Tuesday Musings on Baseball

Loyal readers of The Catch (many thanks to you both!) may have noticed that we took a few days off from the busy job of writing about baseball and recapping the Jax Shrimp games. That was due to work from the real world job that, you know, attempts to pay the bills. It turned out to be a very busy week. It was also due to the fact that I’m kind of angry at baseball and needed a few days to just sort out the displeasure.

You might say “Wait a sec…how can you be mad at baseball?” Well, allow me to explain.

I’ve been angry at the sport for a while now. And when I say “the sport” I mean the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, who runs the sport in conjunction with the owners of the 30 Major League Baseball teams. I’ve been unhappy with their efforts to monetize every last thing in baseball to the detriment of the sport as a whole, despite the fact that the league and owners are raking in billions in revenue each and every year. I’m unhappy with their ham-handed attempts to publicize the game, which seem to only drive people away. I’m disgusted by baseball’s stance regarding the forthcoming Collective Bargaining talks – and yes, it looks to me like we will be having a lockout. I’m perpetually annoyed that baseball (and all other sports, to be fair) makes a habit of begging for millions and billions in stadium money from municipalities, while privatizing the outsized profit from those very same stadia. I’m still angry at the way Baseball decimated the minor leagues in the last off-season, axing 40 teams and unknown numbers of employees both on-the-field and off. Apparently the people that run baseball somehow believe that “less baseball” will make it more popular or something or some other. It’s an asinine concept that does nothing more than keep teams from having to spend the equivalent of the salary of a rookie utility guy to ensure that all of the minor league players are adequately paid, housed, and fed.

And now? Now it is the absolutely unforced, yet all-too-typical, error from baseball in allowing the use of foreign substances by pitchers to become a gigantic issue with outsized attention on the matter, because they are afraid of, well, the reaction by players, or over-working the umpires, or offending the owners…I don’t know. But it didn’t have to get to the point that the story is dominating the coverage of the game. All they had to do was enforce the current rules as soon as they learned about it and this issue would have been a whole lot of nothing. I wrote about it here almost a month ago. But yet, the league dithered, and dithered some more before they decided to write a memo. The memo would take 10 days or so to compose and then they had to talk and talk and talk about it. And THEN they could possibly take some unspecified action to bring this all to a halt. The league never ever seems to learn. But an ejection and 10-game suspension is a start.

Cheating does not make baseball better. It makes it worse. Much worse. Just look at how awful the product on the field has become due to pitchers being able to control their pitches with greater precision. It stinks! Walk, home run, or strike out. That’s all we seem to get these days.

Baseball will not recover from this scandal – and yes, it is a scandal – until there is full and complete accountability. Who knew what and when, and why did they all look the other way? But accountability and baseball don’t seem to mix very well. Baseball still has not fully accounted for the steroids scandal of the 1990’s/early 2000’s, or the Astros cheating scandal, or the Yanks/Red Sox cheating scandal…all of which were met with a few firings (and more memos), and that’s about it. Tell me that you won’t look at pitcher stats from the past five to seven years and wonder if they used grip? Who doesn’t get to the Hall of Fame as a result? It will be the steroids era all over again.

So there you go…that’s why I’m angry with baseball. I’ve always been of the mindset that ignoring problems or pretending something is super awesome when you know better is never the best way to effectuate change. Addressing it head on, changing what was bad, and continuing to improve what’s good, is the only way forward for baseball. I just hope they listen.

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