MLB setting its game dials on Self-Destruct: Here’s the latest proof

On YES last Friday, David Cone said it as a brief aside, as if it were a throwaway thought barely worth his breath.

In the bottom of the sixth of a scoreless game, Rays catcher Mike Zunino squared to bunt on the first two pitches, both balls. He then flew out on a 2-0 count.

“He’s normally a power hitter,” Cone said, “not sure if he has been asked to bunt a whole lot in his career. But that’s the state of the game, right now.”

Oh, well. And now back to the current state of the game that has left baseball so badly diminished that the abandonment of fundamentals — so often the difference between winning and losing — is dismissed with a short sigh.

The stuff we’re now supposed to find both sensational and enlightening came the next day on YES, when Gary Sanchez batted in the second inning with one out, bases loaded in a 0-0 game.

Parroting a graphic, Michael Kay said of Sanchez, “Now he hasn’t been hitting, but when he hits, he hits the ball very hard. His average exit velocity is 94.5 mph, the eighth highest in MLB.”

Wow! Is he ever smashing that baseball! So what if at the time he was batting .086, with 19 strikeouts in 34 at-bats. Ridiculous wins again!

And then on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded, Sanchez took a grand slam swing, whiffing on a pitch a foot above the strike zone. The Yankees would not score in what became a one-run loss.

Friday, the Yanks lost to the Rays, 1-0. Thus Saturday early in Game 1 of a seven-inning doubleheader, YES threw it to Paul O’Neill for his “Keys To The Game.” Such inserts often produce “Well, no fooling” head-shakes from viewers, and O’Neill, aided by pre-fab show-and-tell graphics, delivered.

Key No. 1: Win Game 1 of the DH.

Key No. 2: Get the offense going.

Key No. 3: Have fun.

Well, alrighty then!

Sunday on YES, more new-age baseball — the totally unintended use of the replay rule, which, predictably, is how it’s overwhelmingly applied by sports that chose time-wasting perceived populism over applicable foresight.

In the eighth inning of a tie game, first the Rays won a reversal based on nothing more conclusive than second-opinion guesswork on a slide and tag at second. Minutes later, the Yanks won a reversal on the closest of coin-flip calls at first.

And then the weekend’s telltale box scores:

Three batters struck out three times in Blue Jays-Red Sox, a game featuring the usual modern action — 27 strikeouts. Angels outfielder Jo Adell went oh-for-four, all strikeouts, against the Rangers. In that 7-3 loss to Texas, 12 pitchers were used in 3 hours, 36 minutes. Against Milwaukee, Cincinnati’s lead off batter, Shogo Akiyama, K’d three times. Against the Mets, Marlins leadoff batter Jonathan Villar struck out four times.

Good thing for MLB that it doesn’t have to sell tickets this season, just worry about TV and gambling income. MLB has set its dials on Self-Destruct, full-speed ahead. And David Cone, as a mere aside, said, “But that’s the state of the game.”

Sterling revs up for Ford

Whatever it is, John Sterling still has it!

Saturday after the Yankees’ Mike Ford hit a homer, Sterling proudly piped, “For the Yankees, there’s a Ford in their future!” He wasn’t done being John Sterling. Next came, “Mike is Ford tough!”

As reader Mike McIntee noted, Ford’s home run, as the first in the game, was sponsored by Kia, and, “The Yankees’ radio network is driven by Jeep.”

Giancarlo Stanton gave it a shot — he tried to take a knee on his other knee, but couldn’t hold it for the length of the national anthem, so he went on the IL.

First CBS dumped reliable, sensible Dan Fouts as an NFL analyst, now it has split the steady team of Greg Gumbel and Trent Green. CBS is “promoting” Green to work with “Hollerin’ ” Kevin Harlan, who occasionally knows what he hollers about.

Hard to believe the Knicks passed on Barry Trotz.

Reader Doug Heimowitz on the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday: “Who knew that after six innings and a 3-0 lead, the Yanks’ win probability would be zero percent?”

And reader Greg Gillen asks why none of the cardboard cutouts of fans at MLB games include those seen on their cell phones? Answer: to avoid teams billing them for roaming charges.

PGA Championship coverage misses in every fair way

TV has clearly purchased the right to do as it pleases to PGA events.

Sunday, late in the PGA Championship, winner Collin Morikawa eagled the short par-4 16th after his drive finished seven feet short of the pin.

Soon, bomber Dustin Johnson, still in the hunt, would give the 16th a whack. He missed, but CBS never showed it — not even on tape.

Also Sunday, Jim Nantz noted the “leader in the clubhouse” was Matthew Wolff — and that’s how PGA, USGA, R&A and TV scoreboards for decades listed the leaders. But CBS, likely recognizing Wolff is widely unknown, listed him fourth among those at -10.

It seemed a version of TV’s transparent Tiger Woods game — when he’s listed first among those with the same score, whether tied for first or 40th.

And we saw more tape of Woods in CBS and PGA promos than live or taped coverage of Brooks Koepka’s collapse.

Wise men who have lost their money on slow horses (and often fast women) will tell you that every trip to the track includes something they’d never before seen.

Saturday, from the couch as opposed to the rail, the MSG feed of live racing from Saratoga provided such a scene.

The eighth race was won by Imprimis, ridden by Jose Ortiz. But, as the bemused announcers explained, an impeded run claim was lodged by the rider of the horse that finished third. That jockey was Irad Ortiz — Jose’s brother!

The claim was approved, thus brother Jose’s horse went from first to third and Irad’s went from third to second. After all, bloodlines count for horses, not riders.

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