I have had my issues about how baseball operates over the years, and especially questions about Commissioner Bud Selig. In fact a bunch of years back, when Selig appeared at a press conference in Oakland where a new stadium was being discussed, the first word that came to my mind was dottering.
And there are a host of items baseball as policy and decision makers has messed up in my opinion over the years, starting with their initial hodgepodge approach to HGH, use of instant replay, and April schedule to name a few.
But, with the announcement of the 2013 schedule, and related changes with the Astros moving to the AL West, all I can say is "kudos for a job well done."
To start, though the Astros might resent the move to the Junior Circuit, they might take a look and see which league has been more dominant over the past decade or so, especially when it comes to All Star games and big name players, for the American League was surely good enough for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.
And, well, the 'Stros get to play in a division with the Rangers and Angels, along with the resurgent Athletics and rebuilding Mariners. That is a division that could see three post-season teams this fall, if the Anaheimers can excel and make some Wild Card noise with Oakland. Which means it is pretty competitive.
Further, I dismiss the anti-intellectual Lance Berkman, who said he did not like the move because Houston was a "National League city," and that Milwaukee was better suited to move to the AL because it was an American League town. I guess Berkman never heard of the Milwaukee Braves--you know with Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews--for one thing, but the whole thing reminds me of what QB great Johnny Unitas said when the Baltimore Ravens got their name.
That team moniker derived from Edgar Allen Poe, who lived his later years and died in Baltimore. But, Unitas not only did not get it, he noted that the name "had nothing to do with football." Yeah Johnny U. I forgot, that every time I think of a baby horse football is the next thing that comes to mind!
Anyway, first and foremost, by re-aligning as such, we now have six five-team divisions which makes so much sense it hurts.
The next thing the powers that be did was eliminate the two-week windows of inter-league play, and instead scheduled the games as everyday business as usual, just like the inter-conference games the NFL plays every week. Meaning a fun match up, but no big deal. It also means the natural rivalries that pit say Oakland versus San Francisco will still occur, and draw fans. Just like when the Dodgers are at ATT, or even the Yankees at the O.co Coliseum.
In other words, no fuss, no muss.
Now, I know there are those who think this is all an abomination. For example, I read Ely Sussman's Bleacher Report piece where he notes "five teams get screwed with the scheduling."
But I think he is off-base.
First, irrespective, teams have always been hosed here and there by the schedule. And, while it might be a pain for Seattle to fly to San Diego, it is just over a two-hour flight. How many hours on the train or the bus did players endure in those storied "good old days."
Sussman also notes that teams like the Dodgers have to travel to the East and "have the daunting task of making trips to Camden Yards, Rogers Centre and Yankee Stadium. All three—due to combinations of their dimensions and wind patterns—are known to favor batters."
I guess it is too bad the Bums never have to play at Coors, or Atlanta which are not as batter friendly, or Wrigley where there is no wind.
I think the point is there is no perfect solution, or at least the bottom line is with every solution there will likely be a new set of problems.
But that is life.
More to the point, baseball is a paradox. It is some how this perfect blend of rules and parameters and theory, but those all get mashed up against the dice of human abilities and judgements. And, as a result, we see things every year we have never seen before despite over a century of statistics and a reasonably thick rule book.
In fact, I think back to earlier this year when the Dodgers were in Oakland, with their ace, Clayton Kershaw facing spot starter Travis Blackley. I remember at the time thinking this was not a fair matchup. And, Blackley pitched eight innings of three-hit ball, and won. That is one of the beauties of baseball: you just never know.
So, I think Sussman is simply nit-picking, and not thinking of the bigger whole, any more than Berkman.
However, since equanimity is now pushing on all baseball fronts, perhaps we can now resolve the DH Mr. Selig?
I am used to it, so I don't mind keeping it if you must. Just make it so both leagues play it the same way, either with, or without?