By Hal McCoy
The finish of Game 4 of the World Series was tumultuous and should be put in a time capsule — the winning run scored by a guy who fell on his face between third and home while the other team threw the baseball around like an unpinned hand grenade.
Most of my baseball-loving friends missed it. They were tucked in their beds getting their necessary eight hours.
Why can’t MLB schedule a couple of day games and start night games at 7? Commissioner Rob Manfred and his baseball gurus keep harping on speeding up the game, implementing non-baseball rules to increase the rapidity of play.
Hey, guys. It ain’t working. Games are lasting 3 1/2 to four hours, ending at the witching hour.
And other than that Game 4 slapstick finish, it is pretty boring and for a baseball guy like me to say that, well, it hurts.
I’m sick of strikeouts. I’m tired of seeing 12 different pitchers trudge to the mound. I’m worn out watching home runs clear more fences than squirrels on the run. I shake my head watching the shortstop play right field and the Tampa Bay Rays use four outfielders.
The match-up is alluring. The poor guys against the rich kids. The no-names against the familiar faces. The innovators against the purists.
The True Outcome — strikeout, walk or home run — is rampant. LA’s Max Muncy has drawn 20 walks in the post-season and isn’t it exciting watching him trot to first base?
A kid nobody heard of until this World Series, Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena, already has nine post-season home runs, a record. That’s pretty cool, but isn’t it thrilling watching him trot the bases? Nine different Dodgers have hit home runs in the first five games, a product of juice-injected baseballs.
What excited me most, so far, was Tampa Bay’s Manuel Margot trying to steal home in Game 5. It was the first attempt to steal home in a World Series since 1991, 29 years ago.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is bending backwards to pat itself on the back, particular commissioner Manfred.
When many believed the Corona-19 pandemic would shut down the season, MLB forged onward. It even survived a shutdown of the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now they are in their World Series bubble. . .and good for them. And they are doing it even though Manfred says MLB teams will lose about $10 billion after playing the 60-game season and the playoffs in front of empty stadiums.
And for that there is a heart-stabbing price. Jobs are flying out the windows like a confetti parade. Now that the season is over, teams are shedding personnel.
It was reported that the Chicago Cubs are in the process of putting 100 employees out of work. The San Francisco Giants are set to let 50 people go. The Boston Red Sox took away 40 jobs. The San Diego Padres said good-bye to 25.
And the sad thing about it is that those heaviest hit are scouts and development people, once the heart-and-soul of baseball until analytics became the de rigueur for operating a baseball franchise.
Even before the pandemic swept the nation, Manfred had plans to reduce the number of minor league baseball teams. Now he has a built-in excuse to implement the disenfranchisement of teams in so many small towns across the country.
And, of course, the shortened season with ghastly rules implemented are Manfred’s babies, rules he wants to push into the 2021 season.
He wants the three-batter rule for relief pitchers, which has yanked strategy out of a manager’s hands. He wants the designated hitter rule for the National League, further hand-cuffing managerial manipulations. He wants that ghost runner to appear from the dugout to take second base, unearned, to start extra-inning games, putting extreme pressure on the pitcher, who didn’t put that runner on base in the first place.
Fortunately he doesn’t seem to be pushing the seven-inning doubleheader games, the shortened version of real baseball. Baseball is a nine-inning game. Nine is the number. Nine fielders, nine batters in the lineup, ninety feet between bases, 27 outs in a game (three times through the nine-man batting order.)
There is one plus circling Manfred’s head. He says he wants to do something about shifts because even he is tired of seeing shortstops play short right field like a softball rover and Tampa Bay’s four outfielders alignment.
Before those new rules can be implemented, they must be approved by the players union and here is what executive director Tony Clark said.
“If they want to make extraordinary changes to the game, call it something else. Don’t call it baseball.”
How about boreball or basebore? Unfortunately, in these days of analytics and algorithms, it is the computer mouse that roars.