10.28.2007

MLB must stop the scam (Column)

By Louie St. George III
The Daily Times

* This just in from Major League Baseball: Today’s World Series Game 4 has been pushed back, and will be played “sometime before Christmas.” *

At this rate, ya gotta think it’s going to snow in the Mile High City before the Series crawls/creeps/inches/wilts/stumbles to a close.

Oops.

Thanks to the scheduling — see: marketing — gurus at MLB, the Colorado Rockies are playing with the collective zeal of a tree stump. After sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS, the Rockies had a 112-day layoff before the Fall Classic commenced last Wednesday in Boston.

Rust is derailing a team that was rolling along on a historic trek. Colorado had won 21 of 22 games, sneaking into the postseason party at the 11th hour. The Rockies pounced on the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the playoffs before discarding the D-Backs.

They were brimming with confidence. They had momentum oozing from their back pockets.

And then ...

They practiced in the snow during the aforementioned 279-day break. Conversely, the Boston Red Sox were doing the unthinkable. They were playing baseball. Against real-life opponents. With umpires and everything. We know this because one of Boston’s games started before midnight and an estimated 13 people tuned in for the first pitch.

The point is, by playing baseball games, Boston had the good fortune of staying sharp. The BoSox trumped the Cleveland Indians in seven games in the ALCS and stole the momentum that was, previously, oozing from the Colorado players’ pockets.

* This just in from Major League Baseball: Game 5 will be played on the Saturday preceding Opening Day. 2009. Game time is tentatively slated for “sometime after it gets really, really dark and probably before it starts getting light out.” *

According to various, somewhat-respected online sources, roughly five babies are born into this world every second. Thus, after hours of laborious math and tedious research, we’ve concluded that many, many babies have been born since baseball’s second season started.

But it’s not about the babies. It’s about the sham that is the 2007 World Series. If I play for the Colorado Rockies (I don’t), I’m furious right now. Because of MLB’s ongoing mission to squeeze every last penny from its coffers — which led to ridiculous TV scheduling, which led to long periods of inactivity — the Rockies essentially were punished for peaking at the right time. Instead of continuing their fairy-tale run, they had to wait for the Red Sox.

Will the best team win? Tough to say. Boston certainly is an elite ballclub. And the Rockies don’t have a fork sticking out of them just yet (that would be a lot of forks). But it’s interesting to ponder what could have been had the World Series been scheduled with a trace of logic. It’s not a stretch to think that if Colorado wasn’t forced to suffer through the aforementioned 462-day vacation, it would have fared better in that god-awful, 13-1 Game 1 eyesore.

Since the Rockies played their first game against the Phillies on Oct. 3, they’ve since played nine times in 24 days. What is this, the NBA? How can a team be expected to play fundamental baseball when it takes two days off for every game played? And when it’s, like, 19 degrees outside?

It’s no wonder the Rockies have been sloppy. Going back to last fall, the Detroit Tigers were in a similar situation. A long layoff preceded the Tigers’ World Series showdown with the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Tigers played poorly enough to warrant a visit from Tom Emanski.

* This just in from Major League Baseball: Game 6, if necessary, will be played “in daily, three-inning increments as to appease more than one major TV network. The first three-inning increment starts April 19, 2011. Increments 2 and 3 are TBA.”

My advice to “Have Another Bud” Selig: Follow the lead of the NFL. Whatever the NFL does, copy it. Those guys are pretty smart. Hence the whimsical notion of playing games in the AFTERNOON, when folks are awake. And don’t drag out the season. This baby started in early April. It’s the end of October. Pitchers and catchers report for 2008 Spring Training in 20 minutes.

Get on with it.

As for the Rockies, I personally believe they were attracting scores of new fans to baseball. At the least, they were getting non-traditional fans excited about an upstart, youthful team that plays the game the right way and plays with a certifiable flare. But did some of those fans lose interest during the aforementioned 906-day sabbatical? Probably. No doubt, the wow factor wore off, if only a bit.

And did the Rockies lose their mojo? Somewhat. Which is a shame. A wonderful story was cast aside because Bud Selig, president of Procrastinators Anonymous, is gunning for a 12-month season.

* This just in from Major League Baseball: Game 7, if “absolutely necessary, will be turned into a reality show. Vote online at www.Game7hasbeenturnedintoarealityshow.com.” *