From the nightmare file:  Baseball Commissioner Rick Reilly

Rick Reilly — recycling a piece he did a few years ago, but we’ll let that slide since I’ve been known to recycle myself — has laid out all of the things he’d do if he were put in charge of baseball. Anyone who knows just how much I love Rick Reilly will know how happy I am to have his suggestions. Let us exalt them, shall we?

First his preamble:

I personally find baseball so crushingly boring I would happily plunge knitting needles into my eyes to avoid another snap zoom of Joe Torre’s nostril hairs. But my buddies like it, so I sit and watch with them. And bitch.

And with that we now have license to ignore anything Rick Reilly ever has to say about baseball from now until the end of time. At least if we weren’t ignoring him already. I mean, you don’t have to be a cheerleader to write about a sport, and in fact, it’s probably better that you not be one, but when you come out and admit that hate your subject in such stark terms, you’ve pretty much abandoned the moral high ground.

On to his suggestions:

We’ll put in a pitch clock. The reason baseball is slower than cold honey tipped over is that there’s no clock when men are on base.

I’m with Reilly when it comes to wanting to move the game along, but that’s because I like to see a good crisp game. I get the sense that Reilly’s suggestions are to simply get the game over with because, like he said, he hates baseball. In any event, his complaints appear to be more about the batter (i.e. the calling of time, the adjusting of equipment) than the pitcher. To that I’d say that rather than introduce a dumb clock, why doesn’t Commissioner Reilly simply insist on stricter enforcement of Rule 6.02 which clearly gives the umps the ability to tell a batter to get bent if he asks for time for no reason? This, combined with a strict enforcement of Rule 8.04 (“When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball”) would probably be better than putting a game clock on the field.

Once a week, every player signs autographs for 10 minutes by the dugout. Don’t tell me you’re too busy, Mr. Seven-Car Garage. I’ve seen you elbows-deep in the clubhouse porn stash.

Does Reilly ever go to games? Most players — at least most of the players whose autographs anyone wants — spend a lot of time signing stuff before games. Indeed, players seem far more generous with their time in this regard than they were 15-20 years ago.

We’ll bring in Olympic testing. Saying “baseball players cheat” is like saying “wolves like hamburger.” In the Small-Balls era, nobody — not the players, not the owners, not the writers — tried to stop it. Where were all these books when we needed them? But when I bring in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) — and let it test anytime, road or home — we’ll finally see who’s faker than Octomom’s lips.

Nice timely reference there, Rick. Got anything about Monica Lewinsky? You certainly had time to come up with those kinds of jokes back in the 90s when you weren’t writing anything about steroids. Oh, forgot, you wrote this hard hitting cover story about Mark McGwire (“Mr. McGwire: your home run chase seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?”).

If you’re 0-for-4, the crowd picks your at-bat music. Is it my fault if they choose “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston?

Nah, it’s not your fault, Rick. Those crazy kids are suffering so badly from Billy Preston-mania that they can’t help themselves.

The National League will get the DH. No more pitchers swinging a bat at a ball the way Paris Hilton swings a shovel at a moth.

My God. This dude is paid how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of year to write one 800 word column a week, and he still can’t make a remotely current pop culture reference worth a damn? And screw you for wanting the DH in the National League. I’ll accept (before rejecting) such arguments from people who know and care a bit about baseball, but I won’t hear it from dilettantes like you.

We’ll fine more players. The NFL fines guys $5,000 for not having their socks right. Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin got a $25,000 fine for shoving a guy. But often, Selig yawns when pitchers throw 95 mph retaliation beanballs. You want to brain a guy just because he stood in the box after his moon shot? Okay. We’ll fine you until your kids end up in public school.

I’m fine with raising the fines somewhat, but I don’t come at it from the position of wanting on-field decorum to match that found in the NFL and the NBA. No reason.

Umps will be in charge of rainouts year round, not the home team. I’m sick of seeing a full house soak for two hours 59 minutes waiting for the manager to get word from his owner to call it, just because the greedball wants to sell more $9 beers. We’ll put Double Doppler 9000 in the umps’ room, and they’ll decide in under an hour.

I actually have no quarrel with this one.

Balls that hit the foul pole are foul. Duh.

Duh yourself. However misnamed they may be, the foul poles are a vertical extension of the foul lines. Are you suggesting that balls that hit the chalk are foul too?

A prospect won’t be allowed to enter an MLB farm system until he’s the age of a college sophomore, just like in the NBA. Over the years, I’ve noticed most baseball players are dumber than toe lint. This is because many of them report to the minors even before graduating high school.

Rick, do you really want to push the line that someone should be prevented from pursuing their chosen profession because they’re dumb? Because I don’t think that bodes well for you, my friend. At least an 18 year-old ballplayer does some things well.

And most important, if you’re the dweeb fan on your cell behind home plate waving at the camera, the rest of your section gets to pour beer down your shorts.

Again, no quarrel.

Now shut up and watch the game.

Look, I realize that Rick Reilly is the five-time winner of the Buckeye Newshawk award or whatever it is, but if I ever become this bitter while being highly paid to do something as wonderful as write about sports for a living, I implore you, shoot me in the temple and end my misery.

(thanks, I think, to Richard Dansky for pointing me towards this lazy, hateful dreck)

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  1. Levi Stahl said...

