Baseball’s labor disputes, bad decisions leave fans with no one to root for — not even the game they love

The Super Bowl is set: a matchup of two teams in which have no rooting interest.

These teams bore me so much that I can’t think of a reason to root against either of them.

Maybe I could root against the Los Angeles Rams, who poked St. Louis in the eye and split town, but I no longer a resident of St. Louis and shall always try to do right and be good so God does not make me one again.

Normally, what I do this time of year is focus on the beginning of spring training for Major League Baseball.

Pitchers and catchers were supposed to report Feb. 15 with position players arriving by the 26th.

But, as usual, baseball has found a way to transform from a peaceful pastime to an annoyance not worth the trouble.

The owners locked out the players in a labor dispute that threatens 2022 season.

Wake me when it’s over.

Or don’t.

I don’t care anymore.

Baseball missed its chance to be interesting with the Hall of Fame inductions.

Baseball writers denied Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

Yawn.

Baseball seems determined to mire itself in mediocrity.

The sport added new rules to speed up games.

The average length of a game went up each of the last three seasons.

A nine-inning ballgame in the 2021 season clocked 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 7 seconds — a record.

You could binge watch three episodes of the new season of “Ozark” in the time it takes to watch a single MLB game.

Batters crush fastballs into the upper decks.

But if the defense put seven fielders in right field and almost no hitters can choke up and poke a single the opposite way.

Where have you gone, Tony Gwynn? Baseball turns its bored eyes to you.

The MLB batting average was .244 in 2021, the lowest since 1972.

Hitters whiffed 42,145 times in 2021.

Every pitcher throws 100 mph, but most only last three innings.

The complete game is practically extinct and the concept of a starter is at hospice.

Two National League pitchers tied for the complete game lead in 2021 — with two.

Three players pitched three complete games in the American League.

Catfish Hunter threw 30 complete games for the New York Yankees in 1975, the year I was born.

Curt Schilling completed 15 games for Philadelphia in 1998, the last year Major League Baseball expanded.

The sports talkers debated steroids, PEDs, questions of character, and all the old, dull arguments about Bonds and Clemons.

They used PEDs.

Nobody cares anymore.

PEDs are a part of baseball history.

Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and scores of others admitted to using “greenies” — locker room slang for amphetamines during their careers.

We mere mortals use PEDs, too. We take pills for everything.

We live in the age of Viagra for crying out loud.

It’s past time we forgive the players of the “steroid era.”

The real reason Bonds and Clemens aren’t in the Hall of Fame is that they were jerks toward the baseball writers.

Everybody hates journalists these days. They were just ahead of their time.

Bonds has the most home runs. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, 354 games, and struck out 4,672.

He should be in the Hall of Fame.

They aren’t.

Pete Rose has the most hits. He’s banned from the Hall of Fame.

Gambling on the game is a no-no. That’s what got “Shoeless” Joe Jackson banned in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal.

Rose is an addict. He did his most troubling gambling as a manager. His feats as a player earn him enshrinement, not as manager.

Evidence is thin that Jackson did anything to throw the 1919 World Series, though he did take the gamblers’ money.

Americans once looked upon gambling a sin.

Now, Americans love gambling.

You can’t watch a sporting event without a few dozen commercials offering you a chance to throw your money away by betting on sports.

Many baseball teams broadcast their games on the Bally Sports Network.

Bally’s Corp. is a casino operator.

Let Rose and Jackson in the Hall of Fame, too.

An interruption of play over labor problems could be disastrous for the fading sport.

The last time baseball endured a work stoppage, fans took a long time to come back both in the parks and on TV.

We lost the 1994 playoffs and World Series.

The 1995 World series was watched by an average of more than 28 million people, but a lot more people watched network TV then.

The 2021 World Series drew an average of nearly 12 million per game, up from less than 10 million average the previous season.

The average baseball fan is a 57-year-old man, per a 2017 report.

Baseball is a mess of hypocrisy and foolishness. 

In that way, I suppose, the game reflects the country that spawned it.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
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HOT SHEET: This post affirms all your confirmation biases and also talks about Busch Light and ranch dressing

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: Watching the New York Yankees this season and in the playoffs has provided about as much joy as chewing aluminum foil. Where have you gone, Mariano Rivera? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

ITEM TWO: I filled out my absentee ballot in the front seat of my battered Dodge Charger. I mailed the ballot about 11 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. I voted. I decline to say who I voted for, but incumbents did well at least on the soil and water commission and county hospital board of trustees.

ITEM THREE: Anyone who calls me, sends me mail or otherwise shows up in my feed jibber-jabbering about their favorite candidate or how their opponent will destroy America like Godzilla far gone on cocaine and Guinness, please see Item Two and fuck right off.

ITEM IV: Please welcome Item IV, who replaces Item 4 who had replaced the late Item Four. Anything you’d like to say to the Hot Sheet audience, Item IV? “Yes. Thank you. We’ve got to play them one day at a time. I’m happy to be here and hope I can help with the ball club. … Hey, Item Five? Is that … is that a Caesar salad you’re eating? Is this some kind of ethnic joke you’re making because of my Roman heritage? I say unto thee, I shall not let such a slight pass. CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR!”

ITEM FIVE: Shit. What is it with these guys in the four slot?

ITEM SIX: Hawkeyes. Cyclones. Murder. Busch Light. Best tenderloin. Ranch dressing. The typist doesn’t have anything to say about these topics. He simply includes them because he’s trying to pander to the people who can only talk about these things by tricking search engines to get said audience to click on this website by accident.

ITEM SEVEN: The preceding item was a joke, but I guarantee you pandering and trickery are the primary drivers of news judgment in most corporate news outlets today.

ITEM EIGHT: It’s probably too late to mention this, but aren’t the challengers who spit out the words “politician” and “Washington insider” seeking to become exactly the same thing?

