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In the fourth game of the National League championship series to determine who goes to the World Series, the Chicago Cubs survived a threat of elimination by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on 3 solo homers to 2 solo homers.

Cubs: 2nd Contreras homered to left (491 feet).
Cubs: 2nd Báez homered to left (437 feet).
Dodgers: 3rd Bellinger homered to right (378 feet).
Cubs: 5th Báez homered to left (380 feet).
Dodgers: 8th Turner homered to left (400 feet).

Five of the eight hits in the game were home runs. (For the Europeans reading this in what is the middle of the night in America, a baseball homerun is a ball hit so far that it clears the fences and lands in the stands so the batter and any baserunners jog home to score.)

Granted, this was in Wrigley Field, where homers are cheap.

Still, baseball is actually more tense and exciting when runners get on base and have a chance to run home on a hit rather than just jog home on a homer. (My most feared opposition team was the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals, who won 102 games and beat the Dodgers 4-2 in the NLCS despite hitting only 87 home runs. Here are the 1984 Cards playing the Cubs in the epic Sandberg-McGee game.)

Baseball in 2017 is turning into pro softball where all the runs score on homers.

Why? One theory is that the seams on the baseball were tightened so that breaking balls don’t break as much, while fly balls are more likely to carry out of the park.

Is that true? I don’t know.

Perhaps it’s not. Another theory is that new launch angle data encouraged hitters to retools their swings over the offseason for homers or strikeouts.

Or maybe they have a new PED.

One way to make baseball less of a feat of strength would be to speed up the outfield grass by, say, mowing it away from home plate so that line drives would be more likely to roll past the outfielders for extra bases.

 
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  1. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    You’ve been thinking a lot about grass recently.

    Read More
    • Replies: @27 year old
    Maybe this could be Steve's airport book and ticket to riches: a book on the surprising impact of grass mowing.

    I remember there was a moderately popular (for nonfiction) book called Cod which explained how this one weird fish actually changed the course of the world. I think there's a type of guy that likes reading intricate explanations of how seemingly mundane things are actually pivotally important. There's a niche for this kind of thing.

    The battle of Hastings and Lexington and Concorde and even Gettysburg could have gone the other way if the grass had been mowed different. Bush best Gore in 2000 because the grass at Florida community centers was cut higher than normal - democrats walk with a lower stride than republicans so they were slow to get to the polls.

    Mark zuckerburg realized he could become a billionaire because of seeing all the blades of grass chopped down to the same height. Some low level government minister in a dry country of brown people figured out to mow the grass of public places a certain way to save billions of gallons of water per year which they put towards crop irrigation and created jobs.

    There's 8 chapter ideas right there.
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  2. So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers’ staff had zero walks. If they’d had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game’s 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a ‘three true outcomes’ dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    Read More
    • Replies: @DCThrowback
    LOL, the NBA regular season is the most boring part of any of the big 4's sports seasons (yes, baseball and hockey are better). Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons' Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.

    The reason? There is hardly any suspense in an 82 game season where the best teams are rarely threatened and no one cares what happens until either a/ the conference final round of the playoffs or b/ the draft/trade/which players have colluded to play with each other in which big market. Sorry Milwaukee and Charlotte, another wasted year at 39-43, enjoy that Golden State / Cleveland final everyone!
    , @eD
    I attempted to watch a NFL game recently, the only game the Giants have won this season.

    I was never a big football fan but would sometimes watch NFL games (I grew up in New York City, the one place in the USA where college football is just not a big part of the local culture). Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don't bother me. The concussion problem does, but I always knew the sport was violent and am still working through the implications on that one.

    But I couldn't watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high. It has always been higher than in other sports, but seems to have gotten worse.

    I agree the NBA is also unwatchable, at least in the ridiculous regular season. The problems with baseball, as have been pointed out here, are at least more fixable.

    One thing is that professional sports as we know it, and particularly the NFL, are really tightly woven into the TV and car base mass culture that arose to dominance in the USA in the 50s and 60s. But this is starting to fade away. Baseball was big in an earlier time, and though the MLB adapted to broadcast TV and made lots of money off it, I think the professional sport should be OK without it.
    , @ganderson
    Nice job Calvinist! Been a baseball fan since the Twins moved to Minnesota. I was going to make the same observations- 4 hour nine inning games, endless pitching changes, and trips to the mound. Does Gary Sanchez go to the mound on every batter? Seems like it.

    Way too few balls are put into play. When the sabermetric revolution happened I was all on board- it really expanded my appreciation for the game- but now? I may be this is what too much data and analysis brings. They are losing me.
    , @JerryC

    ***23 of the game’s 51 outs came via strikeout.
     
    This is the heart of the matter. It's very hard to generate extended rallies when 45% of the batters can't even put the ball in play. They may need to lower the mound again to get the number of balls in play back to a reasonable level.
    , @slumber_j

    the tedious penalties and replays
     
    Right. I stopped watching the NFL completely at least a decade ago when I realized that the typical endgame was like watching a lawsuit.
    , @Marty
    The first night game I ever attended, 4/27/62, ran 3:33. Perry v. Bunning. Nine innings, eleven pitchers. Giants 14, Phillies 13. Matty Alou won it with a homer in the 9th.
    , @RadicalCenter
    I didn't have any problem watching Game Four NLCS in terms of length or otherwise, and I'm a Dodgers fan. To each his own, I guess.

