UCB Roundtable Project: Speed Up Games?

As a part of the UCB Roundtable project, I was tasked with asking Question #5 to our panel of bloggers.  The question I asked was the following:

The MLB Commissioner’s office has come up with a new scheme to make changes to the game.  These changes are to supposedly make the game move along a little faster.  The “Pace of Game Rules” are being tested (much like the Instant Replay was last year) at the Arizona Fall League Games.  What is your opinion about the efficacy of these rules in major league games?  Would you adopt all, some, or none of these rules if you were Supreme Dictator of Baseball, and if you would, which ones and why?

The answers I received are set out below.  I will give my response to my own question in a later post on the subject.

Mark Tomasik, Retrosimba

I like very much the pace of the game rules being considered.  Most especially, I like the batter’s box rule proposal, enforcement of the 20 second rule for pitchers, and the proposed 2:05 rule between innings.  There is way too much wasted time in games now.

I admire Skip Schumaker as a player, but his silly habit of stepping out of the box after every pitch to adjust his batting gloves is unnecessary and unprofessional.  If that kind of stuff went away, who would miss it?

Ironic that this question is asked today (11/7), the 76th birthday of former Cardinals pitcher Jim Kaat.  The ‘ol Dutch Master, a Hall of Fame candidate, was ready to pitch as soon as he got the ball from the catcher.  No reason everyone else cannot do that today.

Will be interesting to see whether MLB has the guts to implement the proposed 2:05 rule between innings, especially in postseason, because that would put advertising revenue at risk.  I hope they implement it.

Daniel Solzman, Redbird Rants

Instead of adopting new rules, why not enforce the current ones?  Jonny Gomes is a human rain delay in his own right.  He stepped out of the box after every pitch to adjust his helmet during the 2013 World Series.  There was no reason to do that at all.

The only instance in which the game can be sped up is when the New York Yankees play the Boston Red Sox.  For some reason, these two teams play close to four hours.  Except for when these two teams play, the game is fine as it is.  The only complaint I have would be to start the World Series games earlier.  No reason to be ending games when the east coast is asleep.

Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat

I never hear basketball fans trying to come up with rules to limit the stoppage of play, especially in the last minutes.  I’ve never quite understood the fascination with getting the game we enjoy watching over quicker.

That’s me, though, watching what I can on TV.  Those at the games and such I could well understand having a differing opinion.

The pitch clock is stupid.  I agree, if you are going to do anything, keep the batter in the box more.  Then again, would you want a key September decided because someone couldn’t step out, refocus, try to think what is coming next?

If they really wanted to speed things up, like Mark said, they’d look at commercial breaks.  That they won’t do that shows the priorities of the game are completely skewed.

Tom Knuppel

Just play the game.  The flow will be what it is.  If anything, limit stepping out of the box and limit catchers/infielders visits to the pitcher.  I don’t like the 20 second rule for pitchers.  Everyone is different in their approach.  So be it.

Bill Ivie, I70 Baseball

The commercial breaks…that is the key here.

Next time you attend a game, watch how slow the process between innings is.  Then, attend a national broadcast game and see how painfully worse it gets.  The game has never enforced staying in the box or stepping off the mound, though it has gotten worse over the years.  The game has embraced making more money by selling more commercials and charging companies more money to broadcast games.  The time between innings is the problem, if there is one.

I’m with Daniel (Shoptaw) though.  What’s wrong with the game?  Isn’t part of the beauty of baseball that there is no clock, no time limit, no assurance that the game will be over at a certain point?

In the postseason, we saw a bit of cat-and-mouse going on with hitters trying to call time at the last possible second to disrupt a pitcher.  Institute the “pitch clock” and that goes away.  You are speeding up the game and limiting the strategy of it.  Let me reward that for you – you are trying to keep people’s attention by dumbing down the product.  That’s sad.

Leave my game alone. Get off my lawn.  Kids these days.  #oldmansyndrome

Ben Chambers,  The View From Here

I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago on my blog, but since then, I had the chance to watch the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game that I recorded off MLB Network and it was an interesting experience.

