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The Sports Edge - A Baseball Future

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Baseball: 2056

As we get ready for the 2056 Intercontinental All-Star Game, it seems appropriate to look back to see just how far we've come in transforming the once-moribund game of baseball into the wildly popular global pastime of today.

Young fans may find it hard to believe, but there was a time when players were expected to perform without benefit of either technology or chemistry. In the late days of the last century, Hall-of-Famers Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire staged an epic assault on the home run title, with McGwire proving supreme with the then-unheard of total of 70 home runs.

While those numbers would find a player relegated to the Penal Leagues or replaced by a team's designated cyber-hitter today, back in the ChemAverse Era, it raised eyebrows, culminating in a series of Draconian measures aimed at preventing what were then called 'performance enhancing drugs' or 'PEDs' - and ultimately leading to the Great Contraction of 2023, when 10 major league teams folded due to dismal attendance and the Supreme Court ruling declaring fantasy games unconstitutional.

Fans of a certain age will remember that the game was in great peril until the owners turned to former slugger Barry Bonds in the winter of 27 and named him Commissioner for Life. Bonds moved swiftly, striking down all regulations on chemical enhancements and then reaching out to the scientific community to take advantage of the many breakthroughs that had become available in DNA editing.

While the changes proved popular with fans - leading quickly to expansion to Southeast Asia and the newly-formed OEC (One Europe Collective) - there were concerns from the traditionalists. Former President Oprah Winfrey called Bonds' moves to modernize 'an abomination;' in rural areas, many town teams formed playing 'old-tyme' baseball, including reverting to the practice of human pitchers and umpires who called balls and strikes, instead of the mechanically-delivered, batter-requested offerings most have come to love.

Last year's Sub-Continent MVP Bryce Harper, Jr., whose 213 home runs challenged Mookie Betts's single-season record of 217, laughs when he recalls his father breaking the 100-homer barrier in 29. 'People were actually asking if that was good for the game, can you imagine?'

Now, as fans delight at the first generation of genetically-altered players, thoughts of a game where injuries could occur, where 'slumps', as they were called, could last for weeks and defensive shifts were aimed at stopping offense, instead of encouraging it, wellthey seem as quaint as the notion of team's representing cities and not multi-national corporations.

The James Earl Jones hologram that greets fans at each park reminds us that 'baseball has marked the time' but our great global game has also adapted and prospered. Few would argue that 45 minute time limits, the elimination of baserunning, and fan-mandated 'do-overs' haven't made baseball more popular than ever but remember: the times and the game are always changing.

Someday, who knows? These things may be a memory as distant as games played outside artificial environment containment bubbles.


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