Baseball should ignore calls for "competitive balance"

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A must-read article by Joe Sheehan at Sports Illustrated, um, illustrating why arguments comparing the NFL’s competitive balance to baseball’s competitive balance are simply wrongheaded.

The hypothetical which kicks off the article — where baseball’s playoff races would stand right now if, like the NFL, the whole season was 16 games long — perfectly illustrates the insanity of the comparison. If this were football, every team would be in it until the end, because one game means so damn much in football. Baseball has ten times as many games, rendering many of them near-disposable.  The two sports’ respective rules, business models, histories, cultures, atmosphere, vernacular and fan bases all stem from this distinction.

Personally I like baseball better, but that’s just me being provincial. Objectively saying one is better than the other in any given respect is an exercise in prejudices, not reason. I’m told that a few rational people like football too, and good for
them, but it makes no more sense to compare the two than it does to compare salami sandwiches and pumpkin pie. They’re both great in their own way, but they really don’t share the same universe.

Which leads me to the money quote of the article.  It’s borne of the misguided impulse of baseball fans — and believe me, it’s only baseball fans who do this — to reflexively defend their sport to those who say it’s inferior to football.  It’s a call-to-arms of sorts, telling baseball fans to own baseball and its history and to act in the same manner as football fans do (i.e. not giving a diddly durn about how the conditions in one sport impact those in the other):

Instead of cowering when it’s compared to the NFL, MLB and its leaders
should stand up and brag about the differences that make its game great.
It should note the math of the issue, that the NFL’s competitive
balance is the natural consequence of a short regular season and a
larger postseason, and that MLB’s competitive balance, considered in the
context of its own sport, is good.

Henceforth, I’ll engage in any argument that compares baseball’s current competitive landscape to the competitive landscape that existed in baseball’s past or its hypothetical future.  I will ignore, however, those who criticize baseball for not living up to the standards of a sport that, for all of its charms, is utterly alien to baseball and those rules, conditions, culture and history which make it great.

Brett Cecil placed on 10-day injured list due to Carpal Tunnel syndrome

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On Monday, Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil was placed on the 10-day injured list due to Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Cecil, who notably lost 42 pounds since the end of the 2018 season, was having trouble with his mechanics throughout spring training and only logged two official Grapefruit League innings.

Cecil, 32, is entering the third year of his four-year, $30.5 million contract. He struggled last year, finishing with a 6.89 ERA and a 19/25 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. The lefty dealt with shoulder and foot injuries during the season as well.

The Cardinals bolstered the bullpen in December, signing lefty Andrew Miller to a two-year, $25 million deal. It would be nice to have a healthy and effective Cecil, but the high-leverage workload will be managed by Miller and Jordan Hicks as well as Alex Reyes.

Cecil was among a handful of Cardinals to hit the injured list on Monday, joining Carlos Martínez (right shoulder cuff strain), Jedd Gyorko (right calf strain), Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement), and Justin Williams (right hand second metacarpal fracture).