So, baseball is back. It’s going to be different, but, we’re promised, it’s for the best.
Just remember this: nothing good ever comes from a situation that includes the words “it’s for the best.”
Beginning in late July, each team will play 60 regular-season games crammed into 66 days. For those of you that complain that games are too long, congratulations: You’ll get through an entire season in less than half the time!
“Hurry, Hurry,” you said.
You who complained about the length of games got exactly what you wanted – games will be shorter, in that there will be fewer of them. And, if it was the 3-1/2 hour games that annoyed you and not the 162-game season, then you should have been more specific when you were whipping up your stupid warlock incantation.
People who complain about long baseball games also, invariably, are the ones who complain about how expensive games are. And, yet longer games are a better value for your money, so explain that to me, Complainers.
This is a bizarro season wrapped in strangeness and covered in weird.
In other words, it is just like everything else these days.
And, let me just say this about that … I’m not comfortable reopening my studio, going out in public without a mask, or standing within 15 feet of a stranger. And, I’m not sure I’m comfortable asking Mike Trout and Mookie Betts and the entire Baltimore Orioles roster (whose names sort of escape me at the moment) to do that either.
But, if we’re going to do this … let me just say this about that …
Editor/Husband just asked if we’ll call the rest of the pre-season which will commence on July 1 “Spring Training” and his question paralyzed me. (Correct answer: MLB is calling it “Training.” Because lack of imagination is the springboard to a successful 60-game season.)
This season is so freaky-quirky-nutty-weird already that it’s pretty much a given that the Orioles will win the World Series. Yay.
I want to just touch on a few of the new rules the league has devised to make the upcoming 2020 season more comfortable and maybe even slightly safer for players. These rules – I’m just guessing here – were cobbled together by a special brainstorming team who spent an afternoon holed up in a conference room with six cans of Red Bull, a bag of Cheese Doodles, and a whiteboard.
If one good thing comes out of this global pandemic, it’s probably this rule about no spitting.
I look forward to its enforcement. Will a spitter be fined, reprimanded? Maybe the player’s mom can pop up on the Jumbotron via Skype to shame him.
And, will MLB one day issue a statement reinstating spitting?
March 2023 – Major League Baseball announced today that, due to growing “I Expect To Expectorate” protests by players, spitting will be allowed in all games in 2023. The league had banned spitting in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are pleased that our players can once again spit, as spitting is a God-given right all citizens deserve,” the Players’ Union said in a statement.
OK, if two good things come out of this global pandemic, this is probably number two.
Teams will, generally, play within their division and region. I suppose this makes sense. And, with the Orioles playing in the loaded AL East (and against equally loaded NL East rivals), it’s going to make their World Series victory all the more weird-wonderful.
When traveling, players will be encouraged not to leave their hotels for adventures, capers, or mischief-making.
If only Yankees centerfielder Ping Bodie were here to chuckle. When asked in 1920 about what it was like to room with Babe Ruth, he replied: “I don’t know. I room with his suitcase.”
(And, you thought there’d be no history today.)
Universal Designated Hitter (DH)
“Both leagues will use the DH to avoid overtaxing pitchers by having them hit.”—MLB.com
I love that baseball allows one league to have a DH and one league to not. That baseball can’t even agree on its basic rules is part of what makes it so adorable.
Random Aside: The idea of a designated hitter position was first raised by the President – of the National League!!! – in 1928.
I’m not quite clear on how this rule is supposed to really help, because is one, or maybe – maybe – two at-bats in a game that taxing?
Sure, pitch a complete nine-inning game and you’ll come to bat five times or so. That’s five opportunities to swing the bat a couple times, fake a bunt, ground out to first. There. Done.
But, who pitches a complete game?
In 2019, of the 2,430 regular season games, 45 – or just under two percent – included one pitcher going a full nine innings.
(Just 21 pitchers accounted for those 45 complete games – 60 percent were undertaxed AL pitchers, 40 percent were overtaxed NL pitchers.)
With the compressed 2020 schedule, we can expect 17 games to include a complete game pitcher.
