Happy New Year
“You bastards have no idea what you’re doing to the game of baseball. So take a step back… and lets fix it” – Me
As 2020 is mercifully winding down, I thought it would be a good time to thank all of you who have helped BallNine go from a name on a business card with no concept to – well – whatever the hell we are now.
By the numbers, we’re the fastest growing baseball site on the interwebs, so for that I can’t thank you enough. Love us or hate us, you guys have helped more than you will ever know.
And as the saying goes: if you love us, tell a friend… if you hate us, tell an enemy.
It’s been a year of MLB rule changes, an uninformed shortened season, Evil Commisioner Rob Manfred hanging the MiLB out to dry, and let’s not forget to mention the fact that fans have been forced out of attending games since Spring Training. Hell, the last game I went to was the Yankees Spring Training home opener in Tampa and all I could talk about was how Rosell Hererra was going to be a difference maker this past season.
So that should tell you something.
We did have some wonderful moments this season such as the Dodgers giving their fans a championship for the first time since 1988; we had new stars such as Fernando Tatis Jr, Juan Soto, Kyle Lewis and Devin Williams give us hope for the future, and we all came together realizing that owners crying poverty is a crock of steaming you-know-what – the word that gets you tossed every time and rhymes with Course Flit.
Since it’s a time for resolutions, I asked around about what people’s baseball New Year’s resolutions were. I couldn’t figure mine out, as my resolutions are usually something stupid like “eat more cake” or “learn to speak Swahili”. When it comes to baseball, I’ve only fulfilled one resolution and that was learning to throw a circle change. Needless to say, that immediately backfired when I decided to throw one to a buddy while playing catch, he misjudged it and it wound up hitting him smack in the face, breaking his nose.
Nothing like taking in a game at Oracle.... but I kinda wish he told me the seats would be better.
Yeah, I probably should have told him that it was coming, but I wanted to see if it worked. It did, and luckily he had insurance.
Kevin Kernan had a resolution of “Support independent restaurants, mom and pop stores of any kind, minor league baseball and continue to bring fans stories from the heart on what makes baseball America’s Game. Less Alexa, more people.”
Nice and admirable.
Rocco Constantino’s was “Attend a New York Mets playoff game in person, preferably the World Series. Make another trip to Cooperstown. Continue my tour of visiting grave sites of baseball legends.”
That one made me feel bad for not visiting grave sites and the fact I still don’t care about the Mets.
So what is my baseball New Year’s Resolution?
Well, let’s break it down.
You're welcome, Dodger fans.
Vitali’s New Year’s Baseball Resolutions
Article I: I will do everything in my power to give a voice to retired players, from the great to the not-so-great, but all with stories to tell. In my experience there really isn’t anything funnier and more honest than retired players telling stories about their experiences on and off the diamond, and to get those to the fans is an absolute joy in my life. Hey, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.
Article II: To try and make fans understand I’m not anti-analytics, and that I do believe there should be a healthy mix of old and new school philosophies in order to make the game we all love grow – instead of die a slow, agonizing death – which I do believe we are witnessing with Manfred at the helm of a sinking ship. There is enough “divide and conquer” mentality in the world right now, the last place we need to see it is in baseball. Instead of shitting all over everyone else’s ideas, maybe we should all learn to listen to what people are saying and get the game back to the kingly prominence it once boasted.
I mean, I’m never going to budge on my stance that contact, Batting Average, speed and defense make the game more enjoyable for all. I won’t. I stand by my belief that the game is not gaining fans not because players “aren’t allowed to wear fancy spikes”, but that the game is a watered down version of itself. The three true outcomes may be fine for a very specific group of fans, but when you alienate the old die-hards and kids, that’s a recipe for failure. Unsustainable is the understatement of the year.
Does this mean I don’t want to know how the advanced stats can help the game instead of hinder it? No. But we need to figure out this balance and we had better do it quickly, before lacrosse becomes a bigger youth sport than baseball. And that’s not some crazy concept, that’s exactly what’s on the horizon.
To paraphrase the immortal Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, “Baseball needs an enema”.
Article III: Eat more cake. Duh.
IIIa: Have Morganna the Kissing Bandit jump out of a cake at the BallNine one year anniversary BBQ. (Looking at you, Kernan, to set this up)
I grew up in NJ. And I always heard of this DeRosa guy.
Article IV: I want to sit in the stands again. Majors, Minors, where the hell ever. I want that weird sunburn that comes from sitting upstairs at Oracle in June. I want to overpay for a hot dog somewhere. I just want to smell the grass, the popcorn, the old beer… I want to smell the love.
Not to be confused with Spinal Tap’s classic “Smell The Glove”, but let’s be honest… smelling your glove after you oil it is one of the great moments in life. Just did it with my trusty Mizuno. I digress.
Article V: Work on my knuckler because it’ll only make eyes tear and not break noses if it flutters into someone’s grill. And maybe to buy a catcher’s mask for my friends.
So that’s it. Those are my New Year’s Baseball Resolutions.
Really not as crazy as thinking I’m going to eat healthier or work on my abs or anything like that.
So let’s throw 2020 out of the game with the fervor of Joe West needing to be the center of attention and tossing guys for blowing their noses in the dugout.
2021 is upon us.
So Happy New Year, all.
And may the old saying be damned, hindsight is CERTAINLY not 2020.