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Saturday, July 9, 2011

The unique absurdities of MLB.

Major League Baseball (MLB) traces its roots to 1869 or 1876 or whatever.  It's been around in some form of professional baseball leagues for a very long time.

For perspective consider the origins of the two other major North American professional leagues:
National Football League (NFL) 1920
National Basketball Association (NBA) 1947.

MLB's antiquity is probably part of the reason that it is antiquated.

Here is a partial list of unique MLB absurdities:

1. Different rules in its two conferences (NL & AL).  Currently this is only the DH rule but such disparity existed in other forms for decades.  Other NL & AL differences in the past: NL umpires at second base stood in front of the bag, in AL behind; number of visits to mound, number of players allowed on mound; strike zone (AL high, NL low) because of chest protectors (AL - outside balloon, NL - inside shirt).

Imagine the old AFL maintaining its two point option after touchdowns when it merged into the NFL becoming the AFC and the NFC staying with one point only.  Imagine the old ABA keeping its three point line after merging into the NBA and the original teams not adopting it.

2. Non-uniform playing areas with barriers of different composition and height.  Imagine ... oh, you get it.  Only baseball does something this absurd.

3. Non-player managers (head coaches) and assistant coaches wearing player uniforms.  How about some fat old NFL and NBA coaches suiting up to ... coach. Yes, they look absurd wearing suits and ties with huge players sweating all over them but this blog is radical baseball, not radical sports.

4. Coaches on the field.  Foul territory is part of the playing field.  How about NFL coaches on the ends of the offensive line waving their ball carrier around a closing linebacker?  Or an NBA coach on the floor waving for a pass to be made?

5. Players allowed to lean and even jump into the stands to make a play.  And fans allowed to interfere with players who do.

6. Foul territory: what the heck is that?  In the other sports when the ball and/or players go out of bounds the play is over.  In baseball, some plays are over, some are not.

7. Unlimited meetings of unlimited length.

8. No "free" substitution.  It would be easy to implement: just maintain the batting order and allow players to substitute for teammates in their original batting order position.  Geez, is that so difficult to imagine?

9. Players allowed to warm up when entering the game.  The backup quarterback does not get to take unlimited time to replace an injured starter.  MLB has an entire replacement ritual for replacing a pitcher, including a coach waddling out to the mound to initiate the change.  Can you see Tom Coughlin taking his sweet time walking to the middle of the field to speak to Eli Manning and decide whether he wants to replace Eli?  Then signalling for the backup who must warm up while the other 21 players wait.  Yeah, right!

10, The fan selected all stars playing an exhibition game, that in 2011 already has Yankees Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera opting to not play, deciding home field advantage in the MLB playoff finals.  Oddly, both the NFL and NBA home teams gain an advantage solely because of fan support and familiarity with the surroundings.  MLB home teams also have a completely different playing area and their players have been selected to take advantage of that.  How bush league is that?

11. Head coaches (managers) allowed to walk onto the field and argue with umpires for as long as they behave themselves.  Play actually stops for this nonsense.  NFL and NBA would never tolerate this.  It's dumb and not entertaining.

That's enough.  I have written about these things in previous posts in more detail.  This was just a summary taking a different form.

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