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If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Break It: 10 Safer Baseball Celebrations

With my Philadelphia Phillies leading Major League Baseball in the number of players placed on the disabled list at some point in the year, I could fill some space with how they can ride out injuries and make yet another late-season playoff run. But where’s the fun in that?

Instead of focusing on how to survive injuries, I decided to take a look at how to avoid them altogether during team celebrations.

In sports, we see a number of strange ways to revel in the moment. While in the NFL there used to be some fun and creativity involved, baseball has been historically fairly predictable.

Despite this, we’ve seen a rash of players injured this year during, of all things, celebrations of their individual achievements or those of their teammates.

In a 162-game season, it’s not abnormal to have a player miss extended time and multiple games. It is another thing entirely to have his teammates be the cause.

What follows is a breakdown of celebrations we see on an almost-daily basis in baseball highlights and their inherent danger—and a ton of one-liners mocking them.

Here are 10 ways to make baseball celebrations safer.

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MLB: Selig Is No One’s Bud

Bud Selig is reportedly “very comfortable” with his decision not to award Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga with a perfect game.

Glad we could get that out of the way, Bud.

Professional sports’ most aloof commissioner remains just that.  The other side of his aloofness (you know, aside from arrogance) is that he’s also utterly out of touch with fans.

You remember fans, Bud?  The ones who used to follow baseball before your lockout.  The ones who used to follow baseball before they found out all of their heroes were juicing. 

But, as with the use of performance enhancing drugs, Selig is going in entirely the wrong direction with regards to umpiring and the state of replay

Keep in mind it took an act of Congress, literally, to convince Selig to address PED use.

Now, in the midst of pitching’s recovery from the Steroids Era, we have an umpiring controversy.  And not just any controversy.  No, we’ve got a controversy in which, by Selig’s own admission, the pitcher, umpire, manager, team and fans handled it all in an extremely classy way.

The commissioner, sadly, did not follow suit.

Selig spoke at length in complimenting the way others handled Galarraga’s loss of a perfect game.  I’m certain that was very gracious of him.  Selig also stated his belief that “baseball people” are against the use of replay.

If he meant the same stodgy “baseball people” who wanted to sweep the Steroids Era under the rug or who wanted to keep African-Americans segregated from the majors for as long as possible, he would be right.

The rest of us checked our calendars and it was 2010. 

Selig’s reasoning for not updating the way games are called?  That’s right, people have been complaining about umpires since the 1950s.  He then extended that window to major league baseball’s beginnings in 1865. 

Based on that wonderful logic, I’d imagine the MLB office doen’t employ women.  I mean, why change for change’s sake?

For me, one of the dumbest things about Selig’s comments was that he acknowledged that people have been complaining about umpires for that length of time, but didn’t acknowledge, or even address, that the use of replay would result in a significant reduction in those complaints.

When initially responding to the Galarraga situation, Selig also cited that human error was part of the game.

As long as he is the commissioner, that would appear to be the case.

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Ranking Perfection: Top Five Perfect Game Pitchers of All-Time

In light of Roy Halladay’s recent perfect game, I decided it would be interesting to rank the top five pitchers of all time. The catch: they must have breathed in the rarified air of the perfect game.

So Nolan Ryan out…uh, Dallas Braden in?

There have only been 20 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball. This does limit my options for these rankings somewhat, but also should be an indication of how incredibly difficult it is to throw nine innings of perfection.

By definition, it is impossible to compare perfect items. Keep in mind that this is a ranking of the best pitchers of all time who pitched a perfect game, not a ranking of the best perfect games.

If I were attempting that, Braden’s “Stick It, A-Rod”” game may have made it. Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series would have easily topped the list.

Disclaimers: Credit goes to for the pitcher stats and for the list of perfect game pitchers and backstories.

All photos used on this slideshow that weren’t directly made available by Bleacher Report are not, to the best of my knowledge, subject to copyright restrictions.

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Five Best Philadelphia Phillies of 2010 (So Far)

Moving into interleague play, the Philadelphia Phillies are off to a hot start toward a third consecutive World Series appearance. Is it too soon to start rating the Phillies’ players’ performance? Perhaps, but I’d like to try anyway.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your early-season 2010 Philadalphia Phillies MVPs.

