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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Put all teams in the MLB playoffs.

Instead of whining about the MLB regular season becoming more meaningless, why not make it completely meaningless? Put all the teams into a new playoff system. 1. Reduce the regular season to 140 games: 20 games against seven opponents. 2. Seed the teams according to regular season record. Based on 32, not the actual 30 teams currently in MLB, this could be done with eight team east/west divisions in each of the current two leagues. Teams should play only in their divisions. 3. Give a big advantage to the highest seed(1 v. 8), especially in round one, maybe all home games, maybe give number one a win to start the five game series. 4. There would be three series of five games. That would decide the four division winners. Max 155 games, min 149 games to that point. 5. Division winners would then play a seven game LCS. 6. World Series. Cool.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Borrow outs.

How about allowing teams to borrow outs from a future inning in the same game? Of course that team must pay back: the future inning would lose the number of outs borrowed. Radical, uh? The only flaw I see is if the defensive team gets out of a jam by retiring a batter for the third out, then the offense announces that it borrowing from the next inning and the defense could have gotten a double play for four outs ... I'm sure one of you readers can suggest something. Of course, a team may not borrow from innings that may not be played: extra innings. Cool, uh?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Classic contrast showing the absurdity of the non-uniform playing areas.

Home runs: home/away

Joe DiMaggio: 148 home, 213 away; 41% at home (Yankee Stadium: 457 LC, 461 C)
1937: 19 home, 27 away: 46 homers
1948: 15 home, 24 away: 39

homers http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/event_hr.cgi?n1=snidedu01&t=b

Duke Snider: 224 home, 183 away; 55% at home; that includes 18 playing for Mets and Giants and FIVE seasons in LA. Snider's home/away splits for five consecutive 40 homer seasons in Ebbets Field Brooklyn, Duke's claim to fame:
1953: 23 home, 19 away: 42 homers
1954: 23 home, 17 away: 40 homers
1955: 23 home, 19 away: 42 homers
1956: 25 home, 18 away: 43 homers
1957: 23 home, 17 away: 40 homers

 New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra won three AL MVP awards: 1951, 1954, 1955. We have home/away splits for 1954 and 1955. Yankee Stadium was 344 feet from home plate in straight away right field. Berra batted left handed. Had Yogi been a righty batter like DiMaggio, he probably would not have hit so many homers. Yogi was not Ruth or Gehrig.

1954: 15 home, 7 away: 22 homers
1955: 20 home, 7 away: 27 homers Yogi twice set the AL record for homers by a catcher: 30:
1952: 18 home, 12 away
1956: 19 home, 11 away
Career 210 home, 148 away; 58.6% home in same park where DiMaggio hit only 41% of his home runs.

Brooklyn Dodger catcher Roy Campanella won three NL MVP awards: 1951, 1953, 1955. We have home/away splits for 1953 and 1955.
1953: 22 home, 19 away; NL record for homers by a catcher: 41
1955: 21 home, 11 away: 32 homers
Career 140 home, 102 away; 57.8% home

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MLB cancels game less than 90 minutes before start.

Just before I posted my previous message I checked the MLB web site: game on. Now the game has been called. How many fans had already left for Yankee Stadium? How many fans had already arrived in the pouring rain? It was obvious that it would rain during the entire time that the game would be played. The only question was whether MLB would stage another Saturday night travesty as it did seven days ago. Why wait so long to do the only intelligent thing? MLB has nothing but disdain for fans who attend games in person. Those fans have been loyal to a fault. One day that will change and MLB will be unable recover. It will be too late. MLB will stage a big game in bad weather and the ballpark will be empty.

Another Saturday night travesty.

Game six of the Yankee - Angel ALCS is scheduled to start at 7:57PM Saturday night, only a little more than an hour from now. It's been raining all day here in New York and the forecast is for rain to end about 4AM. Sunday's weather is supposed to be good, dry and relatively warm at close to 60 degrees. Monday's forecast is comparably good. The Word Series is set to begin Wednesday. So why is MLB, Inc. so intent on forcing the teams to play tonight? MLB has a couple of days wiggle room. The quick answer is television. However, when you think about it, what is the real advantage? Would the broadcasting network, FOX, and MLB make that much more money if games six and seven were played on Saturday and Sunday rather than Sunday and Monday? Does ad revenue collected drop that much on Monday? Is that how it works? Does anyone actually know? Does MLB have any integrity? MLB is presenting itself in a very negative light. MLB does not care about the fans with tickets to tonight's game, many of whom must have expected that the game would be postponed. MLB does not care about the players. MLB does not care about the viewing audience, which will get a watered down product. MLB should be ashamed. The shame is that MLB has no shame.

Instant replay: forget the damn flag!

Some rocket scientists are suggesting that MLB use an NFL style red flag approach for instant replay. See my previous post. By the time the flag is thrown we've already watched the replay on TV. Here's my newest twist: just show the replay on the big screen in the ballpark. Then the umps can correct themselves immediately. There, that was easy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Instant Replay instantly.

Last night's Yankee - Angel playoff game may have set a new low for the umpires. There were three calls that were embarrassingly incorrect. The crew chief apologized for the two that he made. All of us watching the game on TV and apparently also those in California attending the game judged by the amount of booing knew very quickly that umpiring mistakes had occurred. Here's the quick, easy, cheap solution: Let the TV announcers alert the umps that they blew a call. Heck, they are alerting the viewing audience already. Why not let the umps know it? Just push a button. The button could light up a red light on the scoreboard and/or communicate to the umps more discreetly through a hand held device that the umps carry for this purpose. Then the umps would go to a TV near a dugout and watch the same replays that everyone at home is watching. Bingo! The mistake can be corrected in a few seconds. Much better than the current system: a manager arguing for an unlimited time and the call remaining incorrect. You know who should be demanding this the most? The umps. They are the ones who now look like fools. Their only recourse is instant "instant replay".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Great playoff game or another travesty?

Last night the New York Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4-3 in 13 innings in game two of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. Since I am a Yankee fan I should be happy, however the game embodied everything that I dislike about current MLB, Inc.
- too long: FIVE hours ten minutes
- too much dead time featuring Yankee starting catcher Jose Molina getting the plate umpire to call time out on what seemed like every other pitch to confer with a Yankee pitcher on that complicated topic of what the heck to throw
- TERRIBLE weather: freezing cold the entire time and pouring rain for the second half of the game
- stupid managing: Yankee Joe Girardi AGAIN wasting his best relief pitchers in a tie game: Joba Chamberlain retired one batter to end the seventh with bases loaded; Phil Hughes retired two batters in the eighth inning, which Chamberlain should have pitched; Mariano Rivera wasted the day before to "save" a THREE run lead in the ninth even though neither Chamberlain nor Hughes pitched in game one then brought in to retire the last batter in the eighth of game two, then pitching the ninth and tenth (gee, what a surprise that a tie game would go into extra innings; Joe Girardi was certainly surprised or else he's simply retarded).
So what was proved? What was affirmed? Beats me, which is one reason that I was not enthused. Plus, I finally went to bed about 45 minutes after midnight and watched the recorded ending this morning. My reaction during the game was often:
- Get back in the damn box!
- Throw the damn ball!
- Not another meeting!
- You just talked to him!
- What could you possibly be thinking about?
- Get back in the damn box!
- Throw the damn ball!
- Not another meeting!
Ad nauseum!
The weather appeared to be so bad that it was a violation of both the Constitutional prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment" and the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war and the definition of torture. Edgar Allen Poe could have written about the diabolical dance of dead time between pitches.
Maybe we should have the Red Cross make decisions on playing conditions instead of feeble minded MLB commissioner Bud Selig, the 75 year old boy wonder.
The manager and pitching coach may visit the mound once an inning to speak to a particular pitcher but the catcher apparently may visit as often as he wants. The plate umpire NEVER denies time out to a catcher. Never. And almost never to a batter. The manager may enter the playing field to argue every call except balls and strikes yet MLB will not allow instant replay because it would slow down the game and interrupt its flow. On disputed plays it's much quicker to have an ump, either on the field or off, review the video image precluding the need for the manager to go onto the playing field. Neither football nor basketball allow the head coach to go on the playing area and interrupt play to dispute a call except for the NFL procedure to exercise the limited number of challenges allowed and even then only to throw the red flag.
It's a race to the bottom to decide who has the least common sense:
- fans for showing up
- fans for staying, although about half appeared to have left by the end of the game
- umpires for making no attempt to speed up the game
- players for playing
- players for making no attempt to speed up the game
- managers for making no attempt to speed up the game; could they make more pointless visits and pitching changes?
- MLB, Inc. for not cancelling, starting earlier, not calling the game when it started to pour, etc.
You would think that MLB players would make working conditions a priority when negotiating the collective bargaining agreement.
Why didn't MLB make a roof a requirement in the many new ball parks built in the last twenty years? MLB knew that television contracts were more important to it than anything else and MLB was increasingly catering to the television schedule. So why not take a simple precaution and guaranty the TV networks optimum playing conditions?
Finally, what the heck were the New York Yankees doing with $1.5 billion dollars that they did not include a roof on their new park?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Experts say replay is OK but not for balls and strikes.

