days of "The Georgia Peach",
"The Big Train", and "The Fordham Flash". No
longer are players identified by such monikers as "The
Flying Dutchman", "The Iron Horse", and
"Bambino". Never again, sadly, will anyone be referred
to anything as wonderfully unique as "Old Tomato
Face", "Bad News", or "The People's Cherce".
It is truly a bygone era.
Babe Ruth, perhaps baseball's greatest player, was a one man
cottage industry of nicknames. In addition to the aforementioned
"Bambino", Ruth is easily recognized as "The
Sultan of Swat", "The King of Clout", and other
such titles. Many players had multiple nicknames. Today, most
players barely have one and it usually involves some uninspired
shortening of their actual name.
Joe Di Maggio was called "The Yankee Clipper", but if
"Joltin' Joe" was just coming up today, I'm afraid he
would be dubbed something as horribly bland as "J.D." .
Try to think of any current players with great nicknames. It is
nearly impossible. Okay, Lance Berkman is "The Big
Puma", but that's one out of nearly a thousand players.
Alex Rodriguez, the so called best player in the game, is
"A-Rod". That's it? That's the best we could do? Ken
Griffey, Jr.'s nickname is "Junior"? Barry Bonds did
not have a nickname, but if he played in the 1950's he might
have been called "Satellite Dish Head". That is, if
satellite dishes had existed back then.
Which, they did not.
Pete Rose (you see, we did get around to him) was called
"Charley Hustle" and it was originally meant as an
insult, but you can't keep a great nickname down and Rose
embraced the name.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where creativity is
undervalued. That's why reality shows are popular, almost every
major motion picture is a remake, and some people still think
David Letterman is funny.
So, here's to the day when "The Little Professor"
roamed the outfield and "The Scooter" patrolled
shortstop. When "Rapid Robert" fired the high hard one
and "The Splendid Splinter" hit them out.
I will always think back wistfully to when "The Commerce
Comet" hit for distance, and "Sudden Sam" was on
the mound. When baseball had "The Toy Cannon",
"Roadblock", "Moonman", "No-Neck",
Sadly, there are no more "Dizzys" or "Daffys",
nor "Lippys", "Brats", or "Scrap
Irons". But there sure are a lot of "Rods", as in
"A-Rod" or "K-Rod" and a lot of guys who are
known by their initials.
While on the subject of names, let me turn my attention to
another pet peeve of mine. Why do teams put the player's names
on the backs of their jerseys? After all, the players already
have a way of being identified while on the field. Each player
where's a jersey with his own number on it. If you already have
a number, why do you need the name? Isn't that what they sell
Now, on the day when Major League Baseball honors Jackie
Robinson and all of the players wore jerseys with number 42 on
them, the one day when names on those jerseys would have been
necessary, none of them had them.
Relevant Question Of The Month: What is your opinion of
the modern trend of team's selling the naming rights to their
ballparks to corporate sponsors? J. E., Coral Springs, FL
I honestly don't really care. If a ballpark is named after a
corporation or a product or a person, that's fine with me. If a
team wants to play in Telephone Service Provider Stadium, no
problem. If another team plays at Garbage Hauling Company Field,
that's okay, too.
But, here's where I draw the line. Once a ballpark is named, for
me, that's it. That's what I'm calling it.
If they decide to get a new sponsor, that's tough. I'm still
calling it by the first name that they presented to me.
Landshark Stadium will always be Joe Robbie Stadium to me. The
White Sox still play at Comiskey Park, as far as I'm concerned.
Frankly, I'm not sure why the public do the same. After all, no
one is paying us to call these parks by their corporate names.
2009-Maybe It's Just Me: This
year, during spring training, in case you hadn't already
noticed, we are treated to another version of the World Baseball
Classic. While the idea of an international tournament is a good
one, this format fall short of the mark.
Perhaps if the tournament was held at the end of the season,
rather than before the beginning, and maybe if the biggest news
of the event was something other than which players would not
be attending, I could get on board.
Of course, I think it takes an awful lot of nerve to call
something a "classic" before it has ever been
contested, as they did in 2006.
Maybe it's just me, but has it ever occurred to you too, that
the most desirable (and expensive) seats are the ones behind
home plate and the cheapest (and least desirable) seats are the
ones in center field, and yet every baseball broadcast is seen
from a camera stationed in center field. Wouldn't a camera angle
from behind the catcher represent the best view?
Another improvement in baseball broadcasting I would like to see
is actually one I would like to hear. Let me explain: baseball
announcing has gotten incredibly poor at almost every level. The
reason for this, I believe, is that almost all announcers are
calling the game while trying to craft a style or to utter a
memorable quote. As a result, minor occurrences are treated to
high volume exclamations.
The attempt to create drama and excitement where precious little
exists makes a worthy event seem a little less important.
Along similar lines, this is why I am defiantly against the wild
card. The desire to create a playoff chase, where none might
otherwise exist, has robbed Major League Baseball of ever having
another meaningful and truly compelling pennant race again.
Speaking of sportscasters, have you ever noticed how everything
seems to happen for them at the end of the day? If you listen to
enough sportscasts, you would begin to think that nothing occurs
except at sundown.
The incredible overuse of the almost meaningless phrase,
"at the end of the day", has so pervaded the language,
it is nearly impossible for someone to attempt to make a point
without noting the time of sunset.
While we are at it, and even though it has nothing to do with
baseball, I am equally bored with and completely tired of Lebron
James' bizarre talcum powder ritual and its coverage by
sportscasters as though it was in any way interesting or an
enhancement to the game.
Of course, the NBA is touting James as one of its greatest ever
players, much the same way Major League Baseball was promoting
Alex Rodriguez as, perhaps, the greatest player of all time.
Naturally (how ironic a choice of words is that?), Rodriguez,
thanks to his recent steroid admission and his clumsy attempt to
explain himself, will probably no longer be compared to the
game's all time best, but should he ever have been?
Look, I'm not trying to claim that Rodriguez is not one of the
most physically talented players in history, or that he has not
had a remarkable statistical career thus far, but come on, how
can you be compared to guys like Ruth and Williams when you are
104th in career on base percentage.
Now I'm not trying to say a .389 on base percentage is poor, but
if you are more than 30 players behind John Kruk on this list,
it's hard to imagine, particularly in an era of inflated
offense, that you are the best player ever.
Similarly, Barry Bonds, at least until he is found guilty of
something, is sometimes a claimant to the title of best ever.
But Bonds has a career batting average of .298. That's only good
for 229th place, all time. Let me clue you in on something, if
Dante Bichette has a higher career batting average than you,
then you are not the greatest player of all time.
Relevant Question Of The Month: I know this really isn't
a baseball question, but I was wondering if you can explain the
necessity for the government's economic bailouts of certain
industries? B. Y., Raleigh, N.C.
and I suspect our elected officials, have no way of knowing if
any of the economic bailouts will have a positive, negative, or
any effect on you or me. I simply do not have enough
information, nor do I possess a deep enough understanding of
economics to form an opinion.
But, one thing I do know, regardless of whether of the
government's actions have any benefits for you and me, some
people will be getting rich as a result of this. I do not know
who these people might be, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to
be either of us.
2008-Requiem For Dave Gardner: For
those of you who didn't already know, long time fan favorite,
Dave Gardner passed away on October 22 after a 14 month battle
Anyone who knew Dave Gardner must have been aware of his passion
for baseball. It was due to this passion that I received the
pleasure of meeting Dave, when he joined the Margate Sentries in
Almost immediately after joining the league, Dave made an
impression as one of the game's true gentlemen. Despite being an
intense competitor, Dave always exemplified the true spirit of
sportsmanship. As a result, in 2003, Dave was voted the winner
of the league's Sportsmanship Award.
To honor Dave's long record of service to the league and his
shining example of courage, the award that Dave won back in 2003
will henceforth be called the "Dave Gardner Memorial
As Dave's health declined over the past few months, he always
remained resolute and cheerful on his trips to the ballpark to
watch his son, Josh, play. Dave never wallowed in self pity or
viewed himself as a victim as so many people are all too willing
to do these days.
Whether he was aware of it or not, he was an inspiration to many
of us who knew him.
Please understand, although he died from the effects of cancer,
cancer never defeated Dave Gardner. Cancer withered his body,
and cancer ended his life, but cancer never caused Dave to give
up his faith or his dignity. The best cancer could do was,
maybe, battle Dave to a draw.
I have always believed that life is merely a collection of
memories. After a moment passes, it is gone forever, unless it
lives on in someone's memory. Please take solace in the fact
that Dave will endure in the memories of all those who knew him.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Is the league planning on
any tribute to Dave Gardner?- A. S., North Lauderdale,
addition to renaming the league's Sportsmanship Award in his
honor, the Sentries will retire Dave's number 45.
