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Jun '11 14

Old World Pastime – Yaz, Roeland and the Duke: We’re Talkn Baseball



John Miller, a Belgian-American journalist, and a player/coach for the Brussels Kangaroos, is in his fourth year of writing Old World Pastime, a take on baseball as lived in 21th century Europe.

To the mailbox we go. This column does not enjoy a million readers. I am not Maureen Dowd. But it does garner a few hundred dedicated and loyal participants in our baseball conversations. And a story that goes a bit viral will get a few thousand views, I am told. That’s plenty for me, and I am grateful for your support.

You write in for good reasons. Early in the year, it was pointed out that Daisuke Yasui, a Japanese submariner who made his name in this country and column with a theatrical display of Asian big-timing, (http://www.mister-baseball.com/world-pastime-tale-wandering-submariner/) had signed a professional contract with the Pittsfield Colonials, an independent minor league team in Massachusetts.

As of this writing, he is on their “inactive” list. http://canam.bbstats.pointstreak.com/player.html?playerid=117128. I am heartened that, at a time of global communication, there is still mystery in the world. How is our friend Yaz doing in America? We all want to know.

The desire for fantasy and miracles is strong. Witness this email, received from a hopeful teenager Dutch pitcher after I published a fake news story about a 17-year-old Luxembourg pitching phenom named Luc Roeland, and his coach, Swiss physicist Van Marslias. (link)

“He will do a good job if he sticks with his moves and if he’s able to mix in different pitches,” my correspondent wrote. “I am a pitcher in the Dutch rookie league myself (16-year-old) and i was wondering if you have any idea how I could contact Mr. Marslias? Hopefully you are able help me.”

You laugh, but he was not alone. One scout based in Europe wrote to me: “You cannot imagine how many e-mails I got from the US (media included) asking about Luc Roeland. Seems like you got them. Well done!”

Of course, what this column is about is loving baseball, and all of you do that. You’re also experts. Here, quoted in full, is one reader’s add to my list of things to change about baseball:

1. Get a team back in Brooklyn.

2. Have the players leave their gloves on the field when they go to bat.

3. Beanie caps and baggie uniforms.

4. World Series games during the day.

5. Max capacity at any ballpark should be 40k.

6. More doubleheaders.

7. Wood bats everywhere you go (each team should follow the Twins example and plant 100 trees for every bat the opposition breaks.

8. Every team should have a ticket that costs under $5. and they should offer atleast 5000 of them each game on game day only.

9. Institute a salary cap of 25million dollars a year.

10. Increase minor league salaries: Rookie=23-26k. A ball=26-29, AA=29-34, AAA=34-40k. And limit signing bonus’ so players are deciding on things that matter.

11. Make it mandatory that every ballpark has an organ player.

12. Only meat that can be grilled is allowed to be sold at ballparks.

13. Limit the number of pitching changes to 3 per game. If a pitcher leaves due to injury you can replace him but he must then go on the 10 day disabled list (thus miss 2 starts).

14. Expand the league to include teams overseas.

15. Get rid of regional TV rights. Let teams grow their fan base as they wish.

16. I agree, shorten the season. Play the WBC in the fall every 4th year.

17. Instant replay upon request from the manager. If he is wrong, he loses a pitching change.

And then there is this on-key appeal to reason in the question of performance-enhancing drugs. “Very few people have looked at this problem from the perspective of the player and easily criticize them after the fact for having taken PEDs,” he writes. “I would have done it if I thought it would have helped to get to the elite level. There were no rules (yes it was illegal but so was drinking under 21, marijuana, speeding, and running stop signs) against it and the culture was ripe. Why hasn’t anyone attempted to look at it from their perspective and help us understand why so many could be lured into this. What have we done that allows this to happen?”

Keep writing. Talking about baseball is fun.

I want to know how Yaz is doing. You can reach me at oldworldpastime@gmail.com.




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