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Did you know…
Love those Cactus League scores, including Texas 25, Cleveland 12 earlier this week . .
Rookie Yankee infielder Oswaldo Cabrera had 29 homers in 118 minor-league games last year and a grand-slam against Detroit in an early exhibition game this spring . . .
Seattle salivates over the return of 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, limited to 36 games because of a bone bruise on his right knee last year . . .
After spending $325 million to sign Corey Seager for 10 years, the Texas Rangers are banking on the shortstop’s ability to rebound from a fractured wrist that kept him sidelined for all but 95 games in 2021 . . .
Stephen Strasberg, MVP of the 2019 World Series, has made seven starts in two seasons but looks healed from last year’s thoracic outlet shoulder surgery . . .
After posting a 2.93 ERA over his first four years with the Mets, fee agent signee Noah Syndergaard searches for a halo in Los Angeles after making two starts over two years.
Baseball on the Radio
By Ray Kuhn
The baseball season is not long enough.
I do know how crazy a statement that is. The season hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already saying we need more time? Even in an abbreviated fashion, Spring Training is still a month long this season, then six months for the regular season, and another month for the post-season, and we are talking about eight months. That is a solid 65 to 7 per cent of the calendar at minimum, and we are talking about a sport from which the term “dog days of summer” derives from?
Yes, that is the very sport. Before you alert the authorities to do a sanity check, I thought I had found kindred spirits here. In addition, I think after a little explanation, you will feel the same way even if the dog days of summer do tend to crush you at times. However, even with that being the case, there is always the inevitable sadness that comes with the last out of the World Series knowing that we have to wait a few long months until the sights and sounds of baseball are back.
At birth, we were gifted, and it is a gift we should never take for granted, with five senses. Baseball allows us to use all five of those senses, some more than others and some more blatantly than others, but they are always there.
The ultimate is always going to be attending a game in person. I will leave the level up to you, because the feeling is always going to be the same, but in many cases that is always going to revert towards what your first in person experience was. For me, it was a Mets game at Shea Stadium in the summer of 1991, so regardless, what others thought about the Mets’ old home, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
However, enough about the past. My sentimental trip down memory lane was actually triggered by the radio.
There is never a shortage of baseball related items floating around my brain as possible topics to write about, but the difficult thing, is to figure out what the topic will at any given time. While sitting down at the computer in this particular instance, I happened to turn the dial (or click a few buttons on my MLB account since this is 2022) and start listening to a Spring Training game. At that point, I knew exactly what to write about.
Suddenly, a flood of emotions hit me. I had already watched more Spring Training action by this point than I care to admit, but this was my first time tuning in on the “radio”, albeit it virtually.
It is something that could be mundane, but drawing on all my years of baseball fandom and memories, it was anything but. In many cases across our lives, it is sometimes too easy to take things for granted. Even the act of attending a major league game in person is sometimes something that we do not give the proper reverence too. There is simply too much going on at times, both in front of us at the game and our lives in general that our senses and thoughts can sometimes simply get overwhelmed.
Listening to baseball on the radio has a way of making all of that go away. While it is the soundtrack of our spring (or in the case of spring training, winter), summer, and fall, baseball has the ability to be a constant companion. It allows us to literally take baseball anywhere with us.
As I let the sounds of a non-descript between the Astros and Cardinals wash over me, it all came back to me. Every site, smell, sound, and taste that I ever experienced at the ballpark was at the forefront of my mind.
There is nothing like watching a game and really getting to see things for yourself, but every once in a while, enjoying a game via the radio cannot be overlooked. It taps into a different part of your brain and memories and enhances the entire experience and that is something everyone should resolve to do this season.
Ray Kuhn can be found writing on Fantasy Alarm and podcasting at Friends With Fantasy Benefits after previously covering the Houston Astros as part of the FanSided network at Climbing Tal’s Hill. Reach him at @ray_kuhn_28 or firstname.lastname@example.org as he is always interested in talking or writing about our great game.
Yuck! ‘Manfred Man’ Rule Returns To Ruin The National Pastime
By Dan Schlossberg
The worst decision in the history of baseball is back.
Baseball fans everywhere will again have to bear the albatross of “the Manfred Man” – the ghost-runner who will start every half-inning of extra-inning games as an automatic runner on second base.
