As a fan of 70s baseball and pop culture, it's extremely fun and gratifying to see embattled Oakland A's outfielder Coco Crisp, who was born just two months before the end of the 70s, rocking an extremely freaky, Oscar Gamble-worthy natural. Unfortunately, his exultant follicular throwback is somewhat compromised by contemporary rules — if he'd played back in the 70s, Crisp could have avoided the 'fro-squashing indignity of the mandatory protective ear flap on his batting helmet...
Unfortunately, Crisp tweeted last night that he's not into the 'fro thing for the long haul: "Whelp the fro...has to go," he wrote. "Awww I might give it one more day. Want to win at least one game with it." Which is too bad; I was really hoping that Crisp — who is currently hitting .229 — would turn his season around while sporting the massive 'do, thus triggering a game-wide comeback for the look. Of course, it would also be great if there was a game-wide comeback for the form-fitting 70s uniform look; the 'fro just doesn't look correct with a baggy uni...
In other Big Hair news, author (and music and baseball fan) Joe Bonomo recently sat Cardboard Gods' Josh Wilker and I down for a very fun virtual discussion about our books and about 70s baseball in general, in which we also got to play Baseball Commissioner for a day. You can read the entire convo on Joe's excellent No Such Thing As Was blog, but if you just want to find out the ten things I'd do as MLB Commish, scroll down and read on:
1) Eliminate the DH. Like Astroturf, it's an experiment whose time has come and gone. Yes, it extends a few careers and adds some offense (at least in theory), but it ruins the game from a strategic standpoint. Getting rid of the DH would also put the two leagues on more equal footing in interleague games and the World Series.
2) Actually, while we're at it — let's get rid of interleague play, as well. The territorial rivalries are fun, but the novelty has definitely worn off by now; and when you get such scintillating matchups as Pirates-Royals, you can't help wondering what's the point.
3) Eliminate corporate naming rights for ballparks. If baseball stadiums are truly the cathedrals of the game, then they should be named after an important player or figure in the team's history — say, Bill Veeck Field instead of US Cellular Field — and not some faceless corporate entity that doesn't give a shit about the game or its fans. Corporations that really want to make their presence known at the ballpark can buy season tickets for a particular section, donate them all to local schools, summer camps and youth groups, and hang a sign with their logo above the section.
4) Make all "body armor" illegal, and eliminate the warnings that umpires give to both benches whenever a pitcher dusts off a batter. The players should "police" the game, not the umps; if this means the occasional escalation into a full-scale bean-ball war, so be it.
5) Remove "God Bless America" from the 7th Inning stretch. The song is a total buzz-kill that can instantly evaporate the energy of even the most rabid crowd. If "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" isn't intrinsically patriotic enough, why don't we at least pick a flag-waving anthem that rocks — like Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band"? And speaking of flag-waving...
6) No more egregious displays of military might before ballgames, like those Stealth bomber fly-overs. Not only does that kind of jingoistic dick-waving have nothing at all to do with baseball, but it costs taxpayers shitloads of money. If a color guard and the National Anthem aren't enough to get your crowd pumped up, try letting some chimps drive the bullpen cars around the field right before the game, and watch the fans come alive.
7) Return to the previous "home field advantage" system for the World Series, wherein the NL champ plays four home games during even-numbered years, and the AL champ plays four home games in even-numbered years. Contrary to Bud Selig's retarded ruling, the All-Star Game should not determine which league has home-field advantage in the World Series. If you want the players and managers to play the Mid-Summer Classic like it matters, give 'em a financial incentive — the winning squad splits a healthy percentage of the gate receipts and advertising revenues, and the losers get nothing.
8) Force the McCourts to sell the Dodgers. They are a complete fucking disgrace — not just to one of the most storied major-market franchises in the history of the game, but to baseball in general.
9) Exploding scoreboards for every ballpark. As the aforementioned US Cellular Field has proven, even the most generic and soulless ballpark can be considerably enlivened by the presence of a scoreboard that goes absolutely apeshit whenever the home team hits a round-tripper.
10) Any rain delay over 30 minutes automatically means one thing: Wet t-shirt contest.