ITEM NINE: Belated new comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Batman: The Three Jokers concludes its excellent three-issue run on Oct. 28. Pick up the first two issues at your local funny book shop. The exploration of the fractured relationship between Batman and Jason Todd, the second Robin, engages fresh character development in the Bat Family. It also challenges the wisdom of Batman bringing his surrogate children into a war with super psychopaths capable of such villainy as paralyzing Batgirl and murdering the second Robin. (He got better. It’s comics.)
  • Marvel Fanfare No. 10 Facsimile Edition features one of the best Black Widow stories in the character’s history from 1982. These facsimile editions are fun to both read a comic with its original advertising and have to display. This one is an especially good value because the artwork is by master craftsman George Perez.
  • Wonder Woman No. 1 Facsimile Edition (1987) reprints the late 1980s reboot for Wonder Woman. And how lucky are we to get two reprints of George Perez’s artwork in the same month. Both the Wonder Woman and the Black Widow reprints were meant to hype movies — “WW84” and “Black Widow” — whose release dates were delayed due to the pandemic.

ITEM LAST: The Chicago Bears play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a pro football game Thursday night. The typist has night class and will miss the first part of the game. He will periodically punch himself in the face to simulate the experience of rooting for the Bears.

Daniel P. Finney is a middle-aged loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the semicolon, the emdash, the pilcrow in a world where criminals operate above the paragraphs.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Moments: What we can all learn about 2020 from the last day of the 1951 baseball season

Today is the last day of the Major League Baseball season.

Well, maybe.

It depends on how the St. Louis Cardinals do. They might have to play as many as two more games after today because of byzantine complications brought about by a COVID-19-shortened season that proved acute in the Cardinals’ clubhouse.

The Cardinals play for a playoff berth, a customary position for the team that trails only the New York Yankees in World Series titles won.

Another St. Louis team played for another kind of glory some 69 years ago — one that I think provides a lesson for this rugged year.

The current Baltimore Orioles once played in St. Louis as the St. Louis Browns.

They shared Sportsman’s Park with the Cardinals, but they seldom matched the success of their roommates.

Writers described St. Louis, once an industrial titan in footwear and, of course, Budweiser beer: “First in booze, first in shoes, last in the American League.”

That certainly held true in 1951. The Browns won 52 games against 102 losses and finished the year 46 games behind the New York Yankees.

But on Sunday, Sept. 30, Pitcher Ned Garver took the mound in pursuit of his 20th win.

Garver held the curious distinction of being the best player on the worst team in the league. He pitched 24 complete games in 30 starts and won 19 games with 12 losses.

Garver had won nearly 40 percent of the team’s games that year.

He possessed athleticism so great that when pitched, manager Zach Taylor batted Garver sixth. Garver hit .305 that season, an average the beat all the Browns’ regular position players.

The season had been a joke in which Browns owner Bill Veeck made the team its own punchline. Veeck signed 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel to a one-game contract. Gaedel came to bat as a first-inning pinch-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader against Detroit.

Detroit pitcher Bob Cain tried to squeeze a ball into Gaedel’s strike zone, estimated at being less than 2 inches tall. Gaedel walked on four pitches and was replaced by a pinch-runner.

Garver, though, was a serious star for the Browns. Boston Red Sox hitting savant Ted Williams once said of Garver: “He could throw anything up there and get me out.”

(The Splendid Splitter was being generous. He batted .419 against Garver.)

The Chicago White Sox were in St. Louis for the final series of the year. The White Sox played to a more respectable fourth in the American League that season but were well out of the hunt that Sunday at Sportsman’s Park.

Garver retired the side in order in the first. He allowed a single to Ray Coleman in the second and walked Bud Stewart, before getting out of trouble with a strikeout and a groundout.

The Browns scored twice in the bottom of the first, including an RBI single by Garver to centerfield.

Staked to a 2-0 lead, however, Garver faltered in third and surrendered a two-run single to Ray Coleman with two outs in the frame.

St. Louis’ Earl Rapp singled in two more runs for the Browns in the third to put them up 4-2.

Again, Garver struggled with a lead. Chicago’s Joe DeMaestri hit a two-run home run to tie the game.

Garver made up for his own struggles by hitting a home run in the bottom of the fourth off Chicago’s Randy Gumpert. The Browns again led 5-4.

Garver settled and allowed just one more run on a fielder’s choice in the top of the eighth inning.

The Browns scored four more times, including a two-run home run by Fred Marsh in the fifth.

The Browns won 9-5 and Garver, the kid from the village of Ney, Ohio, pop. 350, won his 20th game.

Garver became just the second pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win 20 games for a team with 100 or more losses — and the only one to do so with a winning record.

(Irv Young went 20-21 for the Boston Braves in 1905.)

The lesson of Garver’s 20-win season should be obvious for our age. The year 2020 has been one of loss and derision from the pandemic to politics.

At times, we’ve made ourselves the punchline to the world.

But in 1951, once every four or five days, Ned Garver took the mound for the Browns and they were as good or better than any team in the American League.

We should all seek our inner Ned Garver. We should seek to be our very best even when those around us and circumstances produce the very worst.

Garver did not win those 20 games alone. He was one of nine in the lineup each game he pitched.

Those men who otherwise struggled to produce wins raised their level of play because the man on the mound knew how to win in way that they otherwise did not.

Garver could have easily thrown away the 1951 season. He could have been a joke, like Eddie Gaedel.

He chose, instead, to be outstanding.

Though the baseball season (maybe) ends today, the year 2020 is far from finished.

Remember Ned Garver and go out each day with intent to succeed.

We can still rise to be our very best amidst this parade of horrible.

Daniel P. Finney is too legit, too legit to quit.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.