I’ve Been Thinking …

Dearest Reader,

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.

The Washington Times, 3/30/1918

“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.

Seriously.

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?

Photo by Marco Fischer on Pexels.com

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.

Ghost Runners

1979

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.

The Shift

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

22 thoughts on “I’ve Been Thinking …

  1. Okay, so many things in this post hit home for me. Your question about why does it feel so damn hot when it’s 98 degrees when we’re 98 degrees? I’ve wondered that so many times, and oh my goodness, it’s so nice to know I’m not the only one! And the bit about craving french fries. And your rant about Daylight Savings Time. The imperfections of baseball. So many good and true things here.

  2. I’m with you on the ghost runner but am very disappointed in the universal DH. We will never again be able to experience the kind of excitement we felt when Bartolo Colon hit a home run.

  3. 1. Ghost runner either messes up or adds a new dimension to Who’s On First? Think about it.
    2. The only uniformity in baseball is uniforms.
    3. Until my “ninth inning” or final “at-bat,” the best baseball player I ever saw, TV or live, is Roberto Clemente. Best looking? Sorry, Jim Palmer, it’s Yogi.
    4. Thanks. This blog entry was really fun.

  4. – I love the universal DH. Who wants to see pitchers hit? Not me. The American League has been the premier league for most of the last 50 years because of this rule difference. I want to see good hitters hit. I don’t want to see a pitching specialist be forced to do something he’s not good at. And let’s be honest, most pitchers can’t hit. Do I like when pitchers get hits? Sure, but it’s too rare so let’s just abandon the idea that they “should” be good at it. Do I want a singer to dance?…. only if he’s good at it. Do I want quarterbacks to play defense just because most football players were two-way players over 70 years ago? No. It’s ok to be a specialist.

    – I’m not sure about the other rules changes such as the shift and the ghost runner. Like you said, why are we taking away a strategic option? On the other hand, I don’t want to see David Ortiz hit the other way or bunt because the defense plays all/most infielders on the right side. I want to see him pull the ball to right field. So making a rule change to “better” the game seems logical. Of course, what is “better”? Well, why did the NBA outlaw the zone defense? Why did football change the rules to help the passing game? In each case, it was to “better” the game. Sports evolve. I’m not against a new idea just because it’s untraditional. Still, I’m torn on this idea. As for the ghost runner, my idea is that maybe they should wait until the 12th inning or later to institute the ghost runner. I would view this as a compromise between the old and new. Why make such a drastic change the minute the game goes into extras? How about we wait a few innings and then if we still don’t have an outcome, then we institute the change in the 12th inning or so in order to keep the game from going 19 innings?

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    Reid

    • You make good points, Dutch. There is something quirky about the two leagues having different rules regarding pitchers and DH’s. I like that, but maybe that’s not reason enough to keep the rule.

      On the other hand, I really wish they would not tinker with the shift. I would have loved to see David Ortiz bunt! I’m quite sweet on the bunt and wish players did it more often. I also think that many power hitters don’t stretch themselves … if they’re good enough to play in the big leagues, aren’t they good enough to learn to do more than just pull the ball? As Wee Willie Keeler always said, “I hit ’em where they ain’t.”

      So, I’m good with the ghost runner in the 10th … you’re good with the ghost runner in the 12th. Compromise at the 11th? Deal?

  5. Pingback: Why is my phone ringing now?: March 27 – A Silly Place

  6. Glad you’re back Jackie! 21-1!!! Incredible. Maybe a happy compromise is in order with the ghost runner? Let the 10th and 11th, be like extra innings of old and then in the 12th, add the runner? I’m with you 100 percent on loving the two distinct leagues with different rules and strategies and what not. Makes the world series feel like two foreign countries in a friendly clash.

    • So, if I’m pro-Ghost Runner in the 10th and you’re pro-Ghost Runner in the 12th, how about we compromise with the 11th? Maybe our ability to compromise will encourage MLB and the players union to try to do the same in their dealings … rather than squabble about everything.

  7. So good to see the Blogess back! Loved the variety of thoughts on this one. I’m no fan of the shift rule; when did fielding strategy and hitting strategy go out of style? By the way, thank you for putting into words the reason why I avoid Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

  8. Why aren’t we neighbors?? We’d have such fun discussing all the points from Reese’s (you mean it’s possible not to eat the whole thing?) to hand scoring (LOVED doing that for my brother’s teams back in the day) to titanium (“seriously” is the correct response) to the shift (not a fan, myself). I’m thrilled your UVA men are crushing it this season! Congratulations to them and cheers to their continued success. My beloved Huskies (my baby’s team) have been weather-canceled twice thus far, and hoping for a real opener Thursday.

    • The UVa men are no longer crushing it … but it was fun while it lasted. And, I wish we WERE neighbors, Wendy. We would be besties. I just know it! :) P.S. I appreciated your Brewers letting the Orioles at least win one game this season. Whew. 1-161 … that sounds about right.

Say "Hey" ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.