By Flint Wheeler

In his swan song as MLB commissioner last year, Bud Selig scheduled opening day in Australia. Because, hey, nothing says spring and baseball more than playing the season’s first game at 3 a.m. ET 7,500 miles away from the nearest U.S. ballpark.

In his debut as MLB commissioner this year, Rob Manfred scheduled opening day at Wrigley Field at night. Because, hey, nothing says spring and baseball more than playing the season’s first game on a 48-degree Chicago evening.

Now, I’m nobody’s commissioner, but how hard is it to give us an old-fashioned opening day in, say, Cincinnati on a sunny Sunday afternoon?


MLB’s errors in judgment do not dampen my enthusiasm for baseball. It is still America’s game, and, well, this is still America. And as they resume playing ball, Couch Slouch has his eye on several intriguing ball-playing stories:

A-RodBack on Broadway, it’s “A-Rod, Act III or IV?!” Way back when, I used to defend Alex Rodriguez on many fronts, including rumors of PED use, based on the precept that you’re innocent until proven guilty. Then he was proven guilty and kept acting innocent, which ended our bromance abruptly.

After serving a one-year suspension for PED use, A-Rod penned a handwritten apology to the fans, reminiscent of a school kid having to write in cursive 500 times on the chalk board, “I will not throw rocks at the other children, I will not throw at the other children”.

In A-Rod’s defense — if I recall the 2007 Mitchell Report correctly — by my count, 408 Yankees were cited for using steroids and human growth hormone. They say to get along you have to go along, so in the fine tradition of Lance Armstrong, A-Rod went along, and along and along and along.

A-Rod is under contract to the Yankees for three more years. If his mind, body and soul somehow hold up, I guess it’s possible he could hit a record-breaking 763rd home run in 2017. Wouldn’t it be something if Barry Bonds could be there, sitting in the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium, and catch the historic ball?

kris-bryantThe Cubs sent Kris Bryant to the minors even though he might be the next Babe Ruth. Frankly, I don’t care. It was a business decision, and the last time I checked, a team may determine its 25-man roster any way it wants. Heck, in certain parts of Indiana, I believe church softball teams can refuse to serve gay middle relievers.

What’s more interesting are the comments of Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, The Oracle of Everything. He called the Cubs’ move “ersatz baseball” and said “the CBA is at the apogee of wrongs incentivizing clubs to create a product less than the best.”

Oi Vai!

Boras is the son of a dairy farmer; the first word he probably learned was “moo.” How do you go from “moo” to “apogee”? Like many English-as-a-first-language users, I have never uttered “apogee,” “ersatz” or “incentivizing” in any statement, in or out of divorce court.

I try to stay abundantly apolitical, but I’ll say this: The only way Ted Cruz could make himself even less attractive of a presidential candidate is if he picks Scott Boras as his running mate.

Just 90 miles south of Florida, my favorite island nation is kicking it heels. Cuba is literally the broke family whose kid couldn’t afford to play in your Babe Ruth League, but if he did, his team would win every time.

With nearly two dozen Cuban-born players in the majors in 2015 — led by the likes of Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes — this could be the golden age of Cuban communism meets American capitalism at the ballyard. Rusney Castillo, Yoan Moncada, Yasnany Tomas and Jorge Soler are among other Cuban prospects who might make Roy Hobbs look like Kelly Leak.

And, now, with President Obama ordering the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, I’m thinking big. The Cincinnati Reds once had a Cuban-based AAA team, the Havana Sugar Kings.

Why can’t MLB expand to Havana with a big league Sugar Kings? Feels like a perfect spot for a taxpayer-subsidized ballpark. (That’s a joke:)