This represents the first retired number in league history.
2008-Anecdotal (Not To Be Confused With Octavio Dotel): The
Major League trading deadline passed with a couple of
blockbuster trades. None as surprising as the Red Sox,
essentially, paying the Dodgers to take Manny Ramirez off their
hands. By now you've probably noticed that Ramirez has chosen to
wear the jersey number 99, but that's only because his first
choice, 24, is retired and his second choice, the Chinese symbol
for lotus root, was unavailable.
The Red Sox without Manny are kind of like the Supremes after
Diana Ross left. Sure, they'll still have a few hits, but hardly
any that anyone is apt to remember.
You probably saw the film of the, so called, brawl in the WNBA
recently. I had to laugh when I heard one reporter comment that
they were shocked to see such ugliness in the league. Obviously,
the commentator has never looked at the pictures in the WNBA's
I guess you can say when the Phillies play the Mets that neither
team plays it by the book, but that both teams are managed by
People keep asking me where I think the Tamp Bay Rays will
finish this season. Well, I checked the schedule and the answer
is, "in Detroit".
I'm constantly getting e-mails from readers trying to convince me that I
am wrong and that the wild card is actually a good idea. I
always respond by asking them if the idea of the season and the
post season is determine which is the best team or, merely, to
fool a lot of people into thinking their team is the best so
that they can be sold a few extra tickets?
If you ask Bud Selig and his cronies, the answer is evidently
the second one.
Every time I hear ESPN promoting the X Games, I reflexively
think that they've been canceled. Wishful thinking, I guess.
Finally (for now), can someone please invent batting gloves that
do not require readjustment after every pitch?
Relevant Question Of The Month: What do you think
baseball should do about Maple Bats in view of the potential
risk of injury?- E. M., Brandon,
last time I answered a question, I mentioned that Major League
Baseball has shown a marked propensity for knee jerk reactions.
This subject is another clear example.
Let me be clear: I think that baseball needs to take some action
to protect the players, coaches, and fans. But I think banning
maple, or other types of wood that may shatter, is unnecessary.
To ban a type of wood without investigating what causes it to
shatter is irresponsible at best.
Tacking the question from another angle leads me question
whether baseball will consider banning the ball. After all, many
more people, both on the field and off, are injured by the ball
than they are by flying, shattered, bats at baseball
only on field fatality in Major League history was caused by a
pitched ball. So, what are we to do, ban pitching?
Personally, I think that limiting how thin a handle can be
shaved will do a lot to alleviating the problem.
2008-Talkin' Baseball, Sort Of: Now
that summer is upon us and baseball season is in full swing,
ESPN can now reduce its coverage of the NFL and the NBA to a
mere 65% of their programming day.
On the fleeting occasions during baseball season when baseball
is actually the topic of the discussion, it has become an all
too familiar theme that baseball announcers and analysts feel
that need to speak in overused and mostly meaningless clichés.
It is almost impossible to to listen to a baseball analyst, or
pretty much an sports analyst for that matter, for any length of
time without hearing them utter the phrase "at the end of
the day" at least once. Many announcers have apparently
decided to use this largely pointless statement as often as they
can. In every sentence, if possible.
It's not that term itself is particularly offensive, but it has
become such a stock in trade verbal device in sports that it is,
by now, devoid of any descriptive value. It would, however, make
a phenomenal drinking game if you are into that sort of thing.
You know, every time you hear the phrase, you take a drink. I am
willing to bet that if you played this game, you would be drunk
within 15 minutes of just about any sports talk show.
Another largely fairly vapid phrase gaining in popularity is
"it is what it is". Well, no kidding.
I mean, what else could it be, other than what it is. You know?
The problem with this bit of wisdom is that people, particularly
sports announcers, attempt to try to make saying "it is
what it is" as some profound denouement.
Saying "it is what it is" would be great, if the
object of speaking was to merely point out the absurdly obvious.
Another cloying trend that has become de rigueur with the empty
suit crowd is for announcers that were never players to talk as
though they were. Am I the only one who finds it irritating when
announcers call David Ortiz "Big Papi" as though they
are teammates? Or when they use terms like, "going
yard" or "oppo" as though they were in the dugout
instead of the announcer's booth? It strikes me as a fairly
transparent attempt for some announcers to try and sound more
legitimate. And, to me at least, it doesn't work.
I'm sure I've written this before, but, why can't a home run
just be called a home run occasionally?
I guess it's okay if the former player in the booth talks like a
former player, but the guy who stopped playing before he turned
double digits just sounds ridiculous, in my opinion, when he
tries to do it.
Generations of baseball announcers had their own ways of
describing the game. Some were overly descriptive and used slang
and some just called the game in plain terms. The difference
was, in the old days, announcers developed their own style. They
valued their individuality and originality.
Nowadays, it seems, that most announcers are conscious of trying
to sound just like every other announcer.
This would be bad enough, but unfortunately, the announcer that
they are all trying to sound like stinks.
Relevant Question Of The Month: What do you think of
MLB's decision to institute instant replay?- R. K., Fort
is an unfortunate circumstance that seems to compel Major League
Baseball to want, so desperately, to emulate the NFL that brings
us to this latest lame, knee jerk reaction.
Instant replay in baseball is largely unnecessary, and I'll show
It has been
established, I think that we can all agree, that the plays that
will be subject to review will be limited. It is almost a
certainty that ball and strikes and safes and outs will not be
means that fair/foul plays and balls that may or may not be home
runs are the only calls that will be judged by replay.
The problem with using replay on fair/foul plays is that a
replay can only determine that a ball originally called fair is
foul. It cannot make a ball called foul become fair.
If an umpire calls a ball foul, all of the action stops. If
replay shows that the ball was, in fact, fair, what would the
remedy be? Of course, you can't expect everyone to start running
at the point.
So, if you
can't reverse the call one way, it seems logical that you
shouldn't try to make the call the other way. So that leaves
And this is
precisely why replay is unnecessary. All baseball has to do to
eliminate any need for replay is to simply pass this rule: if a
fair ball leaves the playing field on the fly, it is a home run.
If a fair ball does not fully leave the playing field or bounces
off something and remains in play, it shall be in play.
Instead of creating artificial home run barriers in ballparks as
has become the custom, baseball should return to its original
concept that a fair ball is an automatic home run only if it
completely leaves the playing field. Then, they should put up
some kind of fence or screen that eliminates the possibility of
fans reaching over and touching balls that otherwise would
remain in play.
The answer is
so simple and logical that it will obviously never be
2008-Clemency For Bonds, A Bond Hearing For Clemens?: Despite
dire predictions to the contrary, it appears that Barry Bonds
will not be unfairly convicted of perjury based on his skin
color and that Roger Clemens may not avoid criminal prosecution
based on his alleged political connections.
The sordid details of these two cases have already begun to bore
most true baseball fans, but the issue of whether these two
icons are being treated fairly or unfairly leads the
conversation into an entirely different direction from my
It has become an everyday fact of life in America for people to
accuse every institution, from the courts to Congress to Major
League Baseball, and most anything else one can think of, of
being unfair. This becomes particularly true in almost every
instance where someone emerges from a situation on the losing
It's not that the other side was better, it has nothing to do
with which participant was more prepared, it's that those who
make decisions (judges, cops, umpires, etc.) are unfair.
Have you ever noticed that on television court shows, and it
doesn't matter which one: People's Court, Judge Judy, Joe Brown,
Judge Alex, and the rest, that when a claimant loses their case
and they are interviewed afterwards, almost without exception,
the first words out of their mouths convey how the verdict was
unfair? This, even after the judge has painfully explained the
clear and logical decisions for the ruling.
This can only lead to one conclusion: we have turned into a
nation of crybaby losers.
I know that sounds harsh, and it is, but it doesn't make it any
My own belief is that in an effort to spare our children of
learning to cope with the pain of losing, as became popular
through the pyscho babble of the 1970's and 80's, we have taught
them to relinquish all responsibility for the losses and to
always try to blame others for their shortcomings.
If you don't believe it, just listen to all the ridiculous
nonsense that comes out of the mouths of baseball players,
coaches, and fans at every level from the Major Leagues all the
way down to Little League.
The concept of letting everyone feel like a winner, to avoid a
negative self image, has made some (maybe most) people incapable
of dealing with losing and feeling an entitlement to
winning, regardless of the circumstances.
So, I ask you, what is worse, a negative self image of a
completely false self image?
Here's your answer, a negative self image can be improved by
actual accomplishment and facing responsibility. A false self
image probably cannot be repaired.
It would be nice to think that Bonds and Clemens might both
realize that this applies equally to them as well.
It would be only fair.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Do you really believe
Barry Bonds will walk on his perjury charge?- E. B., Hollywood,
he is the all time leader in walks, so I guess he has got a
pretty good shot.
