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Bill de Blasio

Friday’s Headlines: Inside Baseball Edition

Big Sexy does it.

Mayor de Blasio has been talking baseball all week — he's a fan, you understand — but he opened his April 1 press conference with his latest defense of the loathsome designated hitter rule, which famously desecrated the game (well, the American League and virtually every college and all the minor leagues) since it made its debut in 1973.

Granted, the mayor was funny on Thursday, joking about aiding New York's COVID recovery with a "Designated Hitter for All" program (a riff off his "Recovery for All" agenda), but Hizzoner's consistent shilling for a rule that excuses the pitcher from batting (which is, frankly, un-American) had gotten on our old man editor's nerves for a few days. (Maybe it was intentional, as City Hall spokesman Bill Neidhardt suggested in a tweet.)

So when our editor was selected to question the mayor (last, as always), he asked Hizzoner to, all kidding aside, defend this indefensible position.

Here's the exchange:

Question: Well, Mr. Mayor, thank you for taking me clean-up again. You know, I always ask you about street safety issues and how we can reduce road violence, but I know that you as a mayor, want to make front page news all the time, and I know you were kidding about the DH thing, but let's make some back page news today. ... In all seriousness, you are a baseball fan. I do respect that about you, but this contention that the designated hitter rule needs to come to the National League is bizarre to me given that you are a purist about the game. So, in all seriousness, I believe you need to, for the record, explain why you want to desecrate our national pastime with a rule that changes one of the most basic parts of the game, which is all players should hit.

Mayor: I think that our, you know, our belief in a respectful tolerant New York City that respects all people, all belief structures includes a traditionalist like you lost in another time, who don't understand progress, and so this is why I would say, I do remember when the designated hitter first came to the American League – you are a student of the game, the Boston Red Sox had Orlando Cepeda, who the only thing he could do was hit. He could barely run anymore. His knees were shot, but he really could hit, and it was kind of exciting, and it was a lot more fun than watching a pitcher strikeout, which was inevitably pretty much what happened. So, I, long ago, I started being a traditionalist purist, but then I had the experience of seeing how the designated hitter made more sense.

Now here is my serious answer: for today's game, people getting injured all the time. It's unbelievable. True baseball fans, each, you have your own example. ... Mine is Steven Wright, pitcher for the Red Sox a few years ago, knuckle-baller, he was doing great. He was having an all-star caliber season. They sent him in inexplicably as a pinch runner, and he injured his knee, and he has never been the same since. It's just, we are losing too many pitchers to injury the way conditioning and it all works nowadays. So, my honest answer is protect the pitchers, allow them to do what they do, don't make them do something they can't do and make the game more interesting. Because as a true baseball believer, we are competing against a lot of other sports and we got to keep the game relevant and interesting and more hitting, more action, more excitement. So, there is my passionate argument and, I hope you're going to get full coverage to our new initiative.

Well, we aren't giving full coverage to de Blasio's bizarre, anti-progressive ramblings, but Michael Gartland of the Daily News did, calling the mayor's position a flip-flop and coming down on the side of our editor and true baseball fans everywhere.

In fairness, Hizzoner is a lifetime Red Sox fan and, at his age, barely remembers the days when the American League played baseball the right way. But the fact that he has embraced the DH rule so lustfully is similar to how some cyclists spend more time complaining about other cyclists rather than complaining about the real danger on the streets: cars and trucks. The mayor, in short, has internalized his own oppression.

And why would the mayor — or anyone — deny us the glory, the grandeur, and the affirmation of the beauty of humanity that was Bartolo Colon's 2016 homer? It boggles the mind. But we will leave this "debate" to greater intellects.

Meanwhile, Gothamist sought to bring us down in another way: With an interview with the author of a book who suggests that the Mets are going to break our hearts — again — this season.

In other news:

    • A pedestrian was struck and killed by a driver in Downtown Brooklyn early on Thursday. The Post and amNY didn't bother, but we ran the plates on the car in question: Nine speeding tickets (five of which were during the COVID speeding epidemic) and one red-light ticket. How can we get to Vision Zero if consistently reckless drivers are not taken off the roads?
    • Comptroller Scott Stringer demanded that the MTA pay its cleaning contractors fairly, given reports that the MTA has basically set up an exploited emergency workforce during the COVID crisis. We asked the mayor about it (after all the talk of baseball) and he agreed. (Comptroller website)
    • Gridlock Sam focused on the driving element of the pot legalization. Meanwhile, our own Dave Colon focused on biking baked. And, of course, the MTA wanted the public to know that its workers will not be allowed to get high even off-duty because the feds still have a problem with Mary Jane (NYDN). The even better news? Cops are on notice to lay off pot smokers (NY Post).
    • Kudos to Mark Hallum at amNY for continuing to follow the Port Authority's PATH train pollution problem.
    • Double-duty Hallum also covered the open streets advocates' demands to the mayor. We covered it, too.
    • The Times did an interesting Q&A with the city's chief demographer, Joe Salvo, who thinks the city will come back.
    • We appreciate that Council Member Fernando Cabrera wants to provide relief for a city still struggling to recover from COVID, but is reducing fines for recidivist parking ticket scofflaws really the best way? (Crain's)
    • The Staten Island Advance has noticed that a particularly egregious bus stop on the Rock has made it to the Elite Eight of Streetsblog USA's Sorriest Bus Stop contest. Let's all root for the murder shed as the contest continues!
    • And, finally, TurboVax is vaccinated — and he immediately called for better bike lanes around the Javits Center. (TurboVax via Twitter):

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