Friday, March 15, 2019

I Think I Have Come Around

I have been a baseball fan all my life. The first team I rooted for was the Dodgers ... the Brooklyn Dodgers! I remember two distinct 8 team leagues, the best team in each league going directly to the World Series. I am old school!

All sports have changed over the years, but baseball fans tend to be very conservative and resist change more than fans of the other sports. But that's not to say that baseball hasn't changed over the more than 100 years that it has been played. Pitchers are no longer required to pitch underhand and batters are no longer allowed to instruct pitchers as to where they want the pitch. Fielders no longer get runners out by hitting them with a thrown ball and balls that bounce over the fence are no longer homeruns. Of course, these rule changes themselves go back more than 100 years. More recently the leagues have lost most of their distinction as separate entities - only being differentiated today by the use of the Designated Hitter in the American League. But the leagues now are both under the administration of Major League Baseball and not a League President, and there is interleague play. Each league now has 3 divisions and Wild Cards vie for a spot in the World Series - no longer are the best teams in each league guaranteed a spot in the World Series ... they have to play a series of playoffs to get there. The fifth best team can now represent its league. Want to issue an intentional walk to an opposing player? No longer do four pitches have to be thrown, with the possibility of a wild pitch occurring, but now you simply tell the batter to take first. The mound is now lower than it was in the pre-1969 era. And there is a clock that is used between innings and pitcher changes.

Baseball used to be the undisputed National Game, but over the years it has lost that distinction. Today's generations don't seem to have the patience for the game. Games that used to take 2 hours or less when I was a kid often approach 4 hours today. And baseball is addressing the issue to try to bring back some of the lost gleam of the game. After resisting drastic change over the years, I have finally come around and realize that change is indeed needed.

In principle, I am not in favor of wild card teams, but I have to admit, it has made a big difference in keeping baseball exciting for longer in more cities than would have been involved in the pennant race without them.

Instant replay has come to MLB in the past few years and it has prevented more than a few incorrect calls from changing games. If instant replay had been in play on June 1, 2012, my team which has been playing major league baseball since 1962 would still not have had a no-hitter. Sorry Johan Santana, but Carlos Beltran's ball should have been called fair. Instant replay would have assured that it was.

This year will see a number of changes to speed up the game and keep in competitive in the late part of the season. More changes will be added next year. I am finally on board with it - and realize that baseball needs to evolve to survive!

One thing though ... PLEASE ... do not bring the designated hitter to the National League!!!

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