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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Selling Out

Interleague games and other points of interest.


by Bradley Joseph

Weighing In . . .

On interleague play.† Itís the first time the Cubs have played the Yankees since 1938!† Itís the first time the Red Sox have played the Cardinals since 1967!† Step right up, come see history being made . . . the history of interleague play!† See baseball sell its soul for a few quick bucks.

In 1997, fueled by low attendance spurred by the strike, Major League Baseball, in desperation, introduced the novelty of interleague play.† You could almost hear Selig and his posse churning . . . they think they wonít be interested in baseball anymore, but how can they resist match-ups like Cubs vs. Sox, and Yankees vs. Mets . . . and eventually . . . . muahhhhaaaaaa . . . . YANKEES VS. CUBS! They canít resist it, and they wonít.†† Victory will be ours.† Well, if success is defined by short term monetary gains, then yes, interleague play has been a success.†

However, I said it at the time, and Iíll say it again.† Baseball must embrace its uniqueness, not run from it.† If baseball is to survive the long hall, it must not be afraid to remain distinct from the other sports (even if that means going through phases where it is not the hottest sport in country).† One aspect of Major League Baseball that has always been wonderfully appealing in a way that the NBA, NFL or NHL could never dream, was the mystical allure of the World Series.†

With TV ratings for the World Series shrinking every year (always an indicator of the sports overall popularity level), MLB officials are scrambling to find solutions to the problem.† However, they will not find a solution until they properly identify the reasons for such a popularity drop.† And in my honest opinion, the decrease in the popularity of the World Series has a lot to do with the subtle decrease in its allure, which was predicated on selling the unique and often ďhistoricalĒ match-ups that came along with the World Series.†

My point?† If the Cubs and the Yanks had played each other in a World Series previous to last weekends manufactured series, nearly every soul in the country would have watched the spectacle of Cubs vs. Yanks in the WS playing for the first time since the 1930s.† And nearly as many people would have watched a Sox vs. Dodgers World Series.† Now?† If the Cubs and the Yankees meet in the world series, the intensity of the allure would be significantly diminished, as we just saw them play each other in June.† Previous to interleague play every World Series, to some extent (even Minnesota vs. Atlanta, or San Diego vs. Detroit) had the feel of being historic Ė not just because it was often the first time ever or the first time in many years that the teams had met, but also because it might be the last time they meet for 50 more years.† Each match-up was rare, and special. †Seeing St. Louis players try to catch fly balls in the white backdrop of the Metrodome in 1987 was priceless, as was the pre-game hype.†

From era to era, a pervasive curiosity for rarely or never seen match-ups stimulated the electricity of the World Series.† Could they adjust without having played there before?† What will happen when Dwight Gooden pitches to Jim Rice?† Can Steve Garvey hit a Jack Morris forkball, having never seen it tumble?† Where will Cansecoís mammoth homeruns land in Dodger stadium?†† Will we ever see that match-up again?†

The drama, the mystery, the unfamiliarity of the opposing teams and stadiums was so cool, and perpetuated a historic feel to every World Series.† Now, the potential for generating such epic World Series buzz diminishes with every passing interleague series.† Remember last October: Anaheim vs. San Francisco.† Been there, done that . . . just last June.

As the short term gains of interleague play recede into the past, the long term damage becomes more and more apparent.† But then again, thinking long term was never Seligís strong suit.

As for a solution.† I must admit the only part of interleague play I like is that it generates appropriate regional rivalries such as Cubs vs. Sox, Yanks vs. Mets, Reds vs. Indians, etc.† Is there anyway to keep those seriesí around but ditch the rest of this experiment?† Iím not sure there is, but it might be something for Bud and his boys to consider.

Weighing in . . .

