For as much credit as baseball gets for being “timeless” – the rare sport where you can make legitimate comparisons across different eras – it sure has changed a lot since I was a boy during the `70s and `80s. Some of these changes I’m cool with; some I am very get-off-my-lawny about. Below is my brief list of things I miss about the way things used to be.
The hard grounder back through the box
I’m fine with the shift; no, really! And the folks who complain about the shift, maybe even talk about banning the shift, are very dumb and wrong. But! I still get that little flutter in my chest on a drive up the middle that gets by the pitcher and is ticketed for center field – only to see the ball go directly to the second baseman. Or the shortstop. And sometimes even the third baseman. It’s still weird to me when that happens, and I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away.
Three yards and a cloud of dust
I do not miss blatant and violent takeout slides. I mean, look at this play.
How is that baseball? Heck, I don’t even think you can do that to a guy in football anymore. But…
But those plays were always outliers. They were the extreme. Most takeout slides didn’t look like that. Check out this:
That’s what most takeout slides looked like, and I miss them. I miss the runner bearing down. I miss shortstop coming across the bag and dropping down deep sidearm to force the runner into a slide. I miss the release, the leap, the contact, the tumble. It was a thing a beauty, and it’s really too bad that guys like Hal McRae and Chase Utley ruined it for everybody.
The blown call
I was a big proponent of replay, of getting the call right. That is, until I saw what trying to get the call right did to the game. The “wait a minute we might want to challenge; no, never mind, carry on” delays. The even longer delays while New York sorts through the various angles. The getting-it-wrong-anyway of it. Unless it’s one of those calls where the guys pops off the bag for a micro-second as the second baseman holds on to the tag. They always seem to get that one “right.” And baseball is worse off for it.
Plus, replay has (mostly) deprived us one of the things that made the game distinct: the manager arguing a call. I mean, look at this:
You’re tell me that wasting five minutes on whether a first baseman’s foot came off the bag a smidge too soon is worth losing that? I don’t think so.
Choke up on it!
Once upon a time, the two-hole was often occupied by a light-hitting, high contact middle infielder, who could run a little and sometimes drop down a bunt. That’s just the way it was.
Fun fact: Remember that epic slump Chris Davis had earlier this year? Well, did you know that one of the guys he passed was Tony Bernazard of the 1984 Indians? And that Bernazard accomplished this feat almost entirely out of the two-hole.
Now, why do I miss that? Because as a kid, I was light hitting second baseman who could drop down the occasional bunt. Baseball needs role models for kids like me. Won’t someone think of the children!
That’s it for me (for now). But maybe you’ve got your own gripes too. Leave them in the comments and we shall commiserate together.