It was only a matter of time.
The blue-ribbon society has taken baseball, too.
As many of you know, I love baseball. I truly do. It’s a big part of my summers. But I’m a fan of the game. Of the history. How it’s played.
I’m not a fan of making it … not baseball.
I can’t stand the DH (pitchers should hit).
The only time there should be inter-league play is the World Series.
If a catcher is in the way, he should know he might get plowed over.
A takeout slide is a wonderful thing.
Brushback pitches, or a fastball in the back is an equalizer and a way for players to police themselves.
Instant replay sucks.
That’s just the start. I could go on for quite a while. I’m old-school. When I watch a game live, I keep a scorebook. I watch the game. I’m not worried about all the games and things. I want to watch baseball. I like picking up nuances of players in certain situations.
It’s how it should be.
Last year, in the National League playoffs, Chase Utley (now a Dodger)took out Ruben Tejada with a slide that was offline (but watch it, his hand is still in range of the base…). The play ended with Tejada having a broken leg. Bad luck for sure and it magnified a slide that has been done for decades.
Utley, of course, was with the Phillies for 12 seasons – so Mets fans hate him. The ire of the play came from all over. In fact, MLB in the offseason made a rule adjustment about slides.
That comes on the heels of the change a few years ago banning collisions with catchers (when Buster Posey got rocked – the start of that rule).
So on opening day this year, Utley had an interesting slide coming into home with the Padres. Apparently, the way the rule is written it was illegal. But there are some fans and columnists and writers basically calling for his head over this.
The slide wasn’t even that bad.
I’m glad I have true fans I can talk to about things like this and we all agree that all these changes are ruining the game. One of those fans is a Met fan – who even said last year was just bad luck.
Alas, with the onset of bloggers and people like that who feel they know it all, Utley is the top on the public enemy list.
Full disclaimer – I am a massive Utley fan. I always have been and always will be. He plays hard and plays to win. That’s how it should be. This isn’t tee-ball. It’s baseball. And it’s adults making millions of dollars to play the game. Risk is part of it.
When I covered minor league baseball, one of the coaches I dealt with was Bill Monbouquette. He was a colorful character who never held back opinions on the game. In 1962, Monbo pitched a no-hitter for the Red Sox against the White Sox. I remember having interesting conversations with him about the game and how it’s gotten softer (pitch counts, not playing through any injuries etc.) and how players get hurt more now than when he played. It’s an interesting thought, if you think about it.
When covering the Hall of Fame one year, I remember Bob Feller – one of the greatest pitchers of all time – bash pitch counts because it made people think more about how many times they threw the ball rather than pitch.
The modern fan isn’t like an old fan, I don’t believe. There are so many things to take the attention away from the game. Writers don’t always have the background of the game and with the lack of funding, some “beat” writers don’t even travel with the team anymore. Bloggers add to things with opinions etc.
The internet has made it easier for people to be experts. Fans and “columnists” (I use that term lightly, as many “professional” sites hire out people cheaply to fill their sites – and the quality is often not where it should be). Comment sections are full of people spewing things they’ve “heard” or assumed, not having a clue about what they are saying.
For example, when this Utley thing happened, somebody wrote about it and one comment talked about how Utley was a “rich boy playing baseball for the Dodgers.”
I didn’t realize only snotty rich boys played for the Dodgers? Must be they never saw the clip of Utley when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 – the “World F’N Champions” clip. Blue collar.
Back to the situation at hand, though.
It’s truly sad to see the game being made softer. Some fans seem in support of it, others don’t. I sometimes wonder, when fans cheer for changes that alter the game from what it is and its history, if they ever actually played the game. I don’t mean tee-ball or local little league where their parents coached and they all got blue ribbons. I mean actually play.
On one thread of comments, I saw people bashing Utley saying he’ll get his! Somebody will throw at him etc. (Ironic that people like the takeout slide rule … yet apparently also like somebody being thrown at?) These people make it sound like that’s something new.
Do some research.
Utley has been hit 180 times in his career. He doesn’t shy away from it. He takes it and runs down to first. Why? Because he’s a player. Oh, by the way. Do you know how Utley got on base to start that whole sequence where he had the slide at home?
Hit by a pitch. Do the research – the more you know!
The game is truly beautiful.
Take-out slides are brilliant. Sandlot baseball when you threw at your buddy because he jacked a home run off you last at-bat is part of the game.
Salaries keep going up. Prices, too. And that means rules change. It’s not the game it was 20 years ago. I’m glad I grew up in a time to watch Pete Rose (my all-time favorite) and players like that. Utley was a throwback. It’s a shame that a mass of today’s fans (not all) don’t understand the history of the game and what “dirty” really is.
Allow me to leave you with the clip of Utley’s slide. You can form your own opinion.
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