BATTER UP!

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by 2jakes, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    With the regular season over, any thoughts on the longer-distance baseball?

    From what I've read, MLB acknowledges that something has changed to the ball to account for the incredible increase in home runs, but it claims not to really know what the change is.

    Does that ring hollow to others, too?

    There's too much money at stake for MLB to not understand one of its core tools - the baseball.

    My cynical guess, MLB wanted to juice the ball a bit to increase the amount of offense (the way football makes passing easier), but whatever it did to the ball went much further (and farther :)) than it wanted it to and now can't find a way to explain it all without admitting what it did.

    But that is all just guesses - I'm interested in what others think.
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I don't mind the homers, but I do mind the excessive striking out from people who have no business "launch angling" for the fences. I think that philosophical change in hitting approach is a big part of it, but I'd be very surprised if there hasn't also been some diddling with the baseball. It's not like they haven't done it before.

    There's really only two things you can do to juice a ball --- wind the yarn tighter or change the composition of the center. Neither of those things happen unless someone issues a specific order to change production methods, and someone has to be authorized by someone to do that. I'd like to see some physicist take apart a current ball and see exactly what's going on, because something obviously is.

    I heard a comment during a broadcast the other night that they're considering moving the mound back because the balls are being hit back thru the box at unprecedented speeds, putting pitchers at risk of life and limb. Nobody wants another Herb Score-type incident, but moving the mound would be the most fundamental change in the game since 1890, and I don't think they've really thought thru what that could mean to the continuity of records. Not in favor of the move -- I'd rather ban maple bats and de-rabbit the ball.
     
  3. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    ⇧ If the added home runs and strike outs are the result of a conscious decision by the teams to change their batting strategies, then so be it - that is, IMO, the game. But if MLB tweaked the ball to generate more offense (which could then have caused the teams to adjust their hitting approach as they realized swinging for the fences would pay off more), then, at minimum, I'd like MLB to be honest about it.

    As we know, MLB has adjusted a lot of things over the decades, but honesty should be part of any effort. Just tell us. And if they over adjusted, tell us that and, then, decide if they are going to try to dial it back. As noted, I seriously doubt MLB doesn't know the answer. I prefer a game with more non-home-runs hit, which - I think - lead to more strategy around base running and hitting - bunts, steals, hit and run, etc., but that's just me.
     

  4. There may be some juicing up the ball, and I think in general players are bigger and stronger than they've ever been, which helps the power game, but the biggest change is simply the approach. It's not that batted balls are simply traveling farther than they used to, but players are actively trying to hit them, even at the expense of contact. That's evident in the huge increase in strikeouts, something that is independent of the juiced ball. Strikeout rates for both pitcher and hitters have skyrocketed and pitchers are reaching strikeout milestones at an alarming rate. I think part of this is that pitchers have simply gotten better and throw a lot harder than they used to. It used to be if you threw 93-94, that was considered above-average, and you could count on one hand the guys who threw 98. Now a mid-90s fastball is considered mediocre, and every team has multiple guys who throw 100+, which used to be considered generational ability.

    Another factor that I think is overlooked is how good players are nowadays with the glove. What used to be a spectacular play is now routine and expected. Outfielders are much faster, cover more ground, and rarely drop a ball. Infielders can get to what seems like everything, and they throw 90 mph across the diamond. Errors by infielders are half of what they were 50 years ago. Infield shifts have robbed more base hits than Bill Mazeroski and Ozzie Smith put together.

    All of this has added up to the realization (or acceptance, depending on your viewpoint) that a strikeout is not statistically any worse of an outcome than any other out, while extra base hits, especially home runs obviously, significantly increase your chances of scoring a run. So technology being what it is these days, teams and players have actively looked for factors that affect batted distance, and voila, "exit velocity" and "launch angle" become all the rage.

    Plus, chicks dig the long ball.
     
  5. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Lizzie and HH - thank you - appreciate the comments.
     
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I think there's a lot to be said for the difference in size for modern players. The other day I sat down and watched the first game of the 1957 World Series, between the Yankees and Braves, and was struck by how big Joe Adcock looked compared to the rest of the players on the field. He was 6 foot 4, 210 lbs, and looked like a hulking monstrosity next to all the 6-foot 175 lb guys on the field. Bobby Richardson looked like a batboy, and Yogi Berra looked like he'd just crawled out from under a toadstool.

    Today the average major leaguer is maybe 6 foot 1 or 6 foot 2, and weighs well over 200. Adcock wouldn't stand out much at all, and Berra wouldn't even get in the ballpark without buying a ticket. I think part of this is evolution and part of it is self-selection -- I imagine coaches won't even look at a kids who don't meet the modern size guidelines, so the little guys don't even get a chance.

    The long ball doesn't impress me as much as it did when I was seven and in love with Tony C. These days it's the slick fielding that gets me -- I could watch Jackie Bradley Jr. all day long even if he's hitting .198. I'm also partial to clever slap hitters who put the ball exactly where they want it. Rick Burleson, where are you now that we need you?
     
  7. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I'm with both of you as the quality of fielding is insane. Plays that would have been the highlight of the week, month or season when I was growing up now are made almost every game. It's crazy the stops and throws that are made regularly.

    Those plays - and hit and runs and quick throws to first, etc. - are more exciting and enjoyable to me than the fifth homer in a game.

    And, yes, the size and training is also part of the change. I'm sure a few don't, but it seems that almost all of the players use trainers to devise serious workouts that they follow year round.

    I know that one-offs do not prove anything, so this is just an aside - Aaron Judge looks like a giant video game player as he's so perfectly proportioned and looks so spot-on baseball player in his uniform that it's almost nuts.
     
