MLB- Modified League Baseball

Where exactly is the steroid controversy leading the game we all love? In a column for our Premium Subscribers, Drew Nederpelt offers his thoughts on the current debacle in baseball.

In the sport of smash-up derby (or as the purists call it, "demolition derby") the rules clearly state that all competitors must compete with a car consisting only of factory parts. You can't modify the shocks or the engine, and you can't weld a Mad Max cow-catcher to the grill. And for many years that was enough for the sport's drivers and enthusiasts. But then the fans demanded something more. It wasn't enough that the last clunker moving had survived because it still operated in reverse. Soon the fans clamored for more damage and destruction. They needed a car-wars melee that raised the stakes. And so, the 'modified' series was born.

In Modified Demolition Derby, the drivers are permitted to weld reinforced steel onto their cars, and to juice up their engines and double their tires. They're not crazy about having to go through all this additional expense and effort (the prize money is not much different from regular derby) but they are forced to do so because the competition is doing it and if they don't reciprocate they might as well stay home.

And of course, the fans love it. The events last longer, the crashes are more spectacular and the injuries more prodigious. Of course, once you've seen the modified version of the derby how can you go back to regular old smash-up?

The answer is, you can't.

Which is why the recent steroids dilemma in baseball is so disturbing.

Once we've had 70 home run seasons, who wants to go back to a home run king (or home-run-pauper) hitting 38 round-trippers? Who's going to settle for upper-deck drives when we've seen zip-code clearing bombs?

No one, is the answer.

So that leaves commissioner Bud Selig with only one choice-- Modified League Baseball.

Regular, drug-free, (read: boring) baseball will still be played at all the regular venues, in front of all those purists (read: saps) who admire the beauty of the 5-4-3 double play, the suicide squeeze and, yawn, the double-switch. But the rest of us will attend the new MLB games where anything goes.

Behemoth men with pea sized heads poking out over gargantuan, rolling hills of muscles will be the staple for every team in MLB. 600-foot home runs will be the norm and scores of 35-29 will become the rule rather than the exception. In fact, in MLB, if your team fails to score 15 runs on any particular night, your team has to play their next game in lavender cocktail dresses.

Not only will juiced-up meatheads be the cornerstone of each team, but there will be a smattering of oddities mixed in for entertainment sake. Minuscule-strike-zone midgets (dwarves, little-people, height-challenged, whatever the euphemism is today) will be on hand should a player have to be replaced while in the throes of 'roid rage, virtually guaranteeing a walk to set the scene for one of the seventeen home runs that will be the average daily power supply from teams in MLB. Genetically modified catchers with 4 arms and two gloves will be much sought after free agents, especially on the team that ends up with Tim Wakefield.

Eventually of course, we'll grow tired of the freak-show known as MLB, and we'll open the record books and scan down (way down) the lists of names to record holders like Ruth and Aaron and DiMaggio, and we'll wonder how they could have accomplished all they did back in their day with normal-sized bodies and the traditional number of appendages. And we'll wonder what it must have been like to thrill in the scene of watching someone accomplish a great feat because of their innate and nurtured talent. And we'll start to miss the good old days.

Perhaps some of us will even walk over to the old stadium where traditional ball is played and get in line for a ticket to a twi-night double-header. But when we get to the window we'll be told that the stadium no longer showcases old-fashioned baseball.

"Lack of interest," the stadium employee will inform us.

"Then what are all these people buying tickets for?" we will ask.

And the reply will come, "Why, demolition derby, of course."

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