On Ques Tec.† Iím yearning to hear a logical argument against the use of the Ques Tec system that supposedly measures the strike zone for the means of rating umpires.† Now Iím not saying that Iím necessarily gung-ho about this machine, but I must admit, when I first heard the idea of using a machine to track the effectiveness of umpires, I thought it sounded like it might be a good idea.† I mean god forbid we actually hold umpires accountable.†

Recently, however, all I read are unmitigated and unobjective rants about why Ques Tec is evil.† That the umpires are upset at being evaluated is not surprising, nor is it objective.† But why is Barry Bonds so against it?† I heard him on the radio babbling angrily that Ques Tec is an idea thought up by people who have never played the game, and that these people know who they are, and that we need to stop these people from making the decisions.†

Now, while I am admittedly not a proponent of Bud Selig and his staff, I am certain that we would NOT be better off with a bunch of jocks running the show.† I mean jeesh.† Has anyone noticed how poor of a track record former players have as General Managers . . . in any sport?† No, Barry, just because you can hit like man-child, does not mean you would be any better at making administrative decisions than Bud Selig.† Nor does it logically follow from your statements that Ques Tec is evil.

I also heard Terry Boars, on WSCR 670, referring to Seligís general ineptitude, say something sarcastic about what kind of a boob thinks Ques Tec is a good idea?† Selig is a ďboob,Ē and in my opinion Boars and Bernstein are the only talk radio guys that make enough rational points to bear listening, but not in this instance.† Boars did not follow up his statement with an explanation.† So Iím still wondering, why is it bad to a least try out a method for holding umpires accountable for their ball/strike calls?† Is it that the machine is not 100% accurate?† Well, fine, but little research is full-proof, which is why there is a +/- error ratio built in for the purpose of taking reliability into account when the data is being analyzed.† And it is my understanding that while not perfect, the Ques Tec machine is near perfect, similar to a polygraph machine† Of course the umpires will tell you differently because no one likes to be scrutinized, but hey, welcome to the real world.†

I can be swayed on this issue, however, Iím still waiting for someone to calm down and tell my why they are so against Ques Tec.

Weighing In . . . . .

On the White Sox and Frank Thomasí resurrection.† I was at the game on Saturday night against San Diego when Frank hit a rope into the bullpen in left field to give the Sox the lead for good in the 8th inning.† It was a sensational scene.† When frank came out of the dugout and pumped his fist at the fans, it was as if he was telling both the fans and his teammates: ďIím ready to go, so letís do this.Ē† The stadium was going nuts.† It was electric.

All the more reason to come with all the focus and intensity you can muster the next day.† At all costs, I was thinking, get this sweep and keep this momentum going into the Boston series.† All the more reason to vomit when Aaron Rowand cannot DOES NOT tag up on a ball hit to the wall.† Oh my!† I almost threw my refrigerator out the window in rage!† Please guys, please.† Just start paying attention to the game.† Please.† I beg of you.

However, the not doiní the little things award of the week goes to Jerry Manuel.† Because his dearth of logical decisions defies all logic, and because apparently nobody on that team has been taught anything about running the bases.†

Finally - because we must beat this into the ground until he is removed Ė I saw a note in the Tribune a couple weeks ago that said, at that point in the season, that Manuel had used 52 different starting lineups in 56 games.† He tinkers on . . . .


Bradley Josesph grew up in Aurora, IL, but now resides in downstate Bloomington where he teaches English at Heartland Community College.† He became an obsessive Sox fan in 1983 when he was 8 years old. †Brad struggles to maintain sanity living in central Illinois because it is saturated with Cubs and Cardinals fans.† Regular attempts to subtly brainwash his students into Sox fans have proven largely unsuccessful.† Bradís White Sox memories include being struck in the chest by a Carlos Lee homerun ball and catching two foul balls in one game against the Devil Rays while vacationing in Tampa.† Both of these events happened during the glorious 2000 season, leading Brad to consider himself an instrument of cosmologically orchestrated events that were a sure-fire omen of a division title.† He of course is crazy, but in a good way.† Feel free to contact Brad at bwjosep@yahoo.com

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