2008-You Say You Want A Resolution: Last
year around this time, I posted an article about how I don't
make New Year's resolutions. At least, I think I did.
If I didn't, I'm pretty sure that I meant to, although I may
I was supposed to take a memory course, but I think I forgot
about it. Then again, I may have taken the course and just can't
Anyway, I meant to write the article and thought about it, and
isn't that half of the battle?
Confused? Forget it. I obviously have.
One thing I haven't forgotten about is how much sillier our
speech patterns are getting. As if to personally denounce
Darwin's theory of evolution, some people are resorting to
speaking in such a way that belies the concept of society
Here are some examples:
That's what I'm talkin' about!- This is something people
say when they want to take some credit for something they have
absolutely nothing to do with.
Have you ever noticed that when people exclaim, "that's
what I'm talkin' about!" that they weren't just talking
about the thing that caused them to exclaim?
This is only slightly more annoying than speaking with someone who asks, "do
you know what I'm sayin'?"
People who end almost every sentence with this question are, in
my opinion, really curious as to whether you might happen to
know what they are saying. I'm convinced that this is because
they are unclear as to what they are saying. They are looking to
us for help and clarity.
Tell me about it- I love it when I make a simple
observation and somebody says, "tell me about it",
because I almost always take them up on the invitation.
Here's an example: suppose I say, "man, it's really raining
out there" and somebody says, "tell me about it."
I feel compelled to respond, "well, you see, rain is a type
a product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that
is deposited on the earth's surface. It forms when separate drops
fall to the Earth's
surface from clouds.
Not all rain reaches the surface; some evaporates while falling
through dry air."
Or something like that.
Perhaps nothing rises (or lowers) to the level of stupidity as
much as the current trend in some sports with regard to trash
talking. What, with it being the off season for much of the baseball
world, I, like a lot of you, spent the past few weeks watching
way too much football.
Pro football, college football, playoff games, and bowl games.
The one thing that I've noticed about football, as opposed to
baseball, is the seemingly unending devotion players and coaches
have to in game trash talking.
I've never understood the value of any talking, much less trash
talking, during a game. Based on what people are saying, I have
started to draw the conclusion that people should say less
One more thing before we go. Last year around this time, I was
asked to give some predictions for 2007. As you can see here,
I pretty much batted 1.000.
In closing, I'll just say that I'm a firm believer in the old
adage that the less said, the better. On that, I am resolute.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Hey, man, what I really,
really wanna know is, what do you think of this whole Roger
Clemens deal? Was he juicing or was he just taking care of
business?- E. A. P., Memphis, TN
I have no idea as to if Clemens used the performance
enhancing drugs he was accused of using or if he is telling the
truth. I doubt anyone will ever really know for sure. I am
almost past the point of caring.
My point here is that baseball fostered the culture of steroid
abuse, I've been writing about this for almost 10 years, by turning a blind eye towards it and then reaped the
benefits of the steroid era. Just as they are reaping the
benefits of all of the publicity surrounding the hearings and
reports and suspensions and accusations and denials.
Do you think the power brokers in professional baseball are
upset about all of this publicity occurring during the off
season? They most certainly are not.
Bad press is better than no press. Just look at the attendance
figures for the past few seasons.
Did Clemens, or anyone else that has never failed a drug test,
cheat? I don't know: maybe, probably, possibly. Take your pick.
It almost doesn't matter as the truth will never be fully
revealed and there will be no resolution.
And one more thing, happy birthday King.
2007-Take A Proper Gander: Believe
it or not, Bud Selig was presented with an opportunity to become
my favorite sports commissioner of all time, including yours
truly. If you are stunned by this statement, imagine how I feel.
Now, don't worry. Bud, as is his predilection, blew the chance
to do the right thing and did what he does best, which is
The situation that caused this anomaly occurred a few weeks ago
when Phillies pitcher Brett Myers concluded a post game rant by
calling a reporter a pejorative for the mentally handicapped.
Now, had Myers chosen to call the reporter by a racial, ethnic,
or religious slur, Selig, no doubt, would have expressed outrage
and, likely, would have suspended Myers. At the very least,
Myers would have been given a severe reprimand. But, because
Myers chose to use the mentally handicapped as a means of
insulting someone, nobody said a word.
No one picketed the
Phils' ballpark. No one held a press conference. Apparently, few
cared. Unfortunately, the profoundly handicapped have to much
else to deal with, trying to live with as much dignity as
possible under extreme circumstances, to have an effective
public relations strategy.
To be fair and accurate, Myers, who has had plenty of other
troubles, apologized the next day and said that he hoped that he
hadn't offended anyone. But this really isn't about Myers. It is
about the hypocrisy of our politically correct society.
In our supposed sensitive society, we are programmed to express
immediate shock and horror if someone offers an opinion that
can, in any way, be twisted into a racial or religious insult,
even if this is not the speaker's intention. It is this expected
knee jerk reaction that is part of our culture's desire to show
its evolution and its enlightenment.
On the other hand, it is completely acceptable to use derogatory
terms for the handicapped as synonyms for negative connotation
or for comedic purposes. People, in every day life as well as in
movies and on network television, use the "R" word
What does that say about our society?
It says that we are quick to be offended
on behalf of others, unless, of course, those being offended are
people who can't stick up for themselves.
Worse yet, we are clearly stating that we, as a society, are
only willing to pick on those who are incapable of fighting
let's be clear about this. I don't advocate racial, religious,
or ethnic slurs either. And I'm not saying that people should be
told what they can or cannot say. In fact, I think it's a good
idea to let the bigots and jerks of the world reveal themselves
through their words. But, I just believe that if we are
censoring ourselves and others we should at least be consistent
and not cowardly about it.
We received an awful lot of
positive feedback regarding the last column that concerned my
wish list for baseball.
Because getting pleasant and laudatory correspondence is such an
unexpected and refreshing change, I thought that I would offer a
few more items that escaped the last column.
Now that the Boston Red Sox have begun the playoffs, you will
undoubtedly hear announcers refer to something called "Red
Sox Nation" again and again and again. And then a few more
Let me clear something up about this moniker. Although virtually
every team, pro or college, refers to its fans (or more
accurately, the fans refer to themselves) as a nation, I believe
the term originated with the St. Louis Cardinals half a century
The reason the Cardinals' fans were a nation was that the
Cardinals had the most powerful radio station broadcasting their
KMOX, emanating from downtown St. Louis, could be heard from the
Eastern Seaboard all the way out to the Rocky Mountains. As a
result, the Cardinals had fans scattered all over the country
well before games were regularly broadcast on television.
is true that the Red Sox, as well as some other teams, have
legions of fans spread across the country, but the reason for
this is that many people have moved away from New England (and
New York and Chicago, etc.). I cannot imagine that a nickname
that celebrates the fact that people have flocked away from your
home territory is a good name to promote.
Sometime during the
baseball playoffs and World Series it is possible that one team
will hit three consecutive home runs. If this occurs, you can be
sure that an annoying announcer will refer to this as
"going back to back to back."
Well, I hate to be the one to tell you that back to back to back
is a physical impossibility. Don't believe me? Get three friends
and try to line them up that way. Unless one of them has two
backs, it cannot be done.
You should also be advised that heighth is not a word despite
some baseball announcers using it. The correct word is height.
I would also appreciate it if announcers would stop lumping
playoff and World Series records into a common pile. If Yogi
Berra's Yankees would have to go through extra playoff rounds,
like Derek Jeter's Yankees must, Berra would have set post
season records that would never be approached. It is just flat
out inaccurate to suggest that playoff achievements are the same
as World Series accomplishments.
Finally, I would be greatly pleased if baseball could find a way
to not have the World Series leak into November. I dread the day
that the series is decided by an outfielder losing a ball in the
Relevant Question Of The Month: In the past, you have
railed against the current playoff system in Major League
Baseball, but even you would have to admit that this season has
vindicated the system, wouldn't you?- N.C., Brick, N.J.
The short answer here is no.
The longer answer is, that although the playoff chase in the
National League may be compelling or exciting, it is certainly not good baseball.
You have a bunch a mediocre teams limping toward the playoffs,
being chased by a couple of mediocre teams that got hot at the
end of the season. What you don't have is a clear picture of who
is the best team in the league. And isn't that what a
championship is supposed to determine?
The baseball season is six months and a 162 games (per team)
long. The team or teams that were the best over this long haul
are subject to elimination, in a short series, by a team that
was clearly inferior for half of a calendar year.
So, I ask you, what is the point of crowing a champion? To
determine which is the best team? Or merely who won at the end
of the season?
If you conclude, as logic dictates, that the purpose of awarding
a championship is to reward the best overall team, then you are
forced to admit the current Major League Baseball playoff system
is not efficiently equipped to do so.
