Monday, June 16, 2008
Baseball and the Official McBone Policy on Controversial Issues.
Say all you want about football and the widespread popularity it enjoys. Baseball is the grandest game in the land. Period. End of story. Done. I could spend a few paragraphs explaining why, but that would be for a later post.
However, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that our pastime has become tainted of late. Therefore I would like to dedicate this space to all those issues in baseball that, in its history, have sparked copious and often emotional debate. I will attempt to be as comprehensive as possible in outlining the official McBone position on each subject. Hopefully, Major League Baseball is listening and will follow suit.
Steroids. Ah, the scandal du jour. Anabolic steroids, HGH and other supplements are perhaps the most grievous stain in the history of our precious sport. And what better way to highlight this than a look at the game's most sacred record, the home run? Henry Aaron hit 755 home runs the right way, through hard work, dedication and a hell of a lot of talent. Add in the pressure of playing in the face of hate and racism and you see a man worthy of holding this record. Now, after all that has come to light about baseball's arch villain, Barry Bonds, does anyone doubt who the real home run king is? McBone doesn't. The McBone Solution: Random testing and stiffer penalties for offenders. How about a lifetime ban for three-time losers? My best argument for these actions? Ken Caminiti.
The Designated Hitter. Listen, I get where the purists are coming from. I do. In fact I would label myself a partial purist when it comes to baseball, but I'll fight for the DH until my dying day. In the long history of professional baseball, pitchers have been utterly awful when asked to swing a bat. Take these athletes off the mound and what do you get? The equivalent of 110 pound weaklings trying to hit invisible bullets with a fly swatter. With a very few exceptions, the pitcher can be counted on to be as close to an automatic out as there is in the sport. What, exactly, is the point of seeing a guy wave at the ball? On the other hand, who wants to see bad fielders field? McB solution: The National League adopts the designated hitter immediately and apologizes for making us watch hopeless banjo hitters striking out for the past 35 years. Also, any pitcher who so much as looks at a bat will slapped silly by a 110 pound weakling with a fly swatter.
Spitballs. Baseball has a long and colorful history of cheating, and not all of it is necessarily bad. Doctoring a ball is a form of cheating endorsed by McBone in every form, be it by adding a foreign substance like mucous or scuffing with an emery board. The solution: take no action. Pitchers will continue to doctor at their own risk.
Interleague play. Here's where my purist tendencies shine through most brightly. While I admit that I was once intrigued by the idea, interleague play, in my opinion, has done little but detract from the game. Where once a respective league held a certain mystique to the other, today that mystery has been diminished almost totally. Too, interleague play undermines long-established rivalries between league opponents. For example, the New York Yankees already made their first and only trip to Cleveland in 2008--a four game set in late April. In a 162 game season, that is absurd. Did the recent visit of the San Diego Padres to Progressive Field really raise any eyebrows? No. McB Solution: End the experiment now and never speak of it again.
Work Stoppages. Be it a strike or a holdout, work stoppages rank right up there with steroids as the game's biggest abomination. All of these bastards are rich, and us poor slobs just want to watch a ballgame. McB Solution: Any party responsible for a possible work stoppage, be it the owners, umpires or players, will be lowered into a vat of sulphuric acid. 1994--never again!
Gambling. Here is an issue that doesn't really wind me up as much as the others, but since gambling has resulted in the banishment of Pete Rose (justified, you insufferable knucklehead!) and much of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, I feel compelled to speak. Gambling should be forbidden to any party having a direct or indirect influence on the outcome of a game. This goes double for umpires, whose strike zones are already arbitrary and incomprehensible enough without having to worry about sleazeball gamblers lining their pockets. McB Solution: No change. Banished players stay banished.
Instant Replay. NO! I know I just bitched about how arbitrary the umpires seem to be, but let's keep the game as human as possible. McB Solution: Just drop the subject and deal with the mistakes.
Corked Bats. McBone heartily supports the corking of bats. McB solution: See spitballs.
Free Agency. Few could have foreseen the revolting orgy that is today's market when free agency reared its ugly head in 1975. So what are we stuck with? Take my beloved Indians as an example. In succession, I have watched our best players, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome walk away for a bigger paycheck. Can I blame them, you ask. Fucking fuck yes! And when C.C. Sabathia is shipped off this season for prospects because we can't pay him, I will blame him too. And good luck to the team that gives him the inevitable 7+ years at 20+ million per annum. But the real point of this is, Major League Baseball has the worst salary structure in all of pro sports. I don't even want to talk about Alex Rodriguez and the a-hole Texas team that invested all of its capital in one player, but I will say he is the poster child for all that is wrong with a sport in which 4 teams can afford to be competitive every year. McB Solution: Salary caps, revenue sharing and massacre Scott Boras.
The Wild Card/Playoff structure. The playoffs in baseball last one month. That is as it should be. The NBA playoffs have been lingering now for most of the Bush administration, and does anybody outside of LA or Boston even know? Baseball got it right when it arrived at its current structure, and the wild card allows two underdog teams to shine every year, even though that underdog is always, always the Red Sox or the Yankees in the AL (see above regarding free agency). McB Solution: October is as good as it gets. Change nothing.
The Length of the Season. 154 games never hurt nobody. Neither did 162. What's 8 games? Play 'em.
Speeding up the Game. One of the beauties of baseball is that the game paces itself. No clocks. No incessant late game timeouts. Measures have been taken already to make the game go faster, from limiting the duration of mound meetings to restricting how much a batter can adjust and gesticulate between pitches. None of them seem to work. McB Solution: People who are bored by baseball are hopeless. Do not cater to them. Just leave well enough alone and let the players play. HOWEVER, I am intrigued by the idea of allowing only one pickoff move per batter, not because it will speed the game up but because I'd like to see more stolen bases.
The Strike Zone. Last I checked, the official Major League strike zone was the width of the plate and from the armpits to the knees. The umpires are much more consistent in calling the plate. Most umps, however, have lowered the top of the zone to the batter's belt. You wanna speed up the game? Call the proper strike zone. Oh, but wait, that would mean more pitcher's duels and fewer runs, and we can't have that, can we? Our love of offense is what got us into this whole steroid mess in the first place. McB Solution: Change the rules, lower the zone and shut up about speeding up the game.
Artificial Turf. No.
Domes. Only retractable roofs are admissible.
Expansion. Baseball is really pushing it with Tampa Bay and Arizona, but especially with Tampa Bay. McB Solution: Enough already. It's not fair to take a team away, but just stop watering down the pool of talent, especially when it comes to quality pitching. No more teams!
Players who deserve to have big fat ugly asterisks tattooed to their foreheads: Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Raphael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens.
Am I forgetting anything? Please feel free to post any issues I've neglected to mention, or your own opinions regarding our great game.
Posted by McBone at 9:21 PM