I am tiring of the basic stupidity of baseball. Several expert types in recent days have said that it is not possible to use technology to call balls and strikes. The experts include:
- Yankee manager Joe Girardi
- ESPN: PTI loud mouths Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon
- ESPN talker and former New York Times writer Buster Onley.
Have people of such an opinion been on this planet in recent days? The technology Pitch TRAX was used by Cable TV channel TBS for all the playoff games so far this season. It is already in place and working ... better than the plate umps. Read my previous post on this:
Balls and Strikes without an umpire.
Boring baseball establishment types and dull fans: Wake the heck up!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If I could change only one rule ...

Start the count on 3-2 and limit the batter to three swings.
If you think it through you will see that it fixes much of what causes MLB to be so uneventful and boring. Dull baseball fans could keep all the rest of the lousy rules and procedures for which they lack the imagination to improve.
The initial reaction to my rule change is that the burden would be on the pitcher. Think it through. The batter must put the ball in play, not merely stay alive by fouling off pitches. As soon as the batter takes a strike he is out. As soon as the batter misses a pitch he is out. If the batter fouls off three pitches, he is out.
1. Each AB would be a maximum of three pitches.
2. There would be fewer pitching changes.
3. Pitchers would probably throw mostly fastballs not those silly Bugs Bunny pitches that are often out of the strike zone.
4. There would be fewer meetings. What's there to discuss?
5. Batters would have much less reason to step out of the box.
6. Bunting would decrease.
There is no downside. Watching the pitcher work to set up the batter is boring and silly since there is so much dead time between pitches. Each pitch is a separate event with no flow from pitch to pitch. How do you get a batter leaning when the batter can barely remember what the previous pitch was?

Monday, October 12, 2009

New ideas on playoff structure.

Combining some of my previous ideas on restructuring MLB playoffs here are some new ones that might actually appeal to MLB decision makers. One objective is to reward the teams with the best regular season records. Currently all playoff teams are treated as equals. They do not deserve to be, so that should change. Achieving a better record over the 162 game regular season deserves more reward than a possible third home game in the five game division series. The Yankees in 2009 won 17 more games than their opponent Twins. The Yankees should get much more than that one extra home game. They should get a bye. The only reason these silly playoff rounds exist is for MLB to make more money. OK, but the structure should be much more fair.
Eliminate the stupid wild card.
1. Reduce the number of divisions from three to two, east and west in each league; 7 or 8 teams in each division and play many more games in division.
2. Increase the number of playoff teams 50%, from four in each league to six, three in each division.
3. Reward the team with the best record in division with a bye, i.e., it does not play in the preliminary series.
4. Have teams 2 and 3 in each division play a three game preliminary series; game one in the home park of team 3, games 2 and 3 in the park of team 2.
5. In the five game division series, play game one in the park of the winner of the preliminary three game series; play the remaining four games in the park of the team with the best regular season record, i.e., the team that already won the division in the 162 game regular season.
After that it's pretty much the same as now. Don't want to be too radical here. This structure has these advantages over ideas being tossed around:
1. The regular season remains 162 games with the owners squeezing every last penny out of it.
2. More teams qualify. More money. More money.
3. It is more fair and easier to understand.
4. Geographic concentration would boost rivalries, reduce travel time and cost, and reduce time zone differences.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Warm weather clothing ... for players! And heaters!

OK, Bud Selig seems intent on keeping to the schedule, which the network makes up at the last minute to get the most viewers ... and the most money. How about allowing players to dress for the conditions? Jackets would be nice.
Electric heaters, too. No, not just in the dugouts, on the field beside the players. Each player should bring his own personal heater out on the field. A nice big one should be stationed near home plate and another big one near the pitcher's mound. Hey, how about putting the heaters in the ground? Yeah, that makes the most sense. Fielders play in the same locations 90% of the time, pitcher and batter 100% of the time.
Yeah, that's it. Heaters! That makes sense, especially, since MLB has no sense. Now if MLB could just make the fans comfortable. One more reason to watch the games at home.

Bad weather: reschedule!

Feeble minded MLB commissioner Bud Selig apparently intends to allow/force fans in Denver Colorado to sit for over four hours in sub-freezing temperatures tonight, probably in snow, to watch their home town Rockies play the Philadelphia Phillies. What a jerk. Bud, you should be embarrassed. Obviously, you are not.
Either you are incapable of making an intelligent decision about this or you made such a bad deal with the televising network, that media powerhouse TBS, that you are precluded from making an intelligent decision. Either way, you are a disgrace to MLB. Give back the $17 million that your fellow owners pay you each year.
In addition, the players will be exposed to terrible conditions, which may increase the chance for injury and poor play, which will undermine the integrity of the game. Forget the steroids, fix the weather.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Balls and Strikes without an umpire.

Cable TV channel TBS is showing the MLB division series playoff games. A technology called Pitch Trax immediately represents each pitch on the right side of the screen on a small image of the strike zone. Each pitch in an at bat (AB) is numbered and remains on the screen for the entire AB. Viewers know immediately whether a pitch is a strike and then see the plate umpire's interpretation. I side with the tech call every time over the umpire.
So if MLB has this system in place, what the heck is it doing with an umpire making the calls, using the same basic technique that was used 100 years ago? How stupid is that? Pitch Trax ALREADY exists, so why not use the technology to call balls and strikes and move the pathetic plate umpire out of harm's way to a position behind the pitcher from which he can preside over the AB like the chair umpire in a major tennis tournament.

Chairs on the field.

OK, maybe just stools but you get the idea. Initially, I was thinking about the poor plate umpire. Get a stool out there for the plate ump! What about the three base umpires? Sure, stools for them. Heck the ball boys and girls get stools.
Then I thought, why not the outfielders? They stand around all alone. Let them sit down during pitching changes, meetings, even between pitches. Why not the infielders, too? Sure, get those stools out there. The only comfort that fans now get that players do not are seats. Players and media people get air cooling and heating. Fans don't. Get some seats out there on the field!

Selig cannot imagine changes to playoff system.

