Thursday, August 10, 2006

Baseball will survive MLB

Strikeouts are boring. They're Fascist. Throw some ground balls, it's more Democratic.
Crash Davis, from Bull Durham

Good read, Reed Johnson

I was always one against change, but especially if it was change-for-greeds'-sake. Like the way MLB marketed the game to inspire dumb-awe at home runs(which are fascist). So when MLB re-juiced the ball again in 1995(also in 1920), I was against it. Selling spectacle dumbed-down the game on all levels, including the story telling.

But according to one cagey veteran, what's happening on the field with this "nuclear" baseball, may well bring the game back to the fundamentals. Just like us Baseball Fundamentalists like.

The centre of it is, the ball comes off the bat faster. This obviously effects offence, but it also significantly influences defense, and pitching too.

Formerly 3-2 games are now 8-5 games. Since each run is worth less than in the previous era, the number of opportunities available to effect the out come of each game increases. Every opportunity to plate a run must be maximized, making base running and on base percentage more important.

Anything you can do to stop runs from scoring has become very important. So speed and professionalism in the out field is a must. You can't have a Jose Cansecos out there.

On the offensive side, 20 home run guys are 40 home run guys. Line drive hitters get 20 homies 'with out even tryin'. More shots get to the gaps for doubles. The check-swing-homer has appeared; the batter is trying hold up on a pitch, and it goes over the wall in the corner! I think I've seen it in The Bronx and at Fenway too.

So yes, specialized freaks (and I mean that in a nice way) can pound out 75 homeys a season. But they demand freakish cash as well.

A cheaper team can win by choosing 100M champions out of college or off the grid iron,(two places where the stat. is kept). Your outfielders should have great range and great read. They have to get to those spots quicker when tracking down the line drives or lickity split grounders. Coaches could also look for baseball I.Q. and professionalism: Can the player be taught, will they learn the foot work needed to be an exceptional defensive player, are their heads in the game, do they love team baseball?

The hardest thing to do in sport is hit a baseball pitched by a major league pitcher, said the great Ted Williams, a hitter. Hitters are rare and homey hitter are very expensive; line-drive-hitters are cheaper. Also, because they suck, line-drive-hitters usually get to the majors through the practice of the art of hitting; so they see more pitches, which is harder on pitchers. Most often homey hitters rely on their unfair advantage, god given talent and not on the study of the game. Or in other words, they strike out a lot.

The line drive is penultimate in today's game, hit it past them, you win, cut it off or catch it, you win.

This bodes well for the game. The free enterprise tactics of the New York Yankees are forcing smaller market teams to re-think the game. I haven't read 'Money Ball', but I assume they're talking of the same things.

The change is afoot! And this Baseball fundamentalist approves!

Oh, I almost forgot; we really don't need the DH now to encourage more scoring. We've got a nuclear baseball for that. So lets just put it away now - OK?