Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone. Let me take today as an opportunity to seek guidance from the vast Sports Curmudgeon audience – – all dozen or so of you. There is a famous Irish blessing that says:
“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
So, why is that opening wish in the blessing as a good thing? If the road keeps rising up, that means I would wish for you always to be going uphill. The rest of the blessing consists of beneficial stuff, but I do not understand the opening.
I have another “Ireland linkage” for today that is sports related. I have mentioned before that #1 son lives in Dublin. A couple of days ago, I got an email from him asking an interesting question.
- For how long would Barry Bonds have to “unretire” to “reset the clock” on his Hall of Fame eligibility?
- He could easily make the Orioles’ roster.
Obviously, I have no idea what the answer is, and I know of no one who had been retired for 15 years even trying to make a comeback, so I doubt there is any precedent for such a thing. But now that he brought up the subject, I hope Barry Bonds is thinking along these lines and gives it a try. I can only imagine the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America going into rhetorical contortions to take a position on that question and then defend it.
And by the way, if Bonds went to the Orioles and offered to play for the MLB minimum salary, the team would be crazy not to sign him and keep him unless he is totally incompetent. He will not hit 60 home runs or anything like that, but he will draw interest to a team that lost 108 games or more in each of the last 3 full seasons of MLB. Last year, the Orioles averaged only 9,793 fans per game. They outdrew only the Rays, A’s and Marlins; those three teams have perennial attendance problems.
Speaking of baseball, there are folks out there trying to make the case that the Universal DH is part of the new CBA to increase fan interest. A disclaimer is needed here; I do not like the DH rule and have not liked it since 1973 when it made its debut in the American League. Having said that, I would like to suggest that if indeed this provision is in the new CBA to increase fan interest, then it is a feeble effort at the very best. Ask yourself this question:
- Do you know anyone who has ever attended or watched an American League game solely because he/she cannot abide the sight of pitchers taking a turn in the batter’s box?
If you do not know a horde of such folks – – and I know no such folks – – then there is no cadre of pent-up fandom for National League teams that is set to emerge over the next year or two. Actually, there is a way to implement the DH that I might find interesting because it brings back a strategic element to the game that the DH mitigates. Suppose the DH rule had a corollary:
- Since the DH is basically a permanent pinch hitter for the pitcher, when that pitcher is removed from the game, so is the DH. Subsequently, pitchers will bat for themselves.
Based on reports I have read, there are several minor things in the new CBA that will generate changes. One is the scheduling. The number of games each team will play within its division will drop from 19 games to 14 games and each team wii play 60 games against the 10 teams in the other two divisions. That will increase the number of interleague games and I am not sure that is a great idea.
Another schedule wrinkle is that MLB is going to put on regular season games in “new countries” such as:
- Dominican Republic
- Puerto Rico
Since MLB already plays games in Japan, I assume that “Asia” means South Korea where there is already a professional baseball league and fan interest. However, the “potential market” in China must be a consideration and a temptation for Commissioner Manfred and his minions. I am surprised by the inclusion of London and Paris on this list because I am unaware of any baseball interest in either city – – but there are undeniably lots of folks in each one who might be converted into baseball fandom. The Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico make plenty of sense given that plenty of MLB players come from those places.
There will be 12 teams in the playoffs. That diminishes the regular season except for teams fighting for the sixth playoff spot in both leagues.
The MLB Draft will now have a lottery similar to the one used by the NBA such that the team with the worst record is not guaranteed the overall #1 pick in the Draft. The idea here is to minimize the reward for tanking a season. That is a noble intent, and this is a step in the direction of that noble intent. However, if anyone thinks that the NBA Lottery has cured the tanking problem, let me offer only three words:
- “Trust the process…”
Finally, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, let me close with this thought from Oscar Wilde:
“I am Irish by race, but the English have condemned me to talk the language of Shakespeare.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………