Thoughts From A Seamhead: “Get Off My Lawn”

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(“Thoughts From a Seamhead” is a weekly series where James will offer his opinions on the history of the game from the players to the rules and the stats)

The game of baseball is a sacred institution. There’s something amazingly beautiful about it that words simply cannot explain, but as with any sport there are times when changes are needed.
In 1973 (the year I was born) the American League adopted the designated hitter rule. I’ve grown up having only seen the A.L. play with it so I can’t act like a crotchety old purist and shake my fist while yelling about how it ruined the game. I actually love the rule and wish the National League would adopt it as well. Why you ask? Well it actually protects a team’s biggest asset which is pitching. I would hate if my team’s number one starter had to lose a significant amount of time because he pulled a hamstring running out a base hit.

I love the idea of interleague play. It gives fans a chance to see their team play other teams that they normally wouldn’t face unless they made it to the World Series. All of the other major sports play teams from competing conferences so just deal with it.

Now it’s time for me to go on a bit of a rant and it involves the All-Star game. Let me start by saying that determining home-field in advantage in the World Series based on the winner of the All-Star game is the worst decision ever made by Bud Selig. If managers didn’t feel compelled to treat it like a little league game where everybody has to play we wouldn’t be in this predicament.

Here’s a scenario that could happen which is why I am so against this concept:

Since the initial roster is based on fan voting that means that a player who is having a horrible year will still get voted in because of his popularity. Let’s say that player is hitting .220 with a .295 on base percentage and his team is in last place with no hope for the season. He manages to get a timely hit that scores the winning run of the game. Now the league he plays in has home-field advantage in the World Series. Is that really fair to the players in the other league who are on winning teams with a shot at postseason glory? I think not.

I also don’t believe that every team has to be represented. It doesn’t happen in football or basketball. Just make it the best of the best. It’s called an “all-star” game for a reason.

Instant replay. Two words that make most purists cringe including me. The “human” element of the game (i.e. umpires) has been there from the beginning. People make mistakes all of the time. I initially balked at the idea of replaying home runs but I also had to realize that the technology wasn’t always there for it to happen. I’m used to it now and I realize that it really doesn’t slow the game down all too much.

Now there is talk of using replay to review fair/foul calls down the lines. I’m not sure what to think about this just yet. But I believe it should stop there. Next thing we’ll have reviews of whether or not a player was safe followed by reviews of strikes and balls. Please don’t let it go into overkill. Baseball might as well replace the umpires with robotic cameras.

Finally I’ll toss in my two cents on the play-in wild card game. I like it. What it does is, reward the division winners by forcing the two wild card teams to have to use their two best pitchers in a one game playoff. It’s just one game. If you’re against it then baseball might as well go back to two divisions in each league with no wild card winners. 

James Holland is a Senior Columnist for Shutdown Inning. He can be reached at James.Holland@shutdowninning.com or @SDIJamesHolland on Twitter.
James Holland

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