2007- Wishing And Hoping: It's the middle of summer, so Christmas is months
away. Additionally, my birthday has long since passed. Despite these facts of
the calendar, I find myself wishing for things.
One of the first things that
I wish for is that, as Henry Aaron is passed on the list of all time Major
League home run hitters, that people refrain from disparaging the memory of the
man that Aaron passed.
Oh, I know that most astute baseball fans recognize
Babe Ruth as one of, if not the, greatest player of all time, but the picture of
Ruth is often portrayed inaccurately. Contrary to popular belief, Ruth was not a
big fat guy who only hit home runs. Granted, at the end of his career, from
which, unfortunately, most of the film of him exists, Ruth's weight did get away
from him, but for most of his career, Ruth was a very athletic player. There is
significant evidence that Ruth had better than average speed into his thirties.
everyone who knows anything about the subject concedes that had he remained a
pitcher for his entire career, he would have, barring injury or unforeseen
circumstances, been a Hall of Fame pitcher. I just wish that the picture of Ruth
that dwells in the minds of baseball fans were more in line with the player he
Further I wish that revisionists would stop making alibis for
the bad behavior of modern day players by dragging Ruth's name through the mud.
Far too often, when a current or recent player is admonished for some
transgression, someone is always too quick to offer that Ruth was a womanizer, a
drunk, or something worse. This is as unfortunate as it is demonstratively
Ruth may not have been a perfect person, or even a perfect player, but
according to those who saw him and knew him, he was pretty good in both
While, I'm at it, I'd like to add that I wish
that in the new Yankee Stadium, the deep left center field gap known as Death
Valley, would be restored to a more historical distance. Indications are that
the dimensions of the new stadium will be the same as in the current
configuration of the old ballpark. That's a shame. Left center field at 399 feet
is more like Injury Valley. If you want to call it Death Valley, I think you got
to push the wall back, at least, 30 feet.
Here are some other things on my wish list (in no
I wish that batters would stop feeling the need to adjust their batting
glove straps after every pitch. This pointless waste of time galls the heck out
I wish that people (fans and players) would learn that a batter does not
get an RBI when a runner scores on a wild pitch or passed ball.
announcers to stop using the word "unbelievable" every time they see
an exciting play. Look, if a baseball player hits a home run or makes a great
catch, regardless of the situation, it may be wonderful, it may be terrific, but
it's probably not beyond belief. Now, if a baseball player kicks a game winning
field goal in the World Series, that would be unbelievable.
It would be nice
if fans would not yell "balk!" every time a pitcher makes a pick off
throw. Most fans who engage in this behavior could probably not identify a real
balk if one happened.
I wish players, managers, and coaches, would stop
asking for an appeal from an umpire when what they really want is a reversal of
a call that they disagree with. Asking an umpire that is over 100 feet away from
the play to overrule an umpire that is three feet away from the play is as
idiotic as it sounds.
I would be greatly pleased if the sports media would
stop using the term "small market to identify teams that have ownerships
that are poorly financed or that do not like to spend money. How can San
Francisco be a large market and Oakland be a small market when they are part of
the same metropolitan area and share much, if not all, of the same media market?
I wish that Major League teams would stop posting radar gun readings of every
pitch on the scoreboard and on TV. If a pitcher throws a fastball and a good
hitter swings and misses, do you know how fast it was? Fast enough.
Further, these readings are normally grossly inaccurate, It's probably no
secret that the speeds are inflated, but, even more ridiculous is how often
pitches are misidentified. I've seen pitchers being credited with having curve
balls that, according to the radar gun, are faster than their fast balls.
wish that people would stop saying that a batter hit by pitch is not entitled to
first base because, "he has to get out of the way." A batter has an obligation
to attempt to avoid a pitched ball. This really means that a batter cannot get
hit by a pitch intentionally. If a batter truly could not be awarded first base
unless, as they say, he got out of the way, than no player would ever reach base
by being hit, because, if you get out of the way, you're not getting hit.
be very happy if stations and networks broadcasting baseball could do away with
those annoying sound effects that accompany every reply. When we are being shown
a replay and that play is being described by an announcer, I think most of us
realize that it is not the same exact play happening twice. We don't need a
sound effect to tip us off. Replay has been around for 45 years, we get it.
wouldn't it be nice if baseball had a real commissioner with real authority over
the game? It would be a major improvement if, somehow, baseball could once again
have a central authority figure rather than a figurehead that only represents
the interests of ownership.
I know it's a pipedream, but, probably, so are
all my other wishes.
Relevant Question Of The Month: What do you think of the
Yankees building a new stadium one block to the north of the
current Yankee Stadium?- P.F., Clearwater, FL
Obviously, as a traditionalist, I don't really like it. It is
almost inconceivable to me that, within two years, the Yankees
will be playing on ground that is not where Babe Ruth homered,
Lou Gehrig made his "luckiest man" speech, DiMaggio
played flawlessly, Mantle hit tape measure bombs, and the
Pinstripers made baseball history.
As an optimist, I remain ever hopeful that, in a few years, the
new park will become obsolete and the Yankees will return one
block to the south where they belong.
Riding The Opine:
Let us begin with a premise on which
most people will agree: everyone is entitled to express their
believe that this premise is true and, for good measure, it is
guaranteed, by implication anyway, in the Constitution.
The problem is
that far too many people use the right to express their opinion
to try and offset facts which contradict their argument. At that
point, the right to express an opinion turns into the right to
express an opinion even if it makes you look stupid.
The reason that
I bring this up is, like a lot of internet sports columns, my
articles generate a lot of mail. With this mail come many
different opinions. Most of them are anonymous opinions.
No column of
mine has ever spawned as much commentary as the recent Pete Rose
column (see below).
rehashing the thing, let us just say that there were a great
many people who expressed opinions that made them look stupid.
Not for disagreeing with me, mind you, but for reducing their
opinions to a series of insults or gross inaccuracies.
I won’t even
comment on their spelling and grammar.
Okay, yes I
state of spelling and grammar on the internet is atrocious. I
can make peace with that, but few things are as stupid as the
accepted insistence on adding as many o’s as possible to the
word so, as in sooooo. (By the way, this is correctly pronounced
as "sue".) Adding extra letters does not connote greater importance,
especially in such a non essential word. (I realize that I’ve
lost half of you. That’s good; I’m not talking to you,
anyway.) Years from now, people will realize what a ridiculous
practice that this is, like leisure suits, pet rocks, mood
rings, and reality shows.
jackass with an opinion rattling around in his head feels the
need to write and tell someone about it before it dies of
loneliness. Now, I’m not referring to well thought out
reasoned replies, regardless of whether they agree or disagree
with the author. No, I’m referring to the ones that usually
have the words “moron” or “idiot” in the title. I’m
referring to the people who think they’ve won an argument by
typing “Yankees Suck” (or the equivalent) in capital and
I am constantly
receiving correspondence from people who disagree with my column
and think they’ve outsmarted me by calling me names or telling
me to “get a life”.
like to thank each and every one of them. It is such a pleasure
to be able to laugh so much while at work.
All that being
said, I’d like to express a few opinions as they relate to
I still think the wild card is an abomination.
Baseball was meant to have pennant races.
2) Divisions in Major League Baseball should have no
fewer than six teams. If this means that baseball should realign
and that the wild card is eliminated, so much the better.
3) Interleague play, which only further dilutes the
schedule and does very little to help the smaller market teams,
ought to be abolished.
4) Pink Yankee and Red Sox hats look almost as silly
as the people who buy and wear them.
5) Luxury suites, in all stadia built in the future,
should be in the outfield or above the upper deck. This opinion
is offered on the premise that people in luxury suites aren’t
really there to watch the game anyway, so why put them in the
areas with the best sight lines?
6) Umpires should wear blue.
Not black. Not gray, or
red, or white. Blue.
7) Batters who are hit with pitches while wearing
elbow (or any other kind of) armor and still charge the mound
should receive double the punishment.
Any day now,
Barry Bonds is going to surpass Henry Aaron’s all time home
run mark of 755 and become the most prolific home run hitter in
Major League Baseball history. When this occurs, there are a lot
of people who are going to be unhappy about it. The toxic
combination of Barry’s abrasive, and sometimes condescending,
personality mixed with the foul odor of the widely held belief
that Bonds began using steroids around the time that he started
shattering records has made Bonds a less than popular choice to
be baseball’s next home run king.
anti-Bonds people, this is not a racial issue. Had it been Ken
Griffey, Jr. breaking Aaron’s record, a vast majority of those
who detest Bonds would be perfectly comfortable and even
ecstatic at the prospect of the impending new record. Certainly
Hank Aaron’s cold shoulder toward Bonds suggests that
antipathy toward the Giants’ slugger is not a racially
motivated issue in many cases. On the other hand, there will
always be some people who value skin color more than anything
else (Oddly, a lot of those people spend a lot of time and money
trying to get a tan. Go figure.)