During yesterday's ill fated interview on ESPN radio MLB commissioner Bud Selig was asked about adding another wild card team. He's stuck in old thinking. Buddy said
- no team wanted to shorten the regular season
- players did not want a single play-in game
- adding another round of playoff games would push the World Series well into November.
November baseball: hey, more rain and cold. MLB does not seem to care about the comfort of fans attending games now so why not?
MLB could:
- give top team a bye
- have teams four and five play a one game play-in game; everybody is in love with Tuesday's Detroit-Minnesota play-in game; they could have two of those each season.
To emphasize the point made yesterday, not counting the play-in game, through 162 games Yanks had most AL wins (103), Texas was out with 87 and Detroit and Minnesota had 86 and the play-in game to reach 87 and a division title. Plus, Boston (95 wins) must travel to California to play the Angels (97 wins). Teams should be aligned geographically to avoid needless travel. If that series goes the maximum five games the Red Sox will travel from Massachusetts to California to Massachusetts to California. And like most industries now, MLB is bragging about how "green" it has become. And there's a three hour time difference. In round ONE!
Obviously, this is a lousy system but few mentioned Texas or the travel because they've become desensitized since 1994. The system is not fair and glorifying the stupid wild card is really stupid. See my original radical baseball post from what I wrote on June 9, 2006:
3. Four leagues, no divisions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MLB commissioner Bud Selig is a moron!

I did not wake up this morning intending to write about the former boy wonder car salesman turned 17 million dollar a year feeble minded MLB commissioner Bud Selig. However, Bud got in my face with some really stupid comments.
Sunday NFL teams were playing game 4 of 16. MLB teams were playing game 162 of 162. Detroit and Minnesota were tied for first in AL Central. I was watching Giants on Fox, Jets on CBS and NFL Red Zone. Detroit was on MLB network. Minnesota was not televised here in New York.
Minnesota was to host a play-in game if tied with Detroit. However, Minnesota's home park was occupied for Monday Night Football on ESPN: Vikings with Brett Favre hosting Favre's former team Green Bay. 21 million people watched that Monday NFL game. MLB decided to have Minnesota play Detroit on Tuesday at 5PM ... on TBS. Not Fox. Not even ESPN. TBS, which is carrying MLB division playoff series. Not in prime time, after 8PM. 5PM on nothing cable channel TBS. Minnesota beat Detroit in 12 innings in case you missed it.
This morning I happened to see Selig interviewed on TV. No, not NBC's Today show. Not even ESPN. On a simulcast of ESPN radio.
Way to go Bud, getting your sport covered!
Then this moron has the nerve to praise himself for what a great idea he had in creating the stupid MLB wild card playoff system. I had written in my first post on this blog about this. To quote myself, June 9, 2006:
Let’s face it when Major League Baseball (MLB) expanded its playoff system in 1994 by splitting into three divisions in each league it did not put much thought into it. MLB just tried to copy basketball and hockey, which had been doing this stuff forever. Some people felt the divisions were good because they allowed more teams to be competitive. No, what made more teams competitive was that in implementing the three divisions MLB DOUBLED the number of teams that made the playoffs. For some reason baseball people did not notice. They could have doubled the number of playoff teams and eliminated the two divisions they already had in each league but that never occurred to them. What mattered was not the number of divisions but the number of playoff teams.
Maybe part of it was some vague idea that there would now be more first place teams. Did they think no one would notice that there were also more last place teams? Or that teams hovering around .500 are not really very good.
The objective should be fair competition. It should not be a random event in which a .500 team happens to be first in a weak division and a .580 team is out of luck.
So now Minnesota flops into the playoffs with 87 wins to play the Yanks who won 103. Hey, Texas won 87, why isn't Texas in the playoffs? Oops, Texas finished second in AL West. Nice system, Buddy. Making it even worse is stupid inter-league play. Yanks play Mets six times. Yanks have been good each of those seasons. How is that fair to the Mets? Most teams play teams in the other league only three times. And why should the Yanks with 16 more regular season wins than Minnesota risk its season in a five game series with only one more home game as reward for the far better regular season record?
What is that last World Series game played in the daytime? Maybe around 1981? Football, both college and NFL, scared MLB off Saturday and Sunday afternoons decades ago. Now, MLB has retreated to a twilight play-in game on TBS.
Not even counting the whole steroids mess, Bud Selig, you are a moron!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Historical stats: one more thing that's killing baseball.

Last night I was telling a friend about my idea of eliminating the catcher. His response was that it could not be done because the historical stats would be impacted.
Aside from the obvious fact that a new statistical paradigm would emerge I was distressed by the unwillingness of an intelligent baseball person to consider meaningful change because of the old records.
Baseball is doomed. The percentage of plate appearances that result in inaction, i.e., walks and strikeouts, increases each season. The percentage of foreign born players increases each season. Both are at about 28 percent. Now we add the unwillingness to disturb ... what? Numbers that have become oppressive impediments.
Too bad. Baseball could be made entertaining again, even dynamic. Instead it continues to slow down with ever increasing dead time between the dwindling numbers of action plays.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Batters: run 'till they tag you out!

It's not good baseball. It's not team baseball. But it improves the batter's stats. When you hit the ball, run 'till they tag you out.
The neat part is that it really doesn't matter in some games for contending teams and in most games for non-contending teams. Stretching singles into doubles and doubles into triples adds to Total Bases, increasing slugging average and indirectly increasing on base plus slugging, OPS.
I'm guessing that teams keep stats on players getting thrown out on the bases but who else does? Let's say that a batter tries to extend 20 times and is retired in half. That's ten extra Total Bases. Robinson Cano has 600 AB and 311 TB for a slugging average (TB/AB) of .518. Ten more TB would put him only five behind the AL lead of fellow Yankee Mark Teixeira. Plus, Cano's slugging average would increase from .518 to .535. A little more aggression by Cano and he could lead the AL in TB! If Cano really pushed it he could also lead in slugging. All that for merely playing bad baseball.
This shows how at least one aspect of batting stats can easily be manipulated.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ice cream truck on the field.

A friend suggested that an ice cream truck be sent out on the field to provide refreshments to the players who have plenty of time to consume a Popsicle during the numerous unnecessary periods of dead time in a MLB game. Sounds good to me. Anything to emphasise the absurdity that has swallowed a once interesting game and made it almost unwatchable as a lone source of entertainment.
I almost never watch a game on TV without lots of other stuff to provide content:
- another MLB game or two
- other sporting events, especially NFL and NBA
- news or public interest programs
- web
- movies
- Law & Order reruns
- House reruns
- NCIS reruns
- Monk marathons.
That's enough. Needless to say, actually attending a four hour game has lost almost all of its appeal, especially considering the nasty weather elements that MLB will force on the attending fans without regard to their comfort or safety.
How about an ice cream truck in my living room?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let the batter fire a baseball at the pitcher.

If a batter gets hit flush, let the batter fire a baseball at the pitcher who hit him. Allow the batter to chase the pitcher and fire it at the pitcher point blank. The pitcher may run away and protect himself with his glove. That might reduce the number of incidents in which a pitcher feels entitled to hit a batter because:
- the batter got a hit
- the previous batter got a hit
- the batter might get a hit
- the batter looked at the pitcher the wrong way
- the pitcher was simply in a bad mood.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rain: how about umbrellas and canopies?

Umbrellas and canopies?
Fielders get a team decorated golf style umbrella to hold over their heads during the many games played in heavy rain.
The pitcher gets to stand under a canopy. The batter gets to stand under his own canopy.
Hey, it makes sense. Especially with all that rain poring down.
I still prefer my previous suggestions but MLB does not seem inclined to adopt them soon so I thought that these simple practical ideas would improve things in the short run.

Getting hit with the ball.

August 15, 2009 three players were hit in the head by the ball:

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda suffered a concussion when he was hit in the head by a line drive. The 34-year-old Kuroda was not wearing a helmet. The ball blasted off Kuroda's head into the seats behind first base.

