Play ball! Okay, but how big should the bases be? We’ll worry about that later. Do we want robot umpires? Never mind, we’ve got a committee working on that. We need to make sure the Russkies can’t hack it or something. Will pitchers ever hit again? No, but damn, they never did much anyway. Why can’t every team make the post season? What do you think this is, the NBA? Can we get a new commissioner voted for by the fans, like maybe Bob Costas or Jim Kaat? Dream on, brother, this is the U.S.A., where ownership is everything.
Yes, the millionaires and billionaires have settled their differences, and they did it out of court So already life is better and the sports pages have become so much more readable. In less than a month we will have Opening Days. In less than a week, it already has become obvious that the Oakland Athletics billionaire owner has renewed his quest to make that team’s followers feel like fools. Goodbye, Chris Bassitt, thanks for making us appear to be legitimate. Oh, and another All Star, Matt Olson,so long, it’s going to be much easier going deep in Atlanta. Freddie Freeman, you may wish soon, wherever you go, that you had stayed down south.
It takes a lot of money these days to run a pro sports team, which is why the Saudis and the Russkie oligarchs have been welcomed into the club. I mean, every roster is now going to have 12 or 13 highly paid members who never swing a bat and most will have at least one guy who almost never plays defense. Some of us old farts will be able to tell our grandchildren that we actually saw Mickey Mantle drag bunt his way on base. Of course, they will probably look at us as though we are crazy, and many of us will be. Then we can tell them that we remember 1968, not just for the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy but also for the fact that Bob Gibson pitched 28 complete games in 34 starts. I remember thinking, when the designated sitter was introduced in ’73 that there would now be more and more complete games because the pitcher would not have to leave the game when he was pinch hit for. As Jackie Gleason, another ghost from the past, would say, “Hardy Har Har.”
Like the eloquent spiritual advisers of the day say, it’s all good, man. I may come off as a little bitter, but I welcome MLB back, even with its old and new flaws. It’s never been perfect, but it comes closer than most things. One last question, though. Now that Major League Baseball has become as crass and commercialized as professional soccer with advertising soon to appear on caps and uniforms, will uniform ads include those for betting agencies? The American Gaming Association reported that, in 2021, casinos “won” (their word) $53 billion dollars. That was an increase of 21 per cent over 2019, the previous best year, and much of it has been attributed to sports betting, which has become more and more a legal enterprise. I can see it now:Pete Rose recommends Wary Larry’s for your sports betting dollars.