We finally get to talk about actual baseball, and other thoughts

So let’s touch on a few of the actual on-field issues that were resolved in the hardball hardball players-owners negotiations:

The National League has adopted the designated hitter. No more pitchers batting ninth in the NL. No more double switches. No more watching Luis Tiant swat a single to left in the 1975 World Series. No more Bartolo Colon going deep. No more easy strikeouts for the 100 mile per hour throwers. Have a party, everybody. I am going to miss seeing pitchers try to bat. Jim Lonborg’s leadoff bunt triggered the rally that won the 1967 pennant. Jim Kate’s 16 homers helped earn him a plaque in Cooperstown.

Gone, too, are a couple of the post-pandemic gimmicks. No more runner on second base to start the first inning of extra innings. I kind of liked that one. Sure, it was artificial, but you knew the game was going to be over pretty soon. One way or another.

No more seven-inning games on doubleheader days. good. That felt like high school. And fans were paying for a full nine. Give ’em nine. This is the big leagues.

There will be 12 playoff teams, up from 10. This means more October baseball, which is good for fans and owner$. But it also dilutes the regular season yet again. Baseball is on its way to becoming the old NHL when 16 of 21 teams qualified for the postseason.

The really big competitive issues will wait another year, maybe more. The new collective bargaining agreement stipulates that starting in 2023, a committee (six MLB reps, four active players, one umpire) will meet to discuss these issues and that there will be a 45-day window to implement rule changes. That’s when the much needed pitch clock, the banning of shifts, and the bigger bases (seriously?) can first be discussed. Since we’re taking baseball here, I’m not expecting these changes to happen quickly.

Everybody knows baseball needs a pitch clock, but the players are reluctant to make this change. There seems to be a lot of push to eliminate shifts, which would create more offense but I hate it because it rewards the stubborn, launch-angle free swingers. In my view, hitters should be required to “figure it out.” They say it’s too hard to hit the ball to the opposite field or to drop down a bunt.

weak. In the words of Jimmy Dugan, “it’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.”

Now play ball.

▪ Quiz: Of all the schools who’ve been eligible to play in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament since it began in 1939, only four have never played in the tournament. One of the four was invited but declined the invitation. Name the four schools (answer below).

Tommy Amaker has coached at Harvard since 2007.Gerry Broome/Associated Press

▪ Ian O’Connor’s excellent new book on Mike Krzyzewski reports that Duke wanted Harvard’s Tommy Amaker (who played for Krzyzewski at Duke) to succeed Krzyzewski on the bench and was the choice of a Duke search committee, but that Coach K wanted longtime assistant Jon Scheyer and talked Amaker out of taking the job in a phone call with Amaker last year. According to O’Connor, Krzyzewski felt he’d have more continuing influence if Scheyer took over. Amaker has been head coach at Harvard for 15 seasons and his Crimson finished 13-13 this season. Reached via text on Thursday, Amaker declined to comment on the story.

▪ So, here we go. Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley has to sit out (at least) next season because he gambled on NFL games in 2021 while he was away from the team addressing mental health issues. shocker. I wonder where he got the idea it was OK to bet on NFL games. Oh, I know, he must have been watching NFL games where sucker fans are bombarded with gambling ads urging them to “make . † † it . † † rain.” Hearing Roger Goodell cites the “integrity of the game” when announcing Ridley’s suspension is a joke. Goodell is Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” shocked to find that there is gambling going on in Rick’s Cafe (as he is handed his winnings). The greed-inspired corruption of sports teams, leagues, and media outlets getting into bed with gamblers is a stain on the 21st century sports experience.

▪ Let’s revisit the moment when Vladimir Putin stole Bob Kraft’s Super Bowl ring in the summer of 2005. It’s all there in Jeff Benedict’s “The Dynasty.” After winning his third Super Bowl, Kraft accepted an invitation from banker/philanthropist Sandy Weill to visit Russia with Rupert Murdoch and a bunch of American CEOs. Posing for a group photo with Putin, Weill encouraged Kraft to show off his 124-diamond Super Bowl ring. As Putin took the ring and slipped in onto his own finger, the Russian president said, “I could kill someone with this ring.” Kraft came back with, “You could kill someone without it. You were the head of the KGB,” and everybody laughed. Then Putin took off the ring and dropped it into his pocket. According to “The Dynasty,” the Bush administration asked Kraft to explain that he gave the bauble to Putin as a gift. Accordingly, Kraft issued a formal statement that read (in part), “I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin.”

▪ Bob Cousy checked in from Worcester this past week and says he is now bullish on the 2021-22 Celtics. “Another flag is a possibility,” says the 93-year-old Hall of Famer. “They’re going to be a tough out in the playoffs. I think Robert Williams is a key player for them now. [Jayson] Tatum is literally unstoppable and may even surpass [Larry] Bird as the toughest guy the Celtics have ever had to guard. I also love the acquisition of [Daniel] theis. He helps them defensively more than people realize.”

▪ Kentucky coach John Calipari got away from the one-and-dones this season. Cal’s best player is junior Oscar Tshiebwe. The Wildcats’ roster has more upperclassmen (nine) than freshmen, which hasn’t happened in more than a dozen years. Cal also hasn’t vacated a Final Four appearance since his 2008 Derrick Rose Memphis team was erased from the books.

▪ The WNBA’s New York Liberty were fined a half-million bucks for using charter flights instead of commercial aircraft. Joe Tsai, who owns the Liberty, has an estimated net worth of $8.7 billion.

▪ A fully-playable 308-year-old Stradivarius violin is estimated to go for $15 million-$20 million in an online auction. Makes me wonder what would be the most valuable piece of ancient sports equipment if anything was available in an online auction.

▪ HBO’s “Winning Time” got off to a good start last Sunday. The 10-part series, based on Jeff Pearlman’s book “Showtime,” should be of interest to Celtics fans who remember the 1980s showdowns between Magic’s Lakers and Larry’s Celtics. John C. Reilly delivers a spot-on Dr. Jerry Buss and we look forward to Michael Chiklis in the Red Auerbach role (Chiklis has repeatedly stated that he wants to play Terry Francona when the Tito story goes Hollywood). One quarrel: Jason Clarke’s Jerry West is an over-the-top, cartoonish portrayal of the all-time great Lakers guard/coach/GM. Fortunately for West, no one comes off worse than former Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke.

▪ Sad to report the passing of Ike Delock, a Red Sox pitcher from 1952-63, who died in North Carolina Feb. 28. Ike and Glenna, his wife of 67 years, raised their family in Needham before retiring to Naples, Fla., in 1988. Former Globie Lesley Visser, who grew up in South Hadley watching the woeful Red Sox of the early 1960s, carried Delock’s baseball card in her wallet for decades and the former Sox pitcher made an appearance at Visser’s bachelorette party at Locke-Ober in 1982.

▪ Quiz answer: William & Mary, The Citadel, St. Francis of Brooklyn, Army. West Point was invited in 1968 but coach Bobby Knight thought he could win the NIT and declined the NCAA bid. Army loses its first-round NIT game to Notre Dame, 62-58.


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy

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