First, I really like the idea of having players keep one foot in the batter’s box.  I remember one at-bat between Carlos Martinez and Joey Votto (I can’t remember if it was last year or this year) where I was just shocked at how quick Votto would step back in and Martinez would throw the pitch.  Now that I’ve mentioned it, I want to try and find that video.  That said, the players are just sliding back in the box instead of stepping all the way out of it.  The time that is has improved is minimal.  If instead, you could require a player to keep one foot planted, it could make a much larger change.

I’m also a big fan of a pitcher not having to throw 4 intentional balls for a walk.  It’s not necessary, and although it’s another minimal change, it’ll be a nice one.  It throws off the rhythm of the pitcher, and it’ll start to eliminate someone trying to “pitch around” someone because they don’t want to throw the intentional walk.  The manager can just tell the ump to send him to first base.

I don’t like a pitch clock or an in-between innings clock, but I think TV is the reason that in-between innings has lengthened.  If they could just require TV broadcasts to cut out 1-2 commercials between innings, and the players on the field understood that they had less time, then that would definitely speed it up by itself without requiring a clock telling them when to come back.

Doug Vollet,  Baseball Geek in Galveston

I agree with Bill and others that commercials are the key.  There’s plenty of advertising revenue to be gained in other areas these days, such as the internet, and many people in both the eastern and central time zones are often asleep due to this one thing.  I left a few playoff game to crawl in bed.  I also forced myself to stay awake during the few regular season Cards games I caught on ESPN, when I would otherwise be sleeping.

An earlier start wouldn’t hurt either, but then it’s not in “prime time”.

I like the one foot in the box rule.

Don’t limit mound visits, especially catcher visits.  Where would Yadi be without his ability to go to the mound and calm down or instruct a pitcher?

I’m not a fan of the pitchers’ clock per se, but I would like to see it experimented with, in say, spring training.  I never like to dismiss an idea out of hand before it is even given a chance.  It may work better than we think it will.

I really like the elimination of four balls for an intentional walk.  That one is must have.

Dan Buffa, The Cardinals Nerve Center @ The Cards Conclave

I’m all for speeding up commercials but I know that won’t happen with the growing desire for more money and product placement.

I don’t like the pitcher clock because they already have enough of a hard time getting it right.  Let’s leave them alone.

Making the hitter resist leaving the box and pondering the meaning of life wouldn’t be a bad idea but I don’t want it to affect a game I love just the way it is.

When I am at a ballpark I do notice the delay and slow climb back into action but that’s when I’ll direct my attention around the stadium or into another avenue of thought.

The greatness of baseball lies in the patience of the game and the resistance to speed the action up.  It’s slow but for a reason.  It’s methodical in so many ways that taking too much away may deprive it of the exact reason six months a year we are addicted to it.  I won’t take that risk.

Bob Netherton, On the Outside Corner

A great question, Marilyn.  I will strongly agree with Daniel on this one, just simply enforce the rules that are already in the book.  When you look back at the pace of games in the sixties, for example, the batters stepped into the box and stayed there until retired, reached base or something happened to their equipment.  The stepping out and gathering themselves was a relatively rare event, and not done by a lot of 8th place hitters.  There is a narcissistic element of the game today that should be looked at, but the rules to solve the problem are already there in ink and worked fine until umpires quit following them.

These new proposed rules, like the collision rule at home plate or replay, are an attempt to force a specific behavior or outcome into a game without consideration of the actual flow of the game.  After watching a couple of Salt River games, the obsession over the pitch clock is ridiculous.  I can understand it a bit in at time game like basketball or football (though curiously absent from hockey), but it has no place in baseball, outside the existing empty base 12 second rule (8.04).

The pace of the game can be improved by shortening the time between innings, but that impacts revenues.  Though it has the least impact to the actual game, it significantly impacts the business revenues of the game, so that won’t happen.

