What If Baseball Were Played Like Politics?
November 17, 2011
by William Szczepanek
Change is occurring rapidly in America. Our culture is changing and society no longer has the same values. Politics is a mess and baseball, too, is ultimately influenced by the changing times. What if... someday... baseball were to be played like politics? Let us visit the ballpark, sit down and bite into a $50.00 hot dog and watch another attempt at playing an interleague game sometime in the not too distant future. We carefully put our free, unopened, promotional baseball cards in our pocket. Someday they may be worth something.
As the start of the game approaches we see that one team has red uniforms and the other blue. This is not just a fluke. All teams in the American League (AL) now wear red uniforms and all teams in the National League (NL) wear blue. In fact, a few years prior the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals were forced to move to the AL and the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays were forced to move to the NL. The Chicago White Sox were forced out of the Major Leagues because they found good and bad in both leagues and could not conform entirely to either one. The Houston Astros were moved to the AL after a lawsuit by the Chicago Cubs ruled in Chicago's favor that they had been unfairly treated by having to play in a division with 6 teams when all other divisions had 4 or 5 teams. Since the change was made the Cubs still had not gone to the World Series.
Another aspect of the game that changed over time was the requirement that all players in the AL must be right-handed and all in the NL must be left-handed. It was the only way that decisions could be reached in each league about new rules. Switch hitters were outlawed.
In addition, the AL was composed of exclusively the upper 1%. It contained the best teams that money could buy and the Yankees continued to be the leading example of that approach. The NL was composed of exclusively minorities with quotas on each team for each ethnic group. In addition, women now made up 50% of the NL rosters. Champaign celebrations were replaced by pot luck dinners. This would seem like a big advantage to the AL, but rules were changed to limit where a female runner could be tagged out. The result was that the majority of those gals caught in rundowns made it to the next base. The penalty for an illegal tag was immediate ejection. There was now an entirely new meaning to the team nickname, Dodgers.
The AL tended to buy their players; the NL was more likely to cultivate and draft. The AL played their highest paid players, though, as salaries grew they tended to lay off their best players for financial reasons, whereas the NL had a quota system where all players needed to play equal time since all of the players were newly unionized. The NL also now gives all minority players an extra strike (4) before they are called out, resulting in a new hit song for the league, "One, Two, Three, Four Strikes You're Out at the Old Ball Game."
Over time more rules changed for each league. The AL always had designated hitters, the NL not. The NL shortened the distance between bases to 70 feet because they thought the fielders had an unfair advantage, this tended to raise batting averages to around the .500 mark. The AL wanted a lighter and more lively ball because home runs brought fans and money to the park. The NL instituted a slightly oval ball which allowed more luck of the bounce into the game. As time went on each league needed their own empires to fully understand the peculiarities of the game.
As can be easily understood, interleague games became very confrontational. No one could decide on the rules. The fans stayed away because of the notorious delays in the game due to arguments and decided to support small local teams and leagues, even though their tax dollars went to build the huge stadiums. These stadiums were now mostly filled with special interest groups all looking to influence the teams and players. In fact, the special interest groups provided most of the income for the players and agents were no longer necessary since now the players themselves voted on whether or not to get salary increases each year.
The games were covered as part of "Breaking News" by the networks, though FOX tended to support the AL and CNN tended to support the NL. The quality of play got worse and worse, since the players spent so much time fundraising they didn't have time to practice.
Over time the interleague games and ultimately the World Series were eliminated since both sides could not agree on a set of rules that would be accepted by both sides. The umpires could not even agree on how to call the game and were notoriously biased toward their respective leagues, and with Wall Street execs in charge of the scoreboard, no one ever knew what the score really was. The Global Baseball League was highly successful, but the American teams could not compete because their rules were so out of line.
Well, we just finished our $50.00 hot dog and it is now 30 minutes past the time that was designated for the first pitch. It looks like an interleague game will again not be played as the teams could not agree on the rules. It was decided that another attempt would be made in three months right after summer vacation.