    I love baseball and don't care much about some variation in the duration of a game, though I understand the concern about turning off other potential fans who DO care a lot about that.

    As for the NFL and NBA, I couldn't care less about those leagues, their many oversexed, borderline-retarded players, and their PC pussy owners and the anti-white, anti-American propaganda they are allowing, excusing, & encouraging.

    And who cares if those two schmucks have "gruesome leg injuries" or not? Any normal American with self-respect and pride in his nation and people, who is still watching or supporting the NBA or NFL, is a cuck anyway.

    , @TomSchmidt
    Yes, the three true outcomes games are deathly dull. I think there's also a exploitable angle to the analytics.

    Yes, we know the numbers over the regular season that have led to the death of the bunt, the steal, their love child the suicide squeeze, etc. best not to give up an out against pitching that may or may not be very good.

    This changes when facing excellent staffs in the playoffs. Best example is probably 2001 Diamondbacks, with Schilling and Randy Johnson and other pitchers who sucked. I think three games went into extra innings. In any case, the logic of playing for more runs that holds in the regular season changes when one run is harder to come by. Bunting with men on first and second and no Out makes sense in removing the double play and allowing a run to score without a hit, given the quality of the pitching.

    The Yankees performed so poorly offensively in the first two games of the ALCS this year that one might not have noticed how well they were pitching. It must be excruciating for Astros fans to watch as no plays are executed to try to manufacture runs, as last night when the man on third wasn't squeezed home.
    , @Hibernian
    Baseball is slow and boring but doesn't generally have situations like Bears' Danny Trevathan/Packers' Davonte Adams or Aaron Rodgers broken collarbone, or this:

    https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/10/17/sources-bulls-nikola-mirotic-hospitalized-after-practice-altercation-with-teammate-bobby-portis/23246772/

    Imagine Adams getting speared or Rodgers getting his collarbone broken by a fellow Packer at practice, with coaches in attendace.

    Yes, I'm aware of beanballs, baserunners sliding into the catcher, Juan Marichal going crazy when I was in jr. high, etc.
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  3. good article in the WSJ – weds – says Indians and Dodgers have the highest curveball rate in the league. 18 and 15%. 7 of the 8 teams with the highest curveball rate made the playoffs. Hitters had .459 slugging percentage against fastballs this season. Compared to .355 against curveballs.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Perhaps Tommy John-style sinkerballs pitchers will make a comeback?
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  4. One additional depressing detail about the NLCS Game 4: Steve mentioned that of the game’s 9 hits, 5 were home runs. The other 4 were all singles, so there were no doubles or triples at all. Dull.

    Read More
    • Agree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @Captain Tripps
    Generally, the teams with the best pitching and defense going in to the post-season, will advance. The Cubs and Dodgers have pretty good staffs, with the Dodgers having the better middle-late relief consistency. The Cubs have been living on the edge with their late relievers, who are more inconsistent this post-season without Chapman. Surprisingly, the Yankees pitching staff (particularly the old veteran Sabathia) has been better than they were in the regular season, and were able to stifle Cleveland's offense. Looks like they are starting to do the same with Houston.

    Point is, pitching and defense are starting to dominate, making extra base hits a premium. That is a general rule, supported by stats over time. Of course, you can get wild games or series, where both teams start hitting the ball all over the place, so, if the Cubs can extend the series, maybe that will happen; both teams have the offensive talent in the lineup.
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  5. @Steve Richter
    good article in the WSJ - weds - says Indians and Dodgers have the highest curveball rate in the league. 18 and 15%. 7 of the 8 teams with the highest curveball rate made the playoffs. Hitters had .459 slugging percentage against fastballs this season. Compared to .355 against curveballs.

    Perhaps Tommy John-style sinkerballs pitchers will make a comeback?

    Read More
    • Agree: MBlanc46
    • Replies: @Hubbub
    Tommy John? Oh, Tommy John. Isn't his name mentioned more each baseball season than any former great ball player? Every game I've watched this season (A Cubbie fan who watched all televised Cubs games) Tommy John has been mentioned one or more times in relation to pitchers' arms. Now, multiply that by all the other games being televised or radioized and you get quite a number of mentions for good ol' Tommy John. Do you suppose that - during baseball season at least - that Tommy John references rank up there with Trump? Putin? Jesus? Hitler? Mao? Tommy John, Tommy John, Tommy Jo.....
    , @The Last Real Calvinist

    Perhaps Tommy John-style sinkerballs pitchers will make a comeback?

