2017, Part Two: How do you like them there apples?

Houston, you have no problem . . .

Houston, you have no problem . . .

More than a few hope it’s a trend, but the Houston Astros became the second consecutive World Series winner to end a championship drought and the third of the first four major league expansion teams to win a Series. And, the first to do it in spite of a 2014 Sports Illustrated cover story predicting it. Like the Cubs a year before them, they looked like they had fun playing baseball while they were at it. A pair of trends devoutly to be wished, meaning that for 2018 it would wonderful if the Cleveland Indians break their own such drought and have a blast while doing it.

Laugh, clowns, laugh

West, docked three for a wisecrack about Adrian Beltre.

West, docked three for a wisecrack about Adrian Beltre.

In 1999, umpire Tom Hallion got himself a three-day suspension when he bumped inadvertently into Rockies catcher Jeff Reed during a beef with pitcher Mike DeJean. The Major League Umpires Association, a month before the infamous mass resignation that torpedoed it, was outraged, but “[n]ot as outraged as they’d be,” the Society for American Baseball Research’s Doug Pappas wrote, “if a player wasn’t suspended for bumping an ump.”

One of the umps among the mass resigners (he was reinstated in due course in a 2004 settlement), Hallion swore he wasn’t trying to bump Reed. Players who inadvertently bump the umps swear likewise and still pony up fines and serve suspensions.

Negotiate sensibly about game pace

Rob Manfred.

Rob Manfred.

Edmund Burke once observed that a society without the means of change was a society without the means of its own preservation. Baseball is much like that if you look deep enough. Burke also observed that when it wasn’t necessary for society to change, it was necessary for society not to change. And if you thought societies had a tough time finding the line between the two, just look at baseball.