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)
Response
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Thank you for your email, as we have received your inquiry and will respond as soon as possible.
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Discussion Thread
---------------------------------------------------------------
Customer (Kenneth Matinale) - 07/08/2009 08:27 AM
FROM:
Kenneth Matinale
EMAIL ADDRESS:
ken@matinale.net
IP ADDRESS:
71.167.157.145
Internet radio
MESSAGE:
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.