Every time I sit down to write you, more often than you would think, the words that were perched on the edge of the fattiest part of my brain – (consult your high school biology to “brain-GPS” your way to the cerebrum) – just disappear.
What was it that I wanted to say before the latest bad news got in the way?
Determined to write something … dammit, anything … before this month expires, I made a list.
It’s a list I scribbled on the back of my scorecard last week as the en fuego 🔥🔥 Virginia Cavaliers won yet another game in grand-slamming fashion.
Virginia baseball, currently 21-1 as I write, is off to its best start in its 134-year history.
Here’s a poem I wrote about it for you.
I don’t want to gloat.
So I won’t.
I cobbled the list together on March 19, 2022, as the University of Virginia defeated Boston College 18-1.
First, a test. Can you find the two grand slams?
Five home runs. Two grand slams. Fun.
But, back to the list, written on the back of a scorecard between innings.
1) The problem with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Hey, they’re good, I’ll give you that. But, once you take a cup, you’re locked in. Its meltiness and shape make it hard to just take a bite and tuck the rest away for later. Sure, it’s possible, but also messy. Give me the versatility of the break-me-off-a-piece KitKat or take-a-handful M&M’s any day.
2) If the average human body temperature is 98.6, why does it feel so hot when it’s 98 degrees outside? Shouldn’t 98 degrees feel “just right”?
3) The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill earlier this month to make daylight saving time permanent and they were pretty proud of themselves. Passing a bill – a bill that experts think is both stupid and dangerous – because Senators lost an hour of sleep, when they are unable to pass bills that would actually improve things in our country (voting rights, anyone?) pretty much tells you all you need to know about Washington dysfunction. First adopted by the United States in 1918 as part of the war effort, Congress enacted a permanent daylight saving time in 1973. It failed miserably and Congress un-enacted it in 1974.
“Daylight will last an hour longer, which can be used for tennis or other sports.”
4) Why are so many major league baseball players so flighty over vaccinations? These are players who, even within the rules, stuff themselves with vitamins, muscle milks, energy drinks, and all manner of suspect supplements. These are players who, for several seasons, wore titanium “power” necklaces because they believed wearing the necklace made them stronger.
5) Dieticians and nutritionists will assure you that if you slowly reduce the amount of salt or sugar in your meals, you will lose your taste for it within a couple of weeks. This is their “never fail” plan for helping people reduce sodium or sugar in their diets. But, if weaning off of something will reduce your taste for it, why am I still hungry for French fries, even when I haven’t eaten them in weeks?
They should be their own food group.
6) Humans are the only animals that can intentionally delay sleep. We are idiots.
7) Aren’t people who say “I have no words” lying?
And, finally, baseball:
8) The Universal DH vs. the Ghost Runner vs. the Shift
In order to start the season, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association (aka the union) came to a no-one-is-really-happy-but-we’ll-pretend-we-are agreement.
MLB and the players union are like the college couple who no longer like each other, but uncomfortably stay together because they don’t know how to divvy up their friends if they break up – who’s going to get custody of the friend whose parents have the beach house in Rehoboth?
The Universal DH
One of the rules MLB and the players union agreed on – let’s call it the “permanent daylight saving time” rule – was to institute the Universal DH. Beginning immediately, the National League will play by the same Designated Hitter rule the American League has used since 1973.
Look, whatever. It’s both sort of fun and sort of sad to see a pitcher bat.
I’m going to miss pitchers wearing jackets while on base.
One of my favorite things about baseball is its perfect imperfection.
Every ballpark with its different dimensions … different ground rules … players shifting to play in whatever position they want (I’ll get to that) … and two leagues with completely different rules about pitchers and the DH.
A perfect game with imperfect rules … Why would you take that away from me?Embed from Getty Images
Shohei Ohtani. His own DH.
Ghosts are not new to baseball.
I love the Ghost Runner. For all you non-baseball nerdies, last season baseball tried out a Ghost Runner (aka the “Manfred Man”). In extra innings, a runner would be placed at second to start an inning.
Weirdly, most people hate it. I love it. After what was likely a four-hour slog through a nine-inning game that no one seems able to win, let’s just figure this out so we can all go home.
Unweirdly, players love it. Why? After what was likely a four-hour slog through a nine-inning game that no one seems able to win, let’s just figure this out so we can all go home.
It’s back. Hooray.
And, now, to the shift – the opportunity for position players to reposition themselves to take hits away from players who seem to know how to hit to only one place. Let’s call them “one-dimensional hitters.” That’s what beloved former Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis calls them.
Beginning next season, baseball will ban the shift – no longer allowing position players to reposition themselves.
Doesn’t this seem un-American to you? Aren’t we the land of opportunity where people are encouraged to think outside the box, spread their wings, and move outside their lanes? Isn’t the shift what freedom is all about?
I’m no ballplayer. But, beloved former Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis is. (Was.)
What he said.
Opening Day for the major leagues is April 7.
College ball is well underway. (Did I mention that Virginia is, as I write, 21-1?)
PerfectlyImperfectly’fully Yours, The Baseball Bloggess