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Friday, October 28, 2005

MLB Still Doesn't Get It

The World Series ended this week, and baseball managed to take another step toward alienating its fan. Forget the now annual “this was the least watched World Series in history” stories. Besides the fact that school-aged kids on the east coast either can’t watch or must go to school bleary-eyed, not to mention nine-to-fivers, Major League Baseball told the Houston Astros how to arrange their stadium.

No, I don’t give a damn whether or not Houston kept its retractable roof opened or closed. But, I’m pretty sure the Houston Astros and their fans did. And all fans should care that they had to leave it open.

It’s bad enough MLB has given away the idea of earning home field advantage in a weak attempt to make the All-Star Game matter to its players. Of course, before that they merely rotated it between the leagues, which made even less sense.

Now, MLB tells the home team what to do with their “home field” advantage. Houston wanted the roof closed to generate even more crowd noise. The two games in Houston ended in extra innings or by one run. Think maybe a little more crowd noise might have rattled a Sox pitcher? An umpire? Gotten Biggio or Clemens jacked-up enough to fight through their injuries just a little more?

I vaguely remember stories of the Boston Celtics turning off the hot water in the visitor’s locker room. Other teams have raised or lowered pitching mounds to favor the home pitcher. Still others cut their grass a little less or more depending on team speed — that of opponents or their own players.

Those days are gone forever. Sports are now 100% corporate America, with those in suits making the nitty-gritty decisions when the lights go on . . . and stepping on the grunts that carry them day in, day out. (Ok, that's a little bias slipping in, but you get the idea.)

Any of this stuff really matter? I doubt it. But there is something called gamesmanship, head games, and having a little fun. Making noise is the only real way fans can help their team, but baseball once again decided their fans aren’t all that important.

Not that we needed more evidence about that.

NFL Week 8 picks. My first undefeated week has me nearing the previously elusive .500. (I only count the Birds if I specifically say I'd actually take one side or the other; before you scoff, the Chargers were +4 when I picked the Birds to lose, and I'm not counting them last week. Of course, these picks are for purely entertainment purposes anyway, right?) Nothing is jumping out at me this week, but I’m taking the Redskins +2.5, Chiefs +6, and TCU –7. I claim even less knowledge of college than the pros, but TCU was +1 against Air Force and romped. I’m guessing they’re underrated.

Bird Watching. The “you can’t question Andy Reid” crap is getting old. Can anyone honestly say that had McNabb been operated on weeks ago, we’d be worse off? Well, someone would, but they’re nuts. Koy Detmer would have us right where we are now, and McNabb would be at least halfway to a healthy return.

Regardless, I’d stay far away from the Birds. But . . . they’re the home team so I gotta throw a prediction out there. I don’t really think Reid ever changes, and I’m not sure he can. I’m guessing he’ll run just enough to shut everybody up for a week, and the Eagles win.

Week in Review:
· The Sixers have had yet another injury-plagued preseason. Is it just me or does this happen every season?
· NBA Predictions: There’s so many games, preseason NBA predictions are even more worthless than those in the NFL. Nonetheless, I’m predicting the Sixers win 48 this year, and get to the conference finals. The Heat beat the Spurs in the Finals.
· Larry Bowa in a Yankees uniform? That’s just wrong.

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