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Is this MLB or XLB?

With the new XFL league kicking off, I started thinking about what would an XLB look like?

And then it hit me, we already have one.

I will be the first to admit that on January 25, 2015, I was happier than anyone that Bud Selig was gone as the MLB Commissioner. I felt he did a lot of damage to the game, and his testimony before Congress was the last straw for me, as his pathetic responses to questions about the steroids issue in Baseball confirmed my belief that he knew all along, but did nothing about it because of the revenue it generated.

When Rob Manfred took office it seemed like a badly needed breath of fresh air. But also a little concerning to me at the time was that his initial statement referred to “embracing technology” and “quickening pace of play”.

Two matters that I didn’t believe Major League Baseball had a problem with at all.

I always felt if pace of play was an issue, just keep the batters in the batter’s box between pitches. Get rid of the “human rain delays” that we have on each team, and I am sure it would speed up the game.

But I thought to myself, let’s give the new guy the benefit of the doubt, and see what he can do. At the very least, he can’t be as bad as Selig, right?

Just before the start of the 2015 season he did in fact address having batters stay in the batter’s box between pitches. That lasted to about Memorial Day, and umpires stopped enforcing it.

Then in 2018 he decided to re-address pace of play and put in a rule that limits the number of mound visits per game that can be made by a team.

By the way, new evidence (discussed below) now shows he implemented that rule knowing, or at least having a very strong suspicion, that the Astros were illegally stealing signs.

Huh? A team is using technology to steal signs, making it even more important for pitchers and catchers to discuss signs, and he put a limit on mound visits?

I am not sure why he just didn’t enforce the batter’s box rule.

So, limit critical communication sessions on the part of the players and coaches in pivotal spots during a game to save 30 seconds, but don’t forget to run that new male enhancement commercial. To be honest, I’d rather see the catcher and pitcher standing on the mound than those commercials a million times a night.

Got to keep our priorities straight, Mr. Commissioner.

Since then we have the elimination of the actual intentional walk, another masterfully developed plan to save that same critical 30 seconds, if that. Ask yourself, “How much time did that save… and for what reason? How many times do we even see intentional walks”?

He eliminated the breakup of a double play at 2nd base, or as most players would call it, “good hard baseball!”

He has also renamed the Disabled List to the Injured List. It was so overdue Mr. Commissioner, I for one, was losing sleep over that one.

He also introduced, in some minor leagues last year, a rule change whereas in extra innings a runner starts the inning at second base.

Now heading into 2020 Commissioner Manfred adds another rule change, which honestly baffles my mind, but here it is; each pitcher must face at least three batters before being removed from a game.

I thought it was a joke when I heard it last year, but no. Another ingenious idea from 245 Park Avenue.

This rule effectively eliminates the late game match ups. The back end of the bullpen, which some teams invest millions into, now has a minimum amount of batters each pitcher must face.

No longer, as an example, can a manager navigate through the late innings to set up the closer in the 9th.

To put that into perspective, the late 90’s bullpen of Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, Graeme Lloyd, Ramiro Mendoza and Mariano Rivera would not have been utilized to perfection by Joe Torre, had this hair brained idea been in place.

Ditto for Terry Francona and his 2016 Indians.

At some point, you have to ask yourself, does this man know what he is doing?

But hey, I think we saved two minutes, so who cares if the game and history are impacted? Now run that male enhancement commercial for the 20th time tonight.

Now it gets worse (if possible).

This past Friday on February 7th, the Wall Street Journal published a story called ‘Dark Arts’ and ‘Codebreaker’: The Origins of the Houston Astros Cheating Scheme. In this report we learned that this whole cheating scheme was cooked up by the team’s front office in September of 2016, and that teams (including the Yankees) complained to him about them during 2017, and he did nothing.

Wait, what?

Didn’t the Commissioner’s three-month investigation conclude that the cheating was “Player Driven”?

How is it that Manfred and a slew of MLB Attorneys and investigators did not find out that the front office initiated or were at least part of the whole thing?

Or did they and just not tell us, and why?

The “why” is explained below.

Instead, he gives immunity to the cheaters, fines the team pennies on the dollar, hopes that we will just forget about it, and effectively misses the entire point. He has brought the very integrity of the game into question.

