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July 22, 2019
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Abner Doubleday Must Be Rolling Over in His Grave

Feb 10 2019

The morning news was on as I prepared for work the other morning. It was the usual stuff about the government shut down, rogue cops, violent winter weather and environmental hazards. Then it took a turn for the worse! Major League Baseball, it seems, is considering some rule changes: a twenty second pitch clock, limiting the number of visits to the pitcher's mound from six per game to five, pitchers being required to face a minimum of three batters, and starting every inning after the ninth with a runner already on second base. Why In the world would they try to fix a game which is already perfect?

While my theological and political views are a blend of left, right and center, when it comes to the national pastime, I am a far right fundamentalist! I believe the designated hitter's origins stem from a Communist plot created during the heart of the Cold War: nine players play, nine players should hit. Period.

I believe that Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa should never be allowed in the Hall of Fame: Hank, Willie and the Babe didn't need to juice up (Well, the Babe was a bit of a juicer in a different sense) and they earned their plaques in Cooperstown honestly.

I believe the Wild Card is ridiculously illogical. How can a team that came in second place be named champion? Can the second fastest runner in the Olympics win the gold medal? Nonsense! (I confess, however, that, in the years the Braves have won the wild card, it began to make a little more sense to me.)

Before going further, I suppose I owe it to MLB to be vulnerable for a moment. The truth is, I DO believe in the divisional breakdowns of the leagues, umpires standing behind home plate instead of on the pitchers mound, and the live ball. None of these things were part of the game in the beginning. In fact, there was even a time when players didn't have gloves. Nonetheless, I'm not opposed to the use of baseball mitts. However, gloves, live balls, and divisions have been part of baseball since I became a fan in the early 70s. To me these are the fundamentals of the game, but they haven't always been.

So perhaps I'm not truly the baseball fundamentalist I claim to be, but these potential new changes are too much. Okay, one less mound visit isnt a huge change, but all four of these proposed changes are designed to speed up the game. Why? Have we become such an ADD culture that we need to play the national pastime on Hyperspeed?

And what about the 'free' runner on second in extra inning games! Are our attention spans so short that we need to rush through the wonderful, unexpected gift of free baseball when we are blessed with it? I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that extra innings are a miraculous gift from God. They should be savored like sweet honey in the rock.

As for the 20 second pitch clock, why don't they just have a pitching machine on the mound? Machines can be programmed to throw at any interval one wishes. Or better yet, let's turn MLB into adult Tee ball. No pitching necessary at all. That would also eliminate the rule for pitchers having to face a minimum of three hitters, perhaps the most repugnant of all the proposed changes.

It will be a while, if ever, before these rules come into the major leagues. Like the DH and interleague play, I suppose I'll adjust if and when they do, but, like the DH and interleague play, I'll never stop complaining about them.

Just like old timers once complained about the sissy ball players who needed gloves to protect their tender hands.

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