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There is no real perfection

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By Ed Botti, June 30, 2020

“There is no real perfection. They’ll be no perfect day. “

As you all know by now, we are entering a period of MLB history unlike any other since our national pastime began.

A 60 game Major League Season.

The purist in me does not like the proposed format one bit. A 60 game season is a sprint, I am used to a marathon. If it was up to me in normal 162 game seasons, I’d go back to 2 divisions in each league, crown the division champions in October, start 2 rounds of playoffs, and not invite the non-elite to the tournament.

Yes, old school.

I feel the system in place since 1995 dilutes the integrity of the game. If you cannot win your division in 162 games, you should go home and figure out why?

This isn’t Staten Island men’s fast pitch softball. It’s Major League Baseball.

But I get it. I am a dinosaur. Times change, and so should I. Most people today prefer the expanded playoffs. In fact some don’t even watch many games until the playoffs begin.

So, to keep the cash registers pumping out sales, we have the expanded playoffs, and I have learned to adjust to them.

I may not agree, but I watch. And isn’t that the whole purpose?

One confession I have as a Yankee fan, albeit a fan from the Jurassic period, I wouldn’t even consider a Yankee World Series win as a wild card team legitimately earned. There you go, I said it.

Unlike every other team in the League, the Yankees don’t hang banners for division titles or a wild card team. It’s World Series or bust. Period.

So when I look at this current season’s platform, at first glimpse it seems like nothing more than a money grab. A something, anything approach.

A 60 Game season jammed into a 64 calendar day period. As Larry Collmus of Churchill Downs would say “down the stretch they come”!

Except it’s not a stretch, it’s the whole season.

60 games is a small sample size in Baseball.

If you look at just last season, the World Champion Nationals would not have even made the playoffs after 60 games.

I have mentioned that old cliché before, Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, and I stand by it.

However, in 2020 beggars can’t be choosers.

Since that loathsome day of March 12, 2020 Baseball fans, players, coaches, front office personnel and media members have been waiting with bated breath to hear (what I used to think were the last 2 words of the National Anthem) “Play Ball”!

Beautiful music indeed.

Is it a perfect scenario?

No, not by any stretch of the imagination is it perfect. But it is all that we have for now.

We all know that it took a lot of ugly, behind the scenes, greedy, back stabbing negotiations to get to this point. So here we are once more in the playground of the broken hearts.

Baseball it seems, is coming back.

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Frankly, I can live with a non-traditional 64 day period in my life. I will miss my non Baseball evenings of watching Curb Your Enthusiasm reruns, but I am ready for Baseball.

It’s been too long for many of us. Our summer evening patterns were abruptly taken from us in March. It will be nice to get back to some semblance of normalcy, so I will let history judge it on its merits.

Having said that, I’m not going to view this season as a forgery, but I also will not view it as genuine, either.

It will be different, and let’s leave it at that. Different.

We may see some unusual things this season.

The first that comes to mind is the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. Obviously it would not be legitimate, but if there was a Tony Gwynn in the league today, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.

If you don’t recall, he was hitting .394 On September 14, 1994 after 110 games, when the strike hit. I was pulling for him. One of the true classy and hardworking players of his generation.

As an aside, Tony did hit .400 in a 162 game stretch in 1994 and 1995 batting .406 by going 242-for-596.

I don’t think we need to worry about it though, there are no Tony Gwynn type hitters today.

This season each win or loss will essentially be the equivalent of a 3 game sweep. Think about that, a loss to the rebuilding Tigers in August will have the same impact of a 3 game sweep.

To effectively maneuver through that minefield, managers are going to have to change their approach and strategies right from the start, and aggressively use their bullpens, even though days off will be few and far between.

That makes perfect sense, but the problem is Commissioner Manfred’s new 3 out rule per pitcher will be hard to overcome during this sprint of a season. I am hoping by opening day, he opens his eyes and does the right thing and dumps that useless rule right into an Astros garbage can!

As of today, he has not dumped that idiotic rule. I am not too optimistic.

I am sure Aaron Boone wishes he would.

Other rule changes to keep in mind (like them or not).

The Designated Hitter in the National League.

Extra innings will start with a runner on second base.

No restrictions on position players pitching in 2020. One new Manfred rule he did change (does anyone really care?).

Suspended games due to weather.

Unsportsmanlike conduct will be enforced. In other words, if a player of manager gets within 6 feet of an umpire or opposing team player to argue, they get fined, ejected and possibly suspended.

Wet Rag. This one is brutal and opens the door to so many things, but to avoid Pitchers licking their fingers, Pitchers will now be allowed to carry a small wet rag in their back pocket. I think Gaylord Perry just came out of retirement!

The Trade Deadline this season has been moved from July 31 to August 31. However, this year teams will be limited to which players they can trade.

Each team will be permitted a three-player Taxi Squad for every road trip.

A 60-man Player Pool will be implemented. What that means is 30 players will make up the initial Opening Day roster for each team, the other 30 will remain at an alternate training site.

On opening day teams will submit rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks into the season the rosters will be reduced to 28, and then to 26 after the next two weeks. Once the 26-man roster is reached, they will be allowed to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

What is going to be the strangest aspect for me at least, is that no fans will be in attendance. Just the sound alone will be odd, and then you throw in the visual, and the whole set up is weird.

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I am assuming that the players and coaches will have to keep the social distancing protocol in place. I wonder how that will unfold on the pitcher’s mound during a mound visit. As it was, players would cover their mouths with their gloves to avoid other team’s lip readers from picking up the conversation, and that was with 50,000 screaming fans in attendance and the players and coach right next to each other, blocking onlooker’s views.

Now, there will be no fan noise, and everyone will be 6 feet apart. If they cover their mouths with their gloves, do you think they can hear each other? If they raise their voices, everyone will hear them? The in game communication will be a problem that will have to be addressed.

A weird twist to a pending milestone, one that doesn’t get discussed a lot, is that coming into this season the great Albert Pujols was 4 home runs away from Willie Mays’ 660 home run total, which would put him fifth on the all-time list. When he does hit it, no one will be there to see it and he won’t get hugs and high fives from his team mates.

A very weird optical.

From an economic perspective, the games played without the usual 70 million fans in attendance will most definitely drive the TV and Radio ratings through the roof, and thus enhancing MLB’s main revenue stream. At the same time, all those hard working folks that work at the stadiums, and depend on these jobs, will not be needed, and that is a shame. I hope the teams find a way to take care of these folks with the added media rights revenues they will be generating.

Is it perfect? No. It’s a shorter, different version of what was taken from all of us in March. But, at the very least we should give it a chance.

We get Baseball back in our lives, and we can use it.

We get games to watch during the evenings and games on the radio to listen to on hot summer weekend afternoons.

One step closer to normalcy.

So, let’s hope for the best; there is no real perfection anyway.


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