     

    It seems as if sinkerballers fade in and out in popularity. There were a few good ones a decade back or so, e.g. Brandon Webb, Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay, etc. I guess you could classify Dallas Keuchel as a sinkerball pitcher now, and Corey Kluber uses one, but the guys who throw the sinker a great majority of the time like Lowe and Webb seem to be less common now.

    You'd think the rise in home runs motivate more young pitchers to work on the sinker, but baseball trends and fads are hard to predict.

    The sinkerball does seem to be a somewhat fickle mistress. Just my impression, but it does seem as if a sinkerballer who doesn't 'have it' on a particular day will really get hammered. At the MLB level, sinkers absolutely cannot be left up in the zone, so if a sinkerballer's command is off just a bit, well, he's sunk.

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  6. Travis says:

    The greatest game ever played was on Oct. 13, 1960, the Yankees and Pirates played a climactic Game 7. It was a game that saw the lead change hands four times, most dramatically, of course, with the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history. It featured 19 runs and 24 hits and was played in a brisk 2 hours and 36 minutes despite going into extra innings and having 8 pitching changes.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JerryC
    By the way, there were zero strikeouts in that game.
    , @MBlanc46
    I was a freshman in high school. We were in the auditorium for some sort of assembly. Someone had a transistor radio and kept giving updates. It was indeed thrilling, but the outcome was devastating to a Yankee-fan-in-October. Almost as bad as my White Sox falling to the hated Dodgers the year before.
    , @EriK

    It featured 19 runs and 24 hits and was played in a brisk 2 hours and 36 minutes despite going into extra innings and having 8 pitching changes.
     
    How many TV timeouts?
    , @Steve Sailer
    The 1960 10-9 Game 7 of Pirates over Yankees was indeed played in 2 hours and 36 minutes, but it didn't go into extra innings.

    It was anomalous in that there were no strikeouts in the game, perhaps because the increasingly aged and eccentric Yankees manager Casey Stengel didn't start his Hall of Fame bound ace Whitey Ford. (Stengel got fired during the off-season.)
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  7. CAL2 says:

    Three things would speed up the game. The pitch clock which they use in the minors and seems to help quite a bit. And if you replace a pitcher, there is one warm-up pitch otherwise what is the bullpen for? Finally, only the manager can go to the mound with the same rule of the second time the pitcher is out of the game. No more of the catcher walking out there three times in an inning. The manager would have the length of the pitch clock for discussion.

    Baseball needs to shoot for, at the most, 15 minutes per inning. That keeps the games under 2 1/2 hours. It would still keep things leisurely but not feel interminable.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Njguy73
    Rule 8.04.
    , @RadicalCenter
    Great point about pitchers warming up in the bullpen instead of when they get to the mound. We could allow just a couple warm-up pitches on the mound instead of the eight pitches that the MLB Rules allow now.

    There are often three relievers appearing for each side in a game nowadays, especially in these playoffs.

    Even with five relievers appearing in a game (for both teams combined), this rule change would save 5 x 6 = THIRTY warm-up pitches. Even assuming the warm-up pitches take only twenty seconds each, that would save ten minutes per game right there.

    , @Sane Left Libertarian
    Baseball, like everything else on TV now, has as its main purpose selling advertising. The actual game is secondary to that. Game 5 of the NLDS was 9 innings and took 4 hrs and 37 minutes. So all of those pitching changes, trips to the mound, interminable breaks between innings, etc. keep the cash registers ringing. It's really difficult to be a day-in, day-out fan these days of anything except the NHL. They have 3 2-min breaks per period, and the puck is actually in play for 60 minutes.
    , @EriK
    I agree on the pitch clock, but not on the one (!) warm up pitch.

    Signed,
    a former reliever
    , @Buffalo Joe
    Cal2, How about the batter can only step out of the box if he swung at a pitch and missed or fouled off. How many times do you need to adjust the strap on your batting glove?
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  8. Too bad the Cubs aren’t doing so great, although I’m guessing you’ve gotta be excited at the increasingly likely prospect of the Yankees and Dodgers meeting in the World Series for the 12th time.

    Read More
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  9. DCThrowback says: • Website
    @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    LOL, the NBA regular season is the most boring part of any of the big 4′s sports seasons (yes, baseball and hockey are better). Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons’ Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.

    The reason? There is hardly any suspense in an 82 game season where the best teams are rarely threatened and no one cares what happens until either a/ the conference final round of the playoffs or b/ the draft/trade/which players have colluded to play with each other in which big market. Sorry Milwaukee and Charlotte, another wasted year at 39-43, enjoy that Golden State / Cleveland final everyone!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Polynikes
    True. The politics (mostly black or European) of the NBA hurt, as well. But at least the NBA commissioner seems aware that this will drive fans away and has already stated everyone will stand for the anthem and do their political work away from the court (which most players never will because they really don't care beyond virtue signaling).

    The resurgence is mostly due to a more appealing style of play. As a native Hoosier, I applaud the NBA for finally coming around to learn how the game is supposed to be played.
    , @Autochthon
    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs. I know nothing of professional basketball, but I laughed because even I knew it was true just because the stuff was always on television and being discussed for interminable lengths of time – months, maybe. I always thought “What the Hell? Isn’t it over yet?” When baseball added the wildcard nonsense, central divisions, and inter-league play all year, the same exaperated, boring feeling of “sheesh, what’s even the point of the season or special about the playoffs?” crept in.

