Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Designate This

Baseball season is in full swing. They say nobody really pays attention until after Memorial Day, which is good because both Chicago teams should be in last place by then.

I'm a baseball junkie. Box scores in the morning, games at night, and every..single..highlight I can catch.

Each year they offer a preview of the MLB channel the first week of the season. I have warned my family if we ever subscribe they will awaken to find me asleep in front of the TV in a bed of peanut shells.

Baseball is perfectly imperfect. No clock. Nine inning games, unless there's extras. Three strikes, three outs, which could take three batters or thirty.

Baseball is a thinker's game and a stats paradise. Every matchup is an alphabet soup of WHIP, OBP, RISP and ERA.

Baseball fields are wonderfully different and distinct, other than the base paths. From the Green Monster at Fenway Park to McCovey's Cove in San Francisco, each outfield is unique. What other sport requires managers to come out, in a uniform, and hear about the ground rules before a game?

Not every imperfection is perfect, of course. I prefer ballplayers who don't resemble Rockem Sockem robots and get have their juice freshly squeezed, not from a lab. The Designated Hitter? Phooey!

And I hate interleague play.

Until the mid-90s, baseball was the only major sport where teams competed in separate leagues until the World Series. As a kid I remember watching the Game of the Week on NBC (which was THE Game of the Week). It felt like every game featured either the Dodgers or Yankees. But never against each other. If you were a Dodgers fan, you're only shot at the mighty Yankees is by winning the pennant. The Series was it, champions of the National League against champions of the American League.

Then they messed it up.

The suits decided that the game need teams to play across the leagues, but only a couple of times a year. Interleague contests would rotate every four years or so, except some local rivalries (Yankees-Mets, Cubs-Sox, A's Giants) which would be every year.

I get it. Yankees-Mets and Cubs-Sox can be fun. But for every one of those we get duds like Cubs-Orioles or Sox-Padres.

Interleague play screws up schedules, travel and rivalries. For example, the Cubs and Cardinals meet only a handful of times in order to accommodate their AL friends.

And yes, it does water down the World Series. But it's hard to put the toothpaste (or HGH) back in the bottle.

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