Determining the number of major league games which have occurred in history is something of an inexact science. Record keeping was a bit spotty once upon a time. There’s the political question of whether you count the random upstart leagues that merged into or at least greatly influenced the National and then the American Leagues. And of course you have to ask yourself why we don’t count playoff games given that they’re, you know, way more important.
But let’s save all of that and just go with it, shall we? Here’s the press release from MLB:
Major League Baseball will celebrate the 200,000th regular season game in its history during the last weekend of the 2011 regular season, as confirmed by the Elias Sports Bureau, MLB’s official statistician. It is estimated that the milestone game will occur during the full slate of games on Saturday, September 24th. Because of considerations like rainouts and other potential circumstances, the precise game will be identified as the occasion approaches.
“We are proud of this achievement,” said Commissioner Alan H. (Bud) Selig. “And now that we have determined that we will not count any Cleveland Indians games which took place between 1969 and 1994 as ‘Major League’ games, determining our final count was made considerably easier.”
I may have taken that last quote out of context. I accidentally deleted the press release and wrote it from memory.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.