    It seems sports’ executives just can’t help themselves from over-egging the pudding more and more each year in this regard. Team’s demanding new stadia and moving around every two years is another aspect of the problem. The whole thing just becomes silly: casual fans can’t keep up with it, and dedicated fans are deprived of meaningful traditions and continuity.
    , @Autochthon
    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs. I know nothing of professional basketball, but I laughed because even I knew it was true just because the stuff was always on television and being discussed for interminable lengths of time – months, maybe. I always thought “What the Hell? Isn’t it over yet?” When baseball added the wildcard nonsense, central divisions, and inter-league play all year, the same exaperated, boring feeling of “sheesh, what’s even the point of the season or special about the playoffs?” crept in.

    It seems sports’ executives just can’t help themselves from over-egging the pudding more and more each year in this regard. Team’s demanding new stadia and moving around every two years is another aspect of the problem. The whole thing just becomes silly: casual fans can’t keep up with it, and dedicated fans are deprived of meaningful traditions and continuity.
    , @The Last Real Calvinist

    Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons’ Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.
     
    Indeed. I've sworn off espn, so the only general-sports site I glance at these days is Yahoo sports. I swear 50-60% of the articles they publish are NBA gossip pieces -- and not just wheeling and dealing stuff, either. Lots of them are trivial 'who dissed whom' stories that are purely personality-driven. It's like reading a Facebook group for Sweet Valley junior high. Most days now I don't even bother to look.
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  10. anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Once a pretty big sports fan, I’ve been down to baseball on the radio for many years, and may be giving up on that, too.

    Whatever the cause(s) of the renewed prevalence of homers, the industry could dial things back with a simple adjustment to the specifications for manufacturing the ball. Isn’t it clear, then, that the industry wants what we now have, a game tweaked and twerked for the consumption of people who won’t otherwise consume the product?* If you enjoy anything as a spectator, beware its vulnerability to the mass market.

    *A corollary bitch. Homering up what used to be a far more interesting game also enables the cliche spectacle of players (often in camouflage) looking and pointing skyward as they trot across the plate.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Captain Tripps
    What's with the home plate mosh pit when a player hits a walk-off home run? Granted, I can see if you hit one in the bottom of the 9th or later in an LCS or World Series Game 7 getting really excited and doing it, but they do it in regular season games too. What ever happened to just trotting the bases and high-fiving your teammates in the dugout? Act like you been there before.
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  11. @Dave Pinsen
    You've been thinking a lot about grass recently.

    Maybe this could be Steve’s airport book and ticket to riches: a book on the surprising impact of grass mowing.

    I remember there was a moderately popular (for nonfiction) book called Cod which explained how this one weird fish actually changed the course of the world. I think there’s a type of guy that likes reading intricate explanations of how seemingly mundane things are actually pivotally important. There’s a niche for this kind of thing.

    The battle of Hastings and Lexington and Concorde and even Gettysburg could have gone the other way if the grass had been mowed different. Bush best Gore in 2000 because the grass at Florida community centers was cut higher than normal – democrats walk with a lower stride than republicans so they were slow to get to the polls.

    Mark zuckerburg realized he could become a billionaire because of seeing all the blades of grass chopped down to the same height. Some low level government minister in a dry country of brown people figured out to mow the grass of public places a certain way to save billions of gallons of water per year which they put towards crop irrigation and created jobs.

    There’s 8 chapter ideas right there.

    Read More
    • LOL: slumber_j
    • Replies: @ganderson
    :)
    , @Autochthon
    Seems more like a coffee-table book than an airport-book. But otherwise, yeah.
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  12. fun video of a retired Greg Maddux pranking Kris Bryant

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    Thanks for that; it's excellent.

    Maddux was my favorite player; good to see he's still got it.
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  13. In addition to the offense being too home-run focused, baseball defense overemphasizes pitching. Why not just remove all non-pitching defense? We can call this new crappy game ‘Battery’.

    Solution: Soften the ball so it’s harder to hit homers. At the same time, dilate the whole infield, including mound to home plate distance, by a a few %. Result: Lots more hits, but it’s harder to homer and harder to advance through the bases on each hit. Lots more interesting defensive plays to watch and the return of small-ball as a winning strategy.

    Read More
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  14. eD says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    I attempted to watch a NFL game recently, the only game the Giants have won this season.

    I was never a big football fan but would sometimes watch NFL games (I grew up in New York City, the one place in the USA where college football is just not a big part of the local culture). Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don’t bother me. The concussion problem does, but I always knew the sport was violent and am still working through the implications on that one.

    But I couldn’t watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high. It has always been higher than in other sports, but seems to have gotten worse.

    I agree the NBA is also unwatchable, at least in the ridiculous regular season. The problems with baseball, as have been pointed out here, are at least more fixable.

