One hundred years ago, baseball underwent changes that writer and historian Bill James described as “the most sudden and dramatic of the 20th century.”
A number of things happened around the same time. The fallout from the Black Sox scandal descended upon the sport during the latter stages of the 1920 season. Baseball hired its first commissioner in Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The dead ball era was put to rest in the form of several fundamental changes to the way the game was played on the field. That development was aided by the sudden ascension of star pitcher Babe Ruth to almost mythical status as the game’s first — and perhaps still greatest — power hitter. The times were a-roarin’.
As we enter a new decade, it’s far too soon to say if we can call this another version of the Roaring Twenties or the 21st-century Jazz Age. What seems certain is that while change is and has been afoot in baseball, the on-field product is not going to morph as abruptly or fundamentally as it did a century ago. Things will evolve, as they always have, but the changes won’t necessarily jump off the sports page and poke us in the eye.
What follows is far less analytical than speculative, and there…