Want to know how overly-obsessed Major League Baseball is with making sure nothing will get in the way of shortened games this season?

If strikeouts for not looking at the pitcher, or requiring permission for a standing ovation, or eschewing player health and safety by not granting time for a baserunner to put on a medically-mandated piece of protective equipment weren’t enough of an example of this MLB dog and pony show, then what happened Saturday night before the Phillies-Red Sox game takes the freaking cake.

Former teammates Kutter Crawford of Boston and Matt Strahm of the Phillies conducted an old-fashioned standoff after the playing of the National Anthem.

For those who’ve never seen it, it’s basically a game of chicken. Who can stay out on the field the longest after the anthem is over?

Here’s video of the moments prior to the first pitch:

It’s pretty fun. Even the Phanatic got in on it. Fans love this stuff. It’s why the video went viral.

But the MLB fun police have basically ensured this likely won’t happen again, because both players were ejected for this and later fined.

First, the umpires tossed both players out of the game before it started because they stayed on the field in their spots through Zack Wheeler throwing his last warm-up pitches. Then the league fined both players undisclosed amounts of money.

The reasoning? It violated a pace of play mandate… even though play had not begun. If that’s not head-scratching enough, Strahm was joking with the umpire, who warned him that he needed to leave the field, saying that since he’s on the home team Crawford should have to leave first.

The joke didn’t go over well.

Crawford was fined more than Strahm because he’s on the IL, in the moment, the thought was that the Phillies may have been hindered more because Strahm might have been available to pitch out of the bullpen Saturday, and since he was given the heave-ho, wasn’t available for Rob Thomson to call on during the game.

However, even though on Friday Thomson said that Strahm would be available “either Saturday or Sunday,” on Monday Thomson told reporters that Strahm wouldn’t have been available on Saturday anyway.

Either way, the possibility of Strahm being available vs. him not being available after being tossed is an advantage for the Red Sox. They weren’t sure if they would see him Saturday heading into the game, but once he and Crawford were ejected, they KNEW they wouldn’t see him Saturday and also knew Thomson had one less bullet in the bullpen chamber.

Here’s Strahm talking about it prior to Sunday’s game:

Strahm shouldn’t have to fall on the sword by saying it was a mistake to do that. Obviously it ends up hurting the Phillies, but this is what MLB has wrought on itself. Stats are the same as last year. Average attendance is almost identical across the board from last year (An average of seven more fans are attending baseball games in 2023 than they did in 2022.)

So, despite being promised more game action, it’s the same. Despite being promised more fan interest, to this point, there isn’t any. And those that are going now have less time in the actual venue to spend those entertainment dollars.

When I was a kid, the league’s marketing slogan was “Baseball fever, catch it,”

It’s about time for a new slogan:

“Baseball: Watch less of our sport and see us take the fun out of it.”