Thursday, August 23, 2007

Texas 30, Baltimore 3

A lousy field goal, that's all Baltimore could come up with.

Wait...this is BASEBALL!

It turns out this is the first time a baseball team has ever scored 30 runs in a game in 110 years. Some things are just wrong, and they are always wrong. There is absolutely no reason why 30 runs should be allowed in a baseball game. Mercy rule, anyone?

At first blush, or sunburn as the case may be seeing as this game went on for hours and hours, one would blame the pitching quality. And there is some truth to that. Run inflation has increased as the number of teams in each league has increased. There was a time when there was less than 20 teams.

Fewer teams meant higher quality players per capita. I also helped that Major League Baseball had a monopoly on athletic talent because they were about the only respectable sport out there that you could make any money in. Of course, by "making money in" I mean money enough to support yourself. Back in the days of the reserve clause, players were reserved as property of the team and could not play for any other team without the permission of the team that had the reserve right. This basically kept salaries low because there was no "free agent" option yet.

There were, of course, other sports. College Football was big since the glory days of "The Gipper" at Notre Dame in the 1920s. No other sport had a comparable respectability in the professional ranks until the 1960s when the NFL merged with the AFL, leading to the epic Superbowl III where the upstart ex-AFL Jets under Joe Namath beat the much heralded Baltimore Colts of proper NFL breeding. The NBA didn't really hit the mainstream until the 1970s and the NHL has largely always done its own thing. This forced most true athletes to play baseball under the other sports caught up with the Major Leagues. And still, to this day, the MLB is the only sport that has a quality minor league system that can sustain and train future big league talent without depending on the college system exclusively.

I have been, and always will be, a self avowed Baseball Purist. If this were the Episcopal church, the analogy would be being an Anglo-catholic. Most people don't like Anglo-catholics, and nobody like Baseball Purists either. I think in both cases, we tend to hold the larger community accountable to older principles and ideals; we function as signposts against the raging storm of new fangled ideas that seem good at the time but don't pan out in the long run. (Remember Polyester chasables/uniforms, cookie cutter stadiums/churches? And who can forget the soul-less altars/stadiums in-the-round?

And of course, I would be remiss without mentioning the whole steroids thing. One would hope this is more of a problem in sports than the church, but the church has its own issues with performance enhancing doodads. Tinkering with inclusive language, big screens with Powerpoint, folk masses, whatever. They are all simply steroids of the Ecclesiatical world. Better liturgy through science for people who have small consciences and even smaller attention spans.

I think the answer to these 30-3 unsportsmanlike extravaganzas are easy to fix. We should follow the rules. We should make the pitching mound back to its original height. (It's about 4 inches too short). All stadiums should follow the official minimum lengths for outfield fences. One thing no one is mentioning in the Barry Bonds home run chase is that the new stadium in San Francisco was build for Barry Bonds. The right field fence is too short, due to the water from the Bay. But it was "good for baseball" when it was built, so they got a special dispensation from the Comissioner. If Aaron or Ruth had been allowed to hit home runs in the outfield distances of today, they would be well into the 900 home run range.

I also think we should bring back the dead ball from the 1910s era. Steroids and modern weight lifting have benefitted the hitter, but does not really help out the pitcher all that much. In fact, more muscle mass can actually decrease a pitchers fastball speed due to arm motion change due to higher muscle density. Batters can basically do anything to a bat from shaving some wood off of it to having pine tar cover the entire bottom half of the bat. Pitchers don't even get to break in a baseball when they use it.

30-3...that's just ain't right.

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