07 April 2022

Ellis Millsaps: Spring Sports Roundup

  It's time again for my semi annual state of baseball commentary. You know, the crack of the bat, the smell of rawhide and other cliches I don't recall at the moment.


First to the rule changes. After forty nine years the  HD is here to stay in both leagues.  This isn't really a rule change. We now have the Shohei Ohtani exception because of the phenomenal Japanese starting pitcher and designated hitter. A pitcher can now stay in the lineup to hit even if he's replaced on the mound. Thus you can possibly have two designated hitters in one lineup, i. e., two players who are hitting but not playing in the field.

This year there will be no seven inning doubleheader games. That's a good thing in my opinion but unfortunately we still have the what has come to be called the “ghost runner” rule where all extra Innings begin with a runner on second. I've hated this rule because of what it does to the baseball sacred record-keeping, but at least last year it was imposed because of covid, a problem which is hardly there now. This year the justification is the shortened spring training, a problem MLB brought on itself. They're allowing expanded rosters for the first 30 days. With two extra pitchers a team ought to be able to handle extra Innings. So it's another year in the books with an asterisk after it.

Fortunately this change expires at the end of the season. Unfortunately it can't be changed back until next year.

 There are other changes being contemplated for 2023. One is larger bases, which I suppose might prevent some injuries, but it would also shorten the throw to first base, a benefit to the defense. We can't have that. A beauty of the game is that records set in 1922 are still challenged under the same rules of play.

Even worse in this regard is the proposal to ban the shift. No, No, No!  Teams have always been able to position their defenders in any way they choose. The fact that the shift has somewhat changed  the strategy of the game is not a rule change.

Then there's the usual consideration of putting a time clock on the wait between pitches, fourteen seconds with the bases empty and nineteen with runners on base. It would limit throws over to first, a perennial boring aspect of the game, but I can see potential base steelers just waiting out the clock before they take off. After say fifteen seconds a pitcher would not be able to attempt a pick off then beat the clock to the plate.

I'm writing this on the day that the final four games begin. I picked these teams as a final four with the exception of Gonzaga rather than Duke. I have Villanova beating the Zags for the championship.

It's been for me one of the most fun tournaments to watch because of the magical run of St Peters. Against Purdue they looked like a middle school team playing against grown ups but they executed almost flawlessly to get to the final eight. It had to end. Carolina thumped them soundly.”Here's a truck stop instead of Saint Peters.”( Stipe at al,” Man on the Moon”)

I feel good about the Braves. Their lineup is one of the game's most formidable and that's before we get one of the game's premier players, Ronald Acuna, back soon. The bullpen looks outstanding. We have three very good starters and some real talent competing for the other two spots and someday Mike Soroka may make a comeback. Sorry to see Freddie Freeman go but he made his own problems. Doesn't he already look evil in that Dodger blue? I'm excited to see his hometown replacement. 

Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...