NEW YORK, NY – I’ve been watching a hell of a lot more baseball this year than I have in the last few years. The biggest reason would probably be that the Mets and Mariners are playing decent ball (Mets are better than decent), and the Yankees are providing a nuclear roller-coaster of dizzying outer-space highs and comically-bad Sideshow Bob stepping-on-a-rake lows. There’s been a lot to take in, and I prefer it to binge-watching some random show. But, as much as I’ve enjoyed some of the things I’ve seen in these games, there’s a lot about 2022 baseball that I think flat-out sucks. To wit…
The Are No More Aces in Baseball. To be clear, there are quite a few great starting pitchers currently playing Major League Baseball. But long gone are the days of dominant workhorse hurlers taking the ball and never giving it back. To me, winning games by bullpen has changed baseball for the worse. This year, so far, there have been a total of 22 complete games. To put this in perspective, back in 1975 Catfish Hunter threw 30 CGs for the Yankees… by himself. So when so-called aces like Gerrit Cole and Shohei Ohtani give their teams six innings of “solid work” and call it a night, color me both unimpressed and depressed. Starting pitchers used to be MLB’s version of a Hollywood leading man. Now they’ve been reduced to expensive bit players.
My Kingdom for a Stolen Base. Metrics and analytics have sucked almost all of the fun out of the game. Hardly anyone steals bases anymore. And, when it does happen, it’s usually some team that is hopelessly out of contention. Most of today’s teams now share the fear or taking themselves out of a potential “big inning.” Rather than running or bunting (more on this in a sec) themselves into scoring position, they’re waiting on the home run. Taking a quick glance at this year’s SB leaders, at the top of the list is household name Jon Berti of Miami with 29 swipes. Rickey Henderson could steal that many in a doubleheader. Yep, someone took running out of the 5-Tool toolbox and never bothered to return it.
Bunting. Another lost part of the game, bunting may seem boring but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than some can ‘o corn fly to shallow left. There’s nothing wrong with moving a runner over or. God forbid, bunting for a base hit. One of my favorite things back in the day was watching Mickey Rivers of the Yankees walk to the plate like an old man with arthritis in both knees and then lay down a perfect drag bunt for an easy single. Buck Showalter, bless his heart, has the Mets third in the bigs with 16 successful sacrifice bunts. And let’s not forget Dave Chalk, who once posed for his Topps Baseball Card in a bunting stance. Fire!
Can the Canned Noise. I went to a Mets/Reds game last week and had a pretty great time. It was National Women’s Day, so all the Mets players chose walkup songs by women. Pete Alonso used “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks, Luis Guillorme had “Juice” by Lizzo, and his teammates heroically suggested to Daniel Vogelbach that he walk up to “Milkshake” by Kellis. It was fantastic, and I personally think those guys should stick with those songs. Anyway, as the Mets went about crushing the Reds, the only thing that truly irked me was the nonstop canned noise and sound effects throughout the game. It was a sensory barrage of phony “make some noise” prompts from some sound effects flunky up in a booth somewhere. From DAY-O! to EVERYBODY CLAP YOUR HANDS! to a sample from Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” to the horrid PC Richard whistle, the Mets have a seemingly bottomless pit of annoying-as-f**k sounds to play during the game, and they’re not afraid to use them all. This should be outlawed in New York and everywhere else. It’s okay for there to be quiet moments.
I’m already running way long, so I’ll call it quits for today. Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, who will maybe explain why no one in the AL East seems interested in catching the Yankees.