There are a lot of numbers here.
But, the bottom line is this: complete games seem almost evenly spread between the AL and NL, which tells me that batting isn’t necessarily that taxing on pitchers after all, and anyway, was this the rule that the MLB brainstorming session wrote down before breaking for lunch and then forgot to cross off the list because it’s stupid?
No Licking Fingers.
I’m going to assume that this rule – which applies to pitchers – was also made to avoid overtaxing them.
Shortening Extra Innings
I’m sure you’ll agree, I’ve been pretty amenable to these changes up to now. I’m not sure how the universal DH is going to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but if you’re that gung-ho about it, then have at it.
But, a Bloggess has got to draw the line somewhere, and it is here.
In an effort to avoid long games, each half-inning in any extra innings will begin with a runner on second base.
Now, you’re just being stupid. No one wants that.
I suppose it was getting to be late on that Friday afternoon when the MLB brainstorming team decided that nothing would be worse than ending a nine-inning game in a tie.
Then a conscientious intern, who had been quiet up until this moment, looked around the table and said, “I know what would be worse. Begin each extra inning with a runner on second.”
But, the MLB brainstorming team was tired by now, as it was getting late on a Friday afternoon, and the brainstorming team’s brains were brainstormed out, what with the universal DH decision and all, and they didn’t hear the part when the conscientious intern said, “I know what would be worse,” they just heard, “Begin each extra inning with a runner on second,” and another intern, a non-conscientious one who was standing at the whiteboard wrote, “Begin each extra inning with a runner on second,” and they all said, “It’s for the best” and called it a day.
Just remember this: nothing good ever comes from a situation that includes the words “it’s for the best.”
I’m not at all happy about the DH in the National League. The Mets have the best hitting pitchers in baseball. DeGrom and Matz are better with the bat than most of the guys who bat sixth or later. Last year I was at a game where Syndergaard pitched a complete game shotout and hit a homer to win 1-0. How great is that? I’m with you on the extra-innings nonsense, but I’m very much looking forward to the 3-batter minimum rule. Nothing kills a game like multiple pitching changes.
Don’t you think MLB has been trying to put the Universal DH into the rulebook for years now and here’s their chance to slip it in? Now, when people complain they can jump up and wave their arms and yell, “COVID! COVID did it! We had no choice! Blame the pandemic!” Hmmmph.
Sure, I’m an AL Girl all the way, but I like that pitchers bat in the NL. Vive la différence!
Okay, I’ve gotta ask… Are you generating the Bart Simpson photos from somewhere? Because those are awesome. :)
Your Googler will take you there … search “Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator” and you’ll find lots of options. Some are better than others … as I had to test drive a few before I found the one that I liked.
I think from now on I will write all my work emails and notes using Bart at the chalkboard!
Oh, this could be fun. The possibilities are endless! Thanks for sharing. :)
I like your blog posts, but the chalkboard creator makes this specific post the bomb. (Oh, and I’ll be okay with the DH eventually, but not the extra innings runner.)
Thank you, Paul! Bart Simpson can be very persuasive! The DH thing just makes me sad, because I’ve always loved how baseball is so precise in some ways (distance between bases, height of the mound, etc.) and so inprecise in others (outfield dimensions, the DH in just one league, etc.)
The extra innings runner is horrible and pretty much unnecessary. Most extra inning games wrap by the 11th inning anyway. If tightening up extra innings is *that* important, I’d rather just say … if the game goes to 12 innings … let’s just call it a tie.
Jackie, a local (San Francisco) newspaper’s daily online “Sports Page”, talking about the extra inning, on-base decision, said (several times, in as many ways), “This will help make the games less boring”. This is a Sports Page. Reporting sports. “Less boring”.
This, from what used to be a major newspaper, in a town with a Major League team.
It is to weep.
That’s awful. 2020 is ruining everything … including sportswriters, apparently.
