Guerrero celebrates with teammates after they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 5 of their American League Division Series MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg

Plaschke: Five things baseball needs to do in order to fix the postseason

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The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke has a column today offering the five things he’d do in order to “fix” the baseball playoffs.  Let’s take them one-by-one:

Stretch out the Division Series to seven games

This, in theory, I like. Anything that can reduce the fluky nature of a short series would be nice. Plus, more baseball is always a better idea than less baseball. Which makes the second suggestion so awful:

Reduce the season to 154 games

No thanks. Plaschke offers this one as a means of accommodating the longer first round, but I think there are better ways to do it. For one things the owners aren’t going to want to simply eliminate eight games from the revenue stream, er, I mean schedule. Instead, schedule extra double headers. One a month would almost totally make up for the longer first round. The biggest objection to double headers now is that they reduce revenue due to wonky TV times and reduction in gate. I think a lower bit of revenue in this respect is preferable to the total elimination of it for eight games under Plaschke’s plan, don’t you?

Eliminate weekend playoff games

This is the one that bothers me the most on a gut level. Not because the absence of weekend playoff games would gall me so much — to be honest, I’m more likely to watch during the week as it is because of social commitments and whatnot — but because the suggestion for this is to avoid competition with football. Maybe it makes sense. Football ratings are pretty unstoppable, I suppose. But man, that’s defeatist and it just bugs me on a primal level. I realize that everything in the world is for sale and that I’m probably swimming against the tide in this regard, but baseball was there first, dammit. I don’t care if it gets beat in the ratings by a random NFL game. I don’t care if it gets beat by a “Punky Brewster” marathon on ABC Family.  Besides, if Plaschke is really animated about the TV ratings, his next suggestion makes no sense anyway:

Play more day games

The reason: day baseball is charming and baseball needs to “get back to its roots.” Look, if charm is what you’re after, that’s great. I love charm! And I love day baseball. But if you care about the ratings as Plaschke obviously does based on the last suggestion, this would be suicide. We all complain about late baseball games, but there’s a reason for them: better ratings. People aren’t at work (and if the playoffs are only during the week, yes, everyone who still has a job in this economy is going to be at work). The only hope of this working is if you make it a Saturday or Sunday game, and then you’re up against Big State U. vs. Big State Tech or some of that awful NFL business.

Reduce the champagne showers

This is a just because. And as I’ve been writing lately, I’d be on board with it. It’d be silly to ban it, obviously, because players are grownups and they should do whatever the hell they want to do, but if I was running a team I’d really hope that my players would limit it to clinching the postseason and winning the World Series. But I suppose everyone’s mileage on this varies.

So where does that leave us? Surprised, really. I agree with two of Plaschke’s five suggestions entirely and one in theory, even if I think it’s probably unworkable.  A 60% agreement rate has to be some kind of record for me when it comes to Plaschke columns and/or columns about fixing a game that really isn’t broken.

Ichiro was happy to see Pete Rose get defensive about his hits record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.

There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:

I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.

There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.

The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.