Bock’s Score: Please Leave It Alone

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Stop the madness!!

Once and for all, leave the greatest game ever invented, alone. Cut out the craziness. If they care at all about baseball, really care, the movers and shakers who occupy the game’s executive suites these days will back off.

Old Doc Adams and Alexander Cartwright who dreamed up the Summer Game, gave it the perfect measurements and refined it, would appreciate your cooperation. The game they left us worked so well for more than a century. It doesn’t need to be changed.

That said, there is little chance that it will be left alone. In this era of Sabermetrics and algorithms, of exit velocity and spin rates, the current generation of proprietors can’t keep their hands off.

What ever happened to that old rule that advises if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Baseball wasn’t broke, but that won’t stop the “We’re smarter than you’’ crowd from leaving their fingerprints all over the product.

The latest gift from these mad scientists is the decision to move second base closer to home plate. The plan is to position the base 13 1/2 inches closer. This, we are told, will facilitate more stolen bases, more action on the field. It also will allow the catcher’s throw to reach its destination faster, which might interfere with the runner’s swifter arrival at the base.

All of this is a frontal attack on the record book. Was Rickey Henderson, the stolen base king, consulted? What happens to his record if some runner takes advantage of the shorter distance and accumulates more steals? Asterisks, perhaps?

Swell.

This brilliant piece of strategy will be tested out in the second half of minor league seasons which is where baseball likes to show off all of its fancy new ideas like pitch clocks and robot umpires. And by the way, the second base they are moving is larger than the one they’ve been using all these many years. Now it measures 18 inches instead of 15 inches, further shortening the distance between bases. That’s another fingerprint gift from the game’s new age executives.

When the brilliant 99-day lockout ended, the message was, we no longer would have to deal with the ghost runner on second base to start extra innings. Traditionalists were thrilled by this return to normalcy. Then, before the abbreviated spring training was halfway complete, baseball’s bosses did a U-turn and restored that goofy bit of business.

And then came the movable second base.

There is no hope. They will continue to tinker and monkey with the game until it is unrecognizable. They are determined to make it into some hybrid game that once was baseball.

Please, stop the madness!!

 

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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