Skip navigation

Category Archives: Baseball

#12…Wells Street Merchants vs. some team from another park @ Hamilton Park, Fort Wayne, IN
1st round of Little League City Playoffs…12 years old.

This is the part of my Top 15 where it might start sounding extremely obscure. Please remember, this is MY list and as long as I witnessed it or was a part of it, it qualifies!

This was my first season playing actual Little League Baseball. I know, I was a couple years late to the party. I was playing other lesser leagues like Wildcat baseball.

I had the privilege to play for a local icon of youth sports, namely at Hamilton Park, Bob Beber. He gave me the opportunity to play the position where I could flex my athletic ability, shortstop. I didn’t play there exclusively, as first base became my 2nd position, but I feel like I made a great mark at short.

The season wasn’t a great season as we were a sub .500 team who struggled offensively. But as the first round of the City Tournament came around, we knew everyone was on the same level. Though we didn’t need it, I played the offensive game of my life.

I don’t recall who our opponent was, or where they were from, but we beat them easily. In fact, we dominated every facet of the game.

I’ve never been the greatest hitter in the world, but my speed was used quite a bit and I’d frequently bunt for a hit. I was the lead-off hitter most of the year and that’s exactly what I did on pitch number 1 of the game.

I don’t recall a whole lot of specific details of this game, but in my second at bat, I drove one down the left field line for a double.

Now in my third at bat, the outfield had noticeably shifted to the left. I admit I didn’t do it on purpose but i sent one high down the right field line where no one was near the ball. I remember hearing Coach Beber say to “come on Jason, come on, come on”, yelling from the third base coaches box. I took an extremely wide turn around second and managed to beat the throw to third by a split second.

I know we won this game easily and in Little League there is a 10 run rule, so we must not have hit that yet, but I actually got a 4th at bat. I’d be lying if said I wasn’t trying to hit the ball to the moon. I remember getting a perfect fastball on the outside part of the plate and putting a huge swing into it. At the time, I don’t think I’d ever hit a ball harder. It was a high line drive to right field heading right for the pole. As I’m sprinting to first, I’m thinking for a quick second “cycle, cycle, cycle”. It hits the “186” sign that is essentially as high on the fence as can be, and caroms oddly into foul territory. Needless to say, it was the most disappointing triple I’ve ever had.

When I got to third base, Coach Beber looks at me and said, “you thought you got it all didn’t you?”. I told him, I thought I did.

That was as close to a home run I’ve ever come playing organized baseball. Thankfully I usually made up for my lack of power with my speed, and playing the field.

I’d also like to know if anyone in Hamilton Park history had ever hit for the cycle, let alone a natural cycle.

Less than 6 inches from hitting for a natural cycle is #12 on my Top 15 Sports Moments.

Despite the ongoing steroid controversy and allegations throughout Major League Baseball, the sport’s popularity is still very high. In fact, attendance numbers continue to prove that. I believe the product can still be improved tremendously through some careful realignment and by eliminating the two leagues combining them into one.

The problem I have with baseball is that it might be TOO traditional. Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditions that are associated with the sport. I’m a huge Cubs fan and I completely respect the fact that everything at Wrigley Field is about 60 years behind the rest of the world in technology. How are we still at a point where one professional sport is broken into different leagues that utilize the same contracts, tv revenue, and still play against each other, yet at the same time use a different set of rules? There are uneven divisions, there are teams separated by less than 20 miles not playing each other but 6 times a year, and we have a system where an exhibition game decides home field advantage in the World series. Any of this sound completely ridiculous?

It’s time for a change and lets be honest, it’s not drastic at all. I’m just trying to form some continuity. Here’s what I propose:

1) ELIMINATE THE A.L. AND N.L. TO FORM ONE LEAGUE:

Every other major sport has one league but are broken down more or less into conferences. This needs to happen to Major League Baseball. A simple Eastern/Western Conference divide will suffice. Not only will this allow teams within proximity to compete against each other more frequently, it eliminates the absolutely unfair divisions of the old system (see AL West and NL Central).

My breakdown would be as follows…

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

NORTHEAST DIVISION:
– Boston Red Sox
– New York Mets
– New York Yankees
– Philadelphia Phillies
– Toronto Blue Jays
CENTRAL DIVISION:
– Chicago Cubs
– Chicago White Sox
– Cincinnati Reds
– Cleveland Indians
– Pittsburgh Pirates
SOUTHEAST DIVISION:
– Atlanta Braves
– Baltimore Orioles
– Florida Marlins
– Tampa Bay Rays
– Washington Nationals

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

MIDWEST DIVISION:
– Detroit Tigers
– Kansas City Royals
– Milwaukee Brewers
– Minnesota Twins
– St. Louis Cardinals
WESTERN DIVISION:
– Los Angeles Angels
– Los Angeles Dodgers
– Oakland Athletics
– San Francisco Giants
– Seattle Mariners
SOUTHWEST DIVISION:
– Arizona Diamondbacks
– Colorado Rockies
– Houston Astros
– San Diego Padres
– Texas Rangers

Yes, I know there may be a couple questionable decisions here, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Just ask the San Francisco 49ers how fair it was to play in the East before the NFL’s realignment. This format will keep top rivalries in-tact which as you can tell from interleague play, boost revenue.

2) ONE SET OF RULES:

Under the new MLB realignment, there will be only ONE set of rules. I would prefer the DH rule be eliminated because having 9 position players hit is natural and requires more strategy. However I understand that a good portion of other leagues use the DH and I would have no problem with that.

Believe it or not, there are other things that are quite miniscule that differ between the AL and NL. One thing in particular is the curfew rule in the American League that says an inning can’t start after a particular time of the night.

3) SCHEDULING:

There will be more balance in the schedule under realignment. I would propose a 156 game schedule and recommend that every team plays every team in the league at least one 3 game series. This means at a minimum you would play the opposite conference 45 times. The remaining 111 games would take place within your own conference with a greater percentage against your own division.

4) PLAYOFF FORMAT:

This remains relatively unchanged, but the 156 game schedule would allow the playoffs to begin week earlier to try and end the season before bitter cold ensues in some cities.

The division winners in each conference would receive a playoff spot and one wild card from each conference would also be awarded a spot. Division winners will be seeded 1-3 with the wild card being seeded 4th. #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3 in a best of 7 wild card round regardless of what division the wild card comes from. Note the change to a best of 7 as opposed to a best of 5.

The winners play in the CCS (Conference Championship Series) best of 7 and the winners will play in the World Series. For every single round, the better seed will have home field advantage, including the World Series, something that we can’t seem to grasp in the current format.

Of course this doesn’t even acknowledge plans I have for a strict salary cap to baseball, but that’s for an entirely different post.