WARNING: The following blog contains discussion of baseball, a sport many people find boring. If you are prone to narcoleptic episodes, or profess to find baseball "boring" while, in the next breath, you gush enthusiasm for what, in this country, is called "soccer," please read no further.
I take this break from argument over over-population and other serious matters to address an issue very personal to me. As I have written here, and stated on "Civil Discourse Now," several times, I am a baseball fan. The only baseball I played as a kid was one summer of organized ball (during the summer when I turned from nine to 10 years of age) for the ... I really hate to use these words ... White Sox in the Western Recreational League, and then years of backyard/sandlot games. The most used, if not more popular field, was behind Wayne and Bruce Savage's house. Don Shepard, a local farmer, had a field behind home plate, and, quite often, we had to retrieve baseballs from rows of whatever he grew any particular year. At most, as I recall, we had six people per team, but usually only three or four. "Pitcher's hand" was a rule that supplanted the need for a first baseman. There were few argued calls. The big goal---no one achieved, but we all tried---was to hit a ball so deep into left field it would hit and shatter the house of the Hicks kid next door.
We were Hoosiers, therefore we played basketball year-round. We also played football with the little pee-wee footballs, so, at ages 10 or 11, we could sling a pass with as much authority as any pro. Our hands were rather outsized by real footballs.
Baseball only was played in the summer. I nearly always had my fielder's mitt looped over the handlebars of my Schwinn 26-inch bike or, later, my 3-speed Murray knock-off of a Schwinn Stingray. One never knew when a game would happen, or somebody might only want to play knock-out flies.
We also played home run derby, usually at the Martins' field. That was a dicey proposition as the field was enclosed by an electric fence. At the Martins' field, also, we usually played whiffle ball. Still, the games were played during summertime. When we played at the Downeys', home plate was the top surface of a boulder sunk deep into the ground. Breaks there were great because they had a flowing well, of natural water, across the road. I always ran the really cold (57 degrees?) water over my wrists for half-a-minute before I drank. My mother, a registered nurse, had told me I could avoid cramps that way. Maybe she was wrong, but I never cramped after I started doing that.
We listened to the World Series on transistor radios with ear plugs, snuck into school. Today, such devices would look both primitive and, when seen by school personnel too young to remember, thought to be a weapon of some sort. But I digress.
One hundred sixty-two (162) games were played each season. Until 1969, there were two leagues. The winner of each played in the World Series. The 1965 World Series, between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Minnesota Twins---the AL MVP that year was Minnesota's Zoilo Versailles---went the full seven games and was over October 14. This is October 23. Tonight the Series begins, between the St. Louis Cardinals---whom I loathe almost as much as any other team (except the Yankees)---and the Boston Red Sox---whose fans have become cocky with two World Series champions the past few years. The air outside is cold. It is conceivable Boston could get hit with snow at some point before the Series is over. I am fairly sure little ice cream will be sold in the stands of either Chavez Ravine or Fenway.
In 1969 the leagues and the playoffs were expanded. Major League Baseball saw the potential for profit. Later, more teams were added and more rounds of playoffs created. I would say: give it up. I do not want to watch the Game of Summer played by guys in earmuffs whose breath one can see.
These are my proposals for change in Major League Baseball:
1) The season would open no earlier than April 10---in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America. I am not a fan of the Redlegs (the bastards have played decent ball the past few seasons and no longer are good tickets cheap and easy to scalp), but a fan of the Game. Opening Day traditionally took place in Cincinnati, the oldest baseball club, and everyone else played the next day. That is called tradition. Opening Day in Japan is called Money. I understand the popularity of baseball in Japan (although I do not believe I ever shall see why people are attracted to the game Americans call "soccer"), but they have their own professional league. We have our leagues and our Opening Day should occur here.
2) The season would end no later than September 15. I say this date because it would accommodate the many rounds of playoffs that now are played. Keep those rounds: fine. Just end the season before the displays for Christmas go up in store (a date that gets earlier each year).
3) To accomplish this goal, we would bring back double-headers. Maybe you do not like baseball, but that is not the point. Unlike football, people in the stands are not riveted to each play. Baseball is the only sport in which fans lean back and visit while the ball is in play, or drink heavily and visit while the ball is in play. If the owners would be bummed out by the return of double headers---eliminated, presumably, because owners lose the gate of two games to one price---then clear out the ball park after the front end of the double header and charge people to re-enter the ball park. The return of double headers would compress the season in such a way as to make that September 15 end-of-season date feasible to accomplish.
4) Abolish the designated hitter rule. This has nothing to do with the season being too long. That's just my thought on that subject.
Baseball seems, now, to end in winter conditions. Of course, the National Hockey League stages its Stanley Cup series in June. That makes as little sense as baseball being played in wintry conditions.
If you have noticed, I have not mentioned the team of which I am a fan, the Chicago Cubs National League Baseball Club. That is because the topic of this blog has dealt, in large part, with post-season play and the World Series. At this time, I do not believe mention of the Cubs would be relevant.