If I was Commissioner for a Day, I would instruct the umpires to call the high strike, don’t grant time to a batter for the purposes of adjusting his hitting gloves, and eliminate replay (thus cutting down an unnecessary trip by the manager each time there is a close play).  In other words, don’t keep trying to fix what isn’t broken.

I would also eliminate the DH and interleague play, but those don’t relate to the question at hand.

There you have it folks,  the bloggers speak on proposed Pace of Game rules.

Thank you for reading.

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Three Truths About Baseball Losses

1.  The team does want to win.

2.  Any player who messed up didn’t do it just to piss you off.

3.  It’s just a game.  If your happiness depends on the outcome maybe you should consider therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter Behaving Badly: All Star Edition

Twitter is a mine field in the best of times.  A morass of humanity unfiltered and unplugged, expounding in 140 characters or less on whatever topic is on their mind.  When you combine Twitter with a national sporting event, where emotions are high and inhibitions are low, you need a haz mat suit to survive.  It should be no surprise that many professional athletes avoid it like a case of ebola.

Last night during the MLB All Star game, Twitter really outdid itself in behaving badly.  In the first inning Adam Wainwright committed the mortal sin of Pitching While Not Being Clayton Kershaw, and giving up 3 runs to boot.  This was a rare feat not committed since two years ago when Justin Verlander gave up 5 runs in the first inning of the All Star Game.  That Wainwright had the temerity to do this in an exhibition game “that counts, dammit” because MLB decided it did or otherwise the players wouldn’t take it seriously, was the match that lit the Twitter fuse.  Did I mention the part about how MLB doesn’t really want the players to take it that seriously, because it’s supposed to be fun?  Being both serious and not serious at the same time must be exhausting.

So National League Twitter got mad and Non Cardinal National League Central Twitter got nasty and Dodger Fan Twitter was all like “I told you so you morons”.  Then Media Twitter went to play Gotcha with the harried and recently showered Wainwright and then all hell broke loose.  Our hapless starting pitcher tried to be humorous with Media Twitter, OH THE HUMANITY, and Media Twitter made him pay.  That’s what he got for not being serious at the wrong time…..or was it being serious at the right time…….or maybe it was…… never mind.

Hating the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans has become the national pastime in the National Pastime for the last several years.  This used to be the honor bestowed on the New York Yankees but times have decided that being a baseball powerhouse in the largest TV market in the country is to be expected and hating them has become passè.  No, the hate must now be bestowed on the Cardinals, that small TV market in that podunk city in flyover country, that just keeps winning and making people ANGRY.  The anger is multiplied by the media labeling Cardinals fans the best fans in baseball, which moniker has now been modified by eliminating the middleman media and calling it “Self Imposed Best Fans in Baseball”.  Neat, how that is done, huh?   It’s pretty easy when you are motivated enough and you have either a short or convenient memory.

In any event, as luck would have it, both All Star Cardinal pitchers (Pat Neshek pitched later in the game) were responsible for all 5 runs scored by the American League.  As perfect storms go, this was the most perfect for Cardinals haters everywhere.   Shangra-La as it were.  Twitter didn’t shirk it’s Cardinal hating duty, no sir, as this gem so aptly demonstrates:

 

 

It was a Cubs fan, granted, but work with me here.  I understand that Reds, Brewers, and Dodgers fans were in rare form as well, but I didn’t want to go searching for any of those tweets because I have already showered this morning.

Honestly, I think this is all pretty hilarious.  I’ve learned to accept and embrace the Cardinal hate, because it means it was earned by continuing to win.  When it all stops is when I will be sad.

I just hope Waino doesn’t take it too hard.  A nicer, kinder man couldn’t be found anywhere.   He may have to reserve his humor in the future for those of us who understand it, however.

We still love you Waino.  Don’t ever go near Twitter.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

There Is No Poetic Justice In Baseball

So I missed two games in a row.  Couldn’t be helped.  They would have to be these two games.  Well, barring anything unforeseen I will be watching tomorrow.  On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t, they have scored 17 runs in two games with me not watching.   Hmmmm.

