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Bud Selig

MLB: Bold and/or Reckless Predictions

MLB Opening Day is the best day of the year. The Fourth of July, Christmas, and the Super Bowl all have nothing on Opening Day. On the first day of the season, every baseball city in America has a legitimate chance to set course on a path towards the World Series (well everyone except those who root for the Cubs). Look at the champions over the last 10 years in the MLB and tell me if you would’ve correctly predicted: St. Louis, San Francisco, NY Yankees, Philly, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago White Sox, Boston, Florida, Anaheim, Arizona. Barring the normal Yankee dominance and a stint in their time as a ‘roided up Red Sox team, all those teams listed were not expected to win the whole thing on the first day of the season.

As a kid, I waited nervously for opening day. I checked spring training box scores and standings each morning in the LA Times. Now, as an adult (albeit a fairly irresponsible one), I feverishly read everything on the Internet about the upcoming summer of lazy days and double plays.
Everyone who knows anything about baseball can tell you the Dodgers are going to be a shitty team this year. We have the worst infield in the League and we still haven’t ensured that Frank McCourt is going to be out of lives forever (seriously, he still owns the parking lot/land in joint venture with Magic). So even though KOBEshigawa went through the trouble of doing a full season preview on the boys in the blue, I don’t see the point in guessing exactly how many players on our starting 9 will be hitting under .250. Instead, I would like to spend my time here with thegreatmambino making reckless predictions about the upcoming season that you will not get anywhere else…
Prediction 1: The Marlins AND the Pirates will WIN a playoff series
The Miami Marlins have been making a name for themselves this offseason. They no longer have to play in their cavernous hole of a stadium, and somehow they landed the craziest manager in baseball. Add that to a lineup that now has speedy (yet fragile) Jose Reyes, a rotation that boasts Josh Johnson (not crazy), Mark Buerhle (kinda redneck crazy), and Carlos Zambrano (batshit crazy), and you have a recipe for dominance. Granted, success in Miami will only come if this witches brew of talent can gel, but with the powerhouses in the East set to have down years (looking at you Braves and Phillies), a hot Ozzie-led squad will eek out a playoff series win this fall.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are finally going to do it this year. I live with a die-hard fan of the losingest team in baseball over the last 25 years and he has assured me that this season is the one! With the expanded playoffs and a Central that no longer has a Pujols or a Prince, the Pirates will finally put it all together and make it into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The playoff series they win… that first game to get into their series with Miami.
Prediction 2: This is the last season without a DH in the NL

The MLB has been run by a bunch of drunks for decades. Each league used to have power beyond anything you can imagine in any other professional sport. So much so that one league plays by entirely different lineup rules. This has been allowed to continue for decades for no apparent reason other than the fact that the AL prefers winning a lot, and the NL has cited tradition/purity in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the DH, but with the new way the MLB has set up the schedule for 2012, the DH has to go. Currently, almost every single baseball league in the world uses a DH (all minor leagues, Japan, Latin leagues etc.).

Teams are soon going to be playing interleagu
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Adding to the Already Unpredictable: Two More Wild Cards to the MLB Playoffs

The baseball championship is about being lucky and being hot at the right time. I’ve covered this over and over again and by this point, I’m even sick of me saying it. But that’s the truth; the best team won’t always win the World Series. The very way that the greatest game is structured gives way towards fluke performances, errant ground balls and uncontrollable elements in the immediate atmosphere. This isn’t like basketball, where the climate-controlled arena and the 90 foot floor strive to contain the variables that would interfere in any action originating from a human hand. This isn’t football where the sheer brutality of the sport will equalize the lesser teams and the talent will often rise to the top, despite playing a season that’s one-tenth as long as Major League Baseball’s. America’s Pastime has always been the sport where one poorly placed pitch could change the name on the championship trophy in less than a second’s time. Where a team whose players of inferior talent will overcome all limitations and ride an inexplicable wave of momentum to defeat a team whose players of far superior talent simply were having an off week.

Today, Commissioner Bud Selig signed off on a series of major changes to the league that magnify baseball’s already unpredictable nature. As a part of the new collective bargaining agreement the Commish signed with the MLB Players Association (wait…I’ve heard that owners and players don’t bargain anymore? What is this new trend here?), the 2013 season will feature several new facets that will be added to the MLB Playoffs.

