Stop with the Position Players Pitching Already
In many ways, the last 30 or so years of baseball have been about turning scarcity into excess. I suppose that, in many ways, the last 30 or so years of AMERICA have been about turning scarcity into excess, but let’s keep the focus on baseball for the time being.
Start with interleague play. Thirty years ago, the New York Yankees and New York Mets had never played a meaningful game against one another. There’s now an entire Wikipedia page on the “Yankees-Mets rivalry,” but until 1997 and the creation of interleague play, it existed only in the imagination.
And it wasn’t just the Mets and Yankees. The White Sox and Cubs had not played an official MLB game since the 1906 World Series (they did play an annual seven-game exhibition series before World War II). Cincinnati and Cleveland had never played each other. Kansas City and St. Louis had not played since the much-argued-about 1985 World Series. There were all these matchups that baseball fans really wanted to see but couldn’t unless the teams happened to meet in the World Series.
So it was definitely cool when interleague play happened and we could see these games we had only dreamed about before.
But because this is MLB and overkill is the way, they just kept on going with interleague play so that, soon enough, these cool matchups stopped being as special and they were surrounded by lots of other irrational and pretty pointless matchups like the Rockies vs. the Orioles or the Mariners vs. the Marlins or the Angels taking on the Phillies. I mean — so what?
Same goes with the playoffs. Thirty years ago, there were four teams in the playoffs — two in each league. You could understand it in a sport where teams played 162 games to determine who was best. But, maybe four playoff teams are just not enough in today’s world— you couldn’t really blame MLB for wanting more playoffs and those tasty television dollars. So they made it four teams in each league. which still seemed sensible enough.
But because this is MLB and overkill is the way, they just kept adding on wild-card teams and extra playoff series until they turned the postseason into a roulette wheel game of chance, with the increasing likelihood of the best teams getting knocked out by pretenders who got hot for a few days.
So it goes. Some of the excess was planned (every baseball game is now on television, every team seems to wear 28 different uniforms, there isn’t a soul left on earth who hasn’t been turned into a bobblehead) and some of the excess evolved (home runs and strikeouts at historic rates) but the point is that there is no good thing in baseball that will not be repeated and expanded until it loses whatever specialness it once had.
All of which leads us to Yadier Molina pitching on Sunday.
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