“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.
HOME RUNS, STRIKEOUTS AND LESS FASTBALLS
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”)
WHAT DO WE KNOW, ANYWAY?
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.
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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