The point is
that a resounding majority of people don’t like Barry Bonds
simply because he is Barry Bonds.
Now, I’m not
going to indulge the debate of whether or not Bonds is a worthy
Hall of Famer, other than to say this: the people who claim that
Bonds was having a Hall of Fame career before
he started using illegal substances (if ever proven) are missing
the point. Shoeless Joe Jackson was having a Hall of Fame
career, too, before he was involved in the throwing of the 1919
will surely be voted into the Hall of Fame, regardless of
whether the steroid allegations prove true or false, a lot of
people will probably always look upon Bonds’ post-1998
accomplishments as tainted.
may end up being unfair, but, I’m told, people are entitled to
Relevant Question Of The Month: Is Sammy Sosa, should he
hit more than 600 career home runs, a Hall Of Fame caliber
player?- G.N., Evanston, IL
If I were to have a vote, there would be a bunch of players
who I would be more inclined to vote for before I would even
consider Sosa. While only four other players have ever hit more
than 600 career home runs, you must understand, the home run
does not mean what it once did. For me, it's not a question of
whether Sosa is good enough (it's debatable anyway), but,
rather, which deserving players are still not in.
2007-Contrition By Subtraction: I'm sorry for not writing sooner.
Really, I'm sorry. I apologize. I realize I was wrong and I
sincerely wish to make amends.
Pete Rose, are you taking notice?
When you use poor judgment or make a mistake and you wish to be
forgiven, it is usually best to apologize first. Pete Rose
apparently believes it is only a good idea to admit your
misdeeds after getting caught and then, instead of apologizing,
to suggest that everyone overlook his trespasses in the name of
To review: In 1989 Pete Rose, baseball's all time hit leader,
signed an agreement with then commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti
which resulted in Rose's banishment from baseball on the premise
that he violated baseball's gambling policy while manager of the
Even though virtually every baseball fan knows that gambling on
baseball while being an employee of that industry is a severe
breach of one's contract and that the normal penalty for such an
action is a lifetime ban, Rose's fans, and many fans in general,
favored Rose's reinstatement.
As far back as 1989, I supported Rose's ban. My logic was always
pretty simple. I felt that, if he hadn't bet on baseball, Rose
would have never signed the agreement with Giamatti.
For 15 years Rose denied ever betting on baseball. For 15 years
I argued with many other baseball fans about Rose's guilt and
the appropriate punishment. Finally, in a book he published in
2004, Rose admitted to betting on baseball while managing the
Reds. However, instead of apologizing for A) betting on
baseball, and B) flat out lying about to just about everyone for
15 years, Rose basically told the baseball world to get over it.
Now, almost every time he speaks, Rose implores the present
commissioner (if you can call him that) Bud Selig to reinstate
him. But Rose is really talking to you and me. The fans.
This irritates me and it should irritate you. First, for being
lied to. Second, for being lumped together with Bud Selig.
Unfortunately, too many fans are still arguing on Rose's behalf.
Usually, their arguments center on the fact that he bet on
baseball while he was managing as opposed to when he was
playing. As if that, somehow, mitigates the offense.
Look, here's the bottom line: Rose bet on baseball. He then lied
about it for 15 years. He is unrepentant about betting and
equally unrepentant about lying. As great of player as Rose was,
he deserves to be outside of baseball. And that includes the
Hall of Fame. Which is really all that Pete cares about now,
Anytime you hear him talk about how good for baseball it would
be to reinstate him, you can be sure that all Pete really means
is, "I want to be inducted into the Hall of Fame."
While he definitely earned his spot in the Hall of Fame with his
tremendous playing career, he also earned the banishment that
keeps him from getting his plaque.
While we are on the subject of the Hall of Fame, a small
controversy is taking shape on the worthiness of Mark McGwire as
a Hall of Fame candidate. A lot of sportswriters seemed to feel
that the suspicion regarding McGwire's possible steroid use and
his refusal to deny using steroids, particularly in his very
regrettable congressional hearing appearance, would be
justification for keeping McGwire from getting a plaque in the
This may surprise a lot of people, but I'm not completely
convinced that he deserves to be a Hall of Famer regardless of
the steroid issue.
I can hear the screams of protest and indignation, but follow my
McGwire's main claim to fame is his 70 home run season and his
583 career home runs. Taken at face value, these are impressive
credentials, but put in context, they are far less convincing.
McGwire hit a lot of home runs in an era when almost everyone
hit a lot of home runs. Granted he hit a few more than anyone
and he may have hit the farther, but still, hitting 70 is not
nearly as meaningful as it seems when Sammy Sosa is hitting 66
and several other guys are hitting more than 50. Which may be
why McGwire never won an MVP award.
The 70 home runs stood as a record for only three seasons before
Barry Bonds hit 73. Roger Maris, who won two MVP awards and
played on seven pennant winning teams in a 12 season career,
held the home run record for 37 years. Placed in its proper context,
Maris' record, and career, would seem to be the more noteworthy,
but hardly anyone bangs the drum for Maris to be inducted into
the Hall of Fame.
Some people dismiss Maris as a .260 hitter, which he was, but
McGwire only hit .263 for his career, and did so in an era of
inflated batting averages. Maris played his entire career in an
era of suppressed batting averages, meaning that his .260 was
more valuable than McGwire's .263.
Now, I'm not saying that Maris is a definite Hall of Famer, all
I'm saying is that if McGwire gets in, Maris' plaque ought to be
already hanging there.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Should Pete Rose ever be
allowed in the Hall of Fame?- P.P., Oakland Park, FL
I suppose if he buys a ticket at the ticket booth and
presents it at the door, they should let him in, but as far as
awarding him a plaque and conferring upon him the title of
"Hall of Famer", I think he should get in line behind
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson and continue to serve as
warning to other that believe the rules apply to everyone but
from Coral Springs writes: There
should not be a HOF without the name of Pete Rose in it;
whatever Pete did in regards to betting on Baseball, he did it
accomplishments in the field were done as a player and nobody
can take that away from him; the fact that he bet on Baseball
doesn’t necessarily makes him the only one who has done this,
but the only one that got caught doing it.
players have done things worse than betting on Baseball and have
gotten many opportunities (Darryl Strawberry, Steve Howe among
others) what message do we send our kids by doing this? Is it Ok
to do drugs, but it is wrong to bet on your own team?
the people judge him and decide whether or not he deserves to be
in the HOF; I still remember the ovation that he receives when
the team of the century was introduced a few years ago in an All
Big Kahuna Replies: I appreciate
your response, but I think you may have totally missed the point
First off all, you brought up the fact the Rose's admitted
betting on baseball occurred during his managerial tenure and
not during his playing career. Despite the fact that I covered
this in the article, you seem to think that this caveat excuses
the offense. It does not. Rose gambled on baseball while in the
employ of the organization. Period. If he chose to violate
the rule, it matters not that he did so after his playing
Second, you note that he should be forgiven or enshrined
because he may not be the only person in baseball whoever bet on
the game. In the words of my friend, the Geico Caveman,
You may not realize this, but you are defending Rose's
obviously inappropriate actions by suggesting that other people
have committed the same offense. That's like saying that someone
who murders several people shouldn't be punished on the grounds
that they didn't invent murder.
You then finish off the paragraph by stating that Rose was
somehow victimized not for what he did, but merely for being
caught. Come on, upon reflection, that has to sound silly to
Your third point references Major League Baseball's terrible
record with regard to drug abuse by its players. On this point
you are correct. Major League Baseball does, indeed, have a very
poor record on dealing with this issue, but I might point out
two things: 1)It is a completely separate issue and 2)I don't
see Steve Howe or Darryl Strawberry getting inducted into the
Hall of Fame, either.
More than that, while drug offenses are serious, insider
gambling is still a much greater threat to baseball's existence.
If drugs permeate the game, the game suffers. If gambling
permeates the game, no one can ever be sure the game is being
played on the level.
Your final point recommends that Rose should be judged by the
fans, preferably the same ones that gave him a standing ovation
at the All Star Game in 1999 when he was named to the All
Century team. One basic flaw in your theory is that in 1999 Rose
was still lying to your face about having bet on baseball and
most of the fans still believed him. Five years later, Rose
admitted he had been lying all along. He might not get the same
Moreover, some of Rose's former teammates, including Hall of
Famer Johnny Bench, have spoken out against reinstating Rose.
That, my friend, speaks much louder to me than any ovation.
In summary, let me restate that Rose was a great player, his
accomplishments on the field were legendary, but his
transgressions far overshadow his on field greatness. Someday,
hopefully, Rose, and his most ardent fans will understand
that any other conclusion would be a disgrace.
