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Thursday, May 21, 2009
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)
Despite all of my Esaskyesque anxiety about Joey Votto's dizziness, it turns out the problem was quite minor:
And the Joey Votto diagnosis is: INNER EAR INFECTION.
(link via BTF)
I'm the king of multitasking, there is none higher, sucka part-time bloggers should call me sire:
The Dodgers have let bloggers into their press box. Phil Gurnee of True Blue L.A. gives us the lowdown:
First off, front row is tops no matter how high you are, front row right behind home plate, with protection overhead is about as good as it gets. My only concern was taking a foul ball in the noggin while I was writing. The media has a good thing going. The Dodgers provide them with pages of pre - game notes filled with information that bloggers have spent hours in the past figuring out for themselves. The Dodgers provide a buffet that they subsidize which includes sandwich meats, grilled chicken, prime rib, various mexican entree's, and salads. For free you get drinks, popcorn, cookies, and Ice Cream. When the game ends the Dodgers provide within 1/2 an hour a complete post - game synopsis with more data then you could ever hope to include into a game recap.
I'm not one of those Shi'ite bloggers who think that being allowed access to the world of beat reporting some sort of betrayal to the concept of blogging or whatever. While there are still some important differences between bloggers and professional writers, it's not 2005 anymore, the "war" between bloggers and the mainstream media is beyond passé. Readers don't care if you're inside or outside, plugged-in or not. If you write well and have interesting things to say people will read you. If you don't, they won't, and it doesn't matter where your byline appears.
But I think I'd still resist the press box for a very important reason: if you sit in the press box you're not allowed to cheer and you're not allowed to drink.
Think about that for a minute and ask yourself: could you even watch, let alone enjoy baseball if you weren't allowed to cheer or drink? OK, maybe I could live without the beer if I had too, but I cheer even at games between teams I don't care about, and I'm not sure anything could stop me from doing so if I were sitting in the really good seat of the press box.
The point of ATH is to distill the boxscore and give a quick thumbnail of what went on -- or at least what interesting to me went on -- in a game. Obviously I'm going to miss a lot of interesting stuff in the course of a game with such an approach, so I always love it when someone hips me to something cool that happened.
Last night reader Connor Doyle -- whom some of you may know as Diesel -- had this observation about the second Marlins-Diamondbacks game:
A.J. Hinch may have justified his hiring with this one move: In the bottom of the 11th with the score tied, Tony Peña (in his second inning of work) put runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. Hinch called on closer Chad Qualls, who had been warm since the inning before, which immediately brought guffaws from the booth (Mark Grace even went so far as to say, "Even if they get out of this ... then what?" as if there were anything more important than getting out of that inning). Qualls proceeded to get two groundballs for a groundout and a double play, which was enough to get the erstwhile critical Gracie to proclaim Hinch a "genius."
I thought the Hinch hiring was as strange as the next guy, but really, let's give the guy a chance to actually manage for more than a week before we bury him. If last night's bullpen usage is any indication, there's a functioning brain under that cap, and that's a good sign for the ballclub.
Tigers 5, Rangers 3: Justin Verlander threw 41 pitches in the fifth inning, yet somehow the Rangers only scored one run off of him. I'm assuming someone has come up with some runs-per-pitch metric that can show us how lame a performance that was by Texas. And the Rangers turned a triple play. Am I alone, though, in thinking that the idea of triple plays are better than the reality? Usually, as was the case here, they're freaky things caused by either bad or at least aggressive base running and lucky line drives. It's only once in a great while do you see a truly spectacular one in which a the infielders turn two quick-as-lightning relays and get force outs at third, second and first. I saw the Tigers do that once about 25 years ago and it was awesome. Usually, though, I'd rather see a slick double play. They're just more aesthetically pleasing.
Athletics 7, Rays 6: Scott Kazmir owners and fans are now advised to set their phasers to "self-immolate." The thing about that 7.69 ERA is that it's not some function of a 12-run shellacking that he just can't recover from. He simply goes out and gives up six or seven runs every start.
