"Foreign Substances": Some Thoughts on the 2015 MLB Season

Now, we all know that I'm a baseball fan. But, this season has been brutal, and not even from just the standpoint as an Orioles fan. From pitchers being suspended for having "foreign substances" on their arms during games, to the AL East having one of the worst cumulative records thus far, to the "speed boost" of having games restart after commercial breaks (thus making baseball a quicker game, which is good...but a quicker game because of advertisers, which is...eh), to the Empty Park Game, to Bryce Harper probably being on the cusp of receiving "ADD-ER-ALL" and "STEROIDS" chants from opposing crowds (because no one, in 2015 MLB, can actually just be naturally jacked and/or uber-tuned in to the game, apparently), this season has been unique to say the least.

As an aside, I'd be legitimately sad, a la Chris Davis' "lapse,"
should Harper be on his doping game. And I'm not even
a Nats fan.

But, it's been unique in a way that puts a couple shiners on the image MLB was trying to rehab since the Steroid Era. For starters, the Empty Park Game should not have happened. Hell, John Angelos was more vocal about the Baltimore protests and what they represented, from his perspective, than Rob Manfred ever was. At least Adam Silver, in his first season, dealt with his first controversy in a manner that set a precedent. Manfred's precedent seems to be this: baseball above all, even if we're going to have the teams play in an empty park while protests go on not even a mile away because fuck that shit.

But, on the same token, the foreign substances thing has always rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, shoot, back in the day, (almost) everyone had some sort of tobacco/grease/spit/pine tar in their arsenal. And, guess what? It made games more exciting, to me at least. You had characters. Now? Everyone has to be a Model Citizen and Role Model of the Year. That's fine, because advertisers aren't going to shell out big bucks to the John Rockers of the world. However, baseball doesn't seem to be "fun" these past couple seasons. Don't get me wrong: going to the games is Nirvana personified, but the game itself doesn't seem as "fun." Perhaps that's just part of the rebranding of baseball. There's an air of "We're going to still present the game, but we'll do so in a family-friendly way (kind of like WWE), so we don't offend anyone or offer alternative methods to solve problems."

Of course, that's not to say that "cheating" is right. But, "cheating," in some ways, has always been a part of the game. You take away that aspect and you neuter the game to the point where you might as well be playing teeball. Essentially, what I'm getting at is this: let some of that foolishness slide and worry about bigger issues in the game, such as the Empty Park Game and why it was a bad idea. Those are the issues that'll keep a negative light on some aspects of the MLB.




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