leave baseball alone!


This post is about baseball.

It’s a little out of date, since most of details refer to the 2017 season.

Well, anyway, it’s the Hot Stove League season, right?



First, about an adjustment that has been made in baseball’s rules.

A single game from last fall illustrates what I wish to discuss.

On September 14, 2017, in game 1 of the National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs by a score of 5 to 2. An article about the game in the New York Times of October 15 discussed a key play.

The play occurred in the bottom half of the seventh inning. Charlie Culberson, a replacement for injured Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, hit a double off Cubs starter John Lackey. The next batter, third baseman Justin Turner, singled to left field. Culberson was initially ruled out at home on a terrific throw from Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber and tag by catcher Willson Contreras. But after a replay review, Culberson was ruled safe because Contreras was deemed to have violated the collision rule by not leaving Culberson a path to the plate.

The ruling incensed Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who argued with the umpires and was ejected.

“It’s wrong,” he said. “I think anybody that’s played major league or minor league baseball will agree with me 100 percent on that.”

Maddon added, “All rules that are created and laws aren’t necessarily good ones.”

I agree with Madden. This rule takes a lot of drama out of home plate plays. It’s a pantywaist rule designed to project the catcher from collisions. Sorry! (Maybe the catcher should make a polite bow, doff his cap, and congratulate the runner.) They’re inevitable. They’re part of baseball. As are beanballs now and then.

The throw that nipped Culberson and the tag must have been beautiful to watch. A nitpicking rule propagated by fussbudgets should not have nullified them.



In July 2017, the New York Mets extended the netting at Citi Field halfway into the outfield. Many, but not all, fans expressed displeasure with the change.

As explained in a New York Times article by sportswriter Wallace Matthews (“Eyesore or Blessing? New Safety Feature at Citi Field Divides Fans,” July 23, 2017):

To some, [the netting] is an eyesore, a reason not to come to the ballpark and additional evidence of a Nanny State run amok.

But to others, it is an added layer of security that allows them to watch a baseball game — or not watch it, as the case may be — without the fear of being injured or the burden of constantly being on alert.

I’m on the side of the first group. Surprised?

I wrote a letter to the editor that was not published.


New York Times

July 24, 2017

Re: “Eyesore or Blessing? New Safety Feature at Citi Field Divides Fans” (July 23):

I grew up watching baseball games at Fenway Park in Boston in the 1950’s.

When one emerged from the stadium entrance into the stands, the first thing one noticed was the beautiful view of the landscaped field with (regardless of lateness of season) its deep green grass, which invariably would take my breath away. There was no annoying electronic scoreboard, only a PA system.

I thought Citi Field was nicely designed with good sight lines and that it was, without question, an improvement over Shea Stadium.

I won’t be attending any more games there.

Roger W. Smith

Then, on September 20, 2017, a girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a foul ball off the bat of Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier. A couple of weeks ago, in January 2018, the Yankees announced that they will extend protective netting far down the foul lines next season at Yankee Stadium in the hopes of preventing fans from being struck by hard-hit foul balls.



What does the “philosopher” and baseball fan Roger W. Smith think about all of this?

Risks are inherent in all of life. Accidents happen. If we wanted to avoid all possibility of them, we would, for example, never let anyone get behind the wheel.

Leave baseball alone. It’s a beautiful sport and is not inherently violent.


— Roger W. Smith

   January 2018

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