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OC Register: Whicker: Let’s hope we can swallow this 60-game side dish of a baseball season


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And so the shrimp cocktail begins.

Ideally, Major League Baseball’s 60-game-dash will tantalize the palate and stimulate our cravings. There will be dummies in the stands, a bite-sized way to settle extra innings, and TV announcers marooned in faraway booths. That, in Rob Manfred’s microwave mind, equates victory.

It would be hard to imagine a less tuneful commissioner. They might as well have hired Manfred Mann, who at least wouldn’t be blinded by the light of a salary cap in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement talks.

Again, a 60-game baseball season is the equivalent of a 26-hole Masters tournament, a 22-minute version of “60 Minutes.” Can you stay atop a bull for 2.96 seconds? This could be your time.

The winners should get pinky rings and drown each other with Half and Half. Before the first pitch, the home umpire should merely yell, “Play!”

But the charade will go on, and the asterisks will remain in Ford Frick’s champion. Some short-timer will be listed as a World Series champ, on the same line as the 1927 Yankees.

Major-league teams have scheduled at least 150 games since 1904. In 1981, a midseason strike caused the split-season concept, in which the winners of the first and second halves would meet each other in the playoffs. Cincinnati and St. Louis had the best overall records in their divisions, and the Reds had the game’s best record. Neither played in the postseason. Back then, we assumed Bowie Kuhn would be the final commissioner who disliked baseball..

The Dodgers won that World Series and no one cared that they played only 110 regular-season games (63-47).

But there are reasons why baseball owes its essence to the long grind, and why this season will be played for amusement purposes only.

Baseball’s skills, particularly hitting, are the hardest to maintain. Peyton Manning never worried about going 3 for 30. Cody Bellinger does.

Baseball makes you perform while shivering in April and May, broiling in July, staying dry in September. That is why a domed bubble would not have worked. Much of baseball’s nature is nature.

And a baseball schedule exhausts the mind like no other. It challenges the ability to distrust success and co-exist with failure. How do you keep hope alive when you’re 25-35, as Houston was in 2005 before it won its first National League pennant?

The standard for the First 60 is 48-11-1, by the 1912 Giants, and then 47-13 by the 1939 Yankees, the 2001 Mariners and the 1906 Cubs. Only the Yankees won a World Series, and the Mariners didn’t get there after 116 wins. Cleveland twice began 42-18, in 1954 and 1995, and fell short of a championship.

But if you’re truly great through 60 games, it often carries over. The 2018 Red Sox began 41-19 and never stopped. The Dodgers had a 47-13 stretch in midsummer of 2013 that earned them the first of seven consecutive N.L.West titles.

Individuals also make hot starts stand up. Denny McLain was 10-2 after 60 games in 1968 and became the final man to win 30. No one has hit over .400 since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1946, and he was a .407 hitter after 60 games. Babe Ruth hit 24 of his 60 homers in 1927 in his first 60.

Then there is Harvard-Westlake’s Jack Flaherty, who was trundling along with a 4-3 record and a 4.08 ERA after the Cardinals’ 60th game. His ERA before the All-Star Game was 4.64. After that, it was 0.91, and Flaherty became a Cy Young Award finalist.

This 37% solution will also be a test of baseball’s shared experience.  Baseball has made life louder, longer and more expensive for the serious fan, the one who loves the subtleties but finds it tougher to concentrate as his seat keeps getting moved down the line, and as nothingness continues its triumph over action.

For those who merely like the noise and can afford the food, or consider it an honor to spend a half-second on the videoboard, it’s an acceptable way to kill five innings or two hours, whichever comes first.

The competition is so bifurcated that one shouldn’t expect the unexpected. The Tigers, Marlins, Orioles and Royals are nothing more than well-paid townball teams. Even the slimmest chapter of a season will favor the Dodgers to get to the Series, against Houston or the Yankees.

Come on without, come on within. It will be one heck of a parade for someone, complete with a link and a mute button.

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4 minutes ago, Theo Huxtable said:

I couldn't get through more than two sentences of that "article."

I got as far as:

Quote

They might as well have hired Manfred Mann, who at least wouldn’t be blinded by the light of a salary cap in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement talks."

 

Family Guy Throw Up GIFs | Tenor

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