Back from a long winter’s nap…

It’s been a long winter and I am glad to be back! As I explained on one of my earlier installments, sometimes my job takes me away from home and absorbs enough of my time that writing just isn’t on the radar. There, apology done. Now let’s get to the stuffy stuff…
First up, we have some ridiculousness from the world of college football. There are 120 FBS (formerly NCAA Division 1-A) teams. The “Cure Bowl” in Orlando, FL, will bring the total bowl count to 40, which means that some 80 teams make it to what is essentially the college football ‘post-season’. That works out to 67% of all the FBS teams getting a post-season game. In what other sport is there such a lopsided post-season ‘playoff reward’? It almost reminds me of the amazingly stupid practice of ‘Everyone who participates gets a trophy! Why? Because in our books, you are all winners!!! Now let’s all go to Dairy Queen for chocolate and unicorn fart Blizzards!!!” Just based on sheer numbers, with 6-wins being the cutoff for bowl eligibility, it seems that a lot of less-than-6 win teams are going to need to be bowl eligible. 67% (80 of the120) FBS teams are not going to win the required 6 games. Every time a bowl gets added, the whole process gets watered down and a little less meaningful. Believe me, there is no 5-7 team that thinks it deserves a bowl game. Nobody is going to want to watch the scintillating matchup of 4-8 Podunk Polytechnich versus 5-7 Acne Scrub State. And on a similar note, why does Orlando need 3 bowl games? With the addition of the ‘Cure Bowl’, they will now also have the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Capital One Bowl. They already have Disneyworld, Sea World (I love Sea World…), and Universal Studios. It is truly the tourist capital of the world and rightly so. I lived there for 15 years so I should know. They really do not need 3 less-than-premium Bowl Games…
Ok, so now we are talking baseball. I had to decide what to write about today, because there is so much happening. I really didn’t want to recreate a baseball version of ‘War and Peace’, so my offerings will be somewhat selective. I will start off with two notes about the Cincinnati Reds. First is that Billy Hamilton is really fast. I mean, he is MLB’s version of The Flash. I thought that Jerod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals was fast, but Billy Hamilton is off-the-hook fast. Secondly is that Johnny Cueto is pitching lights out. He almost pitched two shutouts back-to-back! That is amazing. As it was, he had to settle for two complete games back-to-back. Who does that in this day and age?
Last night John Lackey pitched a real gem. Lackey allowed one run and seven hits in eight innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks. That is a hell of a performance! Unfortunately, that is not what will be remembered, talked about, over-analyzed, overhyped, and beat to death about this game. That honor is reserved for the ejection of Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda, who was caught with a copious amount of pinetar on his person. That kids, is illegal. It has also been going on in baseball ever since someone figured out that pinetar makes it easier for pitchers and hitters to get a grip on a bat and a ball. The problem isn’t so much that Pineda had the sticky, gooey, piney stuff. The problem is that he was so blatantly obvious about it! Look, almost everybody in MLB is looking for some kind of advantage. It reminds me of the old adage that says that’ if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying..’. It is accepted practice that basically everybody does something along these lines, and baseball history is replete with its practitioners, but you are not supposed to be obvious about it. That is considered bad form, and is akin to showing the other team up, and that friends, is simply verboten. If PINEda had kept the pinetar discreetly hidden, nobody would have said a word about it. But alas, he did not. It was seen by everybody. The entire Boston bench saw it. The owners of both teams saw it from the luxury boxes in Fenway Park. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy from NESN Sports saw it. The current occupants of the International Space Station probably saw it. That is how overtly visible that pinetar was. Red Sox manager John Farrell had to say something, although it was obvious that he did not want to. He was willing to overlook it, but he simply could not. Simply put, one could excuse the pinetar, but one cannot excuse the stupidity of Michael Pineda. So he got tossed and will probably get fined. The Yankee GM Brian Cashman said that the Yankees as an organization are embarrassed. And lastly, another page has been written into the endless rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
Has expanded replay been the panacea that MLB hoped that it would be, or has it been the downfall of all things holy in the pantheon of the baseball world? The umpires are getting more calls right with the use of expanded replay. There is no denying that, and it is a good thing. The idea, as I said in an article that I wrote many months ago, is to get the calls right. That is happening now, and I for one am glad to see it. If the technology exists to make the game better and fairer, then count me in as a proponent. What I don’t understand is why managers are arguing after replay has either confirmed or overturned that call on the field? The play in question has been reviewed by the MLB replay officials in NYC from many different angles and television feeds, and basically everyone has come to the same conclusion. So after all that, you are still going to argue? Really?? Yes, Mr. Baseball Manager, everybody got it wrong except you…
Lastly, 4/23/2014 was the 100th anniversary of the Opening of Wrigley Field in Chicago, home to the historically hapless Chicago Cubs. Just when it looked like the Cubbies were going to give their fans a reason to celebrate this milestone, the Cubs did what the Cubs do. Yes, with a 3-0 lead going in to the 9th inning, the Cubs managed to give up 5 runs and lose 5-3. Harry Carey is probably spinning in his grave…

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