Are we nearing an end to the sport of baseball? Is baseball still even worthy of being considered a sport? I've long been underwhelmed at the level of sportsmanship that's even left in the game and how the game itself has devolved.
We've taken the position of starting pitcher, a position designed originally to start and finish a game - a position where there was once an actual athlete who trained with the intent of pitching a full game, we now have a player whose every throw is counted and if by chance, that player should throw 100 pitches, regardless of where they are in the game, all hell breaks loose to make sure the army of relief pitchers - for which there once was only one type, the reliever - we now have the specialist, the set-up man and the closer.
The specialist's primary job is to come into the game and pitch to one single batter, sometimes a single pitch. For this, he is rewarded with millions of dollars. The set up man is the worst of all pitching jobs, their job is to get to the ninth inning, preserving the opportunity for the closer to get the save, and all the glory (none of which is shared with the set up man). Both the set-up man and the closer also receive millions, sometime tens of millions per year for this job. The closer, if good, saves a game and seeks to accumulate these saves as if they are rewards. Of course, if you look at the big picture, a save in a game means the winning team wasn't good enough to beat the opposition outright.
My biggest gripe of all is that somehow, the players have figure out a way to be paid their premiums on past performance; this makes zero business sense and is confusing since team owners are supposedly all these big shot business moguls. I won't go deep with this here, I have in the past in this space, may even again in the future...for now, let's talk about the drugs.
So a slew of players get a 50 game suspension, but Alex Rodriguez gets a 211 game suspension. I hate Rodriguez and think he's a germ to the sport and the most overpaid player in professional sports, but I need to be convinced that his penalty should be more severe than the others - why not all of them get severely penalized?
Worse, while I like that Rodriguez got a stiff suspension, why the heck did the Yankees put him on the field last night? Granted he is allowed to play during his appeal, and granted the Yankees still need to win games, it's not like they are in any position where the logic of putting him on the field might help them to achieve the goal of winning more. First, they are 9.5 games out, and it's their pitching way more than their hitting and besides, his bat has been useless the past few seasons. More than any of that, what the heck kind of example are you setting for the other players on the team, in the league, young guys in the minors waiting their turn, and young kids all around the world who mistakenly look up to the pros.
I am insulted and disappointed as a baseball and a Yankee fan. I'm not sure this is the beginning of the end of what once was a sport, but now is clearly only a business but for me, I am not certain I may ever be able to call myself a baseball fan again - we will see.