Hey Baseball, Get Off My Lawn!

by Kevin Burton

   The seasons are changing, calendar and sports calendar; the time is changing (spring forward Saturday night, kids), too much is changing.

   Any number of poets have rhapsodized about the beginning of spring and all it symbolizes. OK, I’m good with that. But as a sports guy in the man cave, I am not rhapsodizing. In fact, I am just a little bit grumpy.

   Spring forward takes away an hour of sleep. Not such a big fan of that. But I could overlook that on Selection Sunday, the capitalized day when the field of 68 is revealed for the NCAA college basketball tournament. Except, chances are Wichita State will not hear its name called this weekend unless it’s for players leaving on the transfer portal.   

     Wichita State has been disappointing big-time.  They beat Tulsa 81-63 last night in the American Athletic Conference tournament.  But will have to win three more games in as many days, beginning with a game against Tulane tonight, to make it to the dance.

   Well, the Shockers being eliminated is a foregone conclusion. No harm no foul.

   Most of the seasons-changing rhapsodizing I have done in March/April over the years, has centered on baseball. And I just don’t know what baseball is any more. Baseball may be over for me.  

   If my Reds and Royals were a little more competitive, I might not be saying that. But as it is, I’m turned off by the new rules MLB has adopted.  

   “I can’t keep up with what’s been going down. I think my heart must just be slowing down,” sang Jackson Browne in the great 1983 tune “Lawyers In Love.”

   Maybe that’s my problem?

   Oh my God, Lawyers In Love is 40 years old!

   I can’t take this. It’s too much. And baseball is not helping. 

   The powers that be at MLB have twisted the game beyond recognition in an attempt to appeal to no-attention-span millennials. In the process, they are losing some of the old-timers. They’re losing me.

    It’s so jarring that I say the 2023 Cincinnati boys of summer are doing something fundamentally different from what Davey Concepcion, Ken Griffey Sr., George Foster and Cesar Geronimo did in the old days.

   You may say I’m just old. But I think of the Reds taking the field at Great American Ballpark and I want to scream “get off my lawn.”

   MLB already had this maddening contrivance of extra-inning games starting with a runner on second base.  They call it the “ghost runner” and it gives a whole new meaning to the term “unearned run.”

   You also have relief pitchers now forced to face at least three batters.  I think of that as the Tony LaRussa rule, after the manager who switched pitchers nearly every at-bat at times, until he ran out of pitchers.

   That was bad enough. Now, new for this year, an entire wave of contrivances: a pitch timer, a ban on defensive shifting and bigger bases.

   The bases in particular are off-putting to me.  Oversized bases are supposed to increase base stealing, which is an exciting mostly-abandoned part of the game. Maybe that will work as intended. What do I know?

   But seeing those big bases on the field reminds me of clown shoes.  Maybe MLB will do that next year, put actual clown shoes on the players, for the greater entertainment of the millennials.

   The Sporting Blog lists baseball as the third most popular team sport in the United States, just behind basketball.  Some of the other sites I have seen show baseball far behind basketball, not far ahead of soccer.

   Soccer? In America!

   In 1973, when I was just getting started a s a huge baseball fan, the American league adopted the designated hitter rule.  So the year I had a baseball card that showed Minnesota Twins pitcher Jim Kaat batting, they stopped pitchers from hitting.

   No doubt old guys in 1973 were saying the baseball sky was falling because of the DH rule.  I was not with them and kind of got over it. 

   Well I am not over clown-shoe bases and telling pitchers how long they have to pitch.  It’s too much.

   Wikipedia says the phrase “get off my lawn” as something geezers yell at young people, was popularized by David Letterman. I don’t remember that, but it makes me even more fired up to utter the phrase, at baseball, at the Shockers, at the sleep-stealing time changers, at everybody.

   But what I really want to know is, how long until my fantasy football draft?

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