San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain hit New York Met third baseman David Wright in the head with a 94 mph fastball. The ball struck Wright in the batting helmet. Cain crouched between home and the mound while trainers worked on Wright. CT scan was negative. Wright had a concussion.

Boston pitcher Fernando Cabrera hit Texas Ranger second baseman Ian Kinsler in the head with a fastball, which bounced off Kinsler's shoulder and struck Kinsler in the batting helmet. Kinsler got up off the ground quickly and exchanged words with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek before taking first base.

Note that two out of three wore a helmet.

I have addressed this in previous posts.

This morning on ESPN radio I actually hear Mike Greenberg say something semi-intelligent about the pitcher getting hit in the head: MAYBE the pitcher should wear a helmet. Wow! MAYBE! He even referred to kids pitching in youth leagues. It never occurred to him that players should wear catcher's gear, especially kids but this shows a smidgen of progress, which is very unusual for baseball management, fans and media.

I am ready to extend my punishment for hitting batters other than in the head. If a batter is hit flush below the head the pitcher is ejected and suspended.

First offense, one week.
Second offense, one month.
Third offense, three months.
Fourth offense, one calendar year.

See, that wasn't so difficult. Punishment is the key. Currently, the punishment 99% of the time is that the batter gets first base. Big deal.

Here is some of the traditional crap that I do not want to hear:
- it's part of the game
- pitchers need to pitch inside
- pitchers do not throw at the batter's head
- it's up to the batter to get out of the way.

What is this ancient Rome? Enough already. And, no, the balance will not tip to the batter, not until batting averages top .500.
E-mailed to mikeandmike@espnradio.com.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dumb and Dumber: BOTH managers make the same mistake in the same inning.

Posted FEBRUARY 20, 2008
Written December 10, 2007

The New York Yankees recently replaced their long time and very successful manager with another former Italian catcher named Joe: Girardi replaced Torre. Many Yankee fans hope that Girardi will change tactics and/or strategy. Not likely. For instance Girardi has already indicated that he will follow the Tony LaRussa orthodoxy of designating his best relief pitcher as the closer. The closer is used almost exclusively to pitch one and only one inning (the ninth), which he starts, and only with a lead...

If Girardi waits until the ninth inning, Rivera may retire the side on six pitches when he could have thrown 24. Twenty-four pitches may have equated to two or even three innings thus eliminating the dreaded middle inning relievers, the worst pitchers on the staff. Not waiting until the ninth inning also allows Girardi to use Rivera in a game saving situation: bases loaded, sixth inning, cleanup hitter at bat. Waiting until the ninth deprives Girardi of discretion as to which batters Rivera faces. The bottom of the order is as likely to bat in the ninth as the top of the order...

If Joe Girardi does anything like this he will be different from Joe Torre. Otherwise he is like all the other MLB managers.

Two days ago the Yankees completed a four game sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, no thanks to their manager, 45 year old Joe Girardi. Both Girardi and the Boston manager, 50 year old Terry Francona, stuck with the Tony LaRussa orthodoxy of waiting until the ninth inning to use their best relief pitcher: Yankee Mariano Rivera, Red Sox Jonathon Papelbon.

Note: Papelbon is being wasted in the bullpen as is Yankee Phil Hughes whom Girardi used to retire only one batter in both games two and three of the series.

Both teams had the top of the batting order due up in the eighth. Both were protecting a one run lead. Both used nobody relief pitchers instead of their ace. Both blew the lead.

Dumb, right. Boston never got Papelbon into the game, which they were desperate to win, having dropped five and a half games behind the Yankees.

Two southpaw starters, Boston's Jon Lester and New York's Andy Pettitte, threw shutout ball through six. Finally, Alex Rodriguez homered in the bottom of the 7th. Yanks 1, Red Sox 0.  Pettitte was done on this very hot night. With the top of the order due up Girardi brought in Phil Coke, holding Rivera back to pitch to the bottom of the order in the ninth. When it's phrased like that it seems really dumb, doesn't it?

Coke blew the lead, allowing a two run homer to newly acquired Victor Martinez. Red Sox 2, Yanks 1.
Note: Yankee reliever Phil Coke was credited with the win instead of Pettitte because the official scorer ignored the rule about denying a win to someone who pitches briefly and ineffectively.
Now it was Francona's turn to do the logical thing. Nope. Francona brought in 24 year old ROOKIE Dan Bard who had 33 innings in MLB. Bard allowed consecutive homers to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira. Yanks 3, Red Sox 2. There were more hits and another relief pitcher, Hideki Okajima. Yanks 5, Red Sox 2.

Rivera pitched the ninth, allowing two base runners but no runs. Rivera was protecting a three run lead while Coke was asked to protect a one run lead. Yanks win. Yanks lead by six and a half games.
So what's the deal? Am I the smartest baseball fan in the galaxy or are all the rest stuck in conventional wisdom? I'm going with the conventional wisdom thing. Maybe if the media asked questions based on my radical baseball thinking, MLB management would be prodded into, dare I say it, change.
But what about the fans? Fans are as much to blame. Come on, stop calling those lame talk radio programs asking the same lame questions from the same lame point of view. Get radical!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

MLB managers can no longer be former players!

Last night Yanks and Red Sox played 15 innings at Yankee Stadium. Starters Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett, former teammates in Florida, were locked in a scoreless duel. In the Boston eighth Phil Hughes relieved Burnett with two out and runners on base. While he was retiring the one batter he faced I noticed that Yankee manager Joe Girardi had "closer" Mariano Rivera warming up. I thought: Girardi can't be considering removing Phil Hughes after only one batter, especially since it would violate the formula of using the closer, Rivera, only with a lead. Wasting Phil Hughes in this way would be stupid. Girardi did the stupid.

The irony is that the Yankees are wasting Phil Hughes in the bullpen. Phil Hughes should be starting. Compounding that waste of resource by using Hughes to retire one batter in a scoreless tie is incomprehensible. Obviously, the game could go into extra innings. Hughes is regarded as the Yankees second best relief pitcher. Why not have Hughes pitch the ninth? The tenth? Pitch as long as he can before removing him.

Girardi lucked out. Rivera pitched his usual one inning, the ninth. There followed the obligatory parade of nobody relief pitchers who amazingly held Boston scoreless. Yanks won 2-0 on a home run by Alex Rodriguez with two out in the bottom of the 15th.

As I have indicated previously, MLB must break with the tradition of hiring former players to be field managers. Even the young (45) well educated (Northwestern U. graduate) Joe Girardi does the same boring unimaginative stuff as his managerial forefathers.

This blog is not intended to be a next day rehash of recent game strategy and tactics. I rarely become overly concerned about in game moves. Baseball does not have X and O concepts. Thousands of 12 year old kids know enough to manage a MLB team, at least stuff like changing pitchers. But even common sense seems elusive.

And what of those Yankee fans who could not wait to replace the previous Yankee manager, four time WS champ Joe Torre (69), with someone younger who would make better decisions during the game? Many especially wanted Girardi. Is this what they wanted? Meanwhile, Torre has his new team, the Dodgers, in first place with a record comparable to that of the Yankees.
Joe Girardi and Joe Torre do about the same things. You can hardly tell them apart. I addressed this in one of my earliest posts. Girardi has wasted his opportunity even if he wins a WS. Girardi is not doing anything different.

The only way to break this cycle is to hire non-players to be field managers. Then there will be at least a chance that the manager will do things that compliment the newer theories being implemented by the new wave of non-player general managers.

Imaginary strike zone.

There are no physical limits to the strike zone. It is an imaginary three dimensional area hovering above ground. To make it even more elusive, it's size varies with each batter.

The pitcher imagines its location, then throws and hopes to place the ball within it. The batter imagines where it might be and swings through that area. Finally, the plate umpire imagines whether a baseball traveling over ninety miles per hour and moving erratically has passed through any part of it or possibly grazed the edge of it.