2007-That Was The Year That Was, Or Was It?: The new year always
brings with it a few things. A bunch of checks mistakenly dated
with the previous year, an immense collection of unfulfilled
resolutions, and a plethora of recaps of the year gone by.
This column is no exception. I will not only look back at 2006,
I will resolve not to write any checks with last year written on
the date line.
Before taking a backward glance at 2006, I'd like to comment on
another year end phenomena. To wit, the following two clichés:
1) "I can't believe it's...(fill in the number of
the coming new year)".
Why is it so hard to believe that it is now 2007? Wasn't last
year 2006? Don't they always seem to go in ascending numerical
Despite the fact that the answers to the preceding three
questions are all "yes", who will hear, or have
already heard, someone express their disbelief that this is 2007
enough times to make you start questioning it yourself.
2) "I can't believe that...(fill in the name of year
Again, why is it so difficult to comprehend that 2006 is over?
Didn't it contain 12 months? We didn't skip any, did we? The
fact that people say this during the last week of December, you
know, when every year ends, and they say it every year, year
after year, never ceases to amaze me.
Since it is 2007 and 2006 is, in fact, really over, and, more
importantly, I couldn't think of anything else to write about.
Let's look back at last year.
The year began with our continuing effort to recover from
Hurricane Wilma. As devastating as the storm was to so many
people, the fact the we have recovered so sufficiently and did
so reasonably quickly, despite dire predictions to the contrary,
it seems so far in our past. Life got back to normal for a large
majority of people much quicker than anticipated.
Baseball here in South Florida recovered a lot slower due to
widespread damage to all of the league's facilities. The result
was the league's first post season playoff tournament instead of
the normal playoffs.
The Parkland Braves won in the Original Division and the Margate
Sentries won in the Expansion Division.
The Braves added another title in the 2006 Spring/Summer season,
their fourth in a row and 12th overall, before shocking the
baseball world by abandoning the team's identity and renaming
themselves the KWB Mets.
On the other hand, the Sentries were unable to continue their
reign over the Expansion Division as they lost the 2006
Spring/Summer Expansion Series to the Lighthouse Point Beacons,
three games to one. The series was marred by some of the
fiercest bench jockeying in league history.
The Sentries finished the year with a new manager as Steve
Caplan resigned his post on November 28. Phil Laufman was named
as Caplan's replacement.
Several other clubs changed managers in 2006.
The Tile Market Cubs replaced Dave Boczkus with Felix Sanchez.
The Sunrise Sunsets named Carlos Rodriguez as a successor to
Dave Lopez. The Tritons elevated Mike Whittaker into a
co-managerial position with David Bourns. But the biggest
managerial change occurred when Randy Kierce left the Playball
Academy after 20 seasons and two league championships. Craig
Stoves took over the Cadets in Kierce's place.
As shocking as Kierce's retirement was, the biggest news story
of 2006 may have been the dissolving of the DAS Enterprises
The Dark Gems, also known as, the Compressed Lumps of Coal, the
Rocks Devoid of Light, and the Shmuelimen ceased operations
after the 2006 Spring/Summer season. In 24 seasons, the Diamonds
won three championships.
The year ended on something of a happy note as the Baltimore
Orioles managed to secure public financing for a remodeled Fort
Lauderdale Stadium. The upgraded stadium, and surrounding
complex, will serve as the Orioles spring training home, as
well, as the Federal League's South Florida base of operations.
City officials, who had originally agreed to their part of the
deal, backed out at the last minute in a late December vote, but
the city commission was coaxed into a special meeting and, upon
a revote, changed their minds again and approved the deal.
Work on the new facility should begin after the Orioles' 2007
spring training is completed in April. The new complex will open
Wow, 2008. By then, some of you will have a hard time believing
2007 is over.
Relevant Question Of The Month: What do you think 2007
will hold for major league baseball?- A.M., Phoenix, AZ
Big contracts for guys you've almost never heard of, home
runs, strikeouts, lots of commercials between innings of
televised games, some controversy involving Barry Bonds, way too
many pitching changes in almost every game, news stories about
steroids, at least one ridiculous comment by Bud Selig,
increased ticket prices, and more talk about a new stadium of a
possible relocation for the Florida Marlins that turns out to be
I think that about covers it.
Send your question for the Big Kahuna to:
2006-Why Baseball Is Still Better Than Football: The
opening of the World Series, not to mention Federal League's
Fall/Winter season has set me to thinking.
About 20 years ago, the noted writer, Thomas Boswell, presented
a list of 99 reasons that baseball was better than football. It
was a mostly light hearted article. It was, however, not
For the past 30 or 35 years or so the public has been told, and
convinced, that baseball is far slower paced than football and
that football is the more exciting, and therefore better, game.
This is nonsense, and I'll prove it.
Taking Major League Baseball and the NFL as the prime examples,
there is far more activity in baseball. Activity also occurs
more frequently in baseball. In football, plays are run every 40
to 45 seconds when the clock is running. In baseball a pitch is
delivered, or a pickoff is attempted, usually, within 20 seconds.
The vast majority of football plays, line plunges, short passes
with no run after catch yardage, incomplete short passes, and
fair caught kicks, have less action than a pitching change.
Those plays account for about 60% of the average NFL contest.
100% of NFL plays, exciting or boring, are subject to replay
review and cancellation due to penalty. Baseball plays stand
People like to talk about how football was a game made for
television. This is particularly true if you are a network
salesman. Baseball broadcasts have a lot of commercials, but NFL
games are absolutely loaded with them. Check this out sometime:
A team has the ball deep in opponent territory and calls timeout
which leads to a commercial break. After the break, the team
runs a play and happens to score, which leads to another
commercial break. After the break, the team kicks off, the kick
is not returned, and we are treated to another commercial break
so that, in the middle of a game, the ball has been advance once
and we have been subjected to approximately eight minutes of
Even with frequent pitching changes, baseball has nothing to
compare with that.
So, with some apologies to Mr. Boswell, here is my list of
reasons that baseball remains better than football.
Celebrations- In baseball, we celebrate a game winning
hit, a no hitter, a championship, you know, important stuff. In
football, they celebrate everything. A touchdown (regardless of
the score or its importance), a sack, a tackle, a holding
penalty, a play overturned by replay, etc. I have seen fans give
the kicker a standing ovation for driving the opening kickoff
out of the endzone.
Running Out The Clock- Unless the score is reasonably
close and the trailing team has a bunch of timeouts, the
last three minutes of a football game is almost always a farce.
The winning team, if it has the ball, will, essentially, quit
playing in an attempt to run out the clock. The quarterback will
fall on the ball to keep the clock moving and then the offense
will stand around as long as the officials will let them until
they repeat the process. This is excitement?
In baseball, the game is truly never over until it is.
Theoretically, no matter how far behind a team is, they always
have an opportunity for a comeback.
Replay- Is there anything more paralyzingly dull in all
of sports than waiting for football officials to rule on a
replay? Several minutes pass by with absolutely nothing
happening on the field while the officials watch the replay
before deciding if the play stands or not. Ironically, the
networks almost never cut to commercial during a replay break.
Baseball doesn't have replays to decide plays and I hope it
never does. Sure, occasionally a bad call, such as in Game 6 of
the 1985 World Series, might decide a championship, but even
with replay, the officials are still subject to getting some
calls wrong (see last season's Super Bowl).
T.O.- This is self explanatory. Football has Terrell
Owens, baseball doesn't.
Steroids- Baseball's policy on steroid use has been a
joke, but, at least baseball gives lip service to eliminating
performance enhancing drugs from the sport. In football, at
least up until recently, steroids were practically a necessity.
Ties- Baseball resolves ties in the most sensible way
possible, by playing more baseball until a winner is achieved.
Football resolves ties by playing a basically different game.
Overtime football is so fundamentally different than regulation
time football that, from a strategic point of view, the game is
played in almost a completely unique way. In regulation, teams
try to score touchdowns, but, on occasion, settle for field
goals. In overtime, teams play for field position that will
enable them to attempt a field goal and are almost totally
disinterested in trying to score a touchdown. And don't get me
started on college football overtime.
Frozen Tundra- Just a note here, because as the weather
cools, you will begin hearing this term over and over. Tundra,
by its very nature, is frozen. You can't have unfrozen tundra.
Frozen Tundra is redundant.
Baseball has a lot of things that need fixing. Anyone who has
ever read this column before knows that I truly believe that,
but, even in its current imperfect state, baseball remains far,
far better than football.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Why does the Super Bowl
seem to be a bigger deal than the World Series when the Super
Bowl is usually boring and the World Series usually isn't?- D.F.,
First off, I think, the Super Bowl gets more hype because as
a one day event it lends itself to being hyped.
