MLB

This Festivus is all about the airing of grievances, so let’s take a look at Major League Baseball

Though the episode of “Seinfeld” from which the faux-holiday sprang (“The Strike”) aired more than 23 years ago, the lore of “Festivus” lives on in pop culture heaven. Landing on Dec. 23, a Festivus gathering is around a metal pole and features a dinner, during which there are an airing of the grievances, and the post-dinner feats of strength. If you’re lost, that’s OK. All you need to know is the part about grievances. As the late, great Frank Costanza puts it …

“The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people, and now, you’re gonna hear about it!” 

The 3-0 grand slam controversy

Easily the dumbest self-inflicted wound by anyone involved in Major League Baseball this season happened on August in Arlington. Padres shortstop and rising superstar Fernando Tatis hit a grand slam and was shamed for it. Why? Because it was a 3-0 count with a seven-run lead. Apparently the people who didn’t like this think there are certain times you’re allowed to try and others you aren’t. We weighed in here and I found some silver linings, but what a dumb thing to ever happen in the first place. 

I’m embarrassed for anyone who thought Tatis was the bad guy. 

In general, players whining about opposing players

While we’re here, this is supposed to be a sport full of adults, both physically and mentally tough. Somewhere in the past it was decided that getting your feelings hurt by how an opponent acts was tough, but it’s totally backward. Suck it up and quit crying. You don’t want a hitter to watch a home run or flip his bat? Don’t give up a 400-foot moonshot. You don’t want a pitcher to yell after striking you out? Hit the damn ball. You aren’t tough for getting mad. You’re a cry baby. 

We’ll stay in the same lane here and push back on Joe Kelly becoming some kind of social media hero for his “fight” with the Astros. Look, I understand anyone who threw in the direction of any Astros players this season were immediately going to be hailed, given that they were the easy and obvious villains of the season, relating to their sign-stealing scandal. It’s just the way it unfolded actually, to me, looked like Kelly making an utter fool of himself. He threw balls at people standing more than 60 feet away from him, and when they objected, he kept walking away and making pouty faces at them like he’s 10 years old? That was cool? 

To be clear, my grievance isn’t with Kelly himself. I thought it was dumb and childish. I think I’d throw out the tired cliché, “it is what it is” on his actions that night. If anything, it was definitely worth a laugh (at him, not with him for me). My issue is with the t-shirts being made of the faces he was making and people — including NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer — going all in on the “Free Joe Kelly” movement after he was correctly (even if overly aggressively) suspended. And, yeah, the suspension was too long, which means we’ll loop in the league office on this grievance for their role in heroizing Kelly. 

Oh, yeah …

Everything relating to the sign-stealing scandals

No need to rehash everything. It was all a black eye for the game. 

Late playoff game finishes

On a more serious note, Major League Baseball continues to drop the ball when it comes to winning over possibly-new or casual fans, especially kids, during postseason baseball games. Specifically here is the World Series. This is your championship. You have a nationally televised opportunity to show people why they should be watching your product. Here is when each game of the World Series ended (U.S./Eastern time): 

Game 1: 11:35 p.m. 
Game 2: 11:48 p.m. 
Game 3: 11:22 p.m. 
Game 4: 12:18 a.m. 
Game 5: 11:38 p.m. 
Game 6: 11:36 p.m. 

This happened after midnight: 

Now, this was much better than, say, the 2017 World Series when we were getting into the wee hours of the morning on some games and I understand there are fans throughout the nation in different time zones. I’m simply pointing out there are an awful lot of adults who wake up early in the morning and can’t get much past 10:30 before hitting the sack. This isn’t even mentioning how unreasonable it would be to argue that kids should be expected to stay up until midnight on a school night. 

Me? I’m good. I’m prepared to never sleep during the playoffs and I love it because it’s my job and passion. Die-hard fans likely aren’t too up in arms, either, but that isn’t the focus here. If we love the game, we should want it to grow. Those end times for the championship round aren’t cutting it when trying to land new fans who will spend money on the product. 

Former players who do nothing but lament today’s players

Shut up, man. If you hate the game so much, move on and quit watching. 

Fans who attack players on social media for poor play

Get a life. They are still human beings. 

The replay system

Right off the top, I’ll say in general I’m happy that replay fixes obvious bad calls. Everything else about it is bad, though. So often it takes way too long. Every single close call giving us a shot of the dugout while the manager looks down in the tunnel to see if they want to challenge. The idea of the challenge in the first place, really, should’ve been a red flag (pun unintended but still perfect), because there was no need to ever imitate the NFL here. If we’re gonna borrow any of these methods from another sport, how about hockey? Have a centralized office with 15 replay officials. Each gets one game to watch. If there’s a play that needs to be fixed, the replay official buzzes an on-site replay official, who hits up the home plate umpire. A decision is swiftly made. Take it out of the managers’ hands. Hell, maybe we’d even get back some manager-umpire arguments! 

Also, stop reviewing the thing where a player slides to a base and while he’s on top of the base and every body part becomes detached from the base for a split second while he’s still over the top of it. The spirit of the rule says he’s still safe. Who cares if he ends up barely straddling the base for a millisecond. Like this: 

He’s safe. Sorry. 

Owners and players fighting over money in public

I understand 2020 brought bad experiences for many. Billionaire sports team owners are very close to the last on the list of who I want to hear from crying poor. The world doesn’t owe you a season full of riches every single year. We don’t need to hear Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt telling us that it’s not very profitable (sell the team, then) or Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts whining about how the “losses” will be “biblical.” They sure could use a little perspective, no? 

Of course, while I’m generally on the side of the players when they bicker, it doesn’t help to have stuff like Blake Snell saying “I gotta get my money” in the middle of a worldwide pandemic while he was coming off two straight seasons of banking over a half-million dollars and is set to make over $35 million the next three seasons. Snell did later say he regretted saying it, but that isn’t what sticks with fans. 

Both sides need to do a better job in public, as the general public is needed in order to maintain the financial success the league has had. 

Oh yeah, while we’re here …

COVID-19

This virus ruined so many lives. Obviously, not just in baseball, but this is a grievance about Major League Baseball and the 2020 season was significantly messed with. From the months without baseball to the shortened season to all the regulations needed to be put in place to the team-wide shutdowns to how weird it was watching games without fans to no Hall of Fame ceremony to — most importantly — all the employees who lost jobs, the single biggest problem for baseball in 2020 was COVID-19. Nothing else was even close. 

Let’s see a better 2021, where hopefully our list of grievances is shorter! 



 

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