Pretty stupid. Especially when it's totally unnecessary. Just place an object behind home plate as a target and judge whether or not a pitch has hit it. Jeez, is that so complicated? Try an archery bull's eye on a tripod. Aside from being a fool proof strike zone, it allows those two most pathetic human beings, the catcher and plate umpire, to move out of harm's way and go someplace in fair territory.  If that description does not convince you, consider changing other sports to behave like baseball.

Basketball: backboard but no basket. Players shoot at an imaginary basket and referees imagine whether the ball would go through.

Football: no goal post. The place kicker imagines where the uprights and cross bar would be and officials imagine whether the ball went through.

Let's spice it up a bit. Vary the size of the imaginary basket and/or its height depending on the size of the basketball player. Vary the height of the cross bar and distance between the uprights depending on the size of the place kicker.

There. That should nail down the absurdity of baseball's strike zone. If it doesn't, consider stickball in which the strike zone was drawn on a wall. OK, it was usually drawn way to high but I'm sure Bud Selig, MLB commissioner, can deal with that.

So why does baseball have this most odd and primitive feature at the center of the game? Because it is ancient! Baseball officials and fans refuse to transform it while America's former national pastime slides into irrelevance. It's August 8. Go out and try to find kids playing baseball, especially something other than one of those dreadful organized games in which kids play only if their parents drive them. Kids don't ride bikes any more in part because their parents fear for the safety of the kids because so many parents are driving kids around so much. Ah, the irony.

A nice simple cheap low tech strike zone does the trick. A side benefit is that games will speed up; no catcher, no need for signs between catcher and pitcher. Of course, one of my other ideas would need to be implemented: runners may not leave the base until the ball is hit.

Starting count at 3-2 and limiting the batter to three swings would seal the deal.

Some fans may ask: how ever will you get the ball back to the pitcher and gather up all those baseballs? It's been done for about 100 years. Funny baseball never noticed. Ever watch tennis, especially Wimbledon or the U.S. open? Those ball boys and girls do a great job. We could train baseball ball boys and girls to do more than mostly sit around and occasionally interfere by grabbing a fair ball. Oops.

It all sounds too good to be true but a fundamental part of baseball could be improved with this simple common sense change. What are the chances it will be implemented? What are the chances it will be considered? What are the chances it will be mocked?

Baseball: the imaginary game.

Monday, August 3, 2009

How to stick it to both the players and owners on salaries.

MLB could establish both a minimum and maximimum team salary. A minimum must be set to prevent teams from spending the minimum, $400,000 * 25 = $10,000,000. Let's say seventy to one hundred million dollars.
However, have the players decide who gets what. No more individual contracts.
Players know who is worth the money. Players know who is dogging it.
If players want management to acquire more talent the players themselves would need to decide who might have his salary lowered to pay the new guy. Or the new guy would need to take less to play with better players than those on his previous team.
Both players and owners would need to think like the other. Both would feel the pain and watch the bottom line.

Unlimited team rosters.

MLB teams have a limit of 25 players who may be active for a game. The MLB players association may have bargained for a minimum but I am not sure.

Why have a maximum limit?

My guess is that a maximum was established to save money, both on player salaries and costs for taking the team on the road. There is no maximum team salary. There is no maximum player salary. So how does a maximum number of players even save money?

Maybe the maximum roster size is to establish parity among the teams. If MLB wanted parity MLB would have maximum team salary. As a practical matter there is a minimum team salary: $400,000 * 25 players = ten million dollars. And/or there should be a MLB player draft each off season to better balance the talent on each team. None of this exists.

Would a team have an advantage if it had more players available for a game. Maybe for a specific game. However, having too many players sitting rather than playing causes problems, which might outweigh a short term advantage.

Why doesn't the MLB players association make this a bargaining position? It's as basic as collective bargaining can get, an increase in membership.

If there were no minimum number of players why wouldn't a team ... oh, let's say the Pittsburgh Pirates ... carry only 20 players? If the minimum player salary is $400,000 that saves Pittsburgh a cool two million dollars, two million buckaroos! Pittsburgh is pocketing the "luxury tax" that it collects from the big spending teams such as the Yankees, so why not reduce payroll even more. Pittsburgh can barely wait for a young player to become eligible for salary arbitration to trade the player away rather than pay hm much more than the minimum player salary.

Make the roster size unlimited and expose just how cheap Pittsburgh is. At least then teams can carry extra catchers.

What to think about Ortiz and the recent Red Sox World Series championships.

My position has been consistent: do not lie.
Ban all WS in recent years. Yanks revert to 1978. Red Sox to 1918. Yanks plus 60!

Player instincts and/or actions are often WRONG!

Supposedly former pitcher and announcer Jim Kaat defends batters sliding into first base on close plays as player instinct taking over. Interesting but it is anecdotal testimonial.
I consider instinctive action to be something that one does when confronted with an unusual circumstance, not the person's usual action, which for many player's is to slide into first base. See Derek Jeter's flip play or for contrast the non-instinctive Bernie Williams asking for directions while running the bases. However, I will not quibble about the definition of instinct. Let's just consider the actions of a player.
Players often do things that are obviously wrong. Sliding and diving when they are unnecessary are frequent examples. The other day Jim Thome slid into home plate and the catcher was no where near the plate; it was completely unnecessary. At least he slid feet first. How stupid is it to slide face first into the catcher's shin guards.
During my blogtalkradio program on July 27 it was mentioned that someone had done a study to determine whether a base runner gets to second base faster sliding feet first or hands first. Supposedly it was suggested that hands first may be faster because the players fingers are longer than their toes. Shoeless Joe Jackson actually wore shoes while playing MLB as do all players that I know about so toe length is irrelevant. When sliding hands first players stupidly extend their fingers needlessly exposing them to injury but actually seem to contact the bag with the palms of their hands.
Years ago when almost all players slid feet first they were coached to grab fistfuls of dirt to form a fist that would keep their fingers cupped to prevent injury when sliding. When batting gloves came into common use, some players removed the gloves and held them in their palms for the same clutching grip.
If players had any sense they would wear sliding bags on their hands. No, not mittens. Bags. There is no need for the thumb to be exposed. See Yankee Brett Gardner who recently injured his thumb sliding into second.
Many, if not most, outfield dives are unnecessary. Watch them carefully and you will see that. The dive often occurs after the catch or the ball is above the knee where it can be caught comfortably. Plus, there is no advantage to extending the fingers on the bare hand when attempting to catch the ball with the glove yet they all do it. All that does is needlessly expose the fingers and thumb to injury. See a pattern here?
Many outfield slides are also unnecessary. See Nick Swisher who recently slid feet first to avoid a wall that was thirty feet away and dropped a catchable fly that was FAIR! Swisher also makes little style jumps when he's about to catch a ball and that has contributed to his dropping a couple this season. This is in addition to Swisher whiffing on flies but I digress too much.
Players make mistakes. Copying those mistakes are mistakes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trades during the season should not be allowed.

The Cleveland Indians had the Cy Young award winner each of the last two seasons:
2007 CC Sabathia
2008 Cliff Lee.

Each was traded during the following season.

What the heck is that?

What a terrible system. The rules have been perverted to such an extent that teams trade their best players during the regular season. Other rules almost compel both players and teams to achieve financial advantage by having long time team favorite players leave and play for an other team. On this the NBA and NFL are no better.  However, MLB has by far the worst in season problem. In 1997 Mark McGwire was traded by Oakland to St. Louis; he finished with 58 home runs, the third highest total to that point in MLB history.

Fans buy season tickets and in many cases have the players they want to see most traded before the MLB July 31 trading deadline. Fans should sue. This has been the norm since MLB went to three divisions plus a wild card team, doubling the number of playoff teams.