Kolten Wong hit another home run.  This is getting to be a habit.  Tony Cruz had a good game too.  Despite what people who don’t seem to understand the concept of small sample sizes think, Cruz is not a bad hitter.  He’s never going to tear up the league, but he was a decent hitter in the minor leagues.  He just needs to play to hit.  Gee, what a concept.  Too bad a lot of people don’t seem to understand that one either.

I missed the Gabe Kapler Incident, too.  It’s too bad that a guy with so much promise as an announcer (he understands sabermetrics, which is a first), wasn’t more careful.  I doubt he meant it as a slight against Molina, but it wasn’t very professional.  What annoys me more, though, is how so much is made of playing in the All Star Game.  Like it is some prestigious award or something.  The whole thing is a farce.  I mean, why should anybody care whether Jonathan Lucroy or Bugs Bunny starts the freaking All Star Game?  Is Jonathan Lucroy going to be less of a player if he doesn’t start?  He’s had a better offensive 3 months than Molina and all of a sudden it’s a matter of national pride that he didn’t get voted in over Molina?  Give me a break.  I would expect homer fans to be outraged that their guy didn’t win,  but a professional on a national broadcast?  Do better Mr. Kapler.

Unfortunately, the only thing that all the complaining on Twitter will do is make sure we all wake up to another “Let’s Trash Cardinals Fans, It Gets Us Mucho Page Views” article from Deadspin.  This is another of my pet peeves.  What fanbase doesn’t get upset when someone disses one of their players?  Anybody think if Gabe Kapler had said the same thing about some other player, that that player’s fanbase wouldn’t be outraged?  Yet, many act as if  Cardinals fans are unique to being protective and defensive about their players, as if it was some kind of monstrous disease that only they had.  That whole “Best Fans in Baseball” nonsense probably contributes to it, but still, it’s just ridiculous to suggest Cardinals fans are any dumber or sillier than other fans.  People really need to grow the hell up.

Being tied for first place is nice.  Being there all by our lonesome would be better.  Too bad the All Star break is coming up, it might slow down this offensive momentum.  I was so happy that Adam Wainwright got all this run support, it was about time.  I wish he hadn’t had the two runs scored, because he is going to have to be twice as good as Clayton Kershaw to get any consideration for the Cy Young award.  That is too much to ask for any pitcher, but when you don’t get the recognition that Kershaw gets you are fighting an uphill battle with the voters. I’m not knocking Kershaw, I love the guy, but let’s face it, he gets extra points from the media just for being Clayton Kershaw.  Waino is usually just an afterthought, like “yeah, that guy is pretty good too”.  However, Waino has to out-pitch Kershaw, and so far it’s pretty dang close.  Kershaw’s next start is likely to be against the Cardinals, so our guys need to step it up and whup up on him.

Get out the brooms tomorrow folks.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

What’s Next?

The Cardinals did not play well in Los Angeles.  I hope they do better in San Francisco.

It seems like I have been having these hopes of a breakout all season.  I think I have.  Just when it looks like the breakout is about to happen—-it doesn’t.  I don’t know what to think anymore.

I have said there is something wrong with this team.  I could speculate on and on about what I think it is.  I have thoughts and impressions, but nothing I could back up with anything concrete.  Moreover, I think my biases would color those thoughts and impressions anyway.  I don’t like how this team looks, and I don’t like how it is being managed.  Those are my biases.  Anything I theorize about why this team has played so inconsistently is going to be influenced by those biases.

The Cardinals are calling up Oscar Taveras again.  Maybe that will work.  It didn’t accomplish anything the first time Taveras was up, but it was a small sample size.  He needs to play, but he also needs to play in the right environment.  I am just not sure the environment he is coming into is not toxic.  I am not sure that it is, but I am sure that something is not right.  What that something is is the mystery.

I will come right out and say it.  I am not enjoying this season at all.  I am not enjoying it to the point of not watching any games for over a week just to have some peace of mind for a change.  Yesterday’s game was the first one I watched in a while.  I sat there, crocheting, to have something to do with my hands, and I thought I don’t really want to even watch this.  I have never thought that way before.  If my brother wasn’t there with me watching it, I probably would have turned it off.

