Major League Baseball is the Alex Rodriguez of professional sports leagues.
Let me explain …
When it comes to Rodriguez the baseball player it always struck me on how he just a little off. The intentions were there, but the instincts weren’t. Slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove. Calling for a pop-up in Toronto while running the bases. Sliding into second three seconds too late, not out of maliciousness but simply due to a slow connection to the right and the wrong.
He meant to do the right thing, but ultimately, as some of those cases hopefully exemplify, he was just bit off.
Doesn’t that seem to fit MLB so perfectly?
The league deserves a tremendous amount credit for weathering the COVID-19 storm to get to these postseason games. Protocols and precautions were uncomfortable, but they are giving us important baseball at an important time.
But that one huge step forward continues to take these little baby steps back. For example, the mic’ing up of Oakland's Ramon Laureano.
In case you missed it Thursday, the A’s outfielder agreed to wear a mic while playing in a playoff game. Not for future use, but to actually be interviewed while the game was going on. It’s a cool idea — except in the middle of playoff baseball.
The result was Laureano entertaining the masses in super awkward fashion, breaking off from a spring training-esque question and answer to chase down an Eloy Jimenez double. After collecting the blast the A’s fielder let out a, “Damn, he can f–king run!” Oops.
In the words of Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator: Are you not entertained?
Kind of ...
We fell in love with the idea of such moments when listening to Mookie Betts chase down a hit in spring training, telling the commentators while running toward the ball, "I ain't getting this one boys ..." It was good spring training fun. And, you know what, it's equally as important and entertaining during the drudgery of the regular season.
But this is the postseason. This is the ultimate opportunity that the game of baseball can keep an audience engaged using ... the game of baseball.
Yes, I understand the players have the right to refuse ESPN's request to be mic'd up. And, yes, I also understand this was a network production.
But MLB has the hammer here, and can ultimately decide if players being interviewed in the middle of games is a good thing. Keep in mind, this is not an NBA coach being asked questions in between quarters. This isn't Bill Belichick running off the field at halftime. This is Cam Newton, Jayson Tatum or Patrice Bergeron having dialogue with announcers while trying to focus on season-altering moments.
This isn't spring training. This isn't the regular season. This is baseball players playing playoff baseball.
I get it, MLB is desperate. And it should be. The game needs drastic measures to keep up with the times. The extra-inning rule is a positive. So would be a pitch clock. Seven-inning double-headers? Absolutely. Changes need to made, doubt.
But this kind of thing is simply missing the mark. It kind or reminded me when they realized players were leaving All-Star Games -- those which were deciding home-field advantages -- for their private jets home in the sixth inning.
What was MLB's initial response. Well, before you leave stop in this social media room we have set up to say some quippy about the game that can make it seem like a good time was had by all.
Perhaps baseball has learned its lesson with this Laureano thing. It really doesn't need to do the live in-game interviews during the playoffs while the game is actually taking place. It comes off as just too desperate.
Live and (expletive) learn, I guess.