Technology has changed the way the game has been played and experienced, and players, managers, owners and fans have had to change with it. Players are bigger and stronger. Managers have anything and all they need to get the most in-depth reports and analysis on opponents and prospects. Owners are able to fill seats in ways unimaginable just 10 years ago.
But, as for the game itself, it still is and always will be untouchable — unless, of course, Bud Selig's Magical Mystery Tour through the MLB rulebook kicks into high gear. Judging by his All-Star break comments, it sounds like baseball's commish is about to go off his rocker. The guy who ruled the Steroid Era with a soapstone fist (dubbed "The Steroids Commissioner" by columnist Jay Mariotti), pushed the postseason into November and has openly favored his Brewers sounds like he's going to make things even worse.
Selig told reporters Tuesday that he'd like to make some changes to the already scrutinized interleage play. Selig, potentially on zero sleep, hallucinogenics or a combination of both, said he'd like to see pitchers bat in American League parks and the designated hitter role be activated in National League parks.
If Selig wanted to improve the game, he'd just go ahead and make the DH a staple in all parks, all the time. If he's looking for a way to spice things up, he has plenty of other options to do so. Why doesn't he take Reading Phillies (Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies) general manager Scott Hunsicker's ideas he used for the Double-A home run derby and put a trampoline in front of the Green Monster in Boston or a crane dangling Josh Hamilton in the outfield in Texas? Selig could put a Crocodile Mile between first and second base, so base-stealers could get a nice, wet landing strip when swiping second (the Boomerang Bump could trigger a new MLB steals record). Let's turn the pitcher's mound into a pitcher's ditch and fill it with snakes. What's more fun than a center field fence? A line of death row inmates linked arm-in-arm, wearing yellow hats (to help determine home runs).
One of the reasons fans dislike interleague play is the pain everyone feels when AL hurlers dig in to the box. Even NL pitchers are giving up. Fans of most AL teams have been living with a DH since 1973 — would it really be fun to see Josh Beckett start batting at Fenway Park only because the Braves are in town?
While fans began digesting such a ludicrous move, Selig made mistake No. 2 by calling out Kansas City's Home Run Derby boo-birds. The Royals rooters gave Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano a hard time at the derby because he was picked over their own Billy Butler to represent the AL. The good-natured ribbing rubbed old Bud the wrong way.
"While I understand Kansas City and I understand the whole Billy Butler thing, I really felt very badly [Monday] night," he told The Associated Press.
It's one thing to defend a Yankee, but it's another thing to call out small-market fans who haven't seen the chilly side of baseball's second season since Ronald Reagan was in office. What's wrong with booing, anyways? Yes, the weekend is supposed to be a fun time for players and fans, but it's still baseball. It's still fan pride. Selig, who feels bad for the game's top second baseman on the world's most celebrated sports franchise in arguably the greatest city in the world, should have embraced the boos, backed up the Royals fans and embraced the side of baseball that Kansas City fans haven't had in a while — something legit to cheer (in this case boo) about.
Union head Michael Weiner didn't necessarily feel bad for the Bronx's $14 million man.
"It struck me that it moved a little bit past traditional good-natured booing, particularly for an event like that, and got into another area," he added. "But Cano grew up in the Dominican Republic, plays in the Bronx, plays for the Yankees. He's going to be fine."
Cano will be fine, but the rest of the baseball world won't be if Selig keeps trying to tweak America's pastime.