    One thing is that professional sports as we know it, and particularly the NFL, are really tightly woven into the TV and car base mass culture that arose to dominance in the USA in the 50s and 60s. But this is starting to fade away. Baseball was big in an earlier time, and though the MLB adapted to broadcast TV and made lots of money off it, I think the professional sport should be OK without it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Robert Hume
    Tom Boswell, sports writer for the Washington Post, says he watches football games by recording them and then speeding through commercials and most commentary.
    , @Barnard
    Before the rise of the NFL and NBA, the three most popular spectator sports in America were baseball, horse racing and boxing. Gambling is still a huge component in what is popular and gambling on college and pro football is big business. If you think watching an NFL game on TV is bad, I can't understand the people who spends hundreds of dollars and waste most of their Sunday going to the stadium. After getting gouged for parking, food and their uncomfortable seat, most of them have a view of the game that is far worse than it would be from their couch watching on TV.
    , @ThreeCranes
    "But I couldn’t watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high."

    You've got that right.

    A few years back I didn't have cable so I tried to watch the college playoffs on my computer. Being a cheapskate and not really giving that much of a hoot, I wouldn't pay so I ended up watching the games on an offbeat site that could only broadcast from the skycam. That meant: no replays, no closeups of faces of players on the sidelines or of fans in the bleachers, no commercials and no commentary.

    So what did players do during the frequent and interminable breaks? Nothing. Stood around on the field mostly, drinking a bit of Gator Aid and scratching their behinds.

    It really drove the point home of how much white space there is in a televised football game and how different what is happening on the field is from what a viewer sees on the tube. Without all the distractions, stripped of its geegaws, a televised football game is agonizingly slow.

    It's no surprise that football isn't considered an aerobic sport.

    , @Buffalo Joe
    eD, Add Jon Gruden's constant, condescending pontification to any NFL game, and a root canal becomes a better choice.
    , @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don’t bother me.
     
    Of course not, your allegiance is not to America.
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  15. @eD
    I attempted to watch a NFL game recently, the only game the Giants have won this season.

    I was never a big football fan but would sometimes watch NFL games (I grew up in New York City, the one place in the USA where college football is just not a big part of the local culture). Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don't bother me. The concussion problem does, but I always knew the sport was violent and am still working through the implications on that one.

    But I couldn't watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high. It has always been higher than in other sports, but seems to have gotten worse.

    I agree the NBA is also unwatchable, at least in the ridiculous regular season. The problems with baseball, as have been pointed out here, are at least more fixable.

    One thing is that professional sports as we know it, and particularly the NFL, are really tightly woven into the TV and car base mass culture that arose to dominance in the USA in the 50s and 60s. But this is starting to fade away. Baseball was big in an earlier time, and though the MLB adapted to broadcast TV and made lots of money off it, I think the professional sport should be OK without it.

    Tom Boswell, sports writer for the Washington Post, says he watches football games by recording them and then speeding through commercials and most commentary.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Farenheit
    The preferred method to watch both football and baseball is to TIVO the game. Then start watching it an hour and a half after it has begun. Liberally use your TIVO's 30 second skip button to blast through the commercials and on screen detritus. Then in the late fourth quarter, or 8th inning, you're caught up and in real time, and you don't have to worry about your duffus brother in law texting you the results and ruining the exciting ending.
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  16. ganderson says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    Nice job Calvinist! Been a baseball fan since the Twins moved to Minnesota. I was going to make the same observations- 4 hour nine inning games, endless pitching changes, and trips to the mound. Does Gary Sanchez go to the mound on every batter? Seems like it.

    Way too few balls are put into play. When the sabermetric revolution happened I was all on board- it really expanded my appreciation for the game- but now? I may be this is what too much data and analysis brings. They are losing me.

    Read More
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  17. ganderson says:
    @27 year old
    Maybe this could be Steve's airport book and ticket to riches: a book on the surprising impact of grass mowing.

    I remember there was a moderately popular (for nonfiction) book called Cod which explained how this one weird fish actually changed the course of the world. I think there's a type of guy that likes reading intricate explanations of how seemingly mundane things are actually pivotally important. There's a niche for this kind of thing.

    The battle of Hastings and Lexington and Concorde and even Gettysburg could have gone the other way if the grass had been mowed different. Bush best Gore in 2000 because the grass at Florida community centers was cut higher than normal - democrats walk with a lower stride than republicans so they were slow to get to the polls.

    Mark zuckerburg realized he could become a billionaire because of seeing all the blades of grass chopped down to the same height. Some low level government minister in a dry country of brown people figured out to mow the grass of public places a certain way to save billions of gallons of water per year which they put towards crop irrigation and created jobs.

    There's 8 chapter ideas right there.

    :)

    Read More
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  18. JerryC says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    ***23 of the game’s 51 outs came via strikeout.

    This is the heart of the matter. It’s very hard to generate extended rallies when 45% of the batters can’t even put the ball in play. They may need to lower the mound again to get the number of balls in play back to a reasonable level.

