Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Short History of Stupidity by the Lords of Baseball

Watching Thairo Estrada grimace in pain after stealing second late in Sunday's game against the Giants—after we had already lost two players that afternoon—I decided to make up a short list of just how stupid MLB ownership can be.

I'm sure I am neglecting a great deal.  Please add your own!

1871—Despite the fact that the New York Mutual are the first team known for sure to have "hippodromed"—i.e., "fixed"—a game,  the brand new National Association—the first professional sports league anywhere— invites them to join.  And despite the fact that the Mutual is owned by the notoriously corrupt Boss Tweed.

In 1876, the Mutual is invited to join the new National League, despite the fact that Boss Tweed is now actively on the lam from the authorities.  The team disbands after refusing to pay for a Western road swing. Tweed is rounded up that fall.

1890—After the last known African American player is cut from a team in "organized" ball, baseball establishes the color line, which will last until 1946. This is more vicious, racist, and disgusting than stupid. But it is still stupid.

1899—The National League has decided to allow multiple club ownership in its 12-team league. As a result, the Baltimore Orioles transfer some of their best players to the Brooklyn Superbas, allowing Brooklyn to win the pennant, and leading to the demise of the Orioles the following year.

Worse still, Frank De Hass Robison, owner of the Cleveland Spiders, transfers all of the team's best players to the St. Louis Perfectos. The not-so-Perfectos finish 5th, while Cleveland compiles an all-time worst record of 20-134.

By 1900, the NL is down to 8 teams, and ripe for challenge by the upstart American League, which sticks new teams in Cleveland and Baltimore.

1935—The first night game in major-league history is played! What's so stupid about that? Only the previous 20-30 years, when the technology to play night baseball and thus swell the attendance with working men existed, and baseball did not take advantage of it.

1956—After a mere 80 years of devastating injuries, the National League decides to require batting helmets. The AL follows suit 2 years later. Not a moment too soon!

1957—Instead of simply sticking expansion franchises in California, the National League allows 2 of its most hallowed teams to move out of the country's largest market and head West.

It's part of a general trend in which, convinced that older, Eastern and Midwestern cities are dying and inhabited more and more by what they feel are icky black and Hispanic folk, MLB owners run for where the white people are.

Besides the Dodgers and Giants fleeing to L.A. and S.F., the Braves move to Milwaukee, the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore, the original Senators to Minnesota, and stupidest of all, the Athletics go to Kansas City. And then to Oakland.

The Braves and A's move on after a few seasons, while the Giants are brought to the brink of bankruptcy, and the Twins try to liquidate themselves.

1959—Like the All-Star Game?  MLB decides to play two!  This lasts through 1962.

1970s—Entranced by the depressing Astrodome, MLB decided to cut costs by playing as many games as possible in cookie cutter, multi-purpose stadiums with a rug. The injuries pile up and the fans depart before they get wise. We won't even get into all the powder-blue, polyester uniforms. Or the White Sox wearing shorts. Or disco demolition night, or free beer night...

1976—Faced at last with the fact that the sport is not above the rule of law and must follow the same basic contract rules the rest of us do, MLB decides to allow free agency. Marvin Miller, head of the Players' Union, is afraid baseball will just declare everyone a free agent, thereby driving down the price of all.

But they don't—the owners preferring to embark on almost 20 years more of destructive labor battles.

2010s—MLB decides to let its general managers and statheads inflict on the sport the most boring form of the game ever devised, while continuing to charge fans extortionate prices and put them through endless rain delays.

2019—MLB decided to make the bases as immobile as possible, and encourage fielders to push runners off them, thereby subjecting the incredibly high-priced talent to countless injuries.

I'm sure there are many others...


13bit said...

yes yes yes

JM said...

Preach the truth, Reverend Hoss.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well, hard to bear Greinke at home. I do wonder if Michael Tauchman is nearing his expiration date, though. The guy was not only a woeful 0-3 at the plate, getting his average down to .177, but also misjudged a fly in right that allowed Arizona to pick up an insurance run in the 8th.

Good to see Gio on the field again, though.

Anonymous said...

Hard to be done-in by the intrepid Wil-Mer, though, as well...a player discarded by the Metropolitanos, after all. Painful to watch, and, like you said, um, Greinke.

At least, double-c-cups got his 3k of Ks out of the way (even if he had to do it twice, thanks to the vision-impaired loon behind the plate).

Tomorrow, Ichi-ban (or the closest we have to it, at the moment). LB (No J)

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