By:  Kurt Snyder

“I can’t watch these games anymore,’’ “It’s not baseball. It’s unwatchable. A lot of the strategy of the game, the beauty of the game, it’s all gone.  “It’s like a video game now. It’s home run derby with their (expletive) launch angle every night.’’ – Rich Gossage

“It’s home run derby every night, and if that’s what they want, that’s what they’re going to get. But they have to understand something … Home runs are up. Strikeouts are up. But attendance is down. I didn’t go to Harvard or one of those Ivy League schools, but that’s not a good thing.’’ – Pete Rose

“All anybody wants to do is launch the ball,’’ “They’re making the ballparks smaller, the balls tighter, and all we’re seeing is home runs. There are no hit-and-runs. No stolen bases. Nothing. I managed 3,400 games in the big leagues, and never once did I put on a full shift on anybody. Not once. And I think I won a few games without having to shift.’’ – Lou Pinella

Goose Gossage. Pete Rose. Lou Pinella.

They have been called out as being 3 old guys complaining about today’s game. But  they are also 3 guys who are correct in their complaints.

Strategically, the game has become foreign to them and to us. Analytics are helping front offices, general managers, managers and players alike to concentrate on information, the more information the better, in order to make them more productive.

I hate that after all these years, during a time when so many of us learned to love the game, what we love is going away. Analytics have cast a shadow on what used to be the fundamentals that the game was based on.

Hitting the ball the other way. Advancing runners. Bunting. All have been ruled as less productive options versus attempting to launch the ball over the fence; the better and more productive way to go, so we are told.


Strategically, the game has changed like night and day. And I think if there is anything that makes the new game less appealing, it’s the shift. It totally undermines what the Commissioner has been chirping about.

He has worked hard on ideas to quicken the game and add more excitement to the game. But in the meantime, the shift is digging in and taking hold of the game offensively.

It has been just another part of the game that makes hitting the ball into the seats the better way to go.

It’s a vicious circle.

Teams have won if a player attempts to beat the shift by hitting the ball the other way. It rarely happens. It’s rarely tried. Because they can’t do it. But even when it’s successful, the defense wins. It’s just one less player who will hit the ball in the seats. So why try to beat it?

The shift means less balls in play. It means less base hits, less extra base hits. And thus, less excitement.

Frankly, it’s feeding the monster and I hope we are seeing the last of it this season.


Unfortunately, fans of rebuilding teams are seeing more players swing and miss because of what is now the considered the new normal. Home runs.

Is it just the Tigers constantly swinging and missing? Well, no. Their problems have more to do with talent than most.  Players who have no business trying to hit home runs are trying nonetheless, when they should be concentrating on hitting the ball up the middle.

Locally, the Tigers tend to swing at everything in and out of the zone. The reason? They are guessing wrong looking for that fastball that just ain’t comin’ – at least not enough for their liking.

You can really look bad thinking ‘here comes the fastball’ and it’s not. Take John Hicks for instance. Maybe more than any other Tiger, he is trying to hit the ball out on every swing. And when he guesses wrong, he misses the ball by almost a foot.

Justin Verlander, since he’s been in Houston, is throwing less fastballs than he has in his entire career. And he is untouchable … again. (JV does have a big advantage in that he can throw everything for strikes and he has more than one strength in his “arsenal”)


This is our game now. People tend to think that the old time players are just stuck in their ways and that the only good baseball was played when they were playing.

From an older fan perspective, they are criticized for thumbing their nose at today’s game because it doesn’t resemble what they grew up loving.

The game had a charm.  Now it’s a science.   Now it’s a giant mathematical equation.

The result?

Older guys aren’t yawning at the games because it’s past their bed time. It’s the game that is putting them to sleep.

And the guy in his 20’s next to him? He’s asleep too.

Because his phone is dead.

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24 thoughts on “YOU CAN’T TEACH AN OLD GUY …

  1. Excellent observations. But how is it solved? It may be just a passing fad. All I can say is that I am a baseball fan first, then a Tigers’ fan. So that gives me more perspective because my rooting interest is not there 80% of the time. Seems like my favorite sport can’t be reduced to a board game but bring in computers and the rules and ideals have been trashed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes Kurt this is what we seventy plus types have been saying for half a decade but for all the good it’s doing we might as well urinate into hurricane. As our game dies we are “whistling past the graveyard”. Not only has the game been reduced to something you can play on a computer it’s been sissified like all the major sports. Don’t want anybody hurt now do we.


  3. I love the art of the game as much as the science, and that’s what I miss the most right now. It seems like all managers follow the same script, which takes some fun out of the game. Besides our beloved ’84 Tigers, I loved watching the Billy Ball A’s and the Cardinals as a kid – constantly had guys running, putting pressure on defenses, and had a flair about them. That is almost gone in today’s game.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Spin rates, launch angles, exit velocity, home run speed and ultimate zone rating. Dare I say most fans don’t care about these numbers and stats or care to hear about it from the announcers. That’s why I don’t watch much baseball on TV anymore either. I’d much rather read box scores. When Miguel hits a rare homer, does one think he’s asking his teammates, “hey, did you see the launch angle on my homer?” “What was the exit speed?” I highly doubt it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I also hate our TV crew mumbling on about launch angles and exit velocities. To make it worse, Shep can always come up with meaningless stats like “He’s hitting .400 in Thursday day games against left handed pitching”, while missing that ball was hit to RF not CF or even the B/S count on the hitter.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Some think it’s entertaining. “Is that [banning the shift] going to produce more batting average? Maybe,” said Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch at the winter meetings. “More runs? Debatable. A more energized and entertaining game? I doubt it.”