I’ll tell you one thing, I wouldn’t want Manfred and his team to be the Cryptologic Linguists for our Military.

Further, just yesterday February 11th in an article in the Washington Post by Barry Svrluga and Dave Sheinin, they contend, thanks to unnamed sources within MLB (MLB Personnel have been directed not to comment on the scandal) that the Astros cheating was an “open secret.”

The executive stated “The whole industry knows they’ve been cheating their (expletives) off for three or four years”. “Everybody knew it.”

The MLB Executive also stated “10-12 teams complained about the Astros sign-stealing directly to Major League Baseball”.

A prominent MLB scout is also quoted stating “It was a big open secret, really big. Throughout baseball, throughout the scouting community, for several years, not just starting in 2017. I would say probably 2016, maybe earlier, through 2019, things were going on that were blatantly against the rules.”

An open secret would insinuate the Commissioner knew about it long before Mike Fiers revealed it to the world, and did nothing of any substance about it.

So the question now has to be asked, who is investigating the investigators? Is it time that an independent investigation take place – from outside of baseball? It just might be time for that.

If all of that, and there is plenty more, is not enough, we now get the ridiculous new Playoff Proposal that came out February 10th.

In summary, here is what Manfred and his team of “experts” are actually proposing.

The team with the best record in each league gets a bye and avoids the wild-card round. They stay idle until the Division Series.

The two other division winners and the best record wild card team (stay with me, because there are now 4 wild card teams, per league) play a “Best of 3” series and would get all three games at home.

So the best record wild card team gets three home games and the last three wild card teams would have no first-round home games.

Who plays who?

The division winner with the second-best record would then get to actually pick their opponent from those lower three wild card teams.

The other division winner would then make their pick of who to play, leaving the last two wild cards to play each other.

Wait, here’s the best part….. the plan is to have this all unfold on a reality TV show on the Sunday night the regular season ends, and have team representatives picking who they decided to play on live TV.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

We can call the show “MLB at the Jersey Shore”!

Commissioner Manfred…. the gift that keeps giving.

How do the players feel?

Trevor Bauer upon hearing of this responded with “No idea who made this new playoff format proposal, but Rob is responsible for releasing it, so I’ll direct this to you, (commissioner) Rob Manfred, Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball. You’re a joke.”

Didi Gregorius simply asked the question “why are we changing this loveable sport so much?”

I can’t say I disagree with Bauer or Didi.

Basically, what Manfred is doing is diluting the regular season to add, what he and his “experts” believe will be, more interest in the playoffs, which means TV ratings and money. They are willing to radically change baseball, forever, just to try to capture the big dollars in the fall.

He will frame it as a way to avoid tanking, and a way to keep second division teams in the playoff hunt, but it’s all about money.

Overall analysis of the MLB revenues show the business is making more money than it ever has.

As I stated above, I never was a fan of Bud Selig, but he did know how to make the owners a lot of money.

When Manfred became Commissioner he took over a business with a strong economic framework built by Selig, and frankly has lived off the successes of Selig’s administration ever since.

Under his watch attendance has dropped every year, at least one championship was awarded using technology to cheat, and the pace of play rules have done essentially nothing more than shave a couple of minutes off the game.

Don’t forget we have his all-out attack on Minor League Baseball; the backbone of baseball in smaller American cities.

MLB has become a mess under Manfred.

He oversaw a completely botched sale of the Mets, an ex-player is suing an entire team for cheating against him, and of course his failure to conduct an accurate investigation into the Astros cheating that has impacted many too many people, and now it looks like he misled the fans.

The baseball season now often starts overseas, games are played in the UK and other countries during the season (which if last year was any indication, it radically changed the way the game was played), fans buy tickets to nice Sunday afternoon games, only to find out that the game has been shifted to ESPN for an 8:00 PM start on a school and work night, and we have nicknames on the backs of the ugliest “special” uniforms you could dream up.

And how long before robots become the umpires, and the game drops to 7 innings?

Does anyone believe him when he says his investigation has concluded that the 2019 Astros didn’t use an electronic buzzer?

I wish I could, but based on his track record, no. I don’t have any confidence in what he tells us as factual.

To me, it looks like we are witnessing a classic example of someone being in way too over his head. Mr. Commissioner, please just leave the game alone.

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