I love baseball. I've played it. I've coached it. I've studied it. The first sport I remember playing is baseball. My first real conversations with my father that didn't involve me being hungry or thirsty or why the sun is so bright involved baseball. My first conversations with my son involved baseball.
It's a great sport.
This is why I think it is time for Bud Selig to go as commissioner of Major League Baseball.
He is slowly, but very effectively killing the game I love.
Some of his ideas have seemed good at the time, but have been proven to be effective at best, or detrimental at worst.
Some of his policies seem to be based on a method of thinking that is as old as the game itself.
Sometimes you have to wonder if he actually wants the game to grow and succeed.
It's time for Selig to go, and here are five reasons why.
In game five of the ALDS between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, XXX hit a ball very close to the right field foul pole. The ball clearly was on the foul side of the pole, but the issue was whether or not the ball hit the pole.
In June 2010, Detroit's Armando Galarraga had a perfect game taken away from him when one of the league's best and most respected officials blew a call at first base, where Galarraga was covering.
In October 2007, Matt Holliday, of the Rockies, was called safe on a close play at the plate. It was later revealed Holliday had never touched the plate.
These are just a few examples of calls that should have been reviewed. What do all of these have in common? They either did, or potentially could have, changed the outcomes of games.
Bad calls are part of any game. What matters more is how they are handled. Football has a system of challenges (Which I do not agree with. Why do the coaches have to ask the officials to make a call right?). Hockey reviews every scoring play. Even the most subjective of sports to officiate, basketball, has a way to review things like whether or not a shot got off before the shot clock rang.
Selig likes to talk about the "human element" of baseball, but as players get bigger and faster, the potential for mistakes grows larger. Then, it becomes more critical to get the calls right. When teams are counting on every win to get into the playoffs, or the World Series, the calls must be correct, even at the expense of some of the traditions of the game that are no longer relevant in the year 2012.
Selig's stance is steadfastly opposed to instant replay and his resistance to come into the 21st century is part of the reason people do not like baseball. Why watch a sport where you know there is at least a chance your team will lose based on a blown call?
Part of the argument against replay is that it will slow the game down while the umpire on the field walks off the field to review the call.
To that, I reply, "Why does someone on the field have to look at it?" Put an official in the booth and let him signal to the scoreboard operator whether a not a call is one way or the other. The scoreboard operator puts it on the board, and the whole stadium knows the call.
If you want to take it a step further, let a computer call balls and strikes. Gone would be the arguments over whether a ball crossed the plate. A pitcher couldn't "expand the strike zone," which is just a way of saying that the ump is changing the strike zone. This is the kind of inconsistency that drives batters (and pitchers) crazy.
All I'm saying is that the technology is there, but Selig's argument against it, rambling on about the traditions of the game, is as tired and worn out as the glove I used in pee-wee league. The game would still be the game, only without the egg on the faces of the officials when they happen to blow a call.
I can't blame Selig for this ridiculous baseball foible because he did not invent it.
I can blame him, and all his predecessors since its inception, however, for not doing something about it.
I do not like the designated hitter. I believe everyone who plays in the field should bat. I believe the DH has taken an element out of the game that is both entertaining and fascinating. When do you bat for your pitcher? It's a simple question with a hundred right answers, none of which would necessarily be wrong.
All of that having been said, my real problem with the DH is that not everyone in MLB has one. It fundamentally changes a game when people play it by two different sets of rules. Yes, it is still baseball, but it's a different kind of baseball from the American League to the National League.
At this point, I don't even care if they make the DH permanent in all of baseball. I'd hate it, but what I hate more is that we have two different ways to play the game.
Bud, for all the changes that have been made over the years, for you and those before you to have let this go this long is a travesty.
I don't have a problem with the All Star Game itself. I have a huge problem with the fact that an exhibition game determines home-field advantage in the World Series.
We got a prime example of the trouble this can cause this year when Melky Cabrera, the MVP of the 2012 All Star Game, was busted for using illegal substances.
This man played an enormous part in determining whether San Francisco or St. Louis will have home-field advantage in the World Series, and he was cheating when he did it!
On top of that, because every team is required to be represented, and the managers always play every player, a player from a perennial doormat team (like the Pirates) could very well determine the outcome of the World Series.
The game is not played the way a regular baseball game is played. Pitchers go two innings, max. Hitters might get two at-bats, maybe. Even the location of the All Star Game could have an influence because they play the All Star Game by the rules of the park they are in. So, they could have a DH decide an All Star game because the game happens to be played in the south side of Chicago instead of the north side. (See reason number two for my issue with this.)
I know I'm not the only one who sees the fallacy in this.
It should be that the best record of the two remaining teams gets home field advantage in the World Series. Not this insanity.
And who do we have to thank for this bit of stupidity?
The MLBPA is certainly a powerful organization. They managed to get salaries for all players guaranteed.
They managed to get no hard salary cap in baseball.
Selig, who was a very vocal opponent to the man whose job he took, Fay Vincent, was represented MLB during the player's strike of 1994, which eventually led to the cancellation of the World Series. It was the first time the World Series had not been played in nearly a century.
Wars couldn't stop the World Series, but Selig had a hand in cancelling one.
Part of the problem in baseball is that the "have-nots" are always chasing the "haves." Granted, a couple of fiesty teams always manage to get into the playoffs and have a Cinderella-like run, but at the end of the day, we all know that the way to win in baseball is to spend money.
The AL East is a perfect example. Since 1994, in 18 seasons, only three times has a team not from New York or Boston won the AL East crown. New York has basically owned the division during that time, winning the title 13 times.
Obviously, there are always exceptions, but Selig allowed the players to take away the ability of owners who are not named Steinbrenner to pay for high-quality players without going broke.
The reason there is parity in the NFL, and the reason at least a third of the teams who were in the NFL playoffs last year will not be this year is because they have a hard salary cap. All teams know they have a shot at signing their own marquis players, or possibly acquiring one from another team.
That basically does not exist in baseball.
Selig helped broker that.
Again, this one is actually on the players and Selig, but I often wonder if a different commissioner would have handled this differently.
It's impossible to look at a player like Barry Bonds and not think he was doing something. No one, but no one, gets better as they get older. It simply doesn't happen.
Under Selig's watch, one of the biggest scandals in sports happened. Instead of being proactive and realizing he had a problem developing, Selig was reactive and only did something when he was pressed to do so.
Why was Selig so slow to approach the MLBPA and tell them, "We have to get something worked out on this performance enhancing drug thing right now"?
Is it because he got his butt handed to him during the strike and he was gun shy? It wouldn't surprise me.
We all know that the home-run chase of 1998 was instrumental in the resurgence of interest in baseball after the strike, but why didn't Selig begin questioning the performance of Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, etc. before the situation came to a head and got in front of Congress? We could all see something was going on, but only he was in a position to be able to address it.
Selig allowed the NFL to take the place of America's pastime, and he was behind the NFL in terms of how he dealt with PEDs.
It is this kind of slow, reactionary thinking that has lead to a generation of kids who might not ever know the grace and power, the strategy and tactics of the great game of baseball.