Sunday, July 24, 2016

Change is not Always Wise!

My son was recently watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary entitled Doc and Darryl which focused on the at times brilliant often times tumultuous careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.  During the film they must have mentioned  the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League Eastern Division which prompted his question. "Dad did the Cardinals once play in the same division as our Phillies?"

You see, Peter was born in 1998 after the divisions had been realigned and the two central divisions were created. This occurring as a result of the addition of the expansion franchises in Florida and Colorado. He and the fans of his generation missed an era of great divisional rivalries which have since been altered by the advent of interleague play.

My childhood years featured classic battles with the Mets, Cardinals, Cubs, and cross state rival Pirates, at least 18 times during the year.  This weekend as the Phillies and Pirates squared off for three of their seven games of the season I couldn't help but recall the epic battles of yesteryear with Schmidt, Carlton, Stargell and Parker. It brought to mind the question; What have we have we really gained by historic schedule changes since the incorporation of " Interleague Play"?

 These two Pennsylvania rivals will only play each other seven times this season while the Phils and the American League's Chicago White Sox will play a four game home and home series later this season.  How does the fan benefit from this peculiar brand of scheduling? One must ask the question, are these changes actually better for the game and it's fans? Interleague play makes some sense if the geography links the combatants (ie. Phillies vs Yankees) but does anyone really want to see the Philadelphia Phillies play the Seattle Mariners or the Oakland Athletics? This particular fan can provide a resounding "No" as a response. I would much rather see more relevant games with National League rivals as the opposition than suffer through basically irrelevant games with American League teams such as the Detroit Tigers.  I can't imagine that passionate fans of the game feel much differently. 

Recently on the Mike and Mike, morning drive time radio show on ESPN they invited baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to appear as a guest. One must ask, what in the name of Mariano Rivera was he thinking, when he discussed the effects that relief pitching has on the game and some potential changes.  Manfred indicated that they (relief pitchers) are so good that their effectiveness is actually robbing the game of late inning action. ("Ugh") Moreover, he goes on to say that discussions are underway to limit the amount of relief pitchers that a team can use per game.

  Again one must question the benefit of this change for the passionate baseball fan that may be forced to endure more unecessary alterations to the game. Ultimately you penalize the team that has bolstered its bullpen through farm system development and the calculated free agent addition. Shortening the game with stellar bullpen pitching has become a vital part of the formula for championship success of late.

The game of baseball is unique and continues to flourish even though football has replaced it as our national sport.  Baseball's leadership hierarchy neerds to stop tinkering with it in an effort to attract more fans in order to increase already substantial revenues. The game is fine, leave it alone. Please! The pace is slow because there is no clock and strategy is such a huge part of the games culture. The beauty of baseball is that all associated with the game benefit from its cerebral nature.

Change is good when it effects the safety of the players and rules are implemented that ensure longer careers for the players. However, ownership needs to pause and pump the breaks, when frivolous rule or scheduling changes don't have the best interests of the fan at heart and are only motivated by increasing the revenue within an already billion dollar industry.

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