One of the things often celebrated about the game of baseball is the length of the season. It is truly the only game where the phrase, 'get 'em tomorrow,' can be taken literally. The sport always provides something to do during the summer time because there is almost literally a game every night.
It is a marathon.
As beautiful as it can be, the length of a baseball season can also be torturous. Every game matters, but only a little bit.
There's a reason why not many people run marathons. They are grueling. The length will drain everything you have. The same thing rings true for a baseball season. Games in May do no decide anything. At least not at the Major League level.
In the minors, it is a much different story. The season is broken up into a pair of 70-game halves. Hardly a sprint, but not quite as taxing as the 162-game procession in the Bigs.
Consequently, the Wilmington Blue Rocks have just 27 contests left in their push for a first-half Carolina League Northern Division championship.
The Rocks have been up-and-down all season, but they have the deepest rotation in the CL. Their offense has been injury-riddled, with four outfielders currently on the disabled list, but it was productive enough to take two-of-three from the best team in the league this weekend.
Now off of their success against Myrtle Beach, the Blue Crew welcome the team they are chasing in the CL North standings to Frawley Stadium for a critical three-game set starting tonight.
Vance Wilson's team must find a way to take at least a pair from the Hillcats. A three-game deficit with 24 games left to play is a race, but if the Rocks lose the series and fall five or more back with that many contests remaining, it's over.
So this week is a virtual do-or-die spot for the Rocks. You don't get many of those in baseball during the month of May, but that is what sits before the Blue Crew at Frawley Stadium this week. Marathons are rewarding, but the final stretch is where the fun lives.
As much as people like to destroy Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, you have to give the man credit. It may move at glacial speed sometimes, but Major League Baseball has become a progressive entity. They are the pro sports league with the most stringent drug testing in North America. They are also now the league that enjoys as much parity as anyone. Revenue sharing is a big part of the reason for that and is another example of something Selig pushed for and got accomplished during his time in command.
With his early-1980's wardrobe, his oversized glasses and his awkward conversational style, Selig is an easy target for ridicule. His early years in charge, when the sport cancelled the World Series due to strike and let the steroids bubble grow and then pop, fostered the notion that Selig was in over his head. Ask 100 sports fans whether Selig's tenure as commissioner has been a success, and probably 80 to 85 would laugh at the question and say, 'absolutely not.'
But the data suggests otherwise.
No matter what metric you choose to measure by, the game is in better shape now than it was when Selig started. Attendance is up, popularity is sky-high and revenues are through the roof. Most importantly for any commissioner, there has been labor peace for almost two full decades. Each of the other three major sports leagues have endured an extended work stoppage during that stretch.
The lone complaint I had remaining about Selig's leadership was quelled on Thursday. His rigid stance against instant replay, which had slowly but surely softened over the last 10 years, was finally fully relinquished with the announcement of an expanded review system coming to the game in 2014.
The sport, which had started the ball rolling in this direction in 2008, will implement a new replay system beginning next season. All the details have yet to be finalized, but it appears that at least trap-or-catch and fair-or-foul decisions will be reviewable. The possibility remains that it will be an all-encompassing system from a central location at the league office like they have in the NHL. That will in large part be determined by the three-man subcommittee of Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and John Schuerholz. They will explore baseball options and provide recommendations at the August owners' meetings.
Make no mistake though. None of this would be happening without Selig's green light--which he gave because, honestly, he's a much better leader than anyone gives him credit for.