Cheap Seats

Enough, MLB, with the silly promotions — It’s the big leagues, not Little League

Pardon my crabby-old-man mode, but the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday night on a field with 2,500 or so seats is the dumbest idea Major League Baseball has hatched since it decided the winner of the All-Star Game got home field advantage in the World Series.

First, how ridiculous is in that two teams fighting with others for a playoff spot should have an additional travel day and tons of extra responsibilities thrust upon them?

While the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies were snug in their beds either at home or in a fancy hotel Saturday night, the Redbirds and Bucs were traveling from Pittsburgh to Williamsport, Pa. That’s a drive of 3 1/2 hours by bus.

When they did arrive, the Cardinals and Pirates didn’t get a lot of sleep because they had a full day of meeting and greeting young players as part of this publicity stunt to link major-leaguers with the Little League World Series.

After a full day of smiling and waving their caps followed by a full evening of playing the game they were there for, St. Louis and Pittsburgh players have to spend the rest of the evening hours into the early morning getting from a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania to their next destination. The Redbirds were expected back in St. Louis, barring any delays, at about 3 a.m. Monday.

Second, the uniforms the players were wearing were ridiculous and it was insulting to the average fan’s intelligence that MLB puts these things out for the sole purpose of trying to sell as another variation of the same thing. Alternate jerseys, throwback jerseys, holiday jerseys — enough already.

When I was a kid, I wanted a jersey that looked like what the major-leaguers got instead of one that looked like it was plucked off the rack at a resale shop. So now the big-leaguers are going to wear silly, loud uniforms that look like they came off the discount rack at Gymboree?

I’m sure glad this was a road game for the Cardinals. I’d be pretty steamed if I lost a game from my season-ticket package so the team I support could go play a game in a ballpark one-twentieth the size of its usual home, so small that it was almost impossible for casual fans to get in.

Major League Baseball is so concerned these days with the details it seems like it neglects its primary product. How can this happen? Either the owners and commissioner completely don’t understand their fans — or they are so self-absorbed that they don’t care about giving the people who support their sport what they want.

I don’t care a lick about these sideshow games, alternate uniforms, canned “occasions” and other similar distractions. I want to see the game as it was meant to be played, where it was meant to be played. Doesn’t the commissioner believe that people would want to watch the game if he and the owners didn’t try to entice fans with sparkly baubles?

If that’s what he thinks, he’s definitely the wrong person for the job.

Baseball is a game that’s been around nearly 200 years. Its popularity has bridged generation after generation of Americans because of its uniqueness and its consistency. So stop trying to make baseball more like the other sports with time clocks, instant replay, silly extra uniforms and stupid promotions.

Commissioner, you’re missing a great game.