(P.S. I was this-close to cancelling my MLB “extra bases” for 2020 … because the season is just going to be such a trainwreck, and I’ll get the Orioles games at least on my locals … and then I thought, “Do I want to miss out on Kruk and Kuip — and the occasional visits from Jon Miller?” And, the answer is … No, of course not. In this crazy-bad-stupid-rule season, I don’t want to miss listening to them making sense of all this.)
Is the MLB record for longest game 26 innings? 32? 36? 7 hours 2 minutes? Seen a sunset and sunrise in the same game? Curfews.
From Baseball America: “From 2018-2019, 93% of extra inning games had wrapped up by the 11th. … From 2016-2017, 39 extra-inning games went 16 innings or longer (3% of all 1,429 extra-inning games). From 2018-2019 there were none.”
That new rule is not only stupid, it’s meaningless … and I hope it ends up in the trash bin of history at season’s end.
Two things – since most of “Spring Training” traditionally takes place in the winter (Feb/March) I don’t see why they can’t call July training “Spring Training” – or am I missing something here. Regarding spitting, which you seem to oppose, do you recommend that instead they swallow the phlegm instead. I just want to know what should be done with the phlegm. (Maybe a compromise could be a spittoon (shaped like a catcher’s mitt) behind the mound and adjacent to the batter’s box? Inquiring minds want to know.
You make a good point on Spring Training. (Spring Training originally did take place in the spring — mid-March through mid-April.)
The spitting though? Why is spitting such an important part of baseball? I don’t see basketball players spitting on the court when they play. I don’t spit in my office.
If ballplayers weren’t spitting all the time, they would stay well-hydrated … think of all the money the teams will save on Gatorade this season! The owners are going to love this!
On the upside, no team can lose 100 games this season. But that man on second in extra innings is right out of the bizarro world. Your explanation of how it happened seems quite possible in light of the outcome.
Hmmm … no chance of a 100-loss season? I like the sound of that.
In the new 60-game world, the Orioles will (if they keep true to their 2019 ways), end 2020 at 17-43. But, things are weird, so I still think they’re going to win the World Series.
I’m kind of ambivalent about even having a season at this point. They certainly aren’t doing this “for the fans”. Lots of great comments so far. That an alleged “Sports Writer “ would call baseball boring…. Makes one want to publicly rip off their epaulets, or whatever would be considered terminal shaming in their universe. But they apparently have no shame.
LOVE the BART Simpson series. So will they be returning strategically placed spittoons? As mentioned above, IMO, the worst abomination is that NL DH idiocy. I fear you can’t trust these clowns not to make it permanent because “It’s for the best “. You might as well just have players who only play in the field and also 9 designated hitters just for offense. Let’s just erase characters like Mario (“Manos de Seda”) Mendoza from history. Let’s by all means butcher the game for the benefit of greed and TV ratings (And I am aware that the sun rises in the East). 🤦🏼🤦🏼🤦🏼
Rant done now. Another great entry, Bloggess!
I think MLB has wanted the Universal DH for awhile and this is their excuse to slip it into the rulebook. I personally like that the AL and NL have different rules.
I think they’ve spent an awful lot of time over-thinking how to make the games flow better and have ended up with a mish-mash of new rules that won’t accomplish anything.
And, I think MLB has not spent near enough time figuring out how to deal with safety and mitigating the COVID threat to players, coaches, and all the staff. And, I’m not sure there is a way to accomplish that.
If players start to get sick … don’t blame me. I don’t think I’m comfortable with any of this.
I figure the whole year will have an asterisk by the team and player going forward. The new rules, great only 70 losses this year even with a lead on 2nd. Spitting oh the great. -This will make it more elegant?
DH in NL. Einsteins at work again, flailing.
Yep so far zero fan of these rules.
I like the “no spitting” rule … I don’t understand why MLB hasn’t banned smokeless tobacco already. I also like the “no fighting” rule … although it was already pretty much a rule, but I like that they’ve made a new rule out of an old rule (it’s like a Russian nesting doll of baseball rules). And any rule that is specifically an attempt to mitigate COVID is ok by me.
The same blow-holes who cry about the length of baseball are the same people who revel in seventeen-minute replay reviews in the NFL.
I think you’re right!
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