OK, so now what?
Hundreds of players will flock to Spring Training to try to restore a once great game before it’s much too late as opposed to very late? How do you return them to a place they’ve never been?
They’re going to work on defeating the shift by going the other way? They’re going to shorten up to make contact with two strikes instead of trying to hit bombs on every pitch? Batters, on managers’ insistence, will no longer pose “home runs” into singles off the wall?
First and second, none out, how about a bunt rather than a double play into the shift? No can do? Or is it that they’ve never before done it?
Will managers allow effective pitchers to remain in, especially now that all games will have the DH? That didn’t happen in the AL. Will batters remain in the batters’ box between pitches? Will games no longer regularly exceed 3:30 and bedtime?
Why not? For the sake of The Game, why not?
Yet, we don’t see that happening, do we?
Unlike Rob Manfred, I’d never met a fan who refused to attend an NL game because it didn’t include designated hitters. You?
MLB, in 2023, is expected to ban the shift, another capitulation to needlessly diminished skills in a home run-or-strikeout regression compounded by brain-washed adherents to their almighty analytics.
In a recent interview with The Post, Aaron Boone insisted he’s not a slave to analytics.
But over his four years as Yankees manager, he sought to have his bullpen “all set up” to create a “Wizard of Oz” string of designated-inning relievers, throwing one spotless inning each, concluding with his closer being congratulated by his catcher . The-ahhhh Yankees win!
It doesn’t work that way, not with humans. If pitchers are machines, they’re slot machines. They don’t always pay off. Some days they “have it,” other days they don’t. The fellow who pitched the most historically perfect of perfect games, Don Larsen, was 81-91 in his career.
Yet Boone, among too many others, believes — or is ordered to believe, paid to believe — that he can just plug guys in and expect the same one-inning-each results. Easy as Pie Traynor.
What’s going to change from Manfred’s side? No more three-hour rain delays? No more games stopped cold for totally unintended replay reviews? No more treating customers like hangers-on expected to pay more and more for less and less?
Even during the lockout, MLB sold a package of exclusive Friday night games — Friday night games! — to an added pay streaming service, eliminating more games from battered fans’ view. “No way” became “How much?” But good news! Apple will initially offer these games without requiring a subscription. First one’s for free!
Last week, near the end of the lockout, Yankees president Randy Levine was heard on WFAN and ESPN Radio-NY lamenting this season’s potential loss of baseball. He claimed to be rendered dyspeptic by the mere thought: “We owe our fans baseball,” “We all love baseball,” and, “It’s embarrassing to be where we are.”
Yet under Levine, new Yankee Stadium in 2009 opened to such outrageously expensive ticket-pricing that 12 years later the better-to-best seats — thousands of them — remain conspicuously abandoned.
That doesn’t embarrass him? That’s evidence of his love of baseball?
As for Manfred’s avowed top priority that kids embrace baseball on his watch, he can now return to making them lifelong fans via his personally certified promotion of bat-flipping and other acts of rank public immodesty as the best way to kids’ hearts, essential to their lasting love of The Game.
So now what? Teams and their managers can start slowly, say, “suggest” that it might be in the best interests of the teams, fans and baseball to actually run to second and maybe even third rather than jog to first? Radical, I know. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
Hoops has late-game drag problem
Given what basketball has become — what it has been allowed to become — close and formerly exciting finishes to NCAA Tournament games almost assuredly will come with a price: tedium.
Last Sunday, the Michigan-Ohio State game on Fox was a good one, a tight one, fun to watch despite Gus Johnson’s practiced hysteria — until the last 1:46, when the game became a drag, sacrificed to the “modern system” that includes stoppages to coach one possession at a time, plus commercials and replay reviews.
The final 1:46 took 12 minutes to complete.
The team of Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel will be reunited during CBS/Turner NCAA Tournament telecasts.
It still strikes me as foolish that YES would choose to bust up this team by dumping Spanarkel when, as the Nets TV duo, they’d become both recognizable and enjoyable.
They listened to each other, had fun with each other — and by extension, with us — to enhance Nets telecasts. And there’s no better calm, concise, “see it, say it, apply it” speaker of basketball than Spanarkel.
Last Sunday, they worked CBS’s Maryland-Michigan State telecast. With MSU out to a big lead, Eagle said, “It’s like a library in here,” to which Spanarkel said, “You ever been in one?”
Last Sunday’s Nets-Celtics game on ABC/ESPN included a rare sight: the Celts in green uniforms. Since when?
From that game, reader Chris Dellecese credits analyst Doris Burke for the courage to invent something ridiculous to say about the speaks-for-itself obvious: Boston’s center-forward Robert Williams “is a vertical threat at the cup.”
Ads add to FAN malaise
Reader Sean Fowler: “What kind of world are we living in when WFAN goes to commercials and I’m hoping for a Kars4Kids ad as opposed to gambling ads?”
Heck, on Wednesday afternoon, WFAN ran a Kars4Kids spot and a gambling ad during the same break! This betting ad starred WFAN’s Jerry Recco encouraging listeners to lose their money. Another field.
Reader/sports author Bill Sullivan asks if Serena Williams has any priorities aside from herself. “Has she turned on her TV to watch the news lately?”
Williams last week tweeted that The New York Times did her wrong — implying racism — by identifying a picture of her sister, Venus, as her.
The same NYT that has ignored or excused Serena’s boorish and even vulgar and threatening on-court behavior. The Times even bought her nonsense that her ugly eruption at a chair ump at the 2018 US Open was on behalf of women’s rights, as opposed to Serena Williams.
Weekend man Chris Moore, a thoughtful chap thus one of the few remaining reasons to tune to WFAN, has been dropped. Guess he’s not crude enough. Friday morning drive time, Gregg Giannotti led a desperately low and unclever chat on penises and testicles.
Stop me because you’ve heard it: Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley made the worst bet in history. He lost $11 million on a $1,500 wager. Though he claimed, “I don’t have a gambling problem,” he does now.
Jazz-Thunder last week: 92 3-point shots. Want to see a copy of the game plans? Very intricate.
For all of the “graduate transfers” we’ll hear about during NCAA Tournament, what’s the chance we’ll hear what even one is pursuing his masters degree in? What’s the chance we’ll hear that it’s just another shady, win-at-all-costs academic loophole?
Does Kentucky basketball, under John Calipari, still hold Senior Night? Yes, but it’s for high school seniors recruited to Kentucky.