My brother says the team needs to manufacture runs.  He says they finally have some speed and they need to use it.  He says the power isn’t there, so they need to use the speed.  I can’t disagree with that, but that doesn’t appear to be the strategy. Kolten Wong is hurt, and Peter Bourjos isn’t going to play enough to get in the rhythm he needs to hit.  Those are the facts.  Without Wong and Bourjos there is no speed.  Therefore, the power has to come.  Maybe Taveras will bring it.  If not, then I don’t know.

We just have to wait and see what happens.  That is all I am going to do.  Wait and see what’s next.

 

Thank you for reading.

Jonathan Lucroy Supports This Message

So this whole Jonathon Lucroy All Star Vote video thing.  People are upset about it, huh?  I don’t know why.  I haven’t watched the video, because frankly, anything featuring a Milwaukee Brewer is sure to be boring.  Even if I did watch it I wouldn’t be upset.  Whatever it says about Yadier Molina, I am sure he can handle it.  I mean, the fans at Great American Little League Park have been trying to upset him for years and all he does is hit home runs and give them the virtual middle finger salute.

Things like this video are just representations of common ordinary petty jealousy.  That’s all.

If you think about it, who exactly are we talking about here?  Jonathan Lucroy is a good catcher.  He is having a good year so far offensively, better than Yadi even.  Defensively, he couldn’t hold Yadi’s jock strap if he super glued it to his hand.  The one he broke two years when a…….. ahem…….suitcase fell on it.   Yeah, sure it did.   Anyway, he’s not bad defensively, it’s just that Yadi is so far superior. Yadi is far superior to everyone in baseball.

Jonathan Lucroy thinks he deserves to go the All Star game.  I can buy that.  I hear Evan Gattis of the Braves thinks he should go too.  I imagine San Franciso Giants fans think Buster Posey should go, but then they think their bat boy should go because he is a Giant.  The media thinks Posey walks on water, so no doubt they think he should go too.  There will be more than one catcher at the All Star game.  A couple of years ago there were three.  After the fan vote, the players could vote one in and/or manager Mike Matheny can pick one.

Let’s face it folks, the All Star game is pretty much a farce.  Bud Selig made sure of that.  The ratings for the game get lower and lower every year, and the comparisons to the NFL Pro Bowl get more and more frequent.  If you ask me, players are better off resting for a week and being with their families than wasting time with Bud Selig’s Circus Side Show.  I might not even watch the game myself.  I could probably find some reruns of Law and Order Criminal Intent that I haven’t seen more than 5 or 6 times.  I could watch some movies I have never heard of on Netflix.  Both of these things would probably be more entertaining.

Who cares about some crappy video?  Deadspin?  Deadspin puts pictures of naked people squatting on toilets on their website;  they are the New York Post of sports journalism.  I am sure Brewers fans care.  You know, the folks who gave a standing ovation to the guy who cheated and then lied about it while publicly smearing some poor schlub who carts pee around for a living?  Before I hear, “Jhonny Peralta cheated too”,  remember the schlub who carts pee around for a living and shut up.

I hope you do get to go the All Star game Jonathan Lucroy.  If I voted for the All Star game I would vote for you.  Get a couple of Benjamin Franklin’s to me and I might.  It’s the only way anyone could get me to waste my time voting.

As for Cardinals fans who are upset by the video—-grow up.  Be flattered that the Cardinals are such a good organization and so dominates the NL Central that teams like the Brewers feel the need to make ridiculous videos to try to drum up some interest in them.  Yadier Molina might even hit some dingers in Miller Park the next time the Cardinals are there.

 

Thank you for reading

 

 

Finding Stasis

The Cardinals have won five in a row.  This is good.  I hope they keep it up.  Of course they won’t, because we all know the laws of the universe say they will eventually lose.  It may be today, it may be this weekend or next week.  Baseball is and has always been a cyclical thing.  Highs and lows.  Good seasons and bad seasons and just so-so seasons.

