Earlier this month I compiled a list of the top 10 things I don't like in baseball these days. It included things like players standing at home admiring home runs, interleague games, and the lack of scheduled doubleheaders. Here is the article from earlier this month:
But there were a few others that didn't make the original list, so I thought it was time to compile another list (I guess this is 11 through 20) of things I don't like about baseball today. Here it is, and it is not in any particular order:
11. Umpires. The umpiring in the majors over the last few years has gotten particularly worse, especially the home plate umpiring. (That leads to longer games, as many never call the high strike.) While most umps do a good job (the best ones are the ones you don't notice), there have more calls blown on the bases and along the lines as well. It goes back to that ill-advised mass umpire resignation back in the late 1990s. Some competent umps were let go, but some inferior ones were brought on. It seems as though umpires have no accountability, as unlike the NFL, they don't review their umps performances so they can weed out the less competent ones. Becoming an MLB umpire shouldn't be a lifetime position, like becoming pope or a Supreme Court justice.
While one good trend in umpiring has emerged in recent years, and that is umps getting together and reversing bad calls. But there are also some umps who think they are a part of the game (CB Bucknor comes to mind with his flashy strike three call), and some who seem to relish getting into arguments with managers. While no umpire deserves nasty verbal abuse, too many don't do what old time umps do, namely turn their backs and walk away. No person has ever bought a ticket to watch an umpire in action (unless your a friend or relative of one).
12. Home plate celebrations. Some of these game-winning celebrations (the so-called "walkoff" ones) are getting really silly and stupid. There's always been a lot of celebration when a team wins in their final at-bat, and there's nothing wrong with that. But the ones where players are slamming their fists and arms at the game's hero is going to get someone hurt one day. (It happened in the minors a few years ago, and the hero ended up on the DL.) You've got to be careful in these things. (Notice how the hero takes his helmet off when entering that pile?) Jake Peavy of the Padres hurt his ribs in the 2005 NL West clinching game in the celebration afterwards, and it wound up costing his team in the NLDS. Hey, winning a game where you've come from behind on an average day is great, but you haven't won the World Series.
13. Pitch counts. This seems to dominate almost all pitching talk these days. There's almost a panic that happens if a pitcher goes over 100 pitches, like he's going to blow out his arm if he goes any further. Pitch counts didn't come into vogue until the mid-1990s. Granted, you have to be careful with young arms, as teams have a lot invested in some of the more promising ones. But there are times when you have to let a pitcher go to see what he can do. Complete games are almost a thing of the past, as youngsters in many cases just have never had the opportunity to try to pitch nine innings.
14. Home fans along the lines. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen this in my life, especially during the old days when I went to Shea Stadium a lot. For some reason, the Mets had a plethora of fans who would do this: the Mets would have a man on first and two outs, and a player on the Mets would hit a fair ball down the line and some moron would reach out and touch the ball and the runner at first, who probably would have scored, would be sent back to third. And of course, they would leave the runners there, and would lose by a run or two. I still see this occasionally during some games, as the bright lights who have seats along the field are so anxious to grab a passing fair ball that they would actually try to grab it (and many times succeeding) and hurt their own team. It makes me wish they'd have an intelligence test issued before games to those people who sit so close to the action. And I'd bet most would fail.
15. Constant noise at games. It seems as though if you go to any MLB park (especially Shea and Yankee Stadiums), there seems to be a non-stop cranking of noise coming from the park's speakers. Most of it is pretty superfluous, as I guess most teams feel they have to keep entertaining the fans every second they are in the ballpark. I come for the game and the players. I don't need to keep hearing music blaring every moment I'm there. It makes me long for the days when at Shea Stadium the main source of music was the organ played by Jane Jarvis. (Those days are gone forever I'm afraid.)
16. Throwing baseballs back on the field. The Bleacher Bums in Chicago started this stupid trend many years ago. I'll never understand why fans do it. I guess it's because when a player on another team hits a homer they have to show their disdain for it by rejecting it. But I've been going to games for nearly 40 years and I've never once brought a ball home, either a fair or foul one. A couple of years ago, I remember in Arizona a Diamondbacks fan actually threw back onto the field a home run that Barry Bonds hit, and it was one of those as he was closing in on 700. Whether you like him or not, that ball would be worth a lot.
And besides, I've always said that before I die, I want to catch either a fair or foul ball at a game. I don't care who hits it, on whatever team. It goes home to the trophy case.
17. Gold Glove Awards. By far and away, the most overrated awards in sports today. They are voted on by managers and coaches, and it is a popularity contest. No one seems to bother to look at statistics. And once a player wins one, it seems as though he's a lock to win more, no matter who good or bad a season he's had in the field. (Derek Jeter is not the best shortstop in the AL, and didn't deserve to win any of the Gold Gloves he has. There were SS who had far better years in the field than he did each time.) I also recall the year that Benito Santiago won a Gold Glove the same year he led the NL in passed balls and errors back in the 1990s. The award is simply a joke, and too much credence is given to them.
18. All-Star Game complaints. Fox ruins this game to begin with by starting the game way too late (the 2007 game began at 8:54 PM ET, so a good part of the US couldn't hang for the finish). The ballotting by the fans is a joke, as players get elected who really shouldn't start all the time. The managers insist on trying to get every player into the game, as that led to the game ending in tie in 2002 because both teams ran out of pitchers. MLB also insists on every team being represented, and that leads to players picked who really shouldn't be there. And that's just the beginning.
19. Curtain calls. Mets fans in 1986 began this trend of insisting players come out of the dugout after hitting just any home run. Curtain calls should only be for special moments, like if a player hits an historic or important home run, or breaks a record. Calling for a guy to come out after hitting just any home run cheapens the idea of player coming out to respond to the fans. Curtain calls should be for moments like when Roger Maris hit number 61 in 1961.
20. The disappearing game statistics. Have you ever noticed that when Barry Bonds comes up to the plate on ESPN or Fox, they seem to anticipate his hitting some home run by taking the game stats that appear on the screen the entire game (you know, the score, inning, men on base) off the screen and make their logo the only thing on the screen and bigger? This is done so that if something big happens, the entire world will know that the game was seen on either ESPN or Fox. Both networks have been doing this for years (check Mark McGwire's 62nd home run back in 1998, as there's just an ESPN logo on the screen). Putting up the current game stats was a great addition to the game, and we don't need it removed so the network can get more publicity.
Hey, you never know, the world might forget that ESPN or Fox had something to do with it.