The dumbing down of Opening Day is another facet of Rob Manfred’s MLB madness

The kids in our neighborhood would envy the kids in Cincinnati this time of year. Not a fool.

There was a wonderful tradition back then, before MLB put a price tag on everything and marked out its soul for sale to television, then to pay-more cable, and now to everything it can get via streaming – even if it’s always the fans More money costs and costs MLB more and more fans.

With the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the oldest team in the majors, founded in 1869, the Reds were granted the MLB’s opening game every year to preserve their historic honor. No one else was even planned.

And Cincy responded with heart and soul. Schools were closed so children could attend the parade, where the Reds rode in open-top convertibles and could wave to the crowd as they were slowly driven to Crosley Field.

It was straight out of a print by Norman Rockwell, and all the baseball-crazy kids at PS 35 wished they’d been sent to Cincy for the day.

Rob Manfred pictured during a press conference in February 2024 in Tampa. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Of course, this was before team marketing departments were invented, as there was no need to get kids interested in what they were already crazy about.

These Opening Day Reds’ games were typically played the second week of April, a logical time of year for fans to attend baseball games and start baseball. Playing games at night on weekends was out of the question because it defied all logic. There was little TV money to play dumb.

One wonders if Rob Manfred knows about this Opening Day tradition – or has simply allowed it to be destroyed for television money, like Bud “Bottom Line” Selig before him.

The Dodgers and Padres opened the 2024 MLB season in Seoul, South Korea. AP

Now, Opening Day belongs to ESPN for no other reason than money, as ESPN tirelessly proves that it is ruining everything it touches with its silly excesses, cross-promotion, self-promotion, and divided attention in the game.

So this year’s Opening Day became a Dodgers-Padres game that took place last week, on March 20, in Seoul, South Korea. A game designed to make way more money than makes sense.

First pitch for the opening game between West Coast teams was 6:05 a.m. ET, 3:05 a.m. in LA and San Diego. As Lt. Kojak asked, “Who loves you, baby?”

Norman Rockwell is throwing parlays for one of the MLB’s partner sportsbooks.

NCAA Cinderella story? Quality announcement team

NCAA Tournament Notebook:

Again, I endorse the work of CBS analyst Steve Lappas.

As Lappas watched the Oregon-South Carolina game on TNT on Thursday, he saw and spoke everything so clearly, from head to toe. So we were shown and told that the players didn’t move their feet in defense and didn’t make clever passes in the other direction. He continues to make you stop, look, listen and learn. He’s Ed, like in the sequel.

He and play-by-play man Andrew Catalon also spoke as if we could see what couldn’t be missed. They even let a successful 3-pointer do the talking instead of trying to top it with obviously forced Kevin Harlan/Gus Johnson screaming.

The most unintentional comedy came when the studio meeting of Ernie Johnson, Clark Kellogg, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith tried to provide insight into Duquesne’s next game after the loss to BYU.

It was clear they knew nothing about Duquesne’s basketball team, and that was obvious since few in the audience knew anything about the Pittsburgh school’s team. We would have praised their honesty if they had simply said, “We’re in the dark.” Smith came closest to being honest when he said, “We don’t even know who they’re going to play next.” Instead, they beat them Time was dead and filled the room with a bunch of banal palavers.

Duquesne’s surprising win against BYU stunned studio analysts who had to talk about the program. Getty Images

The first-round contenders belonged to the all-knowing, colossally wrong Mike Francesa — who recommended McNeese, a 6¹/₂-point dog, against Gonzaga. McNeese lost by 21. He also said Kentucky, a 14-point favorite, would crush 14th-seeded Oakland (Mich.). Kentucky lost by four.

Recalls Fransayso’s claim that Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater will be the “sleeper” in the 2003 NFL Draft, “a steal.” Bridgewater stayed in Louisville because he wasn’t even eligible for the 2013 draft.

And after the trash settles in LA, we’ll probably learn that Shohei Ohtani’s now-fired interpreter, a reported $4.5 million gambling loser, was a subscriber to Francesa’s sportsbook-sponsored podcast ads.

Bill Bradley on basketball’s increasing financial dependence on gambling:

“I don’t think players should be turned into roulette chips,” he told NBA Substack reporter Marc Stein. “It’s a scandal waiting to happen. Gambling will always exist on the fringes, but legitimizing it as a central part of sport goes against the game’s values.”

Still no word from Temple University’s acclaimed investigation into four highly suspicious basketball betting line moves and outcomes this season.

Bill Bradley warned that NBA players should be “turned into roulette chips.” Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Politics & Sports, continued: False alarm New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman recently defended the appearance of the hateful, proud and loud Jew-defamer, historian and mainstream fringe lunatic Louis Farrakhan as an honored image in a mural.

I wonder how Bowman can reconcile Farrakhan’s applause during the Mike Tyson rape case, when he declared to a room full of black male Muslims, “When a sister says no, she really means yes!”

For crying out loud, Farrakhan essentially supports the right for black men to have non-consistent sex – to rape black women! Do Bowman and Farrakhan’s many female supporters agree with this?

But it’s getting crazier by the minute.

Seasonal event to forget

For example, let us know when next season’s NBA schedule will be released so we can prepare for the second NBA tournament of the season – a repeat of the instantly forgotten, meaningless and desperate inaugural event last December.

Last week’s Warriors-Lakers game experienced a persistent shot clock failure, resulting in a lengthy delay. Things like this happen. But that gave LeBron James, the 39-year-old spoiled brat, the opportunity to flex his balls-to-the-wall petulance like he had something better to do. Perhaps he would have been more understanding if he had been told that the watch, along with his Nikes, was made in communist China.

Chris Simon, who delivered bare-fisted blows to the head for seven NHL teams including the Rangers and Islanders, committed suicide last week at age 52. His family believes he suffered from workplace brain injury (CTE). I suspect that given his reaction to the CTE revelations so far, Gary Bettman believes that Simon died of media hysteria.

LSU basketball star and glamor girl Angel Reese says she has broken up with her boyfriend, Florida State basketball player Cam’Ron Mitchell. She made this very clear when she wrote on Instagram: “I don’t have a husband. Don’t tie me to anyone. That’s all I can say.” State-funded LSU lists Ms. Reese as a communications major. Seriously.

Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff claims he has received death threats and threats against his family and home from players. Ugly, but not unexpected. But hey, as long as the threats come from those who bet at NBA-affiliated sportsbooks, all is well.

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