Individual performances are in flux.  This is the natural order of things.  Statistically, baseball players all have a mean.  It is that level of performance where their central tendencies lie.  It is their expected value.  This applies to both the player’s offensive and defensive abilities.  Some players have a high mean in offense but not in defense and vice versa.  Some have high or low means in both.  That mean will gradually change over time as age and wear and tear on the body cause the performance to decline.  There are other factors which can affect the mean, so not every player’s true mean is known in the same amount of time.  Once it is known, however, it is fairly easy to predict where a player’s performance level will end up over time.

With the Cardinals so far we have seen players play to their mean.  We have also seen players both playing below their mean and above their mean.  Eventually, but not always in the same amount of time, the player will regress either upward or downward to their mean.  The underachievers will heat up and overachievers will cool off.  That is the way it has always been.

The key to long term success is to find stasis, or the level of stability where forces are equal and opposing. This is extremely difficult to do in baseball because it is rare that every player on the team plays to their mean all at the same time.  This is why there are winning streaks and losing streaks, players who are hot and players who are slumping.  It is the natural ebb and flow of baseball.  Teams are in flux, players come and go throughout the season, affecting the ability to find stasis.  You can build a winning baseball team by filling it with players whose means in either offense or defense or both are at an above average level, but you can never guarantee success.

As a team, stasis may never be achieved in any given season.  That is what makes baseball fun and exciting.  We get excited by the overachievers and frustrated by the underachievers, and then it all changes and we continue the cycle.  The goal of course is to win, however you get there.

We as fans go through highs and lows with our teams and with our individual favorite players.  It is the nature of being a fan.  The key to trying to find stasis as a fan is to realize that that the team and the players are going to disappoint us at times. We have to understand that we are seeing today, or tomorrow or for the next week, may not be what see throughout the season.  We have to understand that playing baseball is hard, and that players will not always play to their mean.  We have to have patience and let it all play out.

This is not an easy thing to do as a fan.  I have never found it easy at all, and I go through times of elation followed by times of depression as a fan of baseball.  I have to continuously remind myself that no matter what is happening right now, it is going to change.  I search for my stasis as well.  None of this means that I can’t complain about a player or the manager or the team as a whole.  It just means that at the end of the day, it will play out the way it plays out and things will continue to change, for good or bad, and I have to adapt.  I have to search for my stasis, even if I never find it.  That’s what being a baseball fan is all about.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Some Chicks Can Take or Leave the Long Ball

Amidst the concern over the Cardinals’ lack of offense, there is an additional hue and cry over a power drought as well.  The concern over the offense in general is understandable.  The games have been frustrating to say the least, especially because Cardinal fans are used to much more offense than they are seeing.   For me personally, I still have the confidence that the offense will return.  This team is just too good for this to go on much longer.

As for the cries of “where’s the power?”, I say “meh”.  Home runs are nice, but runs however you can get them are nicer.  The home run is not the only source of runs in baseball, but to hear some people talk, it should be.  I have noticed an increased obsession with the home run over the last two decades.  Perhaps it is a consequence of the Steroid Era, when the pharmaceutically-enhanced hit the long ball at record rates.  Many fans today grew up on that time and have come to expect the home run as the most exciting play in baseball.  Having entered my fifth decade of baseball watching, I can categorically opine that it is not.  Great pitching is better.  Speed is better.  The most exciting time of baseball for me was the 80s, the decade of Whitey Ball.

Now, I am not expecting a return to Whitey Ball.   I don’t think I will ever see that brand of baseball again.  However, a brand of baseball that over emphasizes the long ball would not make me happy in the least.  There is a reason I do not watch the Home Run Derby during the All Star Break.  It’s boring.

