Locally, the Indianapolis Indians are off to yet again a league best record a few weeks into what always is a long season. Their affiliate, looking upward, isn’t fairing so well thus far in the Majors. The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing below .500 baseball and sit fourth in the Central with only the beloved Chicago Cubs holding a worst record in the division. Players like center fielder Gregory Polanco, who is batting over .400 after 83 at bats, are stepping up for this mixed veteran and amateur Indians team. Meanwhile in the Majors highly regarded Ike Davis who the Pirates traded for from the New York Mets is hitting .185 to start the season. It is pretty clear why one is excelling and one is struggling.
In other baseball news Albert Pujols, three years after leaving St. Louis and taking his talents to the west coast, is finally looking like he remembers how to play baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers are shocking the nation with a hot start but my associate T.O. assures me they don’t have enough in the tank to last. Young talent is taking the spot light and the walk off grand slam home run has become popular this season but what I want to talk about it progress.
George Bernard Shaw once said “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” For those of you who don’t know George Bernard Shaw he was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. For our purposes – he had a great quote that I thought worked well with my post. So what does any of this have to do with baseball? Baseball prides itself on its history and is slow to change but is not completely opposed to change. Just look at instant reply. Ten years ago instant replay wasn’t discussed and if it was mentioned in association with baseball you might as well have said the F word in front of your two year old niece…it was that looked down upon. Now instant replay in baseball, despite some criticism, is regarded as a good thing.
Baseball has made a change to be progressive and ultimately enhance the game and the experience. Yet baseball still struggles to adopt, at least in recent history. Outside of minor, I mean so minor no one really knows outside of beyond die hard baseball fans, changes Major League baseball has only adopted two big changes. The first one is instant replay and the other is the crackdown on steroids. Otherwise you have to look back to 1975, 34 years ago, for a change to the rules. In 1975 baseball changed the rule about “saves” and their suspension policy for using a flat bat. Now, with baseball trying to figure out how to handle instant replay, because let’s be honest that has been less than a smooth transition around potential change is being proposed but the media.
New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda, who can’t throw a pitch unless he is cheating, has been caught using pine tar in two consecutive games. Michael Pineda has been, let’s face it, completely blunt about using pine tar. Come on, everyone can see the shiny pine tar on your hand, neck and arm. According to managers and players pine tar is used all of the time - teams are usually just more discreet about it. This is to help pitcher grip the ball better because it is so slippery. ESPN experts have since been calling for a change to the rules in baseball. Either make pine tar legal or make a change to the surface of the baseball so it is easier to grip. On the other hand traditionalists are up in arms about the suggestion.
In my opinion if the ball truly is that hard to grip a change needs to come to the game. This isn’t like making steroids legal or eliminating the seventh inning stretch, it is simply making a minor change to the equipment to help with the handle of ball. It could to the 1969 rule change when the strike zone was shrunken down or how about the addition of the designated hitter in 1973. You are telling me that a small change to the baseball to enhance grip is going to change the game more than a smaller strike zone and the designated hitter? If anything it will make the game safer like the rule change in 1971 that required players to wear helmets when batting. Change is needed for continual progress and progress is needed to stay relevant. Stay relevant baseball because all of your best young talent is starting to lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory instead of pitching in October. Tradition needs to live on, the sport needs to stay ethical and the sport needs to continue to change so it can grow. Live, love and play like there is no tomorrow - thanks for reading.
The Marris Minute