Finally, I have solved two puzzles that have been messing with my nap times. Both have to do with Topic A, which, with the all but disappearance of the casino and pro wrestling maggot from the front pages, has become, of course, the pandemic. My first mystery was, how did Microsoft swine Bill Gates suddenly gain the title “philanthropist”? I mean, he is way ahead of the Andrew Carnegie/ John D. Rockefeller curve here. Well, it turns out that Pfizer, the company that raced to be first in supplying vaccines for a terrified populace, brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2021. With a profit margin estimated to be 20 per cent, one would think that that helps pay for a little overtime. And Mr. Gates, who long ago placed himself right smack in the middle of the vaccination game, will soon have more to “give away”. The other puzzle had been why, with sports in general but baseball in particular , are we suddenly seeing such a surge in the demand for change in the rules? I mean everyone has been trying, for an entire year now, to continue on with games despite the fact that spectators have been severely limited if not completely banned from the venues where the games are taking place. Is the television money that good? Apparently it is.
So that means, with little or no people in attendance, that the television has become boss. Consequently, the same corporate Schmidlaps that have been routinely ruining most of the fun things in life are in charge of what used to be called the National Pastime before it got replaced by Staring At Little Electronic Stuff. We all know that marketing whizzes make one big assumption before they begin their days, and that is that no one really likes the thing they are selling, so they have to trick us all into thinking we like it.
The first indicator that this premise is accurate is the assumption that baseball games take too long to play. It’s a phony issue. Americans by and large do not feel that time spent in front of a television set is wasted. Are they still called sets? I mean, back when I was still watching football, I saw actual people who really did watch the halftime shows. Marching bands and people dressed up like wild animals, gripping stuff like that. So there is not really any hurry. Television executives want a clock on everything. They need to know just how many times they can show us all the same ridiculous ads during every show, I mean game, so that the revenue stream is fully predictable. Remember the “Heidi” game? They don’t like stuff like that. And since their gig is revenue, there has been a gradual but relentless shift over the decades away from selling beer and gasoline to working slobs who used to play a little ball in their day to selling insurance, candy, pet food, whatever to , shall we say, a broader range of eager consumers who may or may not know the difference between Shohei Ohtani and Charlie Sheen. The kind of ” casual fan” that might be attracted to a contest consisting of numerous full counts, sporadic home runs and repeated strikeouts while really hoping for a bench clearing brawl for whatever reason is the viewer they seek. We don’t really like all of the “boring stuff” like squeeze plays, singles, or pitchers holding runners. So pitchers batting is out, even though, as previously pointed out, the Designated Sitter has only added two tenths of one run per game.
Also, since we don’t really like the game, let’s have double headers consist of two seven inning, rather than nine inning games. Actually, COVID19 concerns make this new rule acceptable but look for it to become permanent after this season.
They are talking about making rule changes to eliminate defensive shifts. I remember liking cricket because the defense was not so well defined so I think I would prefer the Ty Cobb solution to the Ted Williams solution. The Splinter said “To hell with that, you can’t get me out anyway..” and he proved it but the Peach would have hit it where they weren’t.
As for having artificial intelligence runners at second base to start extra innings, a month of seeing this has convinced me that, yes, it is just as stupid as it seemed a month ago. If you don’t like baseball, watch something else or go for a walk. There are some really talented young players in the game right now. Ohtani is one of them and he brings back warm thoughts of complete baseball players like Martin Dihigo, Double Duty Radcliffe, and Bullet Joe Rogan in the Negro Leagues not so very long ago. Specialty players like designated sitters are for the huge corporation types that operate remotely and don’t really know the game they are (not) playing.