Station to station, swing for the fences type of baseball is a staple of the American League.  I hate the American League.  The designated hitter is the dumbest invention that mankind ever conceived.  I could write a treatise about how dumb it is and how much I hate it.  I won’t do that.  I can’t even imagine how I will be able stand to watch baseball if the DH ever comes to the NL.  My hatred is not of the traditionalist variety that many modern fans enjoy mocking.  My hatred is that the DH will take the magic out of baseball for me.  The magic of the unexpected.  My baseball will become the hated American League variety, where hitting is an assembly line of robotic, glassy eyed, home run obsessed mannequins.

Come on, who is not entertained watching Bartolo Colon try to hit?

No, the long ball is far from my favorite baseball play.  I like strikeouts.  I like stolen bases.  I like squeeze plays and triples from speed demons like Peter Bourjos.  I like good defensive plays.  The home run is more exciting when it is not expected, when it doesn’t happen a lot.   The maxim that you can have too much of a good thing couldn’t be more true when it comes to hitting home runs.  They may be the quickest way to score runs, but they are not the most exciting, not for me anyway.  Home runs are like a 5 second orgasm–over with quickly and then you just want to sleep.  Everything else is the foreplay, the good stuff.

So when I hear the constant griping and complaining from fans and the media about a power outage, I just want to scream, “Get a life!”.  I may not always agree with Mike Matheny, but he is unequivocally correct when he says trying to hit home runs will assure you hit nothing.  Putting pressure on Cardinal hitters to hit home runs is the worst thing you could possibly do.  I have just one thing to say to the writers at the Post Dispatch about their power outage whining.  Shut the hell up.

This chick doesn’t dig the long ball.  This chick digs baseball in all of it’s permutations and unexpected twists and turns.  This chick digs everything about baseball, and the long ball is just one small part of the greatness that is baseball.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Baseball Is Stupid

I’ve come to the realization that sometimes baseball is just a stupid game.  There are times when it makes about as much sense as trying to light a candle in a wind tunnel.  Right now, two of the best pitchers in the National League are Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez.   If the Cubs win the World Series this year, I swear I am entering a convent.  This kind of stuff shouldn’t be happening.  Do you want to know why it is happening?  It’s called SMALL SAMPLE SIZES.

Yes, folks, small sample sizes are a thing.  Strange things do happen in the vacuum of the small sample size universe.  They happen all the time, every year after year after year, yet many people are still consistently fooled by them.  It’s like when Charley Brown still tries to kick the football, knowing Lucy is going to yank the thing away at the last minute.  He just can’t help himself.

We all know Allen Craig can hit.  He didn’t hit for a long time, but now it looks like he is breaking free from the small sample size hole he was in.  Some people take longer to conquer the small sample size.  Some people play really well for short periods of time, better than their history would suggest, but eventually they will regress to their mean.  It happened most painfully to Pete Kozma.  There were people who fell for it though, when Pete Kozma was hitting 400+ in September of 2012.  I bet they won’t admit it now.

The regression will likely come for Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez.  The hot hitter will get cold and the cold hitter will get hot.  It’s not what they do in those short periods of time that matter as much as what they have done over their career.  When decisions are made based on small sample sizes is when the trouble begins.  Those decisions do get made; those wrong conclusions are drawn.  We just can’t help kicking the football.

Baseball can be a stupid and frustrating game.  I am always very wary of the small sample size.  It will chew you up and spit you out and then stomp on you for good measure.  Conquering the small sample size takes patience.  A whole lot of patience.  Patience is something that many people don’t have.  Patience is hard, often too hard for most people.  So they kick the football.

I do have patience.  It’s the only thing that keeps me sane in a world where baseball is stupid.  In a world where Aaron Harang pitches a no hitter and Allen Craig couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat, patience is a necessity.   A necessity that will prevent your head from exploding the next time baseball happens and you want to throw something through your TV screen.

Stop kicking the football.  You will be better off for it.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them

It’s the  day after Opening Day, and one would think the logical theme for today’s post would be the 1-0 victory yesterday of the Cardinals over the Reds.  Well, there are 161 more potential regular season victories to write about and I am sure I will get to some of them but this post is not about the game.  It is about the Cardinals, or moreover, it has the potential to be about the Cardinals.

