The Washington Nationals gave their fans some hope by winning the first two games of the World Series before deciding to lose three straight to the Astros, and as things currently stand, it’s looking like Houston is on track to win the championship for the second time in three years.
The idea of the Astros—who led the majors in wins this year—going out quietly via a sweep just didn’t seem possible even when the Nats went up two games to Houston’s none. As a result, it feels kind of right that Houston is up 3-2, with the potential series-ending game coming in hot on Tuesday night.
As a Red Sox fan, I’m rooting for the Nationals. I made that decision before the ugly business surrounding the Astros came to light this week but the actions of their (now former) assistant GM definitely made the choice easier.
I also love an underdog, and as a Red Sox fan, I am naturally sympathetic to any fanbase that hasn’t seen their team win a championship.
I like baseball a lot. Not as much as I used to, sure, but I still like to think it’s sitting at the top of my power rankings when it comes to sports.
If you’re curious, It goes: baseball, football, NBA playoff basketball, World Cup soccer, March Madness college basketball, good college football games, Premier League soccer, and the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After that, it becomes a mish-mash of regular-season basketball and hockey, shitty college football games, Olympic swimming, and Guy’s Grocery Games.
However, baseball—like almost anything I love—is not without its faults and complaining about those faults to anyone who will listen is just part of the deal.
Here are five of those faults that someone needs to fix.
Beef One: This Nonsense With the DH
Major League Baseball incorporated the DH back in 1973 when the American League voted to first give the idea a trial run for three years. After the trial run, it became part of the game.
Well, in the American League at least.
The National League waited until 1980 to vote on whether or not they should get in on the DH action and had some incentive to do so because the AL had seen a significant jump in attendance since introducing it.
However, when it came time for the NL to vote, the Phillies ended up abstaining because their GM was waiting on their owner, who was on a fishing trip and unreachable. The Pirates followed suit because their GM had been told to do whatever the Phillies did.
With the two Pennsylvania teams (as well as the Astros) sitting out the vote, the push to add the DH in the National League failed to pass. It has not been voted on since.
That then leaves two leagues in the same sport essentially playing by two different rules.
Now, during the regular season, this doesn’t matter all that much but it sure as hell does during the World Series, and to be honest, it’s effin’ madness.
If the game is a home game for the National League team, there’s no DH, but there is if the game is at the American League park. This translates to a major disadvantage for the AL team, because unlike the NL, they are forced to comprise their style of the play for half of the series while the NL team actually benefits from playing under AL rules.
Astros DH Yordan Alvarez is a solid player, having hit .313 this year with 27 home runs. However, in the first two games in D.C., he was forced to sit on the bench because the Astros couldn’t use him until late in both contests when he came in as a pinch hitter.
Houston finally got him into the starting lineup for Game 5, where he promptly went 3-3 with a homer and two R.B.I.s.
The Nats were fine (eh, kind of, but not really) as they roll without the DH all year but the Astros were forced to adjust to life without it.
Of course, with American League teams winning three of the last five World Series, it’s not as if the lack of a DH is that much of a factor, but still, it’s a joke.
Both leagues should play by the same set of rules. I don’t care if they both use the DH or neither does but they should pick and make it the law of the land for both leagues.
Beef Two: We’re Not Doing Different Uniforms Anymore, Nats?
I thought we had long decided that the home team wears white and the away team wears gray. If they don’t wear gray, an alternate away jersey in one of the team’s colors is acceptable.
I don’t care what other sports do with their uniforms; this is how it is with baseball—or it used to be, I guess.
During the first two games in Houston, the Nats wore dark blue jerseys. Perfectly acceptable. For the most part, they looked good (please stand by for further clarification).
However, the next three games were in Washington D.C., which means the Nationals were the home team. They should be wearing white, per the policy. Yet here comes the home team wearing the same dark blue jerseys they wore in Houston.
That’s right. They wore the same jerseys for ALL FIVE GAMES.
Damn it, guys. Did you not get the memo? Did someone forget to wash the white jerseys? Are the Nationals experiencing some sort of budget crisis that I don’t know about and one of the victims of that crisis is multiple uniforms? If so, I’m sorry. Budget cuts are the worst.
But dudes, this is the World Series. Get your act together, Nats.
Beef Three: Away Jerseys Should Say Where the Team Is From
I had the pleasure of living in the great city of Philadelphia for a few years, and as luck would have it, those few years included the Phillies’ great run at the end of the last decade. Life really is all about timing.
Those Phillies teams—led by Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard—were impossible not to love. They played hard, were in every game, and their stadium was an easy train ride away. It was a win-win for everyone.
There was, however, one thing that constantly bothered me about the Phillies and that was their away uniforms. They had the same Phillies’ logo on them that the home uniforms had.
It was bush league then and it’s still bush league now. Despite my tweets, they’ve continued to use the same away uniforms, which is disappointing for multiple reasons.
A team’s away uniform should say the city where they’re from. When they are away from home they are representing their hometown. When not home, they should be letting everyone out there know where they are from.
Not the Phillies, though—and apparently not the Nationals either based on what I saw in the first two games of the World Series. As my father-in-law is prone to saying: big E on the scoreboard there.
What makes this even worse is that thanks to some quick research, I learned that the Nats’ traditional away jersey does say Washington on it. That’s better than the Phillies.
But still, on the game’s biggest stage, if they’re playing on the road, they owe it to their fanbase to rep that town at least once.
I’m really starting to think the Nationals are in the middle of a financial crisis (or they don’t have someone doing the laundry).
Beef Four: Let’s Just Get Rid of the Strike Zone Box
I appreciate Fox letting me know what the ideal strike zone is, but seeing as how they didn’t let the umpires know that (and, as a result, every umpire has a different one), what the hell is the point?
Makes me mad? Definitely.
I’d rather just let the umpire do his thing (or not do his thing and we just let robots do it). I don’t need instant confirmation that he missed a call. I’ve watched enough baseball. I know what a strike is. If the umpire misses a call, I’m pretty sure it happened.
But if you straight up confirm it, you’re just upsetting me and watching playoff baseball is already a vicious gauntlet of emotions. I don’t need any more, thank you very much.
Maybe ditch them and then funnel whatever money you’re saving on graphics over to the Nats. Apparently, they need it.
Beef Five: There’s Not Enough Hitters Hitting Without Batting Gloves
We currently live in an age of endless technological advances. Even baseball, a sport overly enamored with its own history and timelessness, isn’t immune to the creeping tide of new gear, new stats, and new tricks and tools.
Now, I don’t know when batting gloves were invented, but as with most things, I’m sure that companies who make batting gloves have made impressive strides over the last few years when it comes to perfecting them. If you’re a pro ballplayer, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of the resources available to you?
However, I can’t help but praise those players who choose to play without them.
We need more guys like Hunter Pence; certified weirdos who still choose to hit barehanded (as God intended). There is something that just looks cooler when a guy is up and gripping the bat with his bare hands and no batting gloves in sight.
Through five games, I can’t recall a single player kicking it old school and hitting without batting gloves. The Astros used to have one of these relics of a time long gone in Evan Gattis but he doesn’t seem to be on the roster anymore.
Baseball is a sport that’s older than dirt and prides itself on that lengthy tenure. Visually, nothing captures the vintage look of the sport than a dude hitting without batting gloves. I really feel like the commissioner should do something about this.
He should also address the Nats’ budget issues.
It’s becoming a problem.