One month of baseball is in the books. Not just a month of baseball, a month of new baseball. With new rules. There’s a pitch clock. No more adjusting and readjusting batting gloves for no reason. The shift is banned. No more third baseman playing in deep right field. The bases are bigger. The distance between bases is now four-and-a-half inches shorter so successful steal attempts are way up. There are pickoff limits. No more throwing over to first seventeen times to try to pick off a runner.
The game is better. The Rangers have played two games this year in slightly over two hours. Those same games, last year, would have been three hours. That extra hour would have been watching people stand around.
But look at what is happening is baseball.
Without looking, can you guess team with the best record in the National League? If you had fourteen guesses, you will get it wrong. Because it is totally, absolutely improbable.
The Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates have finished dead last in their division thirteen of the past twenty-six seasons. The own last place. If they were to make a statue to last place, it would be wearing a Pirates uniform.
The Cardinals, the team that has seemingly never been bad, are in last place in the N.L. Central.
The world has gone crazy.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were in first place in the N.L. West until last night, when they slipped to second, a half-game out.
Then, of course, there’s the most unlikely scenario of all. The Texas Rangers are in first place. Not the Houston Astros.
The New York Yankees are in last place.
Luis Arraez of the Miami Marlins is batting .438.
Adolis Garcia is leading all of baseball with 30 RBIs.
In a year where banning the shift has lead to more offense, seven pitchers have ERAs under 1.89.
And the Rangers are in first place.
Baseball is fun again.