(Last fall, the editorial staff at Tyranny of Tradition received a $100,000 grant from the Arthur Schlichter Foundation For Integrity in Sports in order to cover sports with the passion and zeal with which we cover heavy metal. The grant was meant to last us 10 years, but the editorial staff had a really strong feeling about Valparaiso covering the spread on the road against Cleveland State in a college basketball game a few weeks back. Needless to say, our grant has dwindled down to about $317. Certainly not enough to start a whole sports department, but enough to send Tyranny’s baseball reporter Dirty Dave on The FM on a Greyhound Bus from Patchogue, Long Island to Port Saint Lucie to cover Spring Training for a day or two)
(We could not afford to put Dirty Dave up in a hotel, so he patiently slept outside of the Mets spring training complex until he was arrested at 4 AM for vagrancy and forced to spend the rest of his time “covering” baseball in a Florida jail cell. In spite of this, he was able to put together some of the finest, most in depth coverage of the changes that will be coming for the 2015 MLB season)
(He’s a good reporter and I think you’ll like the article. Plus, he’s taller than Tim Kurkjian. Then again, most adults are. Even some 2nd graders)
As winter begins to wind down and the annual Major League Baseball spring training season gets under way, baseball fans are looking ahead, but not necessarily forward, to a 2015 season shaping up to be unlike any other in the sport’s long history. When Allan H. (Bud) Selig retired from his post as Major League Baseball Commissioner on January 14, he was widely expected to order a series of eleventh-hour rule and policy changes reminiscent of the flurry of last-minute political pardons that accompanies the exit of U.S. presidents from office. The changes, which have now been independently confirmed by high-ranking staff members in the Commissioner’s Office, will usher the national pastime into a new era of innovations that many baseball historians are describing as more radical than any others implemented during the game’s modern age.
Selig, who was named Commissioner of Baseball in 1992, has been the target of controversy before. Widely recognized as one of the most progressive leaders in the history of the game, Selig is known for dictating a number of departures from baseball tradition, including interleague play, the addition of two, and later four, wildcard teams to the postseason, and instant replay.
According to sources, several of the changes for 2015 will fundamentally alter play itself. Starting on Opening Day, hitters will be required to bat with their eyes closed, pitchers must throw standing on only one leg, and fielders will use their hats in lieu of gloves. Additionally, teams will universally bypass the fourth inning and play a tenth inning instead. In the event of extra innings, the thirteenth inning will likewise be bypassed in consideration of any triskaidekaphobes who may be in attendance.
Other changes will have less effect on the game and more impact on the fan experience. To capitalize on the popularity of recently-introduced ballpark amenities like full-service restaurants, swimming pools, and night clubs, several sources are reporting that Selig has directed teams to offer additional extraneous activities at the ballpark, including water polo matches in the infield, fox hunts in the outfield, and recreational scoreboard climbing. Ballpark fare will be changing, too. Snacks that are virtually synonymous with baseball such as peanuts and Cracker Jack will be removed from inventories and substituted with walnuts and Triscuit. And several sources have confirmed that hot dogs will start being produced using actual dogs.
An anonymous source close to the former commissioner, who would identify himself only as Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre, explained that as his retirement approached, Selig became concerned that he hadn’t done enough to secure baseball’s future. “Since his first day on the job, Bud’s number one goal has been to bring baseball into the twenty-first century as a viable, competitive sports product,” said the source. “With so many other entertainment options vying for the attention of today’s consumer, Bud has worked tirelessly to keep baseball at the forefront. These final reforms will ensure that baseball will remain our national pastime for decades to come.”
Among the many anticipated changes, the following are expected to draw the most ire from baseball purists:
- Selig will move the Milwaukee Brewers, the franchise he originally owned, back to Seattle where they will re-adopt their given name, the Pilots, and the Seattle Mariners will be sold to a Turkish investment group and moved to Istanbul
- To help limit the number of concussions and other serious baseball injuries, all players will be required to wear full Kevlar-reinforced body armor uniforms, baseballs will be replaced with Wiffle balls, and when approaching the plate runners will be required to come to a full stop and politely ask catchers for permission to slide
- To discourage any further commercialization of baseball, teams will be prohibited from selling the naming rights of their stadiums to corporations and all such stadiums will be renamed after obscure 19th century U.S. presidents; several new names have already been announced: Citi Field in New York will be renamed Rutherford B. Hayes Park, AT&T Park in San Francisco will be called Franklin Pierce Field, and Petco Park in San Diego will be renamed William Henry Harrison Stadium and then rechristened 30 days later as the John Tyler Coliseum.
- To broaden baseball’s global appeal, several new expansion teams will begin play in 2015, including the Somalia Pirates, the Moscow Reds, and the Mumbai Indians; to avoid confusion, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be renamed the Pittsburgh Old Fashioned Cartoony-Type Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds will be renamed the Cincinnati Slightly Lighter Shade of Reds, and the Cleveland Indians will be given the generic and non-offensive moniker the Cleveland Original Inhabitants of America.
- Derek Jeter will embark on a never-ending farewell tour, travelling from stadium to stadium in an endless cycle to receive a ceaseless quantity of free gifts
- Popcorn will be banned at ballparks, because where do you think you are? The movies?
- To further distinguish the geographical specificity of the team for its fan base, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will be renamed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim That Play Their Home Games In Orange County Off The I-5 Which Is Pretty Far Away From Dodger Stadium But Still In the Same Metro Area
- To help reverse the trend of increasing game times, all contests that proceed beyond the 15th inning will be decided by a sudden death “Punkin Chunkin” competition
- The Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners will replace their designated smoking sections with designated toking sections
- In tribute to former players Al Oliver, Oddibe McDowell, and Oscar Gamble, the number 0 will be universally retired by all teams
- In addition to the substances currently banned by Major League Baseball’s drug policy, players will be prohibited from using or possessing eggplants
- The National League will officially merge with the American League, the combined entity will then merge with the Canadian Football League, and the resulting organization will merge with Golden Corral
- More beards
- Any fan not removing their cap during the National Anthem will be waterboarded while forced to listen to a 24-hour repeating loop of Joe Buck broadcasts
The Major League Baseball Players Association could not be reached for comment.