  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    When Carl Yastrzemski started working out in the off-season with a Hungarian weight-lifter in the '60s it was considered extremely strange and unusual -- but he won the Triple Crown the next year, so it must've worked. The trainer looked him over when he first walked into the gym and said something like "You the big athlete. You the big champion. In my country you are nothing," and they took it from there.
     
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  9. 30+ years ago, when I was invited to a couple of pro tryouts, the first thing they did...before anyone swung a bat or took a fungo, was to line guys up and time them running. If you didn't make a certain time, they just sent you home. Thanks for coming out. Then they measured and weighed everyone left. Guys who listed themselves at 6'2", 215 lbs, suddenly were 5'10"/180 again. I'm not sure if there was some cutoff, but after that formality, guys were allowed to field and hit. Pitchers and catchers didn't have to run, but it soon dawned on me that the only real reason I got to stick around all day was *because* I was a catcher and they didn't want all the pitchers standing around doing nothing.

    As for small players, the poster boy for that these days is Jose Altuve, who is listed at 5'6", but if he's over 5'4" in his spikes, I'll eat my mitt. The story goes he went to an open tryout in his native Venezuela, and the Astros sent him home because they didn't think he was 16 years old yet. He came back the next day with his birth certificate and they sent him home again. He came back the third day and the Astro said "we'll sign you just so you'll stop showing up every day."

    And I love this picture:

    15heightWEB1-articleLarge.jpg
     
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  10. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    ...the truth of it all is that Brady had the ball juiced; threw better during the post-interception second half,
    denied it all, and then later backed over his cell phone. Deliberate intent. Malice aforethought. And most especially,
    depraved heart indifference.;)

    Meanwhile, in Bearsland Mitch is sidelined for London. Joe G seems to be martinet material for the Cubs.
    And the apple is juiced. Talk about a stacked deck and loaded dice.:eek:
     
  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Brady and Belichick are insanely good at what they do - some of the best ever - and, also, cheaters.

    They'd probably win almost as much without the cheating, but when they can, they cheat.
     
  12. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    When this occurred I wondered why Brady would even do this.o_O Bellicose is inherently problematic,
    and in a subsequent game against the Broncos, his red zone field management was horridly amateurish.
    Boomer E leveled a tirade:mad: against him for not kicking after buying all that hard-earned real estate.
    And Brady was left with a lousy two point conversion attempt which failed.
    ...almost seemed as if the game was fixed.:eek:
     
  13. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    So, early this morning, I clicked on ESPN to see the results of the Dodgers game (I needed sleep and am saving my late nights for the Yankees) only to find the "lead" webpage was all about football (some regular season Thursday night affair). I had to click on the MLB link to get the Dodgers details. (I'm sure, amidst the billions of things jammed on the lead page, the baseball score was there, but it was not at all obvious).

    What does it say about baseball's standing with the American public that a nondescript mid-season NFL game took precedent over a MLB playoff game?

    We all know football is the most popular sport in America today, but I was surprised that a MLB playoff game didn't even make it to ESPN's lead page.
     
  14. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Cards held off Atlanta last night. :D
     
  15. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Too many layers of playoffs now -- it dilutes interest and makes the regular season far less meaningful. Soon baseball will be like the NHL, a sport nobody pays attention to until about the third round of the playoffs.

    As much as I hate to see the season come to an end each year, there's something immoral about baseball extending into November. When you see Christmas commercials during the World Series, it's a sign there's something wrong.
     
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  16. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    All fair points. I prefer a fewer-teams playoffs (the only value to 162 games is if it vets it to a very small #), but still, a mid-season football game getting top billing.
     
  17. If the World Series goes to Game 7, it will be played on October 30th. I submit that if you see Christmas commercials during the World Series, the problem is not with the World Series. A bigger problem with scheduling is the players' demand to have more and more off days during the season. To combat this, the season started in March this year, and will start even earlier next. A second submission: Opening Day getting snowed out is far more offensive than Christmas commercials during the Fall Classic.

    I agree completely that the 162-game season has to be meaningful, but I also realize that under the system of old, there would be very little interest for most teams after the All Star break. I'd watch, simply for the sake of watching baseball, because I love baseball. But under the old system, the Cardinals, for example, are out of contention in July. That translate to far fewer butts in seats and television viewers. It's a business. Businesses gotta do business.
     
  18. There has been a lot of discussion about the declining popularity of baseball for the last few decades, but that is simply not borne out by the numbers. Attendance at games today is twice what it was 40 years ago, and five times what it was in "the era". Last year the NFL drew a total of 17,510,312 fans to games. MLB drew 69,671,212. Yes, there are a lot more baseball games, but I don't think you can look at those numbers and say people are not interested in baseball.
     
  19. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    That's why I was so surprised that ESPN had the results/images/etc. of a mid-season football game on its landing page versus a playoff baseball game. The cynic in me wonders if there's some agenda afoot.
     
  20. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Interesting to see the front page of today's Brooklyn Eagle in 1939 (see the Era Day by Day thread) with an enormous eight-column screamer headline giving the outcome of the day's World Series game, above even the war news from Europe. And the Dodgers weren't even playing.

    You don't see that kind of coverage in today's media -- baseball was the unquestioned king of spectator sports then, and everybody cared, even if it wasn't your team playing. I don't think you get that kind of coverage now -- sure, the playoffs aren't the World Series, but how often do you get that kind of coverage for a Series game now? The Boston papers and the New York papers will go full-screamer if there's a local team playing, but would they give the same coverage to, say, a Nationals-Rays series?
     

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