Popular culture, from video games to extreme sports to whatever else may come along, will never have the staying power that baseball has with this country. It is America’s sport, even though people love to point to football or basketball.
Football is a short season (as far as games), so it leaves itself open to the advantage of most games having some meaning. It also gets a lot of interest from gambling. All sports are gambled on, but football is one of those perfect sports on which wager.
Last week, Major League Baseball named its current chief operating officer, Rob Manfred, as its new commissioner. When this season ends, Manfred will take the reins from the unquestionably worst commissioner in the sport's long history, Bud Selig.
Selig was a bad commissioner because he leaned toward altering the sport too much. He over-extended inter-league play, which has now made the World Series less interesting. He brought us the one-game mini playoff, which now makes earning a playoff sport less significant.
He made the winner of the All-Star Game determine which league gets home field advantage, which means an exhibition game now affects a really important game. And last but not least, he allowed the overt use of performance-enhancing drugs to rally fans back to the game and then acted as though he was the catalyst for cleaning it up.
But Selig and his salesman approach to baseball is now going to be a thing of the past. Manfred is already being asked what his plan is to make games move along quicker. Manfred should waste no time worrying about what the “short attention span” crowd wants, because if they are not into the game now, they won’t be later.
If the games last too long, Manfred can have his umpires call the actual strike zone and not the tiny, unique one that they use so often. This would get hitters swinging and the games would cut a good four or five walks out in the process. There is no need to change the game, just enforce the rules that exist.
Manfred comes in with a reputation of staving off union strikes. Does that mean he won’t jostle the players' union? They could use some jostling. Mandatory testing should occur twice a year, unannounced.
He should also get rid of that one-game circus-style mini-playoff for the wild card spot. If a team is the best second place finisher that should determine the final playoff spot.
If you are waiting for Manfred to pardon Pete Rose, do not hold your breath. The man just pushed out Alex Rodriquez – and that was before he was named commissioner. In fairness, he was also the one responsible for Rodriguez not getting the lifetime ban.
If he can maintain his tough approach to the rules, Manfred will be a good commissioner. He is already an improvement over his predecessor.
Four years ago, I wrote about a young harpist from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who was running for the state legislature in New Hampshire. She won that race, and now Marilinda Garcia is seeking to represent the people of New Hampshire’s Second District in Congress.
Can we pick ‘em? Well, not always, since I also thought mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio would drop out of the race for City Hall and endorse Anthony Weiner.