Let’s face it: this weekend of baseball will be boring. Sure, the Mariners and A’s are “technically” in a “wild card” “race” (quotation marks are for emphasis, right? Good, I thought so). But who cares about a couple of boring teams from the West Coast with weird names? I mean, seriously, Mariners? Is this 1857? And the Athletics? Really? Anyone who thinks Adam Dunn qualifies as athletic has never watched any other sport, ever.
The point is, the Giants clinched yesterday, it’ll take an act of God for the Royals to miss the playoffs, and Derek Jeter capped off his stay in New York by fulfilling every Yankee fan’s lifelong dream of seeing Jose Pirela score a game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. So what’s left for the rest of this regular season? Not much. Awful, meaningless series between pitiful teams like the Mets and the Astros, a bunch of September call-ups looking like deer in the headlights at the plate, and debutante pitchers who walk five batters in a row and say, “Eh, I’m just happy to be here.”
Fortunately, thanks to quick thinking and questionable use of executive power by future former Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig, it doesn’t have to be that way this year. The final weekend of regular-season baseball will feature a series of special rules and incentives designed to keep the game fresh, even in its lowest-stakes period.
Bunts! No swingers allowed! This weekend’s series between the Tigers and the Twins will be bunts only. Miguel Cabrera will sit out the series to maintain his .300 average.
Shorts! If you’ve ever been to Texas, you know that it’s in the South, where the sun can get quite roasty-toasty. That’s why the A’s and Rangers will wear shorts all weekend. Don’t worry; they’ll still wear their usual jerseys, tucked in and everything, so they’ll bear a resemblance to your middle-school gym teacher.
Metal! Have you ever watched college baseball and said, “Man, I wish the majors were like this!” No? Well too bad. The Cubs and Brewers will play with aluminum bats throughout the weekend. That’s right, Anthony Rizzo could get the ten home runs he needs to become the league leader! The commissioner was initially worried about the safety implications of such a move, but then he was reminded that Jose Offerman has been out of the league for several years.
Oldies! You know what’s more fun than watching players on out-of-contention teams play? Watching retired players’ protrusive bellies jiggle as they round second. That’s why the Astros and Mets will take part in a series of old-timers games. Will Mo Vaughn be able to complete his home-run trot without cramping? Maybe! Will Craig Biggio still be better than the vast majority of active second basemen? Almost undoubtedly! Will Mike Piazza airmail balls into the outfield and make us nostalgic for his 10-10-220 commercials? Yes, at least one of those things will happen!
Stuff! Bud Selig must be a fan of the Freakonomics series, because he understands that people respond to incentives. The Nationals have clinched the NL East, and the Marlins are out of it, but both teams will have something to play for this weekend. The team that wins this series will receive VHS copies of Muppet Treasure Island, AND, according to the commissioner, “that movie where Kevin Costner hits a golf ball a bunch of times.” Selig insists that these rewards were carefully chosen by the league’s competition committee, and are not at all related to the commissioner’s recent efforts to clean out his garage.