    Read More
    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
    Or, de-emphasize the home run. Valorize the "walking triple," as when Rickey Henderson would be a threat to steal second and third after a lead off walk.

    A solo home run scores a run, but it doesn't distract the pitcher like a base runner.
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  19. Polynikes says:
    @DCThrowback
    LOL, the NBA regular season is the most boring part of any of the big 4's sports seasons (yes, baseball and hockey are better). Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons' Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.

    The reason? There is hardly any suspense in an 82 game season where the best teams are rarely threatened and no one cares what happens until either a/ the conference final round of the playoffs or b/ the draft/trade/which players have colluded to play with each other in which big market. Sorry Milwaukee and Charlotte, another wasted year at 39-43, enjoy that Golden State / Cleveland final everyone!

    True. The politics (mostly black or European) of the NBA hurt, as well. But at least the NBA commissioner seems aware that this will drive fans away and has already stated everyone will stand for the anthem and do their political work away from the court (which most players never will because they really don’t care beyond virtue signaling).

    The resurgence is mostly due to a more appealing style of play. As a native Hoosier, I applaud the NBA for finally coming around to learn how the game is supposed to be played.

    Read More
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  20. @27 year old
    Maybe this could be Steve's airport book and ticket to riches: a book on the surprising impact of grass mowing.

    I remember there was a moderately popular (for nonfiction) book called Cod which explained how this one weird fish actually changed the course of the world. I think there's a type of guy that likes reading intricate explanations of how seemingly mundane things are actually pivotally important. There's a niche for this kind of thing.

    The battle of Hastings and Lexington and Concorde and even Gettysburg could have gone the other way if the grass had been mowed different. Bush best Gore in 2000 because the grass at Florida community centers was cut higher than normal - democrats walk with a lower stride than republicans so they were slow to get to the polls.

    Mark zuckerburg realized he could become a billionaire because of seeing all the blades of grass chopped down to the same height. Some low level government minister in a dry country of brown people figured out to mow the grass of public places a certain way to save billions of gallons of water per year which they put towards crop irrigation and created jobs.

    There's 8 chapter ideas right there.

    Seems more like a coffee-table book than an airport-book. But otherwise, yeah.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Autochthon
    Also, the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.

    (Apologies for two replies; I botched an edition.)
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  21. @Autochthon
    Seems more like a coffee-table book than an airport-book. But otherwise, yeah.

    Also, the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.

    (Apologies for two replies; I botched an edition.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Man From K Street

    the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.
     
    James Burke. Stick with the first (1978) Connections series--the sequels weren't as good as Burke (a) was beating a dead horse with his method and getting more tendentious, (b) didn't have as lavish a BBC production budget.
    , @Buzz Mohawk
    I remember Connections. My favorite episode involved gin and tonics and the invention of refrigeration.

    In summertime, my wife always says, "thank God for air conditioning," and I always respond, "no, thank the guy who invented refrigeration."
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  22. MKP says:

    When I was a kid, we were taught that the strike zone was from the letters to the knees. That is to say, a pitch over the plate and between the letters across the batter’s chest (upper-mid chest) and the batter’s knees would be called a strike if not swung at by the batter.

    The upper end of the strike zone has been gradually defined downwards, so that first pitches had to be at the lower chest to be called a strike. Then the belly button. Now, you routinely see pitches at belt level called balls.

    This increases home runs for two reasons. First, it increases offense generally – pitchers have a smaller space into which to cram the ball, batters have a smaller zone to focus on in trying to make good contact. Second, the (new) strike zone is right where home-run-only hitters want it: where they can uppercut the ball with a sweeping low-to-high swing.

    If MLB really want to move away from home run-dominated games (which I’m not sure they do), they should go back to calling mid-stomach-high fastballs as strikes. Make the batter protect that higher area with a compact, level swing. Make the batter fight off a belly high fastball by slapping it for a sharp, low line drive.

    Read More
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  23. Hubbub says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Perhaps Tommy John-style sinkerballs pitchers will make a comeback?

    Tommy John? Oh, Tommy John. Isn’t his name mentioned more each baseball season than any former great ball player? Every game I’ve watched this season (A Cubbie fan who watched all televised Cubs games) Tommy John has been mentioned one or more times in relation to pitchers’ arms. Now, multiply that by all the other games being televised or radioized and you get quite a number of mentions for good ol’ Tommy John. Do you suppose that – during baseball season at least – that Tommy John references rank up there with Trump? Putin? Jesus? Hitler? Mao? Tommy John, Tommy John, Tommy Jo…..

    Read More
    • Replies: @Njguy73
    Well, Tommy John was involved in that other thing, the thing he had...
    , @Jack O'Fire
    Ya, he makes great subs. Fast.
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  24. Baseball and NFL football probably need to evolve a bit for changing times.

    Cricket is renowned for having games called Test Matches that last up to 5 days. Actually they used to last until there was a winner, until a lengthy match in the 1930s was unfinished due to the England team having to catch their ship home from Australia with the match still in progress. After that the 5-day limit was introduced. Evolution, you see.