We interrupt this article while I throw up.
My long-time friend Howie Siegel agrees.
In an e.mail sent to email@example.com, he wrote, “How dare you bring back the disgusting and grotesque Manfred Man, the automatic runner leading off extra innings, it's Frankenstein baseball.”
Long before Rob Manfred’s name became anathema to baseball fans everywhere, Manfred Mann was an English rock band, formed in London, and lasting from 1962 to 1969. The group was named after keyboardist Manfred Mann, who later founded a ‘70s group named Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
Just as calling Bud Selig “Bud Lite” was an insult to Anheuser Busch, naming the extra-inning runner after a successful British rock group is also an affront. But the title, a least in Baseball 2022, fits.
In a misguided effort to speed up the game, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred rubber-stamped the idea of starting each extra inning with an automatic runner on second base.
Created as a one-year experiment for the virus-shortened, 60-game season of 2020, the rule certainly wreaked havoc with shaky bullpens and certainly shortened games. But it didn’t do anything to promote the century-old baseball tradition that the best team should advance to the World Series.
For the first half of last year, for example, the eventual World Champion Atlanta Braves struggled so mightily in extra innings that they didn’t reach the .500 mark until August.
The rule reeks of hypocricy.
Keeping the Covid-era rule in place is supposed to shorten the game but then why dispose of the other “emergency” rule reducing both ends of double-headers to seven innings?
This year, in the wake of the Madison Bumgarner fiasco, all games will go the regulation nine innings – except, of course, those that finish nine innings with a tie score. Then the Manfred Man will rear its ugly head.
Bumgarner last year managed to pitch the first no-hitter of his career – only it came in the nightcap of a doubleheader in Atlanta. So he got credit for a shutout and complete game but was did not received the credit he deserved for holding the opposition hitless.
There’s something similar afoot with the Manfred Man rule: when the “designated runner” scores the winning run, it is not considered an earned run – thereby protecting the earned run average of the pitcher who couldn’t get out of the inning before he scored, ending the game.
It’s hardly surprising that the overpaid, over-pampered fat cats in the Major League Baseball Players Association love the rule – it gets them off the field sooner because it ends the marathon games that made baseball history so rich.
I’d venture to say that Harold Baines would not be in the Hall of Fame today if he didn’t get a hit that ended a 25-inning game [see also Bill Mazeroski as an example of how one hit can produce a Cooperstown plaque].
If you agree with Howie Siegel and me, feel free to express your displeasure by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Manfred Man is supposed to be for this year only so an outpouring of outrage from fans just might convince owners they are hurting the game. Not that their 99-day lockout didn’t hurt like hell too.
Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a baseball purist who became a rabid fan when there were two, eight-team divisions; no playoffs; no DH; no interleague play; no labor disputes; and no ridiculous rules that ruined the intent of the game’s founders. The author of 40 baseball books, he answers emails at email@example.com.
Teams across baseball, sources say, are concerned with the ramifications of unvaccinated players not being allowed to play in Toronto. If the rules don't change, they could offer a significant competitive advantage for the Blue Jays.
—Jeff Passan of ESPN
In New York, there’s an uproar against Mayor Eric Adams, a Mets fan who went to CitiField to announce an exemption for athletes and performers from the city mandate barring unvaccinated people from working in city-owned facilities . . .
Mets ace Jacob de Grom, displaced by the DH, had more base-hits (12) than earned runs allowed (11) during his injury-shortened 2021 season . . .
Hard to believe Mike Trout hasn’t played a full season in six years . . .
He may be 39 but Justin Verlander looks poised for a big year after missing 2021 with Tommy John surgery . . .
Also hoping to rebound from the elbow operation is closer Kirby Yates, who had 41 saves and a 1.19 ERA for San Diego in 2019 but is now healing in Atlanta . . .
Philadelphia added power in outfielders Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber but did nothing to bolster its notoriously weak defense with those high-cost signings . . .
Cincinnati was so anxious to cut payroll that it got virtually nothing back for Jesse Winker or Eugenio Suarez, both swapped to the suddenly-competitive Seattle Mariners . . .
Don’t look now but the once-frugal Twins have added Carlos Correa, Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, Sonny Gray and Dylan Bundy, among others.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.