Yesterday did bring to the front another issue that will likely put the Cardinals and their fans in the spotlight in the near future.  The Milwaukee Brewers, an NL Central rival, won their Opening Day contest against the Atlanta Braves 2-0.  Contributing to that victory was the Brewers top slugger, and the guy everyone loves to hate (except Brewers fans), Ryan Braun.  You know that guy, the one who tested positive for PEDS a couple of years ago, railed about his innocence on the national stage, and won his appeal (the first for MLB) by blaming a specimen collector for his predicament.  The one who we later discovered through the Biogenesis scandal and investigation really was guilty as charged, and who lied with the flaming furor of a thousand suns about it to everyone, and blamed an innocent working man in the process.  Yeah, that guy.

Well, Braun played in the game yesterday, and by all reports was greeted by his adoring fans with a standing ovation.  That standing ovation has been met with anger and disgust by many non-Brewer fans, including some Cardinals fans.  That brings me to the point of this post.

The Cardinals have their own Biogenesis taint, in the person of Jhonny Peralta.  Now, Peralta was not playing for the Cardinals when all that stuff went down.  But he plays for the Cardinals now, and though his situation is not identical to Braun’s because he did not lie about it, and he served his punishment without appeal or fuss, and no innocent people were besmirched, he still has the taint.  His signing to a 52 million dollar contract by the Cardinals raised some eyebrows, and some ire, not just by fans and the media, but by other major league players as well.  It contributed to a push by MLB and the MLBPA to increase the penalties for PED use, and such push did result in recent amendments to the Joint Drug Agreement to do just that.

Soon the Brewers will be coming to St. Louis to play the Cardinals, and with them will come Ryan Braun, to put himself before Cardinals’ fans.  The question has already been asked—How will Cardinals’ fans respond?  Will they boo him, as many expect they will?  If they do, what will surely follow will be articles written by such notable publications as Deadspin and Hardball Talk, and no doubt other newspapers and internet sites as well, accusing Cardinals’ fans of being hypocrites.  The “Cardinal Way” such as it is, will again be the subject of mockery, as it was for portions of the postseason last year, but perhaps with even more venom than before.

I say none of this as a preliminary indictment against Cardinals’ fans, my being one of that class makes me hesitant to be so bold.  There are still several weeks before the Brewers come to Busch Stadium, and the reception Braun will receive is yet unknown.  It is a warning, however, to be prepared for the onslaught if the expected booing does occur.  While Cardinals’ fans may see a big difference between how Peralta handled his suspension and how Braun handled his, the outside is not likely to make such a distinction.  Even if they did, the opportunity for entertainment in the form of derision and mockery is too good to pass up, so that distinction will be glossed over or denied.  The perennial success of the Cardinals and the acclaim Cardinals’ fans have been given over the years as “The Best Fans in Baseball”, have set Cardinal Nation up for this potential siege.

I am not going to tell Cardinals’ fans how to behave.  It does no good to preach, no matter how tempting it may be.  I can only control my own behavior.  I am not going to be at Busch Stadium when the Brewers come to town, but if I were, I would be mute when Ryan Braun appeared.  I think it is often better to let wrongdoers steep in their own muck than to give them the notoriety of attention, in whatever form.

I don’t like Ryan Braun, I will freely say that, but I didn’t like him before the Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta.  I put him right up there in the category of Alex Rodriguez, men with no character, who use their fame in absolutely the wrong way, and who have an arrogance that belies any form of fellowship with them as individuals.  My dislike does not have to turn into a weapon to be used against him, I don’t feel the need to do that.  Ryan Braun has to live with himself and what he did, and what I or any other person thinks or says has no bearing on how he does.  We may think he doesn’t deserve the money or the standing ovations, or anything else of value he receives, but we don’t decide that.  I prefer to think about better things, about the Cardinals and the season coming up and the enjoyment I will get from that, and not waste my thoughts or my actions on the likes of the Ryan Brauns of the world. They have their own muck to steep in.

 

Thank you for reading.

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