David Elfin On Sports: Boring Season Is The Last Thing MLB Needs
We’re about a third of the way through the major league season and forgive me for fighting to stay awake. I’m hard-pressed to remember a baseball season that has been so dull and that’s not just because I live in the Washington area, home of the Nationalzzz and within less than an hour’s drive from the Baltimore Oriolezzz.
With baseball having lost its grip on almost everyone under 40, a boring season is the worst thing that could happen to our former national pastime short of a labor stoppage.
Only the surprising Cleveland Indians, who have begun to cool off, and the loaded Philadelphia Phillies have been very good and each is only loss from slipping to .600. Only the surprisingly bad Minnesota Twins have been truly awful, with a .327 winning percentage.
No player is threatening to finally end the immortal Ted Williams’ 70-year legacy as the last man to hit .400. Only Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is on pace to hit even 50 home runs, let alone approach Roger Maris/Babe Ruth territory (ignoring the Barry Bonds/Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa steroids-laden triumvirate).
Only Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox and Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds are headed for as many as 130 RBI.
The Phillies’ Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez are the only pitchers on pace for 250 strikeouts and none are in line for 300.
Josh Beckett of the Red Sox, Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves and Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins are the only starters with ERAs under 2.00. Kevin Correia (who?) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is the only one headed to more than 21 victories.
No managers have been fired. There haven’t been any new scandals – unless Jorge Posada being demoted in New York by Yankees manager Joe Girardi at 39 is your idea of a controversy with huge national impact. Nor have any wonderful new stadiums opened.
Rookie pitchers Michael Pineda of the Mariners, Zach Britton of the Orioles and Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays are all off to fine starts, but there’s none of the sizzle that accompanied the unforgettable debuts of Vida Blue, Mark Fidrych, Fernando Valenzuela or Dwight Gooden.
The National League’s top newcomer might well be Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney, who with a lone homer, isn’t going to make anyone forget the rookie years of Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Mike Piazza or Fred Lynn
Of course, with two thirds of the season still to play, plenty can happen, but it’s already June, people. The All-Star Game is a little over a month away and the playoffs and World Seriezzz and those yawn-inducing late night starts are on tap in just three months. Someone wake me up before the season’s over, please.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the former President of the Pro Football Writers of America. A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.