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  • John Schlinger

The First Pitch

America's Favorite Pastime

September 6, 2005; A beautiful end of summer night at what would soon become the Old Yankee Stadium. My father & a 10-year-old me sat in silence, as the Yankees led the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-4 heading into the top of the 9th. What unfolded next would undoubtedly become one of my favorite sports memories; Enter. Sandman.

Enter Sandman’ by Metallica takes over the speakers, everybody instantaneously & simultaneously rises to a roaring standing ovation. The bullpen doors open, and enters the greatest closing pitcher of all time; Mariano Rivera. Little to my knowledge, this moment, this little blip in time, would catapult me into the world of baseball and begin my love for America's Favorite Pastime.

That love still stands strong today, but baseball is a different game in 2021 than it was in 2005. That’s fine, but not many things are the same as they were back in ‘05. Things change, you need to adapt to the new times, and baseball is no different. 2021 and 2022 need to be the seasons where the MLB picks up the pace, re-intensifies the game, and gains fans instead of losing them.

A Different Game

Game speed is something the MLB has been working on for quite some time now. They have implemented a 3 batter minimum for relief pitchers, they have thrown the idea of a universal designated hitter back and forth, and in extra innings; they have even put an automatic base runner on second base to start every inning (not the best idea they’ve ever had, but hey... they’re trying). The universal DH is a concept that splits the MLB community in half, I personally am not a fan of the idea as that's what truly separates the AL and the NL, but things need to change and I think that's first and foremost. An interesting idea on the universal DH, is that in the NL, to start the game, both teams have a DH. However, when each team pulls their starting pitcher, they go back to the old school rules of the pitchers going up to bat. I … am a fan of this idea.

While the MLB continuously loses fans, I don’t see a point in putting pitchers, who can’t hit, in the batters box. However, that idea keeps the classic rule, as well as appeasing the old heads. The three batter minimum for relief pitchers is a good idea in theory, but actually ended up adding time to games. Those kinks still need to get ironed out and that automatic baserunner on second is the worst idea the MLB has had in awhile. Well, aside from hiring Rob Manfred as commissioner. That guy might actually hate baseball; "Piece of metal", huh?! But, I digress. The MLB & MLBPA realize the problems at hand and are actively trying to address them.

World Series Prediction

Speaking of that "piece of metal"; my way too early World Series prediction is the White Sox beat the Dodgers in Game 6, bringing a trophy back to Chicago for the first time since the Cubs won it back in 2016 & the White Sox' first since '05.

I’m extremely excited for this upcoming season, and you should be too. We should be seeing higher intensity, quicker games, and increased competition throughout the season. Fauci even said we will be seeing stadiums fill up as the season progresses, so cheers to a much needed, full & healthy MLB season. Opening Day kicks off tomorrow!

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