Advertisement
Baseball

Dear Baseball, Stop Being Fucking Stupid

After a riveting postseason, Baseball is trying to ruin itself.

by Sean Newell
Feb 21 2018, 9:11pm

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In lieu of free agency news, the baseball hot stove has turned into a race to the bottom to see just what new fresh hell we can conjure within the sport rather than confront the current fresh hells staring us in the face. Is there collusion between owners in an attempt to drive down salaries? Have we incentivized ownership-as-investment portfolio at the expense of fielding a major league squad? Will Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton make me an honorary member of Dingers, Inc.? No one seems to want to contemplate these pending questions. Instead we get baseball talking about pace of play and reaching the youths, while throwing out suggestions like a pitch clock, fewer mound visits, and this piece of TOTAL. INSANITY:

To briefly summarize since no one in their right mind has the attention span to watch a five-minute video on the internet, Rich Eisen claims that a baseball executive says MLB has been discussing a system in which managers of the losing team heading into the ninth inning would be permitted to pick any three batters, regardless of their place in the lineup, to lead off the inning. This means that theoretically, if the heart of your order went down 1-2-3 in the eighth inning, you could conceivably trot them back up there one inning later. After that...no one really knows, they haven't figured out the nitty gritty details like "what happens in extra innings?" or "why even have lineups at all, let's just let three guys hit all game?" Regardless, it is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard of, and friends, I've seen the whole Michael Rapaport-Barstool dustup.

Then there's this: a newspaper columnist in Florida who suggests we just make the game seven innings long instead of nine.

Here's the thing: baseball could use some changes, there is no doubt about that. Tony La Russa sufficiently fetishized the role of manager-as-chessmaster so that the pitching mound turns into a revolving door come the fifth inning. Specialization in baseball has gotten to such a place that usually there are at least three relievers on staff with a dedicated inning, some with a dedicated batter, and that's if things work out perfectly. Batters pop into and out of the batter's box with abandon and when they finally do get back in, they are swinging with less abandon. Commercials continue to infiltrate the game and make every single aspect of life worse.

Maybe I am a traditionalist—though I do not consider myself to be—but when you start fucking around with batting order at the last possible moment, baseball ceases to resemble the game it was for the previous eight innings. Let's make the ninth inning a home run derby. Let's put hologram 1982 Ricky Henderson on second base to start extra innings. If you're losing, you get to pick your own opposing pitcher for the ninth.

So, here is a modest proposal: make good faith efforts to improve pace of play but also acknowledge that the business and culture of baseball are part of the problem here—not just the game itself. Maybe start tweaking the business end before you start introducing Fungo bats or whatever. And make good faith efforts to reach a younger audience—maybe stop being openly contemptuous of your fans who want to share multimedia, or allow players to admit that it is actually fun to play this game—and stop floating completely stupid ideas like, "let us welcome chaos."

Invest in your diverse and youthful crop of rising superstars who mash taters, race around the bases, throw absolute gas, and dive all over the field. People will watch that because people like baseball. I promise you, there's no need to change it to FutureBall.

This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.