Darkness Descends

Two thirds correct, but it’s that remaining thirty-three and a third percent that’s the important part.

So, yeah, as I said Tuesday, I did predict one of the two World Series teams. Unfortunately for my reputation as a scientific prognosticator, that team was the Dodgers. I also correctly called them as the ultimate losers.

Oh, heck, I’ll even give myself credit for predicting a “tight, high scoring, seven game World Series”. Game Five aside, it wasn’t that high-scoring, but it certainly was tight, and it did go seven games. Call it an overall seventy percent success rate.

But in the final analysis, I picked the Twins to win it all. Yeah, the Twins. The team who squeezed into the playoffs as the second AL Wild Card and proceeded to get slaughtered by the (pfui!) Yankees.

It was a great series, even if it didn’t get extended to nine or more games. And, despite the disappointment of the fans of the twenty-nine teams that didn’t win the World Series–especially the twenty teams that didn’t even make the playoffs–it was a good year. Because even a year of losing baseball is better than a year of no baseball.

Onward into the Great Darkness.

Free agents can begin signing with any team next week. The Winter Meetings are next month. Spring Training is about three and a half months away. And Opening Day is March 29.

Interesting note: Every team’s first game will be on Opening Day in 2018, thanks in large part to the Players’ Association bargaining for a few more off days during the season. That might make my job of predicting the winners a little easier. Not more accurate, mind you, but easier.

In any case, we do have a few baseball matters to occupy ourselves with during those long stretches of No Baseball. Aside from the usual “What’s Manfred going to do to ‘make the game more exciting’?” discussions, it’s beginning to look like expansion is a real possibility.

There are a lot of potential advantages to adding one team to each league, not the least of which is the chance to realign the divisions. Nobody seems to think keeping the current three divisions in each league is a great idea; that would mean two five-team divisions and one six-team division. Awkward.

So the hottest discussion in baseball right now (after whether the ball has changed) is whether to go with two eight-team or four four-team divisions.

I’ll have more to say about expansion and realignment later, but it’s sure going to be nice to have a distraction from arguments over computerized umpires calling balls and strikes.

2 thoughts on “Darkness Descends

  1. Re, computerized umpires: my heart sank, as I, once again, saw the strike zone delineated in virtual reality- changing the game by it’s simple existence.
    Gone, now, are the endless arguments about whether the Umpire called it right; we know in “real time” whether he did or didn’t. We know that, fairly often, the Umpire gets it wrong, forcing the question: why have a human Umpire in there, at all, screwing things up?
    I’m really afraid it’s only a matter of time- and not much of it- before it just seems too reasonable to be resisted, to make the computer’s call the one that matters, over ruling the humanly fallible Umpire’s call- and there goes a big part of the game, forced by people who don’t understand, or accept, how important human fallibility is.
    We’re already well down that road, with the coming of “challenges” to base-running calls. The logical next step will be, I’m afraid, challenges to the home plate Umpire’s strike/ball calls. If I’ve thought of it, be sure that other people are thinking about it. When it’s proposed, I wonder how the Umpire’s Union- and the Player’s Union, for that matter- will respond. I fear we’ll find out, soon.

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    • I’m heartened by the fact that Commissioner Manfred, proponent of many notions I regard with loathing, is on record as believing robotic pitch calls are not good enough yet.

      Don’t be fooled by the on-screen displays we get in our TV broadcasts and their promotion as correct. Placement of the strike zone box is still more art than science, and what you see on the screen is a two-dimensional flattening of a three-dimensional box. Remember: home plate extends back toward the catcher, where the TV display suggests it’s a line. Just because it looks like a ball onscreen, that doesn’t mean it is.

      Nor do I see challenges on ball/strike calls coming. It would take too long and stop the game in its tracks, and that’s not going to fly in an environment that’s very favorable to proposals that “keep the game moving”.

      I do think a computerized ball/strike call will arrive eventually–and I’m not happy about it–but I suspect we’ll go directly from the current system to the new system without a transitional “challenge” mode.

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