So far the two New York teams have been exempt but it's only a matter of time before the Yankees and/or Mets trade fan favorites during the season. Then you will hear a lot of complaining. MLB will then need to address this when the biggest market has lame duck teams playing out the final third of the season minus some star players.

MLB should not allow in season trades. Simple and fair.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Test theories.

MLB lacks imagination to an extent that is continually amazing. On my Internet radio program this evening a caller asked my guest, physics professor Alan Nathan, if a player gets to first base faster by diving or by running. There was an interesting discussion in which Alan mentioned that someone had written a paper suggesting that a base runner gets to second base faster by sliding feet first rather than head first. What is amazing to me is that MLB teams have not simply tested these things in spring training. Have players try multiple methods to get to a base and time them to determine which technique works best for each player. The coaches think that sliding into first base slows down the runner. Many players think the opposite. You would think that the coaches would try my suggestion to prove to the players who is correct. Players could actually try this on their own, so they're not too sharp either.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Girardi does it again: fails to use Rivera with bases loaded.

The Yankee manager today added to his resume of unimaginative moves. Oakland had tied the Yankss 1-1, top of the 7th inning, bases loaded, one out. Girardi replaced Yankee starter Andy Pettitte with one of those many interchangeable middle inning relief pitchers. It was another perfect opportunity for a MLB manager to distinguish himself by doing the smart thing: using his best relief pitcher, in this case Mariano Rivera, with the game on the line Girardi's choice allowed all three of Petitte's runners to score plus two of his own and was himself relieved by another mediocre pitcher. By the time the side was retired, Yanks trailed 6-1. Final score: 6-4. Rivera never pitched. Later the announcers babbled something about how the Yanks needed someone to pitch the eighth inning. They, like most baseball people, are so locked into the conventional wisdom that the idea of using Rivera in anything other than his usual ninth inning role never occurred to them.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Managers should not be former players.

MLB has moved beyond former players as general managers. Now teams hire business or statistics hot shots to implement the new concepts and search for even newer ones to provide their teams with a competitive advantage. However, even these new type GMs have not completed the transition. Teams continue to employ former players as field managers. Even the young managers like Joe Girardi of the Yankees use the same old tactics as their peers who are 25 years older. The common denominator is that they are all former players who are expected to behave within about one percent of conventional wisdom. That needs to change. Head coaches in the NFL and NBA are much more likely to have never played in those leagues. A few years ago I checked all three sports and found these percentages who had NOT played in their respective leagues: NFL 70%, NBA 30%, MLB 10%. MLB must modernize on the field to the reflect changes in the front office.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Player draft is un-American.

During today's Yankee game former pitcher Al Lieter was announcing and said that MLB needs to include foreign players in the annual draft, which assigns a player to the team that drafts him and limits his options concerning which MLB team he may play for.
I think the entire player draft should be eliminated. What right do MLB franchise owners have to limit the options of people who are NOT members of the player's union and are not bound by the agreement between MLB and the union? NONE!

Dog days: between NBA and NFL seasons.

The dog days of baseball are not in August. They begin the day after the final NBA playoff game in June. That's when we are exposed to MLB in its naked form, without basketball or football to entertain us. Baseball and only baseball. For almost two months, until NFL pre-season games. Argh!
There are some interruptions: U.S. Open golf, Wimbledon, Tour De France if Lance Armstrong is racing. But the dog days expose us to the incredible silliness of an ancient American sport that has had the life sucked out of it over so long a time that fans have hardly noticed why they prefer basketball and football. It's because basketball and football are much more entertaining. They have much more action. They have evolved and improved. Baseball has devolved and gotten worse. Most of what is considered action in baseball is two guys playing catch ... very slowly.
Women are much smarter about this than men. Women who like the NBA and NFL, cannot understand why we men continue to insist that MLB is interesting. It is not. Kids get it, too. That's one reason the baseball fields are empty in summer. Kids are off doing other stuff.
The percent of MLB players who are foreign born increases each season. It's about 28%. The great American pastime is being outsourced. Americans do not even want to play baseball. Why would they watch it?

Coaches everywhere.

MLB has not implimented my previous suggestions:
1. Replace unlimited meetings with three time outs per team.
2. Use wireless communication between manager/coaches and players and among players.
3. Remove on field coaches: first and third.

Maybe MLB should have MORE coaches on the field. Have the batting coach stand beside the batter. Fielding coaches in both the outfield and infield.

Best of all, have the pitching coach stand beside the pitcher and tell him exactly what to do.

What the heck. It makes as much sense as having those two silly base coaches. How come there is no second base coach? Baserunning is much simpler than pitching, batting or even fielding.

Walks: just eliminate them.

Walks are dumb. If the pitcher cannot throw strikes, hand the ball to the batter and let him hit it out of his hand, aka, fungo. It's better than watching this tedious ritual. Put the ball in play!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wall protection.

Since MLB does not seem inclined to follow my recommendation and put pole vaulter pads along the walls, here's a no tech alternative to protect players from injuries due to crashing into the walls. Make the warning track off limits. A fly ball caught after a player has stepped onto the warning track is not an out but is in play. Yet another devilishly clever way to improve baseball. What's really amazing is that even simple stuff like this is beyond the grasp of baseball people, both fans and professionals.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MLB responds to my invitation to the commissioner.

from FanFeedback
reply-to FanFeedback
to ken@matinale.net
date Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 8:27 AM
subject Internet radio [Incident:090708-000092]
hide details 8:27 AM (2 minutes ago)
Dear Customer,
Thank you for your email, as we have received your inquiry and will respond as soon as possible.
We appreciate your patience as we work to ensure that each inquiry receives the detailed response that it deserves.
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Discussion Thread
Customer (Kenneth Matinale) - 07/08/2009 08:27 AM
Kenneth Matinale
Internet radio
MLB commissioner Bud Selig is invited to be interviewed on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/radicalbaseball Also, he should read http://radicalbaseball.blogspot.com/

MLB commissioner Bud Selig is invited to be interviewed.

I sent the message below by filling out a form at mlb.com:
MLB commissioner Bud Selig is invited to be interviewed on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/radicalbaseball
Also, he should read http://radicalbaseball.blogspot.com/
I received this immediate reply:
Thank you for sending your questions or suggestions. Your experience is important to us!
Major League Baseball will review your email and get back to you very soon.

Get the coaches off the field!

What the heck are coaches doing on the playing field? Neither basketball nor football allow coaches on the playing field.

The third base coach provides some help to runners when the ball is behind the runner. However, the first base coach does virtually nothing. In 2009 MLB required that these on field coaches wear batting helmets after a minor league coach had been killed in 2008. Hey, they shouldn't be out there in the first place.

The best base runners coach themselves anyway: see Derek Jeter and Willie Mays.

It might even speed up the game. I always wondered why the batter and base runners did not simply look into the dugout and get the sign directly from the manager or a surrogate. Of course, it would be even better if MLB used wireless communication, like the rest of humanity.

Get those coaches the heck off the field!

Extend foul territory ... and hopefully eliminate bunts.

The bases are 90 feet apart at 90 degree angles. I propose drawing a curved line from foul line to foul line half way between home plate and (first and third base), so that the line is 45 feet from home plate. This area would be in foul territory.
That should all but eliminate bunting. Good.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Internet radio program scheduled on recent posts.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/radicalbaseball The defensive positions of catcher and shortstop will be challenged. Date / Time: 7/6/2009 6:30 PM Call-in Number: (646) 595-2649 Catcher: position of ignorance. Shortstop: who needs one? Plus, some research.

Catcher: position of ignorance.

