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    MLB: Our National Pastime or National Embarrassment?

    By Amber Lee
    USA? USA? USA?
    USA? USA? USA?

    Major League Baseball is often referred to as America’s National Pastime, but these days the emphasis seems to be on the past. Probably because to your casual baseball fan, nothing about the game makes sense anymore.

    If the game is, in fact, our National Pastime, wouldn’t MLB have a vested interest in how it’s portrayed on a global stage? Apparently not. Considering the U.S. sent their B-team to the World Baseball Classic, which is graded on generous curve.

    One would think that the United States, with a population of over 300 million, could defeat Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory with a population under 4 million, without much of a problem. Even with their D-team. But one would be wrong.

    Wait. Don't we own Puerto Rico?
    Wait. Don’t we own Puerto Rico?

    Puerto Rico lost to the Dominican Republic in the finals, who also beat us at our own game. Japan, the Netherlands, and Cuba all finished ahead of the U.S. in the tournament—placing us just above Italy and Chinese Taipei. Yeah. That happened.

    And it happened in 2013, in case you weren’t aware.

    Second baseman Brandon Phillips said of the loss, “It sucks a little bit.” That’s exactly the mentality of the entire MLB. Sure it sucks a little bit that we’re a national laughing stock, but other than that, we’re doing okay for the most part.

    It wasn’t two months later that baseball’s ridiculousness and inadequacy was on full display for the world to see. Unlike every other professional sport in America that has embraced the glory of instant replay, MLB has remained steadfastly resistant to modernizing the game.

    It’s been implemented on a limited basis, but since they can’t even get that right, is it any wonder traditionalists are not in favor of expanding it? Why bother with something that destined to fail? Instant replay only works when officials are willing to admit their mistakes.

    Recently we learned that some baseball umpire’s are far more concerned with being right the first time than getting it right upon a second look. Just over a week into the 2013 season umpire Marty Foster blew a call against the Rays, giving Rangers pitcher Ben Zobrist his 300th career win.

    More yelling. Yay!
    More yelling. Yay!

    Less than a month later umpire Angel Hernandez inaccurately ruled a game-tying home run by the A’s a double during a game against the Indians—twice. The very next day an umpire allowed the Astros manager to switch relief pitchers mid-inning.

    A reasonable conversation, no doubt.
    A reasonable conversation, no doubt.

    MLB issues a hilariously frank statement on the mistake: “The rule covering pitching changes was no applied currently by the umpiring crew.” Gee thanks! Phew. At least that was cleared up. At least someone is willing to admit a mistake.

    The fact of the matter is that baseball has become a joke.

    The ridiculous book of unwritten rules among players. The comical displays of “uncontrollable” rage. The fact that the Angels and Yankees keep on spending and spending…and losing and losing. It’s become pathetic and embarrassing.

    And the aversion and inability to even properly implement instant replay? That’s the biggest joke of all. Maybe baseball has averted a work stoppage for X amount of years, but that’s essentially their biggest accomplishment in a decade.

    So congrats Bud Selig. You’ve managed to avoid a work stoppage in the one sport that could really use one to think things over.