    Columns like this are one of the reasons I love Joe Posnanski so much; after years of reading Reilly and his ilk, it’s such a pleasure to read someone who actually loves the game like a fan and hasn’t let his professional relationship to it embitter him

  2. Chris said...

    I may be wrong here, but doesn’t the NBA allow players to come straight out of high school?  Wasn’t Lebron James an example of that?  Or is this recycled article so old that a rule change happened after it was written and Rick didn’t bother proofing?

  3. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Levi and Matt—Thanks.

    Chris: now they must play one year in college or be the age of a college sophomore. LeBron, Kobe, and hell, Moses Malone came up before that rule changed.

  4. RickyB said...

    I agree completely with you Craig. I played some college baseball tournaments that used a pitch clock. After you get used to it (a couple innings), you don’t even think about it. Twenty seconds between pitches, 90 seconds from the last out of an inning to the first pitch of the next. Granted, MLB would never do the 90 seconds between innings due to advertiser time. And clubs wouldn’t want the 20-second clock due to concession sales. One last thing—if you’re going to complain about his pop culture references, you probably shouldn’t go with a WKRP reference yourself.

  5. Grant said...

    As Keith Law always argues, age limits aren’t really about maturity. The NFL and NBA like having colleges as free farm systems. The NCAA is basically a subsidized minor leagues making billionaire owners richer.

    And if you’re a baseball team, why in hell would you want college coaches abusing the hell out of your pitchers’ arms if you can avoid it in some circumstances. This is dumb. So dumb.

  6. Ben2009 said...

    Nice take-down Craig.  The worst part about Reilly is the lack of originality.  “Oh, baseball is ‘boring’?”  “Put in a clock?”  Dumb, non-baseball fans have been saying things like that for decades.  How ‘bout an original thought every once in a while.

    Again, great piece.

  7. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    I personally think the sentence is for Reilly to pitch BP. To Albert Pujols. Without a screen. Or a glove.

  8. Aaron Moreno said...

    Uh, the baseball players who report to the minors before finishing high school are typically foreign-born. Making them wait until 20 to draw a salary probable won’t do them any good.

  9. J. McCann said...

    Now we know why he wasn’t working for the sports leader all along.

    He should stick to humorous topics and avoid trying to use his non-existent brain.

  10. Jeff Waldhoff said...


    I’ve been reading your columns sporadically for about a year now and more regularly this season.

    After this response, I am an even bigger fan of your writing.  Reilly has been terrible for some time; glad you called him out.  I’ll also say that the areas of agreement you have with Reilly are pretty much the same as mine.

    As a fellow attorney and baseball fan, I’m glad to read your columns.

    Good to see Dayn Perry on these comment boards!

    All best.

  11. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Thanks Jeff!  And Dayn isn’t really a fan. I have pictures of him in compromising positions and in exchange for my not releasing them, he posts comments here periodically in order to give this operation an aire of respectability.

  12. Dayn Perry said...

    Great takedown, Craig. On another level, I’ll be damned if I let a shill for a nap-o-matic sport like golf tell me baseball is boring.

  13. David said...

    Reilly’s jokes are about as original as a politician doing something “for the children”.

    His pop culture references are more desperate than Scott Bakula signing autographs at the Cheboygan Sci-Fi Convention. 

    His arguments are about as novel as Webster’s Dictionary.


    There seems to be an anti-player/anti-union, pro-authority public mindset that’s infected the baseball world over the past few years, and several of Reilly’s remarks are examples.

    1. Forcing players to sign autographs.
    2. [EDIT:  Dave, I’ve warned you before.  Keep this homophobic crap out of my comments section.  I and everyone else is sick of it.]
    3. Fining players more money.


    It’s the same sort of fake populism that’s robbed Republicans of true conservatism (a vacuum which was then insidiously filled by neoconservatism).  The formula is basically to have some proxy for the authorities (in this case, Reilly) talk about how horrible the people and workers are and how the authorities don’t have enough power.  The people then turn on each other and clamor for the authorities to take more money and freedom away from their fellow common man.  The authorities then create more rules, laws, and taxes which do indeed rob the original target of their money and freedom….but, of course, it also robs the duped populace of their money and freedom, too. 

    I guess that’s how all fake populism works: get the people hating each other so that the established powers can use their hatred to steal everything away from them.

  14. Michael said...

    Rick Reilly is examples #1, 2 and 3 of What’s Wrong With Sports Reporting.

    Why does he win awards? Same reason that Mitch Albom (#6 by the way – one after Jeff Pearlman and one before Jim Rome) does: once every few years he stops spewing crap and writes an uplifting feel-good book. Then he goes back to spewing crap.

    He has zero credibility even BEFORE he admits he hates the game he pretends to cover. My favorite moment in his career: the Colbert Report audience booing him.

  15. hermitfool said...

    Sage advice for beginning writers? Write about what you know. Does Reilly possess specialized knowledge about any particular subject?

    Anyone? Clearly baseball isn’t one of them.

  16. YankeesfanLen said...

    Is this Rick guy channeling Mike Lupica?  Does he also write politics in his spare time?

  17. harry said...

    great job. reilly’s columns continue to really disappoint since he arrived at ESPN. he writes one 800-word column a week and this is the best he can come up with? it scares me that a huge number of people read and respect him as a sports writer when he finds one of the most popular sports in the world “crushingly boring.” please do something original reilly.

  18. AndrewJ said...

    I personally find baseball so crushingly boring I would happily plunge knitting needles into my eyes to avoid another snap zoom of Joe Torre’s nostril hairs. But my buddies like it, so I sit and watch with them. And bitch.

    Getting baseball advice from Rick Reilly is like taking skiing tips from Natasha Richardson.

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