We are just about at the quarter pole for the season in major league baseball, and like the start of every season, things are completely out of control. Between bad weather, a stubborn pandemic, and batters swinging for the fences at every at bat, this year is going to be wild.
I was going to write about my disgust with all things in Washington DC, but just thinking about it made my blood pressure go up to 276 over 143 so I decided to focus on some wild things happening in baseball so far in 2021 instead.
I heard a stat the other night, while watching the Dodgers game, that almost made my head explode. Even the casual fan can notice how many batters are striking out this season, compared to past years. The Chicago Cubs Javy Baez, pictured flailing away above, is the poster child for not having a plan at the plate and swinging like a crazy person at every pitch.
When the Dodgers announcer said that in April of this season, major league baseball had 1000 more strikeouts than hits, I didn't even think twice about it. He then continued with this. In the over 140 years of baseball there has never been one month when strikeouts exceeded hits. By even one.
I still cannot get my head around this fact.
Baseball went from never doing something, ever. To doing it one thousand times. Just think about how many months of baseball in over 140 years. It's about 840 depending on when it starts and stops each year. And baseball went from zero to one thousand times.
This, clearly, is one of the contributing factors to the second mind blowing thing going on in baseball this year, the no hitter.
MLB, in the modern era, has had four seasons when there have been seven no hitters, 1990, 1991, 2012, and 2015. We are only in the second week of May and we've had 4 1/2 no hitters so far in 2021. I will be stunned if a new record isn't set this year.
By the way, the 1/2 no hitter mentioned, is Madison Baumgartner throwing a seven inning gem as part of a double header. Why it doesn't count when the game was official is beyond my understanding so I'm giving him a half one.
As batters continue on their quest to only hit home runs, instead of actually going up to the plate with a real plan against pitchers, the weekly no hitters will continue. There are players, right now, that have more strikeouts in 35 games, than some players had in entire seasons.
The other disturbing trend in baseball this season is the number of players getting hit by pitches. I have seen some games where over 5 guys have been hit by a pitch. I remember not too long ago when you could go five weeks without seeing one. Either pitchers have to stop throwing up and in, if they can't control their pitches, or batters need to dress like goalies when batting, because someone is going to get killed.
The Cubs Willson Contreras has already been hit six times. Pitchers are bigger and stronger than ever today, and their fastballs are averaging around 92-94 MPH. I can tell you, it hurts when the ball hits you, and if it is coming at your head it is scary too.
The umpires have done a terrible job of controlling this stuff too. Some give a warning after the first hit batter, and some wait until four guys have been hit to do it. Managers complain that if warnings are given too early it takes away their ability to hit the other team in retaliation. Huh? What are you 5 years old? There should never be any reason to throw at someone on purpose, there are enough hit batters on mistakes as it is.
All these hit batter has, of course, led to a proliferation of that time honored baseball tradition of the benches clearing brawl.
The ol' hold me back so I don't actually get close enough to get hit myself baseball brawls. A lot of pushing and shoving. More holding and dancing. And of course the shouting and name calling you see when third graders square off on the playground.
If the commissioner wants to speed up the game, start suspending guys for two weeks if they step on the field and clear the benches. These "fights" are embarrassing and a waste of time. I've seen enough for a lifetime and its only May 12th.
So that is the start of 2021 in major league baseball. Plenty of things going on, and almost none of them resemble what used to be baseball. The good news is that there are actually fans back in the stands, and if the product on the field is lacking in quality, at least the sound from the stands is real and not piped in like last year.