Sunday, July 16, 2017

THE ALL-STAR GAME: ANOTHER BASEBALL CLASSIC GONE

Actually, it's just misunderstood.  I've been reading that the All-Star game doesn't have the same zing it used to. They have tried to instill some life or urgency into it by making the game decide what team gets the home field advantage in the World Series. As with most major decisions the Commissioner's office makes, it was not well thought out. In fact, it seemed NO thought was put into it. How can you make an exhibition game decide something so important? You can't, and the baseball powers finally woke up to that fact and went back to the exhibition format.

The game has lost some of it's appeal and there is a very good reason that the Home Run Derby has taken over the excitement of the all-star break.  Originally, the game was meant to showcase the stars of the game and show off their unique skills to the fans. If you lived in an American League city, what chance did you have to see National League stars and vice-versa? How would Whitey Ford pitch to Willie Mays? (Not well, if I remember correctly) Can Mickey hit a homer against Warren Spahn? (Mantle could hit a homer against a howitzer.)  Baseball games were on National TV once a week and they usually featured big-market teams like the Dodgers or the Giants, Yankees or Cubs. The lowly Kansas City Athletics could have played in their skivvies and still not get those TV cameras in their stadium.  So the only place to see these players and match-ups, was the All-Star game.

But now, it's all different. ALL teams have their games on TV. Inter-league games are quite common.  ESPN and Fox Sports will show you every exciting play wherever it took place. You can see every team and every star play every single day. Where is that unique opportunity that created the all-star excitement?  Plus, it's still not a real game. Almost everybody plays. Pitchers pitch one inning or to just one batter. Position players change almost before you realize they were in the game. It used to be that the starters played at least three innings. Even the starting pitcher would often go three innings. As Jacques Clouseau (Pink Panther series) would say: "Not any more."  A lot of the players aren't really all-stars anyway, just the best player a particular team has. Don't get me wrong, the players try hard. That professional competitiveness is inherent in them, but that's the only motivation. It isn't the money (never thought I'd write that about professional sports), because they don't get any cash for winning or losing. They do get perks that are worth more than a factory worker makes in a year.

So forget the actual game. Make it skills contest only. A home run derby. Who has the most accurate outfield arm? Who runs the bases the fastest? Compare their paychecks. That will excite those $12-an-hour fast food workers.

It'll never happen.

Congratulations to those fans who witnessed another Yankee-Red Sox classic marathon. Sixteen innings and just a tad short of six hours. And just to see who has the stamina, the two teams will play a double header today. 34 innings of baseball in the space of about 30 hours. We could see two brand new teams on Monday.

***THEY SAID IT***
"Titans cornerback Logan Ryan wed former Rutgers softballer Ashley Bragg. I’m guessing he allowed her to complete a few passes and she let him get past first base."  -- RJ Currie
"So forget politics, let’s get a real argument going – should the SF Giants pick up Pablo Sandoval since the Red Sox are paying his salary?"  -- Janice Hough
" Los Angeles is expecting to host the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympics. By that time, Trump’s border wall should be built and Mexico will be favored to win gold in the Pole Vault."  -- TC Chong
" Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said when he was a kid that he drank paint because he thought it’d make it harder to tackle him. Actually, this makes as much sense as Wheaties."  -- Brad Dickson
"Before Aaron Judge was given the starting right fielder’s job with the Yankees, before he became the star of his team, the star of this Yankee team was supposed to be its bullpen.How’s that working out for them?"  -- Mike Lupica

" MLB commissioner Rob Manfred – NY’s Aaron Judge “can become the face of the game.” Yankees fans are going, “You mean he isn’t already?  -- Janice Hough
"A good question for which there is no good answer: A reliever who enters the game in the ninth with a four-run lead is then destroyed [for four runs]. But he has not blown a save because he’s not eligible to blow a save. Who thinks this stuff up?”  -- NY Post reader Ronald Wieck
"Bills defensive lineman Adolphus Washington was arrested Sunday for improperly carrying a concealed firearm outside the Splash Park water park in Sharonville, Ohio. Unfortunately for Washington, it wasn’t a squirt gun."  -- Dwight Perry

"A Cleveland artist created a bust of LeBron James from dryer lint. The painstaking effort took months to perfect. Then LeBron shaved his head and so the artist has to start over."  -- Brad Dickson

"LPGA rookie player S. Santiwiwatthanaphong of Thailand, who finished 11th in last week’s tournament was almost assessed a 2 stroke penalty for taking too long to sign her scorecard. Not only that, but she also managed to crash the “Spellcheck” app on the LPGA computers."  -- TC Chong
"Packers TE Martellus Bennett’s top five QBs had Jay Cutler above two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning. At the risk of dating myself, that’s like ranking Phyliss Diller above Farrah Fawcett for best hair."  -- RJ Currie

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Sunday, July 09, 2017

SEE HOW EASY THIS IS?