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Major League Baseball’s “Fundamental” Flaws

A lot of hot air has been expelled recently with regards to MLB players’ behavior. 

Hanley Ramirez was benched for an impressive combination of clumsiness and laziness in fielding a hit. 

Milton Bradley, in addition to his very successful board game franchise, continues to have very public, shall we say, issues. 

Ken Griffey, Jr. allegedly fell asleep in the clubhouse. 

Lastings Milledge was tagged out while jogging on his home run trot. For a double.

If these sorts of lapses were just one-offs, they would exist as YouTube clips and nothing more. Sadly, they are both frequent and nothing new.

In addition to the many (founded) gripes about the length of games and abuse of performance enhancing drugs, one more thing has been on the decline in professional baseball: fundamentals.

The decline of basic baseball skills (and the accompanying focus and competitive spirit that accompany them) in baseball has been an ongoing process. Watching baseball growing up, I noticed a number of things the pros did differently than what I was coached to do.

Batters were moving the bat while waiting for a pitch to be delivered. They were letting go of the bat with one hand on their follow-through. After making contact, batters were watching the ball instead of running out their hit.

Defense was not nearly as bad, but still unimpressive at times.

I saw players making underhand basket catches instead of positioning themselves under the ball for the catch. They jogged after fly balls that dropped before they could catch them, rather than running them down to avoid giving up bases and runs.

This grew noticeably worse during the steroids era. I’d see gigantic sluggers like Mo Vaughn and Cecil Fielder and be confused as to what constituted an athlete. It was unfathomable to me that any team would want a batter who was subtracting at least one base per hit just because he couldn’t be bothered to eat healthy and work out anywhere outside of the weight room. The same batter was inevitably a defensive liability due to his lack of mobility.

Baseball in the 1990s and 2000s was more like watching a home run derby than actually baseball.

And I guess now we know why.

Unfortunately, the side effect of this style of play is the quality of play (and players) we see now.

The pitching, defense and situational hitting we are seeing currently is a phenomenon born of a reduction in power hitting and seeing this style of play succeed on the world stage, as well as in smaller markets within the MLB (think Tampa Bay). 

But even with this push for fundamentally sound baseball and scrappy run-scoring, we still see remnants of baseball’s old guard. 

True athletes are still quite rare. 

I find this to be one of the strangest things about baseball. In any other sport, a combination of speed, agility and strength are basically required in top athletes. In baseball, this is only the case in the aforementioned small markets. 

Baseball players have no apparent focus on anything other than weight training in most cases. As a result, you have players like Johnny Damon who are considered fielding liabilities. You also see more injuries due to pulled muscles, which is not coincidental.

So instead of high-quality baseball that includes strategy and electric play, what we see in most games is basically a series of stall tactics and examples of what we want our kids to avoid doing in Little League. 

Imagine a team of 8-year-old boys that played like the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry plays out.  At 15 minutes per at bat, the entire outfield would be snoozing.  Not to mention, watching a bunch of children make a ritual out of stepping into the batter’s box or throwing a single pitch would be a tad on the creepy side.

Unfortunately, if this were the case in Little League, it would be the product of what kids are seeing in their MLB role models. 

Personally, I haven’t seen a baseball player as a hero since noticing that none of them played with the fundamentals in mind. Individual achievements have impressed me, and continue to. 

There are definitely a few good apples out there who are rarely injured and don’t make bone-headed mistakes due to mental lapses.

But in terms of overall play, the league is more like Hanley Ramirez than Ichiro Suzuki.

Until players (and coaching staffs) make it a focus to ensure that their players are athletically finely-tuned machines and play fundamentally sound baseball to avoid costing their teams runs and outs, the quality of the game will continue to suffer. 

Silly, preventable injuries will persist in altering our fantasy rosters. We will continue to see the lack of focus that results from a corresponding lack of routine. 

This is not likely to change until a greater focus is made from Little League and up to require these things of baseball players. 

In professional baseball, as fans, we should expect and require the highest level of play night-in and night-out.  And in a culture of individuals that assumed it was better to juice than to work hard for success, regardless of health risks, I suppose it makes sense that we don’t. 

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