Cather's gear is called the tools of ignorance. That's putting it mildly. Baseball catcher is easily the stupidest position among the three American team sports. Only football center comes close. Catcher could be eliminated if MLB had any imagination. It's not like only a couple of baseballs are available for a game. Or there were no ball boys to quickly supply a ball to the pitcher. If a batter misses a third strike why must the catcher catch the ball on a fly? If the catcher does not, he must tag the batter or throw to first before the batter reaches first. Why? What the heck sense does that make? It appears to be encouragement for the catcher to hustle the ball back to the pitcher. Don't want the pace of the game to slow down. Noooooo. Good old MLB wants the game to flow right along until the batter steps out to scratch himself. Or the pitcher steps off the rubber. Or a manager or coach emerges for one of the unlimited number of pointless meetings in a game that requires no meetings. MLB continues the force the catcher to catch the third strike. This type of stuff is killing what little is left of the old American pastime. Modernize the rules so that the game makes some sense and so that it flows.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shortstop: who needs one?

Sunday evening the I was watching the Yanks play Mets on ESPN. The announcers were speculating on the defensive future of Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. Should he remain at shortstop, move to the another infield position, the outfield?

How about this: Derek Jeter retires as the last Yankee shortstop? How cool would that be? Jeter takes the position with him and transforms it into a new radical defensive paradigm.

A non baseball fan would approach the game differently than we do. That person might assume that the defensive basemen play at or near their respective bases. Maybe that's what they should do. And the so-called shortstop can go his separate way. Maybe to the outfield where he may do more good.
Four across. That's how 10 player softball teams play it, especially if they play with no fences behind the outfielders. MLB plays wall ball, i.e., fences behind the outfielders that limit the playing area. The TWO center fielders will now play in the two power alleys.

The catcher must stay in the catcher's box until the pitch is released and the pitcher must be in contact with the pitching rubber during his pitching motion. After that all defensive players may move wherever they want, unlike NFL and NBA players. Baseball players are free to play where they want. So why do they all stand in the same place? Why doesn't one team try SOMETHING DIFFERENT?  Yikes! The dreaded phrase!

SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Fear and loathing in baseball land!

Let's move the shortstop the heck out of there! Derek Jeter is the perfect candidate to try this. He's been blasted for years about his defensive range, juxtaposed to that perfect defensive shortstop Adam Everett who is playing for his third team in three years.

Let's play defenders on each of the three bases. They will always be in position to take throws to their bases. The second baseman can catch many of those hits that go right past the pitcher.

You say that this will leave big holes in the infield? The pitcher is almost a non factor on anything hit with any speed, so that hole is being plugged. There would be different holes in the infield but fewer in the outfield where holes go for more than one base.

There are two options for defenders on the infield corners:
1. hug the line and prevent doubles;
2. play off the line and plug the current holes.

Playing off the line makes the most sense. Why? Because we now have FOUR outfielders! The corner outfielders can prevent almost all of those annoying doubles and triples that simply roll into the outfield corners.

Fielders can be moved into new formations, including baseball's version of the old Dallas Cowboy flex defense.

Base stealers will always find a defender waiting to take the catcher's throw, not doing it on the run. How many errant throws will be prevented?

Outfielders, especially those in flex position, can rifle throws to first, second or third for force plays that would otherwise go for singles.

The dreaded steal of home will become more difficult with the third baseman holding the runner close.

How about somebody, anybody, trying the damn thing? Somewhere. Maybe D ball. Would it kill them? They might find that it works. Worst case: they return to wearing out the grass in the same position as everybody else.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Internet radio Monday, 6:30PM - guest Vince Gennaro

Diamond Dollars author Vince Gennaro on the economics of winning in baseball.

Pitch: throw underhand.

My understanding is that a million years ago pitching meant throwing underhand.
1. Change the rules and impose underhand throwing to the batter.
2. Failing that, try some softball pitchers, including women. They could mix fastballs with arc and might be more effective than expected. If your team stinks and your relief pitchers are worse than that, what have you got to lose?


New rules:
1. If any part of a bat goes into the stands, the batter is out.
2. If a bat breaks in half or splinters, the batter is out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New video service: show only the final pitch in an at bat!

This would be cool and it supports my contention that many of baseball's problems could be fixed by starting at bats with the count 3-2. I'd also limit the batters to three swings. Now that I have this in my head games are becoming unwatchable. All that dead time before the at bat could be eliminated. Argh!
Those pointless visits to the mound would become even more silly. What could they possibly discuss? The lakers latest NBA chamionship? Candlesticks? The pitching coach can't tell the pitcher to work carefully: one ball and the batter walks. It would be simpler if MLB would ban all meetings and replace them with three one minute time outs. However, MLB, Inc. is run by Bud Selig and he is incapable of such elegance.
The new video service could parallel the game, eliminating much of the dead stuff. This would make watching a game at the ball park unbearable. Home viewing would be the ideal.
If this seems too radical or too whimsical, try it backwards. Suppose baseball had the functional equivalent of this all along? Games played in 90 minutes, with action actually flowing. Suppose that someone then suggested baseball change to 4 balls for a walk and three strikes and unlimited fouls. You'd think he was nuts!

Draw a line across the outfield.

In the 1970s I was so annoyed about that stupid left field wall in Fenway Park Boston that I wanted the Yankees to draw a white line, like the foul line, across the Yankee Stadium outfield where the wall would be in Boston, just to emphasise the absurdity of the Red Sox home park.
I still think it's a good idea but it should be applied differently and for all parks. Let's decide on a reasonable distance from home plate for the batter to get credit for a home run. Let's say 380 feet. The line would be drawn from foul line to foul line 380 feet from home plate, across the outfield and through the stands where necessary. At least that would provide a way to judge whether a fly ball deserves to be a home run.

Mantle v. DiMaggio

My previous post about my all time Yankee team provoked private messages insisting that Joe DiMaggio was a better player than Mickey Mantle. Here is my response in brief.

Mantle walked a lot, DiMaggio did not. Mantle struck out a lot, DiMaggio did not.

I don't think we can measure fear by walks, nor team play by strike outs or lack of them. They had very different attributes as batters.

If you just glance at their batting stats, the Mick has WAY more black ink. Mick lead AL in OPS+ in his first full season, 1952, NINE times total. Joe lead once. Career OPS+: Mantle 172 (6th best), DiMaggio 155 (22nd best).

For those of you still hung up on BA, check the first two tabs:

Percent above AL BA by season: Between the two, Mick has two of the top three spots, six of the top ten. Joe's .325 career BA is really not an advantage over Mick's .298.

AL BA during seasons played by Mantle and DiMaggio, NOT weighted by player AB:
DiMaggio - .269
Mantle - .251

It's amazing how even in 2009 people still simply jump to Joe's .325 BA as proof of his superiority. Joe has a slight advantage over Mickey in percent above AL BA: 21% to 19%, NOT weighted by AB per season, which would be more accurate but probably not much different.

Two tabs have the same comparison on slugging average, Joe's claim to fame relative to Mick. Same story as BA: Joe's Slugging lead of .579 to .557 evaporates. Mick takes the first three seasons and splits the first ten with Joe. Joe's highest slugging percentage above AL is 65%. Mick exceeds that with 78%, 74%, 74%.

AL Slugging during seasons played by Mantle and DiMaggio, NOT weighted by player AB:
DiMaggio - .391
Mantle - .377

Joe has a slight advantage in percent above AL Slugging: 32.42% to 32.21%. Basically dead even.

I'm not much on fielding stats but contrary to Joltin' Joe's rep here are some of his error totals: 1937 - 17, 1938 - 15, 1948 - 13. Hardly someone who never made fielding mistakes.

For his career Joe had 30 SB, 9 CS. That's for his CAREER! No steal attempts in his final two seasons. NONE!

It wasn't until 10-15 years ago that I realized that Mantle was clearly better than Joe D. That's how much even a lifetime Mickey Mantle fan had been brain washed.

