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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred

Rob Manfred took a called third strike.

Geez, talk about getting caught lookin’.

As it turns out, Major League Baseball’s commissioner turned in a big 0-fer. That is pretty darned remarkable considering Manfred had every opportunity to knock this one out of the park.

All he had to do was stand up for the original agreement between the players and owners and MLB would have had the whole coronavirus pandemic-induced barren wasteland of a sports world all to itself.

That’s right, all.

Major League Baseball’s opening day should have been today — the Fourth of July. Talk about fireworks. It would have been perfect.

But more importantly, MLB would have been the only show in town. Considering how starved sports fans are for live content on television these days, it would have been a huge opportunity for Major League Baseball to win back many of the fans it has lost.

But, instead, baseball blew it.

It was worse timing than a day-night doubleheader.

So, now, since baseball dropped the ball — E-6 on Manfred — it is going to begin a 60-game season on July 23 and share the sports stage with the NBA, NHL, NFL and NASCAR.

It’s not going to resemble the Major League Baseball we’re accustomed to watching, either. For one thing, there will be no saliva.

That’s right, no spitting.

I’m sorry, but that’s just plain un-American. Everybody knows the moment a guy — ages T-ball to 50-and-older softball — steps onto a ballfield, he’s going to spit.

It’s simply the natural order of things.

I’m not sure about female softball players, but in guys? It’s in our DNA.

That’s why I don’t believe this rule will fly, but I do think the spit will.

Obviously, I give a spit about this rule.

But, unfortunately, there are more. No chewing tobacco. No smokeless tobacco. No sunflower seeds. No handshakes. No fist-bumps. No high-fives. No congratulating a guy at home plate after he socked a home run. No mascots. No bat boys or girls. No traditional pregame exchange of the lineup cards.

MLB players are expected to show up at the ballpark already dressed in their uniforms — just like their old high school days. Batting practice pitchers have to wear masks. Dugout telephones have to be disinfected after each use. Same goes for the bullpen phone.

Wait. There’s more.

No water jugs or the use of saunas, steam rooms, ice tubs, hot tubs or hitting in indoor batting cages. Oh, yeah, and no fighting. So, what’s a batter supposed to do when a pitcher throws a bean ball or intentionally hits him with a pitch? How does he not charge the mound? How is he supposed to get any retribution? What’s he supposed to say? “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

No fighting?

No basebrawl?

Let’s just play slo-pitch and get it over with.

And, in yet another blow to baseball tradition, players, coaches and managers will not be allowed to touch their faces to give signals. Players also won’t be allowed to lick their fingers.

So, we’re going to be watching a game I’d like to call Sterilized Baseball.

It makes me feel sick.

Can anybody imagine Pete Rose playing this game?

Yeah, me neither.