Years ago, I liked Rick Reilly. I'm not exactly sure why, but I did. I used to look forward to reading him every week in Sports Illustrated—in fact, his column was basically the only thing I read.
Now I have a distinctly different opinion.
Now, he's quite possibly the worst paid sportswriter in the country. Most of the time, I just take issue with the way he writes—there are far too many folksy puns for my tastes. But his latest column may be the dumbest set of amalgamated ideas I've ever read.
The premise is that, since baseball is so terrible, it needs drastic changes to be fixed. And, of course, Reilly is the one to fix it, since he knows next to nothing about the sport. He wants to be made MLB commissioner (aside: is there a sportswriter alive who hasn't written that column about at least one sport?) and he already has a bunch of great ideas.
Be still, my heart.
Three of his ideas are not terrible.
He wants Olympic-level drug testing, which would be slightly better than the current system, but I'm not sure how much of an issue that is now. It's not as if players aren't getting caught in the current system. I suppose any strengthening of the testing would be good, but it's not really a pressing matter.
He says that once a week, every player has to take ten minutes to sign autographs. A better plan would be to just open gates earlier, so players can sign before they get into their pregame preparations, but I won't disagree with Reilly here.
He wants to let umpires call rainouts instead of home teams, which, in the light of the Yankee Stadium debacle a few weeks ago, sounds decent.
The rest are just bad.
Balls that hit the foul pole are foul. Duh.
The foul line is in fair territory. Duh. If you want, call it a fair pole, but a simple understanding of the rules of baseball would be nice in a column about—you know—baseball.
He goes back to the sorry standard of "games are too long" by demanding a pitch clock. I will never understand this.
I love baseball, and I tend to want games to go as long as possible. I know that people who don't like baseball want games to be shorter, but to be perfectly honest, I see no reason to cater to people who have no interest in the game. Ruining it for people who still won't watch is foolish. The NFL shouldn't cater to me, and Major League Baseball shouldn't cater to the Rick Reillys of the world.
If you're 0-for-4, the crowd picks your at-bat music. Is it my fault if they choose "Nothing From Nothing" by Billy Preston?
Nice throwaway line. I hope Reilly's getting paid by the word, because there's 22 of them we're not getting back.
He proposes that the National League should be forced to have a DH. Designated hitter rules will never change, because the rule is too ensconced in the American League, and the NL has its purist honor to uphold.
As any sports fan with two synapses to rub together will tell you, NL baseball is more interesting because it's real baseball. The managers actually have to manage, and the players actually have to be fundamentally sound. Bunting and double-switching are strategic moves that the good baseball fan is interested by.
If anything, the DH should be taken away in the AL—and as I said, that's not happening. Once again: don't cater to the Reilly-esque moron sports fans of the world.
Possibly my favorite, though, is where he claims that there should be more fines in baseball because there are lots of fines in other sports.
The NFL fines guys $5,000 for not having their socks right. Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin got a $25,000 fine for shoving a guy.
Is he not aware that the fines the NFL levies are possibly the worst thing in sports? That they're the reason the NFL is called the "No Fun League"?
He wants these fines to keep pitchers from throwing beanballs—but, again, as baseball fans know, taking away the beanball takes away the inside pitch, which takes away the pitcher's best weapon, which essentially guarantees 15-13 slugfests in every game.
My stance on beanballs is well-documented. Now my stance on Rick Reilly is as well: he's a buffoon who knows next to nothing about baseball, and shouldn't be allowed to write about it, and should have a yearly quota of sayings like "we'll finally see who's faker than Octomom's lips." (That quota, by the way? One.)
People often say "I could do better than that" while watching a particularly bad sports performance. I did every time Aaron Heilman pitched last year, so I know it happens.
Well...I could do better than that, Rick Reilly. And so could thousands of the bloggers that you have so little respect for. Take your hackneyed writing and you lack of knowledge and get off my Internets.