Big-League Baseball Would Be Fun To Watch If...

By Tom Danehy

MAJOR-LEAGUE baseball is again upon us. You gotta hand it to those guys; they keep coming back every year, even if nobody cares. Last year they even tried to win back fans by staging a phony home-run race. But then they screwed up and let the druggie win. I guess it was the Caucasian Demographic Factor coming into play. Can't let that Sosa fella win; he speeches funny.

I can't really blame Mark McGwire for taking that andro(stinedione) stuff. Lord knows he needs something to help him lift his son up in the air. Jeez, does that kid have Andro Flakes for breakfast? There's one good thing about McGwire ingesting all that testosterone; he's not likely to reproduce again.

Danehy I've hated major-league baseball for a long time. But I want to make it clear, I don't hate all baseball. I could sit and watch a Little League game, no problem, even if I didn't know any of the kids. It's fun watching them try.

I could probably even watch a middle- or high-school game for a couple innings without developing narcolepsy. However, college baseball, with its game-distorting metal bats, is absolutely unwatchable. And then there are the majors, with the greed, the drugs and nothing remotely resembling team play. They lost me a long time ago.

Between college and the Bigs are the minor leagues, which are also okay. They use wooden bats and you can actually see people try. These are guys who are making subsistence wages, chasing a dream. They know they're this close to making it to The Show, where they too can dump all semblance of ethics, sportsmanship and human decency in exchange for an obscene amount of money.

I used to like major-league baseball, a long time ago. Maybe it's a function of my getting older, but I'm not totally averse to being a fan again.

All major-league baseball has to do is meet these three small conditions and my forgiveness is theirs:

  1. Get rid of the Designated Hitter. This will show that you're serious about restoring baseball's once-lofty place in Americana. The DH is an abomination; it distorts the game from a serene Norman Rockwell painting into a Salvador Dali work.

    And don't give me any gas about how the Players Union won't go for it. Screw the Players Union. I'm a lifelong union guy, but the term Players Union is as misleading as Spice Girls. It's not a union; it's a bunch of millionaires trying to become multi-millionaires. They don't care about the game; they care about getting $175 a day in meal money.

    They want the DH so that aging stars can hang on to the Gravy Train a couple more years without actually having to play the game. The NBA equivalent would be to change the rules to allow John Stockton to play well into his 40s as a Designated Free-Throw Shooter.

  2. Eliminate the Sissy Play. This happens when the batter stands in the box, both feet on the inside chalk line, bent way over the plate, and gets hit on the tricep with an inside curve ball that didn't curve.

    A real baseball player would wince slightly, then run to first base, thinking, "Wow, this gives us a free baserunner. If I can steal or get bunted over to second base, we could have a runner in scoring position. That might help us win the game."

    A major-league baseball player will instead raise the bat in a threatening manner and charge toward the mound, hoping to kick a little pitcher butt. He doesn't care about the game; he's concerned that his Manhood has been threatened. He's afraid that his homies down at The Steroid Store might think less of him. Like maybe since his testicles are now the size of sesame seeds, he's no longer a Man. (No wait, that's not a good example.)

    He crowds the plate, gets plunked on the arm, and now he wants to fight. It's a sissy thing to do. And it often leads to Mass Sissyness. The managers have to come out of the dugouts, gut-first, to intervene. Players on the benches have to put down their Game Boys to run out and pair off with their equally-bored counterparts on the other team. Plus, the poor guys in the bullpens have to run all the way in from the outfield, a distance they can cover in an hour, hour-and-a-half tops.

  3. Make September interesting. This will probably require a salary cap or something, so that teams can be competitive. Have you noticed that there aren't pennant races anymore? All we have are wild-card races. It's Baseball Reaganomics; the rich have gotten waaay richer, and the poor play in Pittsburgh.

    A cap has brought parity to the NFL and the NBA, with generally positive results. It should do the same for baseball. Of course, George Steinbrenner will bitch and moan about capitalism and his right to have the best team money can buy, but that would be half the fun.

Those are my conditions; get to work on them and get back to me as soon as possible. It's already the fourth day of the season. The Yankees are probably close to clinching their division already. TW

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