Pardon me, my fellow Americans, but are we really no better than this? Starting the tenth inning of Major League Baseball games with an unearned man on second base?
Bet you thought I was going to talk about something else.
Look, I like baseball as much as the next guy — probably less — but I know a travesty when I see it.
The only possible reason the Big Leagues are doing this is to speed up the game, which makes no sense, since they make most of their $10 billion+ annual revenue from TV ads, and the longer the game lasts, the longer they can push products to us.
Major League Baseball reported $10.7 billion in revenue in the 2019 season, up from $10.3 billion in 2018, the 17th annual increase in a row.
And despite this year’s planned 60-game season, without fans at the ballparks, I can’t see how baseball’s ad rates can go anywhere but up — from $50,000 per 30-second spot in minor markets to $500,000 — $1 million a minute — during the World Series.
Any fan knows that one good thing about baseball is the statistics. For instance, how can we compare the chemically altered Barry Bonds with the merely nasty Ty Cobb?
Look at the statistics.
Cobb’s lifetime batting average, fueled by tobacco and venom, was .367. Number two was Rogers Hornsby, .358. Barry Bonds’ lifetime batting average was .298, fueled by steroids and godnose what else.
Now let’s consider pitchers. Bob Gibson went 22-9 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968. His earned run average that year was 1.12 — the best in modern baseball history (modern baseball dating from 1900.)
Let’s consider what a pitcher this year might suffer from the leagues’ idiotic granting a man second base in every tenth inning, before the inning starts.
Suppose a relief pitcher in August strikes out two batters on six pitches in the tenth, then gets two strikes on the next guy, who hits his ninth pitch as a dribbler into right field, scoring the automatic batter.
The pitcher’s earned run average for that outing would be 13.5.
Hello, Toledo Mudhens.
If Major League Baseball really gave a damn about its own sport, or anything else, here’s what I suggest.
To speed up the game, put pitchers on a pitch clock, with a ball against the pitcher for every violation.
Tell batters to quit going for leisurely strolls between pitches. Prohibit them from putting more than one foot out of the batter’s box. Penalty: One strike.
And what’s more: Try selling hotdogs for less than $8, and tickets for less than $100 for a family of four.
And try selling parking spots for less than $20 at a ballpark whose parking lot is larger than many nature preserves.
(Courthouse News editor Robert Kahn thanks his contributors for their suggestions, who shall remain anonymous. Even baseball fans today have to protect themselves, and others, from retribution. For the record, Kahn’s favorite baseball player of all time was Vada Pinson, whose 1961 batting average was .343. You could look it up.)