I typically like to use Bird Watching to write about timely and relevant topics surrounding the Cardinals…but since I’m actually in Florida visiting family and attending a Spring Training game or two while you read this, I thought it best to write it in advance – almost a week in advance, actually. That pretty much eliminates the ability to write an up-to-the-minute post about the Cardinals…but I can write a timely and relevant post about general baseball developments. So let’s get to it!
1. The new Wild Card spot is a bad idea. I understand the reasoning behind it all – money, generate more interest for more teams, etc. – but the way it’s going to play out is just horrible. As I said on the UCB Radio Hour a few weeks back, settling a major league season between two teams by one play-in/play-off game is attrocious. This is NOT football! Baseball is a marathon season designed to be played and determined over a series of games between two opponents. If the Cardinals could pitch Adam Wainwright every day, our season would look dramatically different. But that’s not how it works. We have to pitch five different starters of wildly varying talent and experience levels. And even offensively, Hall of Famers fail 7 out of 10 times at the plate. Now we’re going to settle a season based on one day of performance? In a single ballpark? Some teams are pitching teams. How fair is it to decide their season in a hitter’s park? Some are hitting teams. Why place their fate within the lines of a pitcher’s park? It just makes no sense. Oh…and don’t even get me started on the ridiculous travel changes to squeeze the extra spot into this season.
2. Major League Baseball decided not to expand the use of instant replay. Good decision. I know, I know…I’m in the minority of fans, here…but I am firmly entrenched in my position. For me, the human element is what baseball is all about. Players succeed and players fail. More often than not, great hitters fail…but we celebrate their successes with ravenous passion. More often than not, pitchers succeed…but our hearts break when they fail. Baseball is a story that unfolds over 9 innings (or more). It is a story of the human condition…success, failure, etc. Umpires are a part of that story. They always have been, they always should be. De-valuing their impact on the game is one more step in the wrong direction – a direction that leads to a more severe disconnect from the tradional and enduring game of Baseball. Baseball has survived and succeeded, in large part, because of it’s unchanging nature. Let’s keep it that way.
3. Tony La Russa says the system is broken. That’s his reasoning when discussing how the Pujols contract negotions between the Cards and player was really no one’s fault. Without debating THAT claim, for the most part…he’s right. But my question is – for someone who could end up in the Commisioner’s office some day – how would you fix it? I have never disputed the idea that the players should get a large share of the money they generate…but how much is enough? And how do we restructure contracts/practices to fix the system? Should we institute a salary cap for each team? Good luck with that! The Player’s Association would never allow it. What about slots for each position? A first baseman, then, would only be allowed to be paid X amount of dollars at the most. No chance. For one, how would you value one position over the other from team to team? Or what about general slots and caps for individual player contracts? No player could be paid more than X amount without a luxory tax imposed on the team paying their salary. Eh…maybe…but again…Player’s Association. I really don’t know how to fix the system in a way that would actually be – as the political parties put it – “electable” by both sides. But Tony’s right…it is broken, and both sides better figure out how to fix it fast.
That’ll do it for now…just a quickie to keep the line moving. Have some thoughts to weigh in on the above topics? Share ’em in the comments section!