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Thursday 18th Jan 2018


I realize that I am now a sort of "retiree," since I have left the corporate world, and even qualify for Social Security, that I am on the road to becoming a cranky old man.

It is true: When Henry Winkler prefaces his reverse mortgage commercial, noting, "If you are 62 or older..." my head quickly turns to the sound, even though I have seen the ad many times, and have no intention of putting my house on such a plan. At least not just yet.

On the other hand, I do still play in a rock'n'roll band, am a complete junkie for Mr. Pickles and Squidbillies on Adult Swim, and dig Modest Mouse and The Black Keys.

I can say that I started watching baseball when there were two leagues with eight teams in each, having witnessed the first expansions in 1962, the lowering of the mound and expansions of 1969, and also the implementation of the DH. There was the recent re-alignment, and of course Interleague play, and now the expanded Wild Card. And, then there was the advent of Instant Replay.

Among those, there have been some really good moves in my view. I love Interleague play, and apparently the expanded Wild Card keeps more teams in it as hopefuls longer, and seems to create a dogfight for a chance at post-season play in the best of ways.

The lower mound, and the DH? Well, they have not killed the game, although I wish both leagues simply used the DH, or neither did. As in both leagues may as well play the same game. If I had a preference, it would be in favor of having the pitcher hit, because I love tactics and watching a manager try to push or pull the right buttons at the right time when the game is on the line.

But, I can live with the DH.

Although, I hate Instant Replay, and the idea of umpires and referees being second guessed. Not because I don't want the crew to "get it right," as they say, but as often as not, Instant Replay is not definitive and I truly feel that the officiating at games is really pretty good, all things considered. More important, since the game is played by humans, can we please just let humans adjudicate and be done with it?

For, when push comes to shove, I think the good and bad breaks for every team are about the same (even with Instant Replay). The issue is whether or not a team can take advantage of the situation. But, the timeouts do disrupt the flow of the game, in my opinion.

But, this talk about a pitch clock, and even worse, banning the shift is just crazy.

Let's start with the shift. Prohibiting moving a team's defense is almost like saying a team's offense cannot platoon. Which could be a way of saying you cannot pinch-hit under certain circumstances. The shift is indeed a strategy, like a platoon. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it is certainly not like using a spitter, or corking a bat, which actually does involve manipulating equipment to gain an advantage.

But, moving your defense is simply part of the game, and a smart hitter (and manager and batting coach) will try to figure a way around it. Because, as we know, baseball is a game of adjustments.

As for the pitch clock, isn't one of the main things we love about baseball the fact that it does not actually have a time limit? Is it frustrating when Jamey Wright pitches--you can start a fire and toast marshmallows on it between throws--but that is also part of the game. So is Mark Buehrle not allowing a hitter enough time to adjust his jock, let alone hat.

But, again, it is a game played by human beings. So, can our hurry-up world of instant gratification please just take a deep breath? Then, in 10-15 years, when I am dead, go ahead and change everything.

Ayyy! Even the Fonz knows the wait won't be that long.


0 #3 Todd Zola 2015-02-01 18:34
The sample is still limited but data shows the shift, big picture, is marginally helpful. Some individuals are whacked by it, some not so much and a handful are actually helped.

The question is will more teams adapt it and will those already deploying it get better at doing it?

Regardless, outlawing it isn't the answer (and it wasn't long before Manfred back-pedaled and said simply everything is on the table, citing this as an example as opposed to something he's actively looking to change.

I still say taking the present strike zone and raising the rectangle the width of the ball would solve many of the league's issues.
0 #2 Lawr Michaels 2015-02-01 17:12
A valid point, Brian, and I guess one that simply shows age. At least mine.

I think the fuss is sort of like deflategate, as I don't think the shift ultimately makes that much difference in the outcome of the game.
0 #1 Brian Walton 2015-01-31 18:33
Lawr, baseball already has you hooked. They are after the younger generations of fans who prefer football and other sports. Pace of game is one of their issues, according to market research.

As a sample of one, my oldest son reacted positively of the news of the quickened pace, which may also include tighter enforcement of the between-innings breaks.

I've seen some (not Manfred) propose making each pitcher throw to more than one batter, again to increase the game's pace (and potentially increase offense).

Speaking of...

Banning shifts is a really bad idea that I have seen few, if any, support. Of course, its target is a different perceived problem - diminished offense. That could be addressed in other ways, such as how the strike zone is called.

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