Catching Up On Baseball
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
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We are just about 40% of the way through the 2021 baseball season and I wanted to share with you my thoughts, on a couple of issues that have been discussed around the league, so far this year.
Let's talk about this way too familiar sight, replay. From the start of this experiment I was all in on replay. My feeling was, and still is, just get the call right. I would say that, in general, MLB has done a better than average job of getting the calls right once they go to replay.
Unfortunately, in 2021, I am seeing them miss more than at any other time since they started this process. Some are so obvious that you wonder if Ray Charles is the replay official back in Secaucus.
As someone who is lucky enough to get the local feed for the Dodgers, Angels, and Padres, plus national feeds on Fox, ESPN, TBS, and MLB Network, I see many games every week. I don't have the stats but my sense is that MLB is having a tough year with replay this year.
I'm not going to give up on replay, but just get it right MLB.
MLB has announced that it is going to start coming down hard on pitchers who are using a foreign substance to increase the spin rates of their pitches. This, of course, has been going on for 125 years in baseball. Remember, at one point the spitball was legal.
Pitchers and catchers have found many different, and creative, ways to mess with the ball so that it looks like a pitcher is playing whiffle ball in the back yard. Scuffing it on the catchers buckle of his shin guard when he throws it back, rubbing dirt on it, using Vaseline, and 100 other ways of messing with it to give them an advantage.
Today it is pine tar, or some other mixture that they are using and, finally, baseball has said enough is enough. Interestingly, in the last ten days since they announced they are cracking down, spin rates have magically gone down by about 14% on average. What a coincidence!
The only reason that this whole issue has becomes front and center for baseball is because of this.
The ridiculous increased number of batters being hit by pitches. The problem with increased spin rates is that too many pitchers have no idea how to control it and players are being hit in record numbers this year. This has led players, managers, and others to step up and say enough is enough. Either learn how to pitch or stop with the illegal shit on baseballs.
It is so bad that when batter come to the plate now they look like a goalie. They have so much protection that they weigh five additional pounds carrying all this crap on themselves just to keep from losing their career over an errant pitch. When you start hearing tv and radio color commentators saying that these guys either need to learn how to pitch, or stay in the minors, you know it is an issue.
Mark my words, there will be many frontline pitchers that are going to get caught and punished and fans will be going nuts when it happens.
Speaking of fans, it is great to see ballparks full again. there is nothing to compare with actual live bodies yelling and cheering for their team. I hope we see more cities open things up and I hope people are careful to follow the guidelines for safety so things don't have to go back to last year.
The one thing that seems to be a new trend at Wrigley Field this year, with the return of fans, is a new sport in the stands of beer cup snaking. (You can kind of see it on the right side of the picture above.)
The one thing Cubs fans have always taken pride in is that they will not allow the wave to start anywhere in the stands. This is a good thing. I will say to Cubs fans today, the beer cup snake is today's version of the wave. Stop doing it. It looks childish. Pay attention to the game.
No matter what you think of the Mets, or Jacob deGrom, there is no denying that he is having an historic year on the mound. If you haven't seen him pitch this year make it a point to do so next time he is on TV.
In 1968 Bob Gibson went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA. He struck out 268 batters and walked only 62. He started 34 games, completed 28 of them, and threw 13 shutouts. In 1969 MLB lowered the mound six inches to give the batters a chance.
So far in 2021, Jacob deGrom has a record of 6-2. He has one shutout. He has struck out 103 batters and walked only 8, and his ERA is a ridiculous 0.56. Based on these numbers, MLB may have to lower the mound, in 2022, to minus 4 inches below ground level. Just hand him the Cy Young award and move on to something else.
As always thanks for humoring me and on to the All-Star game!