The Problem Solver

The dark and dank days of Winter persevere but we have finally reached the month that brings us baseball. In fair weather climes, some college and high school teams are already playing games and, very soon, the major league teams of North America will be reporting for Spring Training. Since it’s one of those pleasant years that the billionaires and millionaires are not “locked out”, we can reasonably expect that things will progress on schedule.

Despite some inanities like the apparent permanent adoption of the rule that places an artificial runner on second base when games go into extra innings, baseball is still the best game going, although international futbol is creeping closer day by day. Following the English Premier League helps get us through the dark days and it gave me an idea the other day. In that league, where American players pop into view occasionally at about the same rate as Hondurans make the MLB rosters, the bottom three teams by won and lost and drawn records are relegated out of the league after each season and replaced by top teams from what we would call the “minor” leagues. So, since MLB continues to enact bad ideas, I feel entitled to propose good ideas that stand no chance of being adopted. A retaliation of sorts, shall we say. Why should the miscreants who run the show in Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Colorado be allowed to pretend to care about winning while frustrating their followers by only occasionally getting serious? Kick them out. Get somebody in there that gives a damn about providing some quality competition more than once every other decade. Going through the motions just to collect easy money from television and sales of “gear” is just the sort of lazy socialism that most of these owners love to gripe about. Put in some work, Chumley.

The arguments against this idea would be easier to shoot down than a Chinese balloon by a multi-zillion dollar fighter jet if excellent competition were the goal but we allow ourselves to be distracted by headlines about jumbo sized bases and how much money everybody is making, Just as the big pharmaceuticals load up cargo planes with cash after taxpayers pay for all of the research and development that enables it, the Lords of the Diamonds want to continue the process that pays well if you lose and maybe a bit more if you win. That’s not exactly a Bill Russell or Jackie Robinson way of going about life.

Soon we will delight, however, in seeing Myles Straw chasing down flyballs or running bases, Hunter Greene firing pitches that can be heard easier than seen, Shohei Ohtani blasting home runs and shutting batters out, and Ke’Bryan Hayes playing third base like Pie Traynor. Spring is, indeed, the best season of the year. It will also do the heart good to see Andrew McCutchen back in a Pirates uniform at age 36.

There is another rule change that comes to mind as well. In retaliation for pitchers being limited in how frequently they can throw to first base in order to hold potential base stealers, let us put a strict limit on how frequently speculation can be made on what players will be traded or sold by the trading deadline by announcers, pundits, and otherwise unemployable wretches Once in April, twice in May, three times in June should work.

While I’m solving all of these earth shaking problems, here is one last one that is especially aimed at the middle aged men and women out there. Play ball! Do it as well as you can for as long as you can. Because the day will slowly but surely come that you can’t any longer and, most assuredly, you will miss it.

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