Major League Baseball has been talking for 2 years (longer, actually) about speeding up the game. The best minds in the front office have come up with some of the most ineffectual and inane suggestions you'd ever want to hear. such as these brilliant ideas:
**Institute a 20-second pitch clock.  On the face of it, a good idea, but when MLB got through with it, they've watered it down with details. When he steps off the rubber, the clock would restart. Or, the clock would just pause wherever the countdown happened to be. Didn't anyone realize what that meant? It's no pitch clock if the pitcher can pause it by stepping off.
**The batter must keep at least one foot in the batters box at all times. Then they "fixed" it by saying the batter could step out completely if he swung and fouled it off or swung and missed.  Oh yeah, the penalty for stepping out? They fine him a few hundred dollars. With the money these guys make, it's like fining me a buck and a quarter for shooting someone.
**Cut the time between innings by 20 seconds, Which amounts to about six minutes per game...if they enforce it. They won't, of course, because that means shortening commercial time and that will never happen.
**Eliminate the four-pitch intentional walk, just send him to first base. This works and saves maybe one whole hour a season. Wow.

Yesterday, the Yanks and the Brewers played 9 innings in 2 hours and 36 minutes. How did they do it? The Brewers pitcher, Brent Suter simply stayed on the mound after a pitch, took the return throw, stepped back on the rubber, got the sign and pitched. All of it was unforced by the umpire. In one at bat, Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge not only stayed in the box, he stayed in his pose to hit the ball. I believe his 6-pitch at bat took about two and a half minutes. Enforce the first two suggestions listed and this is what you get; a speedy game.

**Someone explain this to me.
The Brewers are in first place in the NL Central by four and a half games, heading toward a 90-win season. How are they doing this by fielding like they've never seen a glove before. They've made 69 errors so far, including SEVEN in the last two games.
Two of the "smartest" base runners on the Yankees, ran themselves into the dumbest double play I've seen since two Yankees were thrown out at home on one play. On a ball hit back to the pitcher, Didi Gregorious wandered too far of 2nd and got caught in a rundown. The batter, Chase Headley, tried to take second on the play, decided he couldn't make it and got nailed trying to get back to first.  When things go bad...

**Happy to hear that Terry Francona, Indians manager, is out of the hospital after a successful heart procedure. He is currently, in my opinion, the best manager in baseball. I think he's better managing while lying in a hospital bed than Girardi is in the dugout.

**There is always talk about players competing in the home run derby screwing up their swings and suffering through a poor 2nd half because of it. It has happened in the past. There are two guys in the contest this year that I don't believe will have that problem: Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. Why? Because neither guy has to over swing to hit the ball out. We will find out if I'm right.

***THEY SAID IT***
"Victoria Azarenka has advanced to the 4th round at Wimbledon. Azarenka gave birth to her 1st child in December  2016. Four words “Weaker sex my ass.”"  -- Janice Hough
"The Cincinnati Reds Billy Hamilton was finally tagged out by the Rays after a 6-5-2-4-5-7 rundown between third base and home. The good news for Hamilton is he was credited with completing his first 5K."  -- Brad Dickson
"Cornerback Shareece Wright took a 450-mile Uber ride to Buffalo to make the Bills' voluntary offseason workout. At the very least, he's a lock for the taxi squad."  -- RJ Currie
"Mets farmhand Tim Tebow hit his fourth career minor league homer Wednesday, passing Michael Jordan on the all-time list"  -- Dwight Perry
"The CFL has begun and Winnipeg starts their season with a bye. If the league gave them 2 bye weeks in a row, they could be mathematically eliminated after week 2."  -- TC Chong
"Cubs outfielder John Jay pitched a scoreless 9th despite throwing pitches in the 50s. In related news Jamie Moyer just unretired."  -- Janice Hough
"Frustrated Wimbledon player Daniil Medvedev threw money at the umpire’s chair. Throwing money at officials only works when you’re trying to host a World Cup."  -- Brad Dickson
"Odell Beckham reported to Giants minicamp with “Shhhhh!!!” on his Nikes. Not to be outdone, Browns players this season will have “Wake up!!!” on their cleats."  -- RJ Currie
"A charity hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., broke a record by lasting nearly 10½ days. Shattering the old mark set by a Yankees-Red Sox doubleheader."  -- Dwight Perry
"“Knicks admit concern that the only team dumb enough to trade for Carmelo Anthony might be the Knicks.”  -- SportsPickle. com

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