  6. You hear lots of rhapsodizing about how a SS makes the play on a ground ball to the hole, he will throw out the runner by a step as he would have in 1911. There is a mythology about the timeless perfection with which baseball is set up. Nonsense–baseball has undergone innumerable transformations, in the makeup of the ball, in the nature of the parks, in its equipment, in its strategies. It is time for another transformation; take home runs and strikeouts out of the game and inject base hits back into it; baseball must get creative or it will die.

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  7. Great Post Kurt! As an old guy myself, I couldn’t agree more. Hopefully this analytic trend goes away soon. I see that analytics are ruining pitchers too. The other day, Tim Kirkjian said that the overall MLB bullpen ERA will be the highest ever this season. This is due to starters only being allowed to go through the lineup twice and the relief pitchers being over-worked. This also leads to longer and more boring games as there are way too many pitching changes.

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  8. I have been posting, talking, mumbling about analytics ruining baseball since it became a “thing”. Use it for judging talent but not for in-game strategy. Baseball IS bunting, stealing, base running, hit and run, hitting to the opposite field, hitting behind the runner, going with the pitch. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

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  9. Spectator sports are now $pectacle “sports”. Baseball isn’t the national pass time, but a game played by bankers and boards of directors.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The real issue is that the game is being taken over by those that never played past T-ball. Owners, GMs, even to some extent the coaches. The sad thing is, they will continue to win, the real game will never be back. Sad times we live in right now. JMO

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Analytics is the application of math and data. This is not the problem. The failure of the league to respond with new rules has resulted in these unwatchable games. Every other sports league adjusts as there game changes but baseball is stuck in the past. MLB has always resisted change for fear of upsetting the “tradition” of the game and now the traditionalists don’t watch. Blame the MLB leadership not the math.

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    • Not sure I agree CS. Analytics can reveal a player’s potential but it is destroying the “perfect” game. New rules are not needed unless they return the sport to the way it used to be played by normal size athletes who are multi-dimensional players skilled in all aspects of a complex and fascinating game. HR vs K is boring and not the way the game is meant to be played.


  12. When I hear broadcasters, coaches, scouts, etc. talking about prospects, the word “power” always seeps into the conversation. I hate that a prospect could be a .300 hitter, but if he lacks power, he has little chance of making it. Tell that to guys like Pete Rose, Rod Carew, Lew Brock, etc. They made a living hitting it where they ain’t. In today’s game, would they have even had a chance to try?

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  13. Did anyone notice that among our few wins this year one came on a bunt by (of all people) John Hicks? Watching some of Hick’s swings last night, he should bunt more. It also seems to me we also scored a run or two playing “small ball” this weekend. The shift is a self inflicted wound to the game. If batters start “beating” the shift, it would pretty much go away. Problem is no one works on that.


  14. Statisticians and the analysts they spawn are ruining more than baseball. I’m sure nearly everyone on this blog has encountered statistically-based “continuous quality improvement” and “data analytics” in their work-a-day lives and know how it stifles freedom, creativity, spontaneity, and intuition. What’s best statistically isn’t necessarily enjoyable – but I don’t have the figures to back that up.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agree completely McWatt; I had plenty of those experiences too. Cynicism came from seeing all the effort and resources that went into establishing and marketing those programs, when the basics of good discipline and training were secondary to the need to have the programs ‘for show’. Thankfully a few wise folks came along who could prove that the programs were a tool to make better product, not an end in themselves. Kinda like having analytics for themselves even if they don’t produce more wins.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I too get sick of observing the ‘over-application ‘ of analytics to the game, but I think the positive use of it can be real; the effective teams (Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, etc) will use it in a proper context: to evaluate and develop talent, have effective strategies, and win. Those who fall in love with it for its own sake will talk about it a lot, but struggle to succeed as organizations. As with most new things, it takes astute leadership to keep it in that proper context, and produce wins.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am an engineer by degree but all this baseball math talk means nothing to me–I usually mute the announcers when they babble about it. MLB attendance is on the way down, a drop of ~1500 per game since 2017. This is a loss of 3.6+ million attendance / season per my quick paper napkin math (2430 total games x 1500). That is some real revenue loss. How this might drive change, we will see.

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  17. Kurt, I love the last sentence of today’s blog. Anywho, when a couple of friends and I talk about baseball and the scores at work, never do we talk about these useless stats that I mentioned in my earlier comment. For these announcers to beat the viewers over the head with these stats, especially on ESPN, well, they sound like goofballs


  18. Totally great day kurt. Favorite part of the piece was your last few sentences. Also don’t forget, pitchers all say the ball is ‘doctored’ every way so it’ll be batting practice all day long.


  19. I think you made Jim Leyland’s case for him here. I think analytics should be applied to the players and that’s it.


  20. Good article Kurt. I understand why analytics is taking over. How could we not use technology to its’ fullest. However, it is changing the beloved game of baseball. Somehow, baseball is becoming less fun than it used to be. Maybe it’s just me…I’m almost 80. But I do hear so many negative comments from much younger people. Our entire culture is being reformed, and not in a good way, and I’m afraid that baseball is not going to be an exception.

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  21. Just a few years ago the Giants won 3 WS in 5 years. No player had more than 26 homers in any season, only 5 players hit more than 20 total in those seasons, and only 6 players total struck out more than 100 times. Amazing what pitching, speed, defense and situational hitting can do.

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