As we inch closer to one of sport’s greatest spectacles, NCAA March Madness, the MLB had an eventful last 24 hours. And it was not a good day of attention for baseball. First of all, Cliff Lee, the Mariner’s ace, was suspended 5 regular season games for throwing a pitch that sailed over a batter’s head. It did not even hit the guy, but he received a 5 day suspension? If this is a sign of things to come, pitchers better be cautious of throwing inside this year. Hitters will become much more comfortable in the box knowing that the League will be taking the inside part of the plate away. Also stars will not need to wear the body armor like Barry Bonds once did as they crowd the plate. It will be irrelevant to crowd the plate if umpires are going to take a heavy stance like they did on Lee yesterday. This is what the MLB wants. More home runs and offensive output. It is what puts butts in the seats. And as we all know, the MLB is a business.
In the other big baseball story of the day, it has come out that Ranger’s manager Ron Washington tested positive for using cocaine last season. And according to him, that was the one and only time he used the drug. Is this Mark McGwire all over again? Big Mac said that he used the roids only to help out with his health and not to improve his play. This guy says that he used cocaine just one time when he tested positive for it. Can we get the whole truth and nothing but the truth for once please?
Both of these incidents are horrible signs for the American pastime. If this Lee suspension is an indication of future things to come, pitchers mine as well kiss the inside part of the plate goodbye this year. I hope guys can really paint the outside corner. There will be no dusting guys back off the plate. Umpires are buckling down and if you have one sail, well you are likely going to receive repercussions from the League. Give me a break.
In addition, more drug usage is going on in baseball. And it is not just the players. But now it is the managers. Also, it is almost certain that a couple of more players will be revealed off the Mitchell Report throughout the course of this season as well. Baseball has a lot of cleaning up to do. Both internally and externally.
It’s a shame in that the playoffs were so exciting last year and the level of play has been outstanding. I hope both of these incidents are not a sign of what is to come this season.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.