    Now no one has time for 5-day games unless they are retired, and one of the most popular forms of the professional game today is the so called 20-20 in which each team gets just 120 pitches and the game is over in about 3 hours.

    20-20 is a veritable slugfest with 6 hits (equivalent to home runs) all over the place, and while some players are specialists in 20-20, some players are good enough to star in both 20-20 and the 5-day game. Chris Gayle is a mighty slugger who excels in all forms of the game, except that he has become so old and fat that he can hardly run any more and relies on mighty blows even in the 5-day game.

    In one game he scored 175 runs off 66 balls, a world record, including no less than17 6-hits or home runs.

    His image was slightly tarnished when he gave some candid answers in live interviews with female journalists. Here is a summary of his views:

    Gayle said Jamaicans were “more relaxed about sex. We’re not so hung up about it. This is what people like doing. It’s no big deal.”

    The interview took place in Bangalore, where Gayle has been playing with the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League.

    “I haven’t had a shag since I been here,” he said. “Ten t’ousand women will throw themselves at me. The fact is that I am damn good-looking.”

    Asked if he threw himself at women, he sighed: “Your questions, you suck me dry.”

    Gayle, one of the biggest stars in world cricket, boasted about his “very, very big bat” and asked The Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes if she had ever had a threesome.

    Although it may not appeal to baseball purists, a form of the game with MORE home runs and more larger than life characters would probably bring in the advertising dollars without which no professional sport can survive these days.

    If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.

    Read More
    • Replies: @anonymous
    "If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.”

    Please stick to wickets — you’ve no idea how these would, in turn, foul up other aspects of baseball. The “obvious” answer is to moderately deaden the ball, as per my earlier (11:24 am GMT) comment once again sitting forgotten in the dugout.*

    *These odd delays are limited to my comments posted to Mr. Sailer’s blog, and apparently “at whim” indeed, as later back & forth among others keeps rolling out while I anxiously await publication and interaction. Is there a purgatory or pecking order for those of us who aren’t as big fans? I can’t bring myself to write “Hey, Steve” in addressing someone I’ve never met.
    , @Jonathan Mason
    I should perhaps add to the above in case people think this behavior is acceptable in cricket circles, that Gayle was fined $Aus 10,000 for inappropriate behavior and made a broadcast non-apology apology in which he said it was all just a joke that was taken too seriously, and he did not believe the journalist was really offended. (You can find this on YouTube if you are interested.)

    I think his problem is one of many rich and famous people, for example Hillary Clinton, which is that when they are on TV they completely forget why they are on TV and who their target audience is, which in Gayle's case includes a large number of children and families.

    This is given away by his comments about never having seen the journalist's eyes before, which I take to mean that when she is off camera she is always wearing dark glasses, a fact that would not be obvious to a wider audience, which makes it inappropriate for a broadcast interview intended (though perhaps not understood by the player) to promote the sport to a family audience.

    No news on whether Gayle has any plans to take a knee, but I would think not.

    , @Jim Sweeney
    A much easier fix would be to shorten the distance between the mound and the plate. That would change a lot as hitters would have to choke up to make contact and the homer would disappear.
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    A bit surprised that the reporter didn't sue for sexual harassment, unless she liked the content of the questions and was merely embarrassed that he would ask her publicly on air, rather than off camera.

    Having a pitch count per batter is definitely one way to reduce the duration of MLB games and would restore some semblance to the pitchers.

    Aside from that cogent point, however, fact remains that cricket is a sissy game. Traditionally very few proles played it as compared to Association Football much less Rugby. The uniforms look drab, the players look unseemly playing it, and it remains a sissy game, especially if a nation like India is one of the all time powerhouses.
    , @MBlanc46
    When I lived in London, I watched a fair bit of forty overs, because I had Sundays free. But any limited overs game isn’t real cricket. The balance between bat and ball is lost. From all I’ve heard about 20/20, it’s complete rubbish. And those garish outfits. White flannels, please.And, if my memory serves, only South Africa had timeless tests.
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  25. @DCThrowback
    LOL, the NBA regular season is the most boring part of any of the big 4's sports seasons (yes, baseball and hockey are better). Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons' Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.

    The reason? There is hardly any suspense in an 82 game season where the best teams are rarely threatened and no one cares what happens until either a/ the conference final round of the playoffs or b/ the draft/trade/which players have colluded to play with each other in which big market. Sorry Milwaukee and Charlotte, another wasted year at 39-43, enjoy that Golden State / Cleveland final everyone!

    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs. I know nothing of professional basketball, but I laughed because even I knew it was true just because the stuff was always on television and being discussed for interminable lengths of time – months, maybe. I always thought “What the Hell? Isn’t it over yet?” When baseball added the wildcard nonsense, central divisions, and inter-league play all year, the same exaperated, boring feeling of “sheesh, what’s even the point of the season or special about the playoffs?” crept in.

