Congratulations to the LA Dodgers; they are the World Series Champions in 2020. While I would have preferred to have a Game 7 to watch this evening, I am happy to have seen a close and well-played game last night. There was an inordinate number of strikeouts, however.
- Blake Snell started for the Rays; he retired 16 batters; nine of those outs came via strikeouts.
- The Dodgers used 7 pitchers in the game; they retired 27 batters; sixteen of those outs came via strikeouts.
- For the game, there was a total of 27 strikeouts out of 51 outs. 53% of the outs in the game were strikeouts.
Mookie Betts was the offensive hero of the game for the Dodgers; he advanced a runner to third base with a double in the sixth inning and that runner scored on a wild pitch. Then Betts scored the second Dodgers’ run on an infield ground ball. Later, he gave the Dodgers an insurance run with a home run and the game went into the books as a 3-1 victory for the Dodgers.
One thing seems to be overblown about this World Series win by the Dodgers. Too many people have said that this triumph creates a positive legacy for Clayton Kershaw. Frankly, I think that is buncombe. [Hat Tip to H.L. Mencken for that word.] Clayton Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young Award winner and has been in the All-Star Game 8 times in his 13-year career – – and by the way one of the years that he “missed out” was in 2020 because there was no All-Star Game. Yes, his post-season statistics are not nearly as dominant as are his regular season stats. Nevertheless, his “legacy” did not need any enhancement. If he announces his retirement today, he should be a first ballot inductee in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2025 – – and that should also have been the case if the Dodgers had lost this Series.
The Dodgers – and their fans to be sure – can enjoy themselves for the next 100 days or so until it is time for pitchers and catchers to report to Spring Training. [Please note that the aspiration here in Curmudgeon Central is that 2021 will present a normal sporting calendar and that the pandemic will be on the retreat by then.] MLB as an institution, however, cannot just sit back and bask in the glory of putting on a World Series after its COVID-truncated season in 2020; MLB has some work to do over the winter over and above the normal free agency period.
Baseball has tried to rev-up the pace of play for the last decade or so. It has not worked; on average games take about as long to play now as they did over the past 5 years. With the increased emphasis on home-run hitting, the numbers of strikeouts and walks have increased adding to the length of games and subtracting from the amount of time a ball is actually in play. These are genuine issues for the folks nominally “in charge of the game”. The problem, from my perspective, is that the guy in charge of the folks nominally in charge of the game – Rob Manfred – seems only to give a fig about economic issues related to baseball.
Given the significantly decreased revenue for every team in MLB this year, there will likely be a contentious free agency period; players and agents are not going to be happy; I think the OVER/UNDER until you hear someone hint at “collusion” is January 3rd. The players’ union cannot have forgotten that the 2020 season was cobbled together over their objections as to the number of games played and the pro-rated salaries that were paid out. Economics and goodwill or the lack of goodwill will dominate baseball news. That will push to the background some bad ideas that The Commish has spoken highly of:
- He said he likes the expanded playoff format and would not mind seeing it made permanent. Such a bad idea… There were two teams in the playoffs this year with records below .500 in the regular season. Given the division alignment of MLB, there should be 4 teams from each league in the playoffs – the three division winners and ONE wild card team per league. Period!
- He said he likes the “man-on-second” rule to start each half-inning of extra inning games. This is the MLB version of soccer’s penalty kicks as the way to determine the winner in an overtime situation. The game is played for nine innings over about 3 hours under one set of rules – – and then you change the rules to determine a winner. In what universe does that make sense? Why not fully commit to the soccer model and determine the winner via a Home Run Derby between three members of each team drawn at random by the home plate umpire?
- He said that he thought the “seven-inning doubleheaders” used this year provided excitement for the game. That point is not worth arguing over; I will concede it. However, if The Commish is serious, he is going to face stiff opposition to the idea not from the players but from his employers – the owners. If there are seven-inning doubleheaders next year, that will deprive owners of the ability to charge separate admission fees for the two games played day-and-night.
Baseball has work to do this off-season and it appears as if the guy in charge is looking in the wrong direction(s) on the major issues facing the game. I know it was fashionable to beat up on Bud Selig during his couple of decades as Commissioner; frankly, I would be more optimistic about getting positive changes infused into MLB if he were still the guy in charge.
Finally, apropos of nothing, here is an interesting Tweet from humorist, Brad Dickson:
“If I had Pat Sajack’s job whenever a contestant says, ‘I’m the mother of two beautiful children,’ I’d go, ‘OK. How many altogether?’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………