Secondarily, I think Major League Baseball has missed an
opportunity to showcase itself by playing its post season games
almost entirely at night with, mostly late starts. Additionally,
network coverage, with its added commercials, makes those late
starting games become late ending games. This is totally
unnecessary. Games should start earlier and the league and the
network should get together on making them shorter.
Having an occasional daytime World Series game would also help.
It makes the game seem more like an event. Currently, World
Series games, played in primetime, are made to seem like just
another prime time program. In other words, it's no big deal.
Lastly, a lot of people watch the Super Bowl even though they
are not football fans. Basically, there is usually nothing else
going on, particularly on Sunday, during that time of year. A
lot of people use the Super Bowl as a convenient excuse to have
a party during a dead time of year. Hopefully, the World Series
will never be reduced to that.
Send your question for the Big Kahuna to:
2006-Random Thoughts Of A Long, Hot Summer: It is most
regrettable, but it must be said. Style now rules over substance
in our culture. It has become much more important to appear
to be good than to actually be good. That's why a whole
generation of young players seem to be far more concerned with
the angle of their caps rather than how well they actually play
the game. Pointless fads and trends, including, but not limited
to, the pulling out of you back pockets, wearing odd colored
socks, having your pants tucked into your shoes, having your
pants draped over your shoes, have become popular recently. Good
habits of fundamental play have taken a back seat.
A long time ago, when most people in this country were farmers,
nobody told you how good they were. Their actions told you. We
even had a pretty cute saying about that. It went, "actions
speak louder than words."
Since becoming a more cosmopolitan society, it seems, that
humility is a bygone trait. And since words are as, if not more,
important than deeds, why not call attention to one's self as
much as possible. Even if you're not particularly good. Which is
how these fads get started and promulgate. People, when given
the freedom to choose, will often imitate one another.
Anyway, now that Dontrelle Willis is struggling to keep his
record at, or near, .500, can players go back to wearing their
hats correctly? I mean, and this is no knock on Willis, it is
one thing to be stupid. It is entirely another to make the
conscious choice to broadcast that stupidity.
Speaking of stupid, what the heck is up with ESPN. Is it me, or
are their announcers just getting dumber as time goes on. I
can't watch a highlight anymore without some empty suit saying
something completely idiotic. I mean, can't they just call a
home run a home run every once in a while?
While we are on the subject of ESPN, anybody else notice how
they have recently decided to become the official network of the
drunk, fat, stupid, lazy guy sitting in a potato chip crumb
encrusted recliner? Come on, highlights of old poker
tournaments? And now, for your entertainment...darts. What's
By the way, have you ever noticed that the vast majority of
Sportscenter's top ten plays usually are made by the losing
team. Check it out, sometime. Style over substance.
However, when it comes to cheap gimmickry, nobody tops the brand
new Continental League, an independent outfit set to begin play
in 2007. Bear in mind that, around here, we are big fans of
independent pro baseball, but we are rooting like heck for these
guys to fall on their faces. The league is touting a new rule
that would allow the first home run hit in a specific inning (I
believe it is the seventh inning) to count double.
You read that correctly. A home run will count double.
So, if a guy hits a two run home run his team will get four runs
(I'm not sure if he gets credit for four RBI or how the
pitcher's ERA is affected, but it's such a dumb rule, I don't
really care), if he hits a three run homer, it's worth six runs,
and so on.
I guess ESPN and Bud Selig and everybody else in league with
Satan have finally convinced enough people that baseball is not
good enough on its own, it needs gimmicks. And lots of them.
Baseball, dear reader, actually needs fewer gimmicks. A little
less noise at the ballparks, a little less of the glitzy
megatron scoreboards and hyper predictable canned music and
sound effects. When was the last time you were even mildly
amused by the sound of breaking glass coming over the PA system
after a foul ball? I long for the days when a major league park
was a palace instead of a casino, which is what they now most
Baseball is a quiet, reflective, thoughtful game that has plenty
of excitement if they would simply play the games a little
I find it ironic that new stadiums are constructed with an eye
toward getting the fans closer to the action, but that the
volume of prerecorded crap that comes out of the PA system,
prevents those fans from hearing the sounds of the players that
they are supposed to be closer to.
Way off the subject, but probably far more interesting, is this
little nugget. Did you know that three teams have never had a
player hit for the cycle?
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, in their brief, but painful history,
have never had a player hit for the cycle. The Florida Marlins,
in their slightly longer, and much more successful though still
painful, history have yet to have a player complete the cycle.
Surprisingly, the San Diego Padres, in business since 1969, have
not had a player hit for the cycle either. (I just figured you
needed a break from my complaining about virtually everything I
cast my eye toward. Okay, back to live action.)
This next item is for people who still think that the
wild card system is a good idea. Do you realize that two of the
following teams will not make the playoffs this season? The
Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers, the
Chicago White Sox, the Minnesota Twins. Three of those five will
make it, two will not, while the American League West will send
a team to the postseason. Shouldn't you, as a fan of baseball,
be outraged by that? The Texas Rangers might be in the playoffs
while the Twins (or Tigers, or Red Sox, etc.) might not. That's
just plain wrong.
Semi-relevant Question Of The Month: Why are the foul
poles called foul poles when they are in fair territory?- B.M.,
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Ah, the old chestnut resurfaces.
Actually, I have two answers, the more clinical of which I will
present first. The foul poles are called what they are called
because that is what they are named. You might be called Bob
only because that's what your mother named you and not because
you actually bob. Some people are named Angel who are clearly
the original intention was simply that the pole (and foul line,
which is also in fair territory, but somehow escapes the intense
scrutiny focused on the poles) was just there to mark the border
of fair and foul. Naming it, the pole which demarcates foul and
fair, must have seemed like a mouthful, so people, as they do,
shortened the name to its present moniker. I doubt, back in the
old days, anybody gave any thought to the fact that someday guys
would be hitting balls off the poles for home runs, because,
back then, the poles were normally way out of range for the dead
ball batters. The poles merely served as a guide for the umpire
to better judge when a ball had gone foul. Hence the name.
I think the name has only come into question since the rise in
popularity of the home run. Our home run obsessed society can't
imagine that the pole served any other function than sitting
there waiting to be hit by some curving line drive, thus
enabling us to celebrate yet another home run.
Of course, there is my other theory, which is that the first
poles were actually made of chicken wire and were intended to be
called "fowl poles" in honor of their building
material. This notion, was, of course, ridiculous, so, most
people, when they heard "fowl pole", thought, instead,
"foul pole", and that's how this whole thing got
Send your question for the Big Kahuna to:
May, 2006-The DH Factor or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love
The DH Rule:
I am frequently misidentified as a baseball
"purist". Since I am not totally clear on what being a
"purist" really entails, I cannot really deny or
accept the charge. On the other hand, I do consider myself a
traditionalist. That is, I believe that many baseball traditions
should be preserved and passed on to succeeding generations as
opposed to Major League Baseball's policy of discarding or
destroying many of baseball's endearing traditions, only to
rediscover them well past the point of their preservation or
revival and to wistfully celebrate them as some sort of
Having said that, and at the risk of having my traditionalist's
membership revoked, I will admit I prefer the American League
version of the game, the one with the designated hitter, to that
of the National League, where pitchers bat.
Before our office becomes flooded with your indignant e-mails,
let me assure you that I already know the vast and detailed
reasons why most fans, including ones that like interleague
play, the wild card, micro-divisions, etc. (you know,
non-traditionalists) hate the DH rule.
I know all about the anguished cries of the DH taking strategy
out of the game (I don't buy the premise, by the way, after all,
pitcher up, runner on base, less than two out...you know the
pitcher is bunting. Same situation, late in a close game, you know
a pinch hitter is coming up. That's not strategy. Since the
role of the starter has changed to one of six to seven innings,
the whole argument is kind of moot). The theory that pitchers,
not having to bat will make them more likely to throw at
opposing batters (the DH rule has been in force in the American
League for 33 years and there is no evidence to support this
claim) doesn't wash either.
So, while the DH position, is sort of odd and has only
grudgingly gained acceptance, it is still better than watching
most pitchers try and bat. While I'm not going to claim that the
DH adds strategy to the game (because, although I suspect
that this is true, I'm not sure I can offer sufficient support),
I will submit that the DH changes the dynamic of in game
strategy. And that's not necessarily bad.
Having said all that, here is my idea for reconciling all of the
arguments against the DH, while preserving the best element of
keeping the DH.
Ready? Okay, but before I reveal it to you, remember that this
is a copyrighted column and that you heard this here first.
To fix the DH rule and make more acceptable to almost everyone,
all that needs to be done is to allow each DH to only be allowed
to bat for one pitcher per game.
