Baseball, Babies & Bathwater
My annual Pitchers & Catchers Report column on Baseball. WAIT! Don’t touch that dial...
For those of you who Hate Baseball because… DO NOT GO AWAY. There is incredible Life Advice and a whole host of clever bon mots interspersed among the Baseball crap.
You all know I love watching MLB on MLB.tv. 2019 will be my 4th season… watching 150 games is my annual goal. It’s the best $120 I spend each year.
I gave my bro-in-law Hunter The Helpful Hardware Man – a lifelong Cardinals fan – a subscription to 2019 MLB.tv. You know me and unique Christmas gifts.
So I called the MLB.tv Help Desk. Sure ‘nuff, I get Hadji in their Mumbai call center. You all know “Hadji in Mumbai” right?
Bless Hadji’s heart, we played “2-handed solitaire w/ decks of 51” for three minutes, getting nowhere, as usual.
“This ain’t working, Hadji.” … “No BobLee, not very well BobLee” … Hadji gets a nickel every time he mentions the caller’s name. “Goodbye Hadji” … “Goodbye BobLee, can we send you a Customer Service evaluation form, BobLee” … “Not a good idea, Hadji”. Hadji made $.20 and I got an Anecdote.
I called back an hour later… got Rick in Secaucus and we’re all set to go.
I am a proud member of THE #1 All Time Largest Marketing Demographic in American history – “Baby Boomers”… alas, we are dying off daily if not hourly. Hardly a month goes by that I’m not notified of a classmate or old friend’s passing.
I keep my “dark blue funeral suit” in a To Go Bag by the back door.
Most of us/them were avid fans of Mantle, Mays, Gibson, Aaron, Bench, Schmidt, Brett, Ryan etc etc …
To MLB Marketing Gurus, dead / dying fans’ opinions don’t count …. Hard to argue with that logic.
I want Baseball to stay relevant and “traditional” where it makes sense to do so. Hence… don’t be throwing babies out with the bathwater.
The fate of “babies” in our society is in the news a lot lately. I best not go there on this platform.
I’m a Baseball Lifer. As noted, I watch 150+ Cardinals games/yr via MLB.tv but rarely get to an MLB game in-person. I love all the things that I’m supposed to love about The Game of Baseball…. no clock, the geometric perfection of the field, the distinct smell of hot dog mustard and beer, et al.
Game 7 / 1960 WS (Mazeroski HR) and Game 6 / 2011 WS (Freese HR) are IMO two Bestest ballgames ever… but 2017 WS Astros/LAD was REALLY GREAT too…
BASEBALL better be looking down the road for upcoming marketing targets… be they Yuppies, Gen-Xers, Millennials (yuck!) or …… Baseball better NOT take a “you kids get off my lawn” attitude.
The Get off My Lawn” grumps are a highly vocal bunch. They are pissed off about most of present day Life including Baseball. They are really pissed off that nobody really cares that they are pissed off. Don’t be one of them.
That doesn’t mean a Focus Group of Playstation nerds get to rewrite the RuleBook. It also doesn’t mean a Focus Group of grumpy old guys with bad prostates get to either. MLB should keep spitballing ideas and test’em in Winter Ball.
The former players on MLB Network are REALLY smart guys especially John Smoltz, Ron Darling, Mark Derosa, Dan Plesac (former Wolfpacker, right TBK?), Harold Reynolds et al. Kevin Millar not so much but every circus needs a clown. Their votes should count 5X each. NOTE: Any DNC staffer can show MLB how to do that.
Put Joe Torre in charge of Implementing Any Changes.
Not sure what to do with Lauren Shehadi. But Lauren sitting on a stool giggling brightens any day.
(A Few) PROPOSED RULE CHANGES:
A Universal DH…
That means allowing a DH in The National League. The NL is, I think, the ONLY Baseball League on Earth without the DH. Even Korea has it!
No one gets giddy about “a double switch” more than I do but… it’s time NL.
Betcha don’t know… with current MLB pitching logic, a starting pitcher only goes maybe five innings, or 100 pitches or so. Currently an NL starting pitcher only gets to bat ONCE, TWICE at most on rare occasion.
A starting pitcher not named Scherzer, Verlander or Kershaw going 7-8-9 innings is rarer than an MLB team without three interpreters.
Non-starting pitchers NEVER get to bat. The last time that happened, everyone was wearing stirrup socks… and Twitter was something birds did.
Put the DH in the NL and around the 3rd inning, a real batter comes to the plate instead of a pitcher flailing at three pitches like he is being attacked by wasps. That same “real batter” would also bat instead of the even more hapless relief pitchers. Ergo, NOT requiring a manager to burn a bench player for every pitcher at-bat.
If you don’t understand the above, trust me. Joe Torre understands it.
Changing The Mound:
Chatter now about either lowering the pitcher’s mound and/or moving it back an undetermined length.
The last time the mound was tinkered with was 1969 after Bob Gibson had a 1.00 ERA. The physics of pitching from an elevated mound favors the pitcher, especially ones throwing 100 mph.
A LOT of pitchers can throw around 100 mph now. Tinkering with mound elevation / distance gives a slight edge to batters. MLB has figured out that strike-outs are NOT as exciting as balls put in play… DUH.
Hitting a 100 mph pitch from 60’6” is really really hard to do. Try counting a hummingbird’s wing flaps.
I favor lowering the mound 6″ or so, but NOT moving it back YET.
Pitch Clocks. Launch Angles, Outlaw Shift and other ideas are “Gimmicks”. If Gimmicks worked everyone would own a BowFlex and a ThighMaster.
There comes a point where just hearing the words “Harper” and “Machado” is like putting rocks in a blender and turning it to Puree. I reached that point at least a month ago. Aaarrrgghhh.
The Big $$$ MLBers – any pro athlete – makes means nothing to me. It’s all just Monopoly Money.
Anyone who gets upset about player salaries needs to have Shingles for a month. That focuses one on a real problem.
MBL is a Billion $$$ Business . The 700 or so MLBers are the best in the world at what they do. What Ty Cobb made is as irrelevant as what a Model T Ford costs in 1910.
MLB owners ARE Rich Old White Guys. A lot of folks, even those NOT Lib/Dems, HATE Rich Old White Guys because… . I HATE some stuff that might be equally irrational. “Hitting my head on a cabinet door” has always been on my short list.
If I was a Rich Old White Guy MLB Owner I would never give a contract longer than 5 years… 6 at the very most. Pay a proven Superstar $50M/year but not for longer than 5-6 years.
ANOTHER ITEM… re: Free Agents signings… ROWGs have always been owners BUT NOW the GMs are Ivy League MBAs and not “Baseball People”. All decisions are based on “analytics”. Think about THAT.
Take agents off of a commission basis and pay them a set “salary”. Contract negotiations would be done in time for lunch.
I realized there IS a difference between $25M and $30M. $5M… Right?
But at what level of A LOT OF $$$ is one’s lifestyle different? To quote Ol’ Roy… how many golf balls does a man need?
If I make $30M and you make $25M does my tacky mega-mansion have two more bathrooms and three more hot tubs than yours. Does my wife constantly remind your wife that we have more hot tubs than you do?
Do players who grew up in poverty in Latin America measure “Happiness / Success” in hot tubs and gold chains? I didn’t… so I don’t know.
That’s enough for now.
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