Opening Day for Major League Baseball is April 1. That also is the date when the shift or not-to-shift debate will begin anew. That argument has been ongoing, mostly quietly, during spring training, but it will heat up when the regular season begins and once again it’s strikeout or hit it out for so many hitters, when launch angle becomes more important than advancing the runner.
When the Double-A season begins, they will be experimenting with an anti-shift rule that reads: “The defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield dirt.” So no more second basemen on the outfield grass.
Look, the only thing wrong with MLB games these days has to do with their length — anything more than three hours is too much. But that isn’t going away because of the number of TV commercials and you know that no one is going to do anything about that.
On Oct. 30, 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the visiting New York Yankees, 10-9, in Game 7 of the World Series on a ninth-inning home run by Bill Mazeroski. There were 10 runs scored over the last two innings. The teams combined to use nine pitchers. The game was over in two hours 36 minutes.
So, MLB, just leave the game alone. If you want more balls in play, maybe hitters — yes, even the big boppers — should trying going the other way, or, gawd forbid, try bunting a time or two.
You know, maybe be like ‘Wee’ Willie Keeler, who once said that the keys to hitting success were “keep you eye clear and hit ’em where they ain’t.”
And, please, don’t be telling me that it’s the long ball boys who get the big money. Keeler was a career .341 hitter; how much do you think an average like that would be worth in this day and age?
The Langley Rivermen have opted out of the BCHL’s return to play. In a statement released on Saturday, the Rivermen explained: “After discussions with each player, the Rivermen made the tough decision not to play. There are a variety of reasons behind the decision, including educational commitments and the mental and physical health implications of both the 14 days of isolation followed by a five-week strictly controlled season.” . . . The Wenatchee Wild aren’t involved this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. . . . The BCHL is planning to have its 16 remaining teams play out of pods in Alberni Valley, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton and Vernon.
How are things going for NFL team owners? Well, it was in 1989 when Jerry Jones paid US$140 million for the Dallas Cowboys. On Monday, he signed QB Dak Prescott to a contract valued at $160 million, with a $66-million signing bonus and $126 million guaranteed. . . . Yes, business in the NFL is pretty good these days.
Are you old enough to remember when we were able to sit in the comfort of our TV rooms and watch the Toronto Blue Jays play exhibition games in Florida? . . . Hey, Blue Jays, this spring you are out of sight and out of mind. Why?
Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Vintage ‘Hey, what page are we on?’ from MLB: The Texas Rangers plan to sell every seat for their April 5 home opener. The Washington Nationals aren’t allowing any fans at all, at least as things stand now. Neither plan makes a whole lot of sense, and the Rangers’ idea is glaringly reckless.”
“Virginia joined Duke on the sideline at the ACC basketball tournament after a positive COVID-19 test, and Kansas is similarly out of the Big 12 tourney,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “So can we just end the suspense early and proclaim the virus as this year’s national champion?”
Perry, again: “And, in news about free agents, the Blue Jays signed George Springer, the Phillies signed J.T. Realmuto and the Royals slammed the door on Prince Harry’s possible return.”
Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Kansas and Virginia now out of their respective men’s basketball tournaments due to positive virus tests. So in this year’s March Madness brackets will there be a way to bet on COVID-19?”
The New York Islanders placed F Jean-Gabriel Pageau and D Noah Dobson on the COVID-19 protocol list on Sunday, and you have to wonder if this might be the start of something. We’ll have to wait to see if the Islanders get shut down for any length of time.
If you are a reader of fine novels, perhaps you have read one or more that were written by Carl Hiaasen, the columnist for the Miami Herald who has a fine sense of humour and, as colleague Dave Barry put it, “a comic novelist’s eye for the absurd.” Anyway, Hiaasen is moving on from the Herald and you will want to read his final column, which is right here.
The afore-mentioned Barry says farewell to his column-writing pal right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.
JUST NOTES: The Tim Hortons Brier wrapped up on Sunday night and you can give an Emmy to TSN’s announcing crew of Vic Rauter, Cheryl Bernard, Russ Howard, Bryan Mudryk and Cathy Gauthier. They know their audience and they deliver to that audience. Well done! . . . Brendan Bottcher’s Alberta rink won the Brier after having lost the previous three finals. And if you don’t know about Bottcher and his winning socks, well, Google is your friend. . . . With the Vancouver Canucks boasting a 5-2 record in March, you have to think the bandwagon is filling up again. They’re on the road for four this week — two with the Ottawa Senators and two with the Montreal Canadiens. . . . Meanwhile, the Darryl Sutter Revival Tour continues with his Calgary Flames at home to the Edmonton Oilers tonight and Wednesday. It could be fun. . . . But all the while you are free to wonder if the Winnipeg Jets are the best of Canada’s NHL teams.