August 19, 2018

A Great Game Ruined

April 17, 2018 by · 2 Comments 

This past Saturday (April 14, 2018) my family and I ventured to FNB Park in Harrisburg, PA for the contest between the home town Senators, the Nationals affiliate in the AA Eastern League, and the Bowie Baysox, an Orioles affiliate. As life-long Baltimore fans, we were eager to see the Baby Birds play, and the game was everything we could ask for.

Two batters in, the Baysox took the lead on a home run to left center by first baseman, Corban Joseph, the brother of Oriole catcher, Caleb Joseph. The Senators tied it in the bottom of the first off top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, despite Harvey’s fastball topping out at 99MPH on the stadium radar gun.

Another top Oriole prospect, centerfielder Cedric Mullins hit a long homer to center field in the top of the third, but Harrisburg scored twice off Christian Binford in the bottom half of the frame. Austin Hays prevented another run with a strong, one-bounce throw home.

Mike Yastrzemski at bat for the Bowie Baysox

Bowie leftfielder, Mike Yastrzemski singled to ignite a three-run rally in the fourth that included a two-run double by Joseph. Harrisburg tied it up in the bottom of the fourth by scoring twice. The Senators added one in the sixth and it might have been more were it not for a spectacular diving catch in right by Hays. Harrisburg maintained a one-run lead heading into the ninth, but with two outs Cedric Mullins, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, took off with the pitch when the man of the night, Corban Joseph, singled to center. Gary Kendall, who was managing his 1,000th game for Bowie, never hesitated and waved the speedy Mullins all the way and he scored easily. In the bottom of the ninth, the Senators had the winning run on second base with two out when shortstop, Erik Salcedo fielded a grounder, but threw wide to first. The first-base umpire ruled that Joseph maintained the base just long enough to record the out before being pulled off by the errant throw. This prompted an old-fashioned argument from Senators skipper Matt LeCroy. He stomped, pleaded, and gestured with wide-eyed disbelief, but did not change the ump’s mind. (He clearly never uttered any magic words and remained in the game. From our view which was just down the first base line and two rows from the field, LeCroy had a legitimate beef.)

The game remained tied and then Rob Manfred ruined it.

To begin the top of the tenth, a Bowie runner was placed on second base and this new rule turned an exciting game that had a little of everything into a scrimmage. We left in protest,

Baseball fans are not enamored of such gimmicks to say the least, and to the extent that your customers are not fans, that is your fault, Mr. Manfred. You and your marketing minions seem to have no appreciation for the drama that occurs pitch-to-pitch within the relaxed atmosphere of a ballpark on a summer evening. For some reason, you don’t sell that; you don’t sell any of baseball’s best assets. In fact, when one attends a game these days, especially a minor league game, there seems to be a determined effort to market everything but the game. I have even heard minor league executives exclaim that they don’t care if their customers know the final score as long as they have a good time. So, when your customers tire of the carousel and launch-a-ball and the cowboy monkeys, what happens then? They’ll spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere, because you have made the baseball game incidental to the circus that surrounds the field.

Mr. Manfred, there is nothing wrong with the game as it is. Furthermore, lest you think that I am just a mindless traditionalist, understand that I like the limitations on the mound visits, which were becoming ridiculous in number. In fact, I would urge you to realign the leagues/divisions geographically and even institute a College World Series style playoff format. If you’re really concerned about the pace of play, then enforce the rule about keeping the batter in the box. Once he’s in, insist that the umpires call the actual strike zone. That should get the batters swinging more and increase the pace of play. None of those things denigrates The Game or any particular game. Trotting out a gift runner most definitely does.

If the Commissioner’s Office managed London’s National Gallery, it would probably conclude that those sunflowers of Van Gogh’s were awfully boring and insist that someone sketch in a naked chick and a car crash because nobody just stands there to admire the subtle beauty of what’s before them. Mr. Manfred, you underestimate your fans, and when we see a game that has everything we could ask for, don’t give us an ending that no one asked for.

Comments

2 Responses to “A Great Game Ruined”
  1. Al Smith says:

    Right on and dead on! All around the country professional baseball does indeed look like a circus act and more and more players are looking and acting like clowns. Thank you for telling the truth.

  2. Thanks, Al. Baseball doesn’t need any gimmicks.

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