White Sox 7, Twins 4: Francisco Liriano should probably team up with Kazmir to find out who's responsible for their struggles. It could be like some 1980s buddy cop show called "Kaz and Frank" or something like that. One of them would be a bad boy who lives on a house boat. The other is a Vietnam veteran with scores to settle. Old scores. Maybe they both dated the same woman once years ago, but put aside their differences in service of the mission. Oooh! And the woman would be their boss! Quick -- someone get me Stepfanie Kramer's phone number!
Astros 6, Brewers 4: Rule 6:07: learn it, live it, love it. Cecil Cooper didn't, and by changing his lineup after he already gave the card to the umps, Michael Bourn hit out of turn in the first inning costing his team an out. In other news, thank the maker that the Astros don't play the Rays this year. If they did, the official scorer would have to wear a helmet.
Reds 5, Phillies 1: Cincinnati snaps a four game losing streak behind seven solid innings from Aaron Harang and continued excellent work from the business end of the bullpen. Charlie Manuel after the game: "We didn't handle nothing about him. He carved up two or three of our hitters, he really carved 'em up." Sometimes I get the feeling that Manuel was affected by some strange temporal anomaly that caused him to be sent to our time, and when he's not managing the Phillies, he's searching for a way to return to his home in 1939.
Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 3: The stories this morning will all be about David Ortiz finally hitting a home run. I think the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury tied a major league record with 12 putouts by an outfielder in a nine-inning game is way cooler.
Pirates 2, Nationals 1: Is it worse to lose when one of your relievers gives up a backbreaking hit late in the game, or is it worse to lose when one of your relievers bounces one in the dirt in the ninth allowing the winning run to score? Wait -- don't answer that. The Nats' bullpen will likely show us at least a half dozen other ways to blow a game before it's all said and done this year, so let's not start the voting prematurely.
Braves 12, Rockies 4: After walking a couple of guys, Rockies' pitcher Jorge De La Rosa hit Jeff Francoeur in the fourth to load the bases. Given how deluded the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's coverage of Francoeur has been all year, I full expect the headline this morning to be "Francoeur hit spurs Braves' rally!"
Cardinals 2, Cubs 1: Chris Carpenter comes back with effectiveness intact: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER. The Cubs' bats, however, continue to sleep.
Yankees 11, Orioles 4: Eight straight for the Yanks, this one led by Robinson Cano, who went 3-4 with a homer and a couple of RBI. Decent enough start from Phil Hughes too, as he struck out nine in five innings. If he remains effective and if Wang comes back healthy and effective as well, the Yankees will have an interesting choice to make.
Marlins 8, Diamondbacks 6; Diamondbacks 11, Marlins 9: I can only imagine that in light of the horrible news about Scott Schoeneweis' wife that the Dbacks would have rather been at home hugging their loved ones rather than playing two in Miami.
Indians 6, Royals 5: Kerry Wood gets right back on the horse after being bucked off on Tuesday, and this time lands the save. It wasn't pretty though: Wood walked the bases loaded before striking out Teahen and DeJesus to end it.
Mariners 1, Angels 0: Did the west coast undergo some offense-sapping electromagnetic attack last night or something? Here there was a run-scoring single by Junior in the first and then nothin' doin' after that. Chris Jakubauskas on what he did differently than Felix Hernandez the night before: ""I was watching them run all over the place. The easiest way to control that is to not let anyone on." I can't decide if that was a cocky comment or not. I kind of want it to be, but really, I'm not sure.
Dodgers 2, Mets 1: If terrorists broke into your home, took you and your family hostage, and said that everyone dies unless Livan Hernandez and Jeff Weaver could combine to give up only two runs in twelve innings, you'd pretty much have to resign yourself to tragedy, wouldn't you? I mean, you'd never consider such a thing possible in a thousand years, right? Baseball. Heh.
Padres 2, Giants 1: o-fers for everyone in the Padres lineup except for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chris Burke, yet they still win. Baseball. Double Heh.