It's so simple, and yet, it needs an explanation.
Let's say that a player, we'll call him Ted Williams, is DH'ing
for a pitcher, let's call him Bob Feller. Williams can bat in
place of Feller as long as Feller remains in the game. As
soon as Feller is pulled for a relief pitcher, Williams is also
out of the game. New pitcher? New DH.
To modify this slightly, I would suggest that a manager does not
have to declare his new DH until the spot in the order is
actually due. This would enable managers to change pitchers will
almost the same regularity as they do now without wasting their
entire bench. Or you don't have to. Use six pitchers? You are
going to go through six DH's or some of your pitchers will have
to bat for themselves. Personally, I prefer the former, as
opposed to the latter, concept.
However, this new DH rule would still add a great deal of
strategy to the game. Example: Feller isn't pitching that well,
but Williams is hitting like, well, Ted Williams. Do you pull
Feller and lose Williams' bat from your lineup or do you try and
let Feller work it out? This immediately will change managers'
attitudes regarding the rather cavalier use of their bullpens.
It's so simple and yet it's nearly profound (alright, I'm
getting carried away, but you have to admit it's a wonder no one
else has thought of it in the past 33 years, or, if they have,
why it hasn't been adopted).
With the advent of this new rule, DH's like David Ortiz are
going to be less valuable (which, I think, is fair) unless they
can spend a larger part of the season playing a position instead
Now, I'm sure someone in Major League Baseball or the Major
League's Player's Association will find some asinine reason to
object to this proposal, but that only would affirm what a great
idea it really is.
Even if this new DH rule never goes any further than this
column, hopefully, it would at least serve as a guideline for
the way baseball should affect its changes. Baseball should
concentrate on subtle changes that may enhance the game, rather
than radical, sometimes irreversible, changes that dramatically
alter the game, especially if money is the primary, or sole,
Making the DH better would be a subtle rule change that, while
not drastically changing the game, would, in my opinion, make an
existing rule, a tradition, if you will, better. And I am, after
all, a traditionalist.
Relevant Question Of The Month: Should a designated
hitter be allowed to win a league's MVP Award?- D.D., Lynn, MA
The short answer is, yes.
The long answer is that a player that is, pretty much, a DH only
had better have way better numbers than an MVP candidate that is
a position player to get my vote (not that I have one).
Otherwise, you are declaring that defense is virtually worthless.
A great many of baseball's researchers and statistical gurus
have tried to reconcile the question of how much a player's
defensive abilities should count toward assessing a player's
overall value. While most experts disagree on the correct
proportion, I'm sure they all agree that the answer is
considerably higher than "not all all".
So, in my opinion, DH's can be considered for MVP Awards, but
their lack of a defensive contribution should, without question,
be held against them.
Send your question for the Big Kahuna to:
April, 2006-Heard Around The Ballpark:
You hear a lot of interesting
things at the ballpark these days. Some if it funny, some of it
enlightening, most of it downright silly.
You can't attend a game anymore without hearing some yutz
yelling, "you're pulling your head!", almost every
time a batter swings and misses.
This has become such a kneejerk reaction to a swinging strike
that people who might not have even been watching the batter
feel inclined to yell it. Here's a quick question: is it
possible for a batter to swing and miss without pulling his
head? Answer: of course it is. It happens quite frequently. So,
why has this overused phrase become so popular? Well, my guess
is that there are a lot of folks at baseball games who want to
try and sound like they are experts. Those kind of people have
picked up on this phrase as some sort of time tested batting
advice. It has remained in vogue because no one ever really has
contested its validity.
While it is true that "pulling your head" is not conducive
to batting success, it is not the root cause of all swinging
strikes. Nor is it the cause of most swinging strikes. It
is a problem that plagues some hitters some of the time.
Sometimes a batter swings and misses because the pitcher threw a
really, really good pitch. Yelling it out as reflex, every time,
a batter swings and misses is not only kind of ignorant, it can
also be detrimental. If a coach or trusted teammate offered this
nugget of wisdom to batter that was not moving his head too
much, it is possible, in some instances, that the batter may
overcompensate by focusing too much on his head (which he wasn't
pulling anyway) rather than focusing on the pitch.
So, while yelling the "pulling you head" thing may
make a player or fan feel like they are giving expert advice,
let the baseball world now know that when your hear someone cry
out that phrase, odds are that you are hearing someone who
probably doesn't have a clue as to what he is talking about.
The problem here is that the "pulling your head" cry
is most often heard by players.
Here are some other ridiculous things players have become fond
Players have become enamored with asking for an appeal in
situations where appeals are not applicable. Normally this
occurs when a player or manager disagrees with an umpire's call
and wants another umpire to reverse the decision. While umpires
almost never will reverse a call unless they had a better view and
the first umpire asks for help because he knows that he may
not have had the best angle to make the call, players have
started to try and get umpires to ask for help on every play
that they disagree with. Calling this an appeal is incorrect.
Asking to have an umpire that's 90 or more feet a way from a
play overrule an umpire that is right on top of a play is just
This just goes to show that players who do not understand the
rules and protocols of the game, shouldn't argue.
Here's something that you'll probably hear several times this
season: "there are no ties in baseball."
First of all, of course there are. While tie games are almost as
extinct as complete games by pitchers, they still exist.
In Japan's Major Leagues, ties are fairly common, but for those
who think that they do not or should not exist in the United
States, I quote from the Major League rule book, rule 4.10,
paragraph d, "if each team has the same number of runs when
the game ends, the umpire shall declare it a 'Tie Game."
Sounds to me like they are ties in baseball, even according to
the Major Leagues.
Occasionally, when a pitcher is throwing exceptionally well,
particularly if he has recorded a few strikeouts, a batter will
offer that, "this guy has got nothing."
I'm almost always forced to conclude in these instances that if
the pitcher really does have nothing and he just struck you, and
most of your teammates, out, than logic dictates, that you, in
fact, must stink. Yet batters say that all time.
Some batters like to mention, after a strikeout or particularly
bad at bat, that they can't hit slow stuff. And while this may
be, it appears that most of the players who say that they can't
hit slow stuff, can't hit fast stuff either.
Pitchers are not immune from this type of hilarity. Occasionally
after throwing a pitch that was called a ball, a pitcher will
query to the umpire, "where was that." The obvious
answer, of course, is, "outside the strike zone."
A lot of funny and nonsensical things get said in the stands,
but when players reveal how little they know and understand
about the game, it can be truly funny. And a little sad.
So, allow me to mention a few things that shouldn't have to
mentioned, but do.
Home plate is in fair territory. A ball that bounces past
first or third base in fair territory but lands in foul
territory is still fair. The hands are not part of the
And most importantly, while I can't speak for any other league,
in this league, the umpires do not care who wins and no, they
are not just in a hurry to go home. They may blow a few calls
now and then, but it is not because of favoritism or dereliction
Which brings us to the infield fly rule.
You want to laugh? Ask any 10 people at the ballpark to explain
the infield fly rule.
Whenever the infield fly rule is called in game, bewilderment
runs rampant through the stands. And sometimes on the field.
To avoid confusion, here's a primer on the most important things
you need to know about the infield fly rule:
A) There must be two forces in effect. In other words, there
must be runners on first and second or bases loaded.
B) There must be fewer than two out.
C) The ball must be fair for the rule to be in effect.
D) The play, in the umpire's judgment must be a fly ball (or pop
up, if you prefer) that can be caught by an infielder with
ordinary effort. This applies even if the infielder in question
fails to catch the ball or if someone other than an infielder
(an outfielder, for example) makes the play.
That's really all there is to it, yet you'd be surprised by how
much confusion reigns when the play is called.
And don't let me get started on balks.
If you did not enjoy or comprehend this column, you must have
pulled your head.
Relevant Question Of The Month: If, in fact, some of the
noted sluggers who have broken records in the past few years are
proven to have used steroids to achieve these marks, what should
baseball do about their entries in the record books?- T.M.,
As much as I have been railing about the steroid thing in
baseball since, oh, about the time Brady Anderson hit 50 home
runs in a season, my answer with regard to what should be done
about the record books is nothing.
It grieves me to say it, but Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire hit all
those home runs and if, someday, it is conclusively proven that
they cheated to do it, it does not change the fact that they hit
them and that baseball fostered a system that enabled them to do
be a great shame if Babe Ruth's and Roger Maris', among others,
records were wiped from the books because of doping, but since
Bud Selig (why am I always picking on this poor man?) and his
cronies, not to mention the player's union, chose to allow this
to happen by turning a blind eye to what was an evident problem,
than failing to sanction the records after they effectively
sanctioned the actions would be hypocritical.
So, if any record holder is found to be guilty of steroid use,
let their records stand as testimony to the owners and the
union's culpability to yet another stain on the history of the
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