Dogged by Dog Days

Here we are in the last week of July. The days are getting shorter, although not so much as to really notice yet. Like the first cluster of gray hairs on the scalp, the indicators that the end is coming are starting to arrive. Everybody’s bullpen is tattered and torn. Football summer camps are sprouting like liver spots. Speculation about possible player trades before the deadline in a few days is getting really, really old and tiresome. Some teams, like the Dodgers and Yankees, got off to such good starts that their division races have become boring. Others, like Cleveland and San Francisco, have gotten newly energized and are looking for the stretch drive to show that they still have what it takes.

The commissioner and MLB Network combined to send me a nice packet of Kool Aid and I enjoyed it, although the pitcher that I made it in was smirking rather than smiling, or so it seemed. I now have come to realize that the new age is perfectly natural and fitting. Sure, the days of 20 game winning hurlers are gone, but I’ll bet that many so-called purists were moaning and crying about the lack of 30 game winners back in 1919. Plus, now that pitchers only have to try to go five innings every five days, none of them ever get injured, right? Oscar Jones might have pitched 377 innings with 38 complete games in 41 starts for the 1904 Brooklyn Dodgers, but he didn’t have to do post game interviews on live television or fly in airplanes, did he? Now that each team carries a baker’s dozen of pitchers, we never have to endure position players taking the mound in relief, do we? And the frequent occurrence of 16 or 18 inning games isn’t a result of only having four bench players, is it? No, I get it now. Everybody just go out there and toe the rubber and give it all you have for as long as you can and then we’ll pick you up. The fact that you went 7-10 in 28 starts will be considered at contract time, no sweat. We’ve got arms in the pen, baby, or maybe in left field. It also does not bother me anymore that a player like Duane Kuiper or Nellie Fox would probably have 12-15 homers if he was playing this year. Remember the old ad campaign where players smiled and said, “Chicks dig the long ball..”? That got dropped as the steroid stories got more embarrassing, but now a new campaign will be starting with the altered saying, “Chicks dig the short walls,” although it should probably say “People enjoy small, intimate ballparks where fly balls soar majestically into the night air while fireworks and louder than loud “music” accompanies them.

Furthermore, I think it’s great that players not allow themselves to get so worked up about the game in progress that they can’t exchange profundities with the announcers in the booth while it’s all happening, although I did see one shortstop drop his positioning cue card while he was talking to Joe Buck. I’m sure that Bob Gibson and Billy Martin would approve. No one is asking Pete Rose, but I wonder how the Old Peckerhead feels about MLB’s total embrace of gambling now with the partnership with Draft Kings and other assorted venues that separate people from their cash. “More ways to win,” I’m sure he would say. Well, it’s well over 90 degrees and I need some more Kool Aid. Ah! A limousine has just pulled up outside the office and here come Aaron Judge, George Springer, and Buster Posey with a package just for me. Right on time! Thanks, MLB!

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