1). First and foremost, there will be TWO wild card teams from both leagues. As has been the case for the previous 16 seasons, the team with the best non-division leading record will make the playoffs as a “wild card”. Now, the team with the second best non-division leading record will also make the playoffs. These two teams will play in a one-game playoff to decide who goes on to play a 5-game elimination series, known now as the Divisional Series.

2). The Houston Astros, who have been a part of the National League since 1962, will now move from the National League Central division to the American League West. This will add an equal number of teams to each league (the NL currently has 16 teams, while the AL has 14 teams), and the disproportionately large NL Central with 6 teams and the 4 team AL West will now both have 5 teams a piece.

3). The Astros move to the AL will now create a necessity for interleague games to occur all-year round. As every team plays nearly every day from April to September, without continuous interleague play, any particular team in both league would be sitting at home 4 to 5 days at a time.

Let me state this: when play starts in 2013, many baseball fans are going to lose it. The complications are endless; interleague games in September will mean that teams in contention for their division or their league’s wild card will be playing teams who are not competing for those same goals. Fans already complain when their favorite team is playing teams out of their division in September; what about teams that aren’t even in the same league? Travel schedules could be more difficult. The DH-less National League will host games where AL pitchers will have to risk injury running the bases with their glass legs and soggy pasta ligaments during the crucial September months. In a time when teams should be focusing on the style of play dictated by their league, teams will … Read more...

The Savior, Commissioner Selig

Today, Commissioner Bud Selig struck down a deal that would reportedly pay the Dodgers and owner Frank McCourt between 1.7 billion and 3 billion dollars. This cash-infusion would get McCourt $385 million up-front, which would be more than enough to get him through this year’s personnel payments. McCourt’s ability or inability to pay his players on a bi-monthly basis had become a source of hope for the Dodgers’ disenchanted fanbase, hoping that perhaps this would be the week that McCourt would have to sell the team for lack of funds.

Selig rejected the TV deal under the pretenses that it not only represented below-market value for the Dodgers (thus setting a below-market precedent for other teams and their television deals going forward), but he also felt that the proceeds from the deal would be used to settle McCourt’s divorce, rather than improving the team. As any Dodger fan who has sat in the incredibly outdated outfield bleachers can tell you, there couldn’t be a more true statement.

As LA Times writer Bill Shaikin so expertly pointed out last week, this ruling essentially means that Major League Baseball would be able to seize the team at month’s end. At that point, most people expect McCourt to sue Selig and Major League Baseball, on the grounds that he is being discriminated against for his financial situation unfairly, despite many of the problemss being similar to the ones that the Wilpon Family and the Mets are facing. Selig and MLB would ask that the suit get thrown out, as McCourt (like every other owner in the League) signs an agreement giving the Commissioner broad powers in anything related to “preserving the best interests of the game”, prior to buying the team.

As I stated in my post last month, the key words here are “best interests of the game”. A team under the stewardship of Frank McCourt does not serve the best interests of the Dodgers, their fans or the game itself. His irresponsibility has gone on for far too long, and has cost the Dodgers not only future success, but perhaps also prevented past greatness.

The most prevailing thought that comes to my mind is this; if you are Frank McCourt and the Commissioner of Baseball, elected as a representative of the league by all 30 owners, says on their behalf that they do not believe that you have the best interests of the game in mind, why would you want to stay? From that, wouldn’t you interpret that your peers, your co-workers for all intents and purposes, want you gone as well? Take that into account for a second. Essentially what the Commissioner is doing here is using his broad powers to force a man to sell his property, company and in Frank’s case, his livelihood. If the Commissioner can do this to McCourt, it sets a precedent that under these same circumstances, anyone’s team can be sold.

So even with the threat of a set precedent for Selig to take away their teams from them, I haven’t heard a single word of dissention from any of the 29 other teams. Now, you could say that these are extraordinary circumstances, but seriously – a rich guy’s wife cheats on him with her driver/pool boy/gardner followed by messy divorce? Is that never going to happen again? Hurm. To me, it seems like no one will mind if this guy finds a nice two-story home in Newton and never gets heard from ever again.

So if you’re Frank McCourt and everyone wants you gone – your co-workers, your boss, your customers – why would you want to stay around? Because it’s your property and ̶… Read more...