WS homers:

Mantle 18 in 273 PA; most WS homers
DiMaggio 8 in 220 PA; tied for 7th with Bill Skowron (141 PA) and Frank Robinson (106 PA).

Walkoff homers:
Mick 12 (2 with the team behind)
Joe D. 4 (all with the score tied).
Plus, Mantle hit a walkoff homer in game 3, 1964 WS.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

All time Yankee team.

My recent guest got me thinking about this, so here are my all time Yankees.

C- Yogi Berra (Hall of Fame); that was easy, even with Bill Dickey (Hall of Fame) a close second; most over-rated: Thurman Munson (MVP); under-rated: Jorge Posada, borderline Hall of Famer. Honorable mention to Elston Howard (MVP).

1B - Lou Gehrig (Hall of Fame); over: Don Mattingly; under: Wally Pipp who won first two Yank home run titles.

2B - Tony Lazzeri (Hall of Fame); over: none; under: Bobby Richardson, who set batting records in TWO of his five World Series. Willie Randolf gets honorable mention.

SS- Derek Jeter ; over: Phil Rizzuto (Hall of Fame); under, maybe Tony Kubek.

3B- Graig Nettles (Obviously Alex Rodriguez will replace Nettles but there's no rush); over: none; under: Red Rolfe. Point on Nettles: in his two biggest home run seasons, 1976-77, his splits do not suggest that he got a big boost from the short porch in Yankee Stadium: 32 - 18 home, 14 road; 37 - 18 home, 19 road.

RF - Babe Ruth (Hall of Fame); over: Dave Winfield (Hall of Fame), Mr. May; under: Tommy Henrich.

CF - Mickey Mantle (Hall of Fame); over: Joe DiMaggio (Hall of Fame); under: Earl Combs (Hall of Fame). Honorable mention Bernie Williams.

LF - none; Charlie Keller was on his way to the Hall of Fame but injuries defeated him. No one over-rated. Under, maybe Bob Meusel or Roy White. Ricky Henderson (Hall of Fame) played only 4.5 seasons with the Yanks and some of that was in CF.

Pitcher - Whitey Ford (Hall of Fame); over: none; under: Lefty Gomez (Hall of Fame), 6-0 in WS, TWO triple crowns. I looked at Herb Pennock (Hall of Fame), Waite Hoyt (Hall of Fame), Red Ruffing (Hall of Fame), Allie Reynolds and Dave Righetti but could not label any as over-rated as a Yankee.

Manager - Casey Stengel (Hall of Fame); over: Buck Showalter; under: Joe Torre. Honorable mention Joe McCarthy (Hall of Fame), Miller Huggins (Hall of Fame) and Ralph Houk.

General Manager - Ed Barrow (Hall of Fame); over: Brian Cashman; under: Gabe Paul. Honorable mention George Weiss (Hall of Fame).

Owner - Three way tie: Col. Jacob Ruppert (Hall of Fame), Dan Topping/Del Webb, George Steinbrenner. Worst: CBS.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Imbecile: use your best relief pitcher with the game on the line!!!

How many times have I written this? How many ways?

Last night the Yankees extended their losing streak against Boston by being swept for the third time this season. The Yanks had just taken their first lead v. Boston in 49 innings, 3-1, on a rare clutch hit by Alex Rodriquez, a two out two run rocket double off the center field wall.

Bottom of the eighth, stopper (what exactly is CC stopping?) CC Sabathia allowed new Yankee killer Nick Green, batting NINTH, to single, then walked Dustin Perdroia. Tying runs on, no outs. Yankee manager Joe, I'm no different tactically than Torre, Girardi visited Sabathia on the mound even though there is not yet a water cooler, nor coffee machine out there. Lefty batter JD Drew was due to face lefty Sabathia. Girardi told Sabathia to empty the tank, that this was to be CC's last batter. I'm not going to criticize Girardi on this. Drew singled to load the bases.

Here's where I go ballistic. Because ace reliever Mariano Rivera had shoulder surgery in the off season Girardi said later that he does not want Rivera to get six outs. Remember, it was the eighth, not ninth, inning. Never mind pitch count. SAVE the game NOW!!! Then take your chances in the ninth if Rivera's pitch count precludes him from finishing.

Could Girardi be a bigger imbecile!? Instead of Rivera, who was rested, Girardi brings in one of the faceless, nameless relievers who goes single, single, sac fly, Red Sox lead 4-3.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Black Sox: some thoughts.

Joe Jackson was a weasel. That seems to be his defense or his defense by others. Jackson was paid $6,000 in salary for the 1919 regular season and took $5,000 in bribe money from his White Sox teammate and friend Lefty Williams. It was half of the $10,000 that Williams had received from the gamblers to throw the World Series. Williams paid Jackson probably no later than game four of the 1919 World Series, the World Series that seven players on the Chicago White Sox were paid to throw, dump, tank, i.e., intentionally LOSE.

That's his defense? That he was a weasel who took the money then played to win, leaving his friend Lefty Williams and the other six conspirators to bear the burden of actually throwing the games? Joe Jackson was the star player on the White Sox, a sure Hall of Famer, and he took money intended to fix the WORLD SERIES. Why did he accept it? What did Jackson think the money was for? Then he may have tried to report it, sort of. Then he played to win. Weasel!

Taking the money makes Jackson guilty. That he claims to have tried twice to return the money does not absolve him, especially if that gesture was to spin things in his favor. Returning money stolen from a bank does not absolve the bank robber, especially if it's done when the cops are closing in.

Spin is the word applied to Charles Comiskey, the White Sox owner, when with three games remaining in the 1920 regular season and his team still in contention the scandal breaks and Comiskey suspends the seven crooked White Sox players still on the team. Spin is used to describe Comiskey when he pays his ten honest players $1,500 each to account for the $2,000 difference between the winner and loser shares of the 1919 WS: $5,200 v, $3,200. Spin is used to describe Comiskey when he offers $10,000 reward.

And what does Jackson do with his ill gotten gain? It appears that he uses at least some of it to start businesses: dry cleaning and later liquor. He could have given it to his ten honest White Sox teammates to make amends. That would have demonstrated some small act of contrition, which is a prerequisite for our noble American trait of forgiveness to be warranted.

Were the players equally guilty? No, but so what? As I understand felony murder, if your partner in crime pulls the trigger you are both equally guilty.

Federal judge Landis was appointed by the owners to be the first sole commissioner of the American and National Leagues. Landis made mistakes in later years (racial segregation continued on his watch) but he was basically correct in his handling of the 1919 WS gambling scandal. To have shown any weakness would only have encouraged continued gambling and the undermining of the integrity of the game, that baseball was honest competition.

Reviewing the 1919 scandal shows why current MLB, Inc. continues to have an absolute policy against gambling and against consorting with gamblers. In the 1980s Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were banned from MLB activities for as long as they worked as greeters at Las Vegas gambling casinos. That is why the banishment of sure Hall of Famer Pete Rose because of his gambling while he was the Cincinnati Reds manager is warranted, just like the banishment of the 1919 White Sox players who dumped the WS. The admonition against consorting with gamblers and against gambling itself has been posted in every clubhouse for decades.

There are clear parallels between the old gambling scandal and the current steroids scandal with one exception: the gamblers played to LOSE, the steroid users played to WIN. The two things that they have in common:
1. management looked the other as long as it could then covered up;
2. innocent/honest players did virtually nothing to end it.

The 1920 White Sox played as if nothing had happened. Didn't the crooked players cost the honest players the difference in WS shares, $5,200 v. $3,200? That's specific dollars, not some vague reference heard today that steroid users are getting an unfair advantage over non users and therefore costing them money.

Why don't we apply the commissioner Landis standard, which seems to be that of the U.S. military academy honor code:

"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."