Volume 95, Issue 16

Thursday, September 27, 2001
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Balls, birdies and bodyslams

The dog days of summer

The Gambling Man

The dog days of summer

Please stop the home run madness

For whom the bell tolls
Jordan Bell
Sports Editor

The shot is always heard around the world, the problem is, that's all that's heard.

Baseball in the 21st century is a sad state of affairs.

If there isn't a home run chase of some sort, the season basically becomes a write-off and otherwise the league is forced to depend on primates like John Rocker to spice up some controversy and attention.

This year, the league is safe. Barry Bonds is chasing Mark McGwire's supposedly untouchable home run record, just as McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased down Roger Maris' seemingly invincible feat.

As long as there are burly juice-monkeys standing at the plate, the once-hallowed home run record will always be challenged. Can't you just see the day when monstrous andro freaks are clearing skyscrapers with their thunderous shots.

Why has the home run become such a phenomenon in baseball?

Maybe it's because the home run shows the power of a man we all aspire to be. All little boys dream of stepping to the plate and creaming a ball over the left field fence.

The home run, when you get down to the bare bones of it, is the only exciting event in a baseball game. Baseball players generally stand around for a majority of the game (a three to four hour game at that), so a fan needs some release of pent-up boredom.

The only time I have ever been interested in the game in recent years is when the media has blasted the home run chase on my television screen. I am sure many fans share this sentiment. This is obviously a dilemma the baseball brass has to address.

The first obstacle they must tackle is the distance from home plate to the stands. I know it has been talked about a million times, but for a home run to have any meaning, the walls must be moved back. Malcontents like Randy Velarde are hitting mammoth shots now.

The second obstacle is revenue sharing. The league has to address the financial discrepancy between franchises. How can teams like Tampa Bay compete with the New York Yankees? I realize the Minnesota Twins, a cash-strapped team, performed extremely well earlier this season, but now find themselves in a complete tailspin.

Also, how many times have you tried to watch a baseball game and eventually succumbed to the pressure of MuchMusic videos? Length of games and better yet, lengths of seasons need to be shortened. It wouldn't hurt to slice two innings off a game to make it at least somewhat bearable to watch.

And who the hell made the decision to play 162 games a season? How can anybody expect a fan to stay stoked and supportive through 162 games.

Administrators should take a page from the NCAA basketball tournament in March. Take sixteen teams, rank them according to season record and pit them off against each other in a tournament of winner takes all match-ups. I guarantee the excitement of these games would make up for the boredom endured during the other hundred.

Lastly, institute a rule whereby if a pitcher beans a batter, the hitter has the choice to do anything he deems necessary to make up for that baseball sized bruise he received. I'd like to see Mo Vaughn versus Randy Johnson – a definite must-see fight.

Sadly, it's quite obvious the tight-wads in the administration will likely never change the rules.

Until my fantasy becomes reality, sit back and enjoy another year of home run record chasin'.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001