The 2023 MLB season starts with new rules, old narratives, and the same opening day dreams

Major League Baseball’s regular season begins Thursday, following the success of the World Baseball Classic.

It’s a little like having dessert before a full-course dinner, knowing you’ll be full by the end but not caring a bit because it tasted so good.

It would be a great idea if MLB could capture the WBC’s excitement and repackage that feeling in October when the NFL is often underperforming its postseason ratings. Baseball will not be able to expect a World Series matchup that is as tasty as the Japan-USA championship game.

MLB expects the 2023 season to be a significant one. They introduced many rule changes in an effort build a better relationship to younger fans, who are often turned off by games that have little action between pitches. It was difficult to strike a balance between older fans who have a better understanding of the complicated pitcher-hitter dynamic, and younger kids raised on videogames. However, the line was drawn and the millennials were victorious.

Boomers, move along and bring your old-fashioned paper tickets stubs.

The biggest change was the introduction of a pitch timer, officially killing the dreamy narrative of baseball as “the game without a clock.” The bases are bigger, pickoff moves were limited to create more action on the bases. The new narrative is a reversion to the 1980s with more speed and athleticism, but no cocaine scandals.

Spring training allowed players to adjust to the changes and also provided an opportunity for announcers of baseball to spend a lot of time explaining them. We did this a lot. (Mea culpa.)

MLB announced tweaks to the new rules last week and included a veiled threat against batboys and batgirls, who now will be evaluated and perhaps replaced if they’re tardy enough in retrieving said bats. No more innocent grade-school children winning a spot in the dugout. Now Mr. Potter oversees the show.

A player on deck should retrieve the bat at the plate from MLB and then toss it towards the dugout. This is the obvious solution to a problem that MLB didn’t feel the need to address. The MLB Players Association will undoubtedly file a grievance regarding the harsh working conditions. This could lead to another work stoppage.

Although the sport’s popularity has declined over time compared to the NFL, it is still a highly profitable venture to own a baseball team. According to ForbesThe average value of a team has increased by 12% to $2.32 Billion, while MLB revenue has increased 7.8% to $10.3 Billion.

It’s always a good time to be a billionaire, no matter what team or what era. Making money is never a slow process.

The Cubs are worth $4.1 billion, fourth-highest in baseball, Forbes stated, only three years after Chairman Tom Ricketts pointed to the “biblical losses” being incurred by teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. After Tribune Co. bought the Cubs and Wrigley Field for $20 million in 1981, the Ricketts family purchased the team for $900m in 2009. This was back in the days when it was easy to buy a bleacher seat and some beers with no need for a loan.

The Cubs have built a sportsbook at the Friendly Confines that’s scheduled to open this season and create another revenue stream for the team, making it even more valuable. They also have announced the creation of a trophy room at the ballpark, which will display the one trophy they’ve won in the last 114 years.

The White Sox were ranked No. 15 on Forbes’ list at $2.05 billion, a 16% increase over the previous year. The Sox have won only one World Series since Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and his partners took control in 1981 and are coming off a season that general manager Rick Hahn said “has been described to me at times as depressing, disgust, frustration (and) shock.”

But Reinsdorf can’t be too depressed or disgusted if the Sox’s value continues to grow at that rate. The lack of spending by the Sox is why one fan group calling itself “Disgruntled Fans” bought billboard space around Sox Park and plastered it with the message “Sell the Team, Jerry” on the sides of buildings. They still care, even though it may be futile.

Pedro Grifol is the new manager of the Sox. “View Bars” in the upper deck and allegedly a new attitude after some players admitted to not being a “family” in 2022. The most important news is they’ll still have the same great food at the ballpark, which might be as important to drawing fans as the team’s success.

As every team does on opening day, the Cubs & Sox believe that this year will bring magic and it will all fall into place. In the end, it is up to you to decide whether that optimism is warranted.

But rest assured it shouldn’t be as difficult to watch as last year for fans of either Chicago team.

Both have made improvements at positions that were in dire need of help. Both are in mediocre divisions. Both teams boast a roster full of players with something to prove.

The best thing about opening day in Chicago? Knowing that games will be played on either the North Side of Chicago or the South Side nearly every day for six months is the best part.

There are many options for baseball.

This is the best thing you can do.

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