    It seems sports’ executives just can’t help themselves from over-egging the pudding more and more each year in this regard. Team’s demanding new stadia and moving around every two years is another aspect of the problem. The whole thing just becomes silly: casual fans can’t keep up with it, and dedicated fans are deprived of meaningful traditions and continuity.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ScarletNumber

    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs.
     
    This was literally true in 1967. In the modern era, only 7 teams didn't make the playoffs per year from 1984-88.
    , @Hibernian
    Was literally true of the NHL when there were only 6 clubs.
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  26. @DCThrowback
    LOL, the NBA regular season is the most boring part of any of the big 4's sports seasons (yes, baseball and hockey are better). Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons' Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.

    The reason? There is hardly any suspense in an 82 game season where the best teams are rarely threatened and no one cares what happens until either a/ the conference final round of the playoffs or b/ the draft/trade/which players have colluded to play with each other in which big market. Sorry Milwaukee and Charlotte, another wasted year at 39-43, enjoy that Golden State / Cleveland final everyone!

    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs. I know nothing of professional basketball, but I laughed because even I knew it was true just because the stuff was always on television and being discussed for interminable lengths of time – months, maybe. I always thought “What the Hell? Isn’t it over yet?” When baseball added the wildcard nonsense, central divisions, and inter-league play all year, the same exaperated, boring feeling of “sheesh, what’s even the point of the season or special about the playoffs?” crept in.

    It seems sports’ executives just can’t help themselves from over-egging the pudding more and more each year in this regard. Team’s demanding new stadia and moving around every two years is another aspect of the problem. The whole thing just becomes silly: casual fans can’t keep up with it, and dedicated fans are deprived of meaningful traditions and continuity.

    Read More
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  27. Baseball just hasn’t been the same since the end of “Whiteyball”. Those 80′s St Louis teams were fun to watch.

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  28. Barnard says:
    @eD
    I attempted to watch a NFL game recently, the only game the Giants have won this season.

    I was never a big football fan but would sometimes watch NFL games (I grew up in New York City, the one place in the USA where college football is just not a big part of the local culture). Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don't bother me. The concussion problem does, but I always knew the sport was violent and am still working through the implications on that one.

    But I couldn't watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high. It has always been higher than in other sports, but seems to have gotten worse.

    I agree the NBA is also unwatchable, at least in the ridiculous regular season. The problems with baseball, as have been pointed out here, are at least more fixable.

    One thing is that professional sports as we know it, and particularly the NFL, are really tightly woven into the TV and car base mass culture that arose to dominance in the USA in the 50s and 60s. But this is starting to fade away. Baseball was big in an earlier time, and though the MLB adapted to broadcast TV and made lots of money off it, I think the professional sport should be OK without it.

    Before the rise of the NFL and NBA, the three most popular spectator sports in America were baseball, horse racing and boxing. Gambling is still a huge component in what is popular and gambling on college and pro football is big business. If you think watching an NFL game on TV is bad, I can’t understand the people who spends hundreds of dollars and waste most of their Sunday going to the stadium. After getting gouged for parking, food and their uncomfortable seat, most of them have a view of the game that is far worse than it would be from their couch watching on TV.

    Read More
    • Replies: @eD
    Its been explained to me by a season ticket holder that its for the social atmosphere and drinking.

    Though you get that by watching the game at a bar with a big screen TV, so I'm still confused on the point.
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  29. prosa123 says: • Website

    OT: Siemens just announced the finalists for its highly prestigious science contest for high school students. Out of the 11 here on Long Island the breakdown is four East Asian males, four South Asian males, one East Asian female, one South Asian (maybe Middle Eastern) female, one white female.

    Read More
    • Replies: @A1
    Kids science projects are meaningless - more an indicator or the parents resources and interests.
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  30. I’ve always thought that baseball is the most boring sport ever invented. I once went to a pro baseball game (southern California team, I don’t know which) with a friend. We got there late, and were bored enough to leave early (military, transients, no local allegiance).

    My son played baseball last year, and I was the scorekeeper on the team. They are still young enough for coach pitch. Keeping score makes it a very interesting game. You are forced to pay attention to every hit, and to know the current status of the game at all times (and thus, to know what the coaches are concerned with, what the possibilities of each hit/play are, etc). It also helps that at that age, about 1/3 of the kids strike out, but 2/3 get a hit of some kind-either to get on base, or to require a defensive play.

    We went to a local minor league game, and I brought my scoresheets to practice. It was again very interesting (albeit as the only one in the stands keeping score, I was obviously the geek of the park)-and actively keeping score helps. We got very lucky: my kids could last about 2-3 innings, and in that 2-3 innings, 4 or 6 runs were scored. After we left, nothing happened for the rest of the game. And being minor league, we got tickets for about $5 right behind home plate. We spent more on food and beer than on tickets.

    Having said that, now that my son doesn’t want to play baseball again, I don’t think I’ll spend another minute in a baseball park. This post only reinforces that speculation.

    joe

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ian M.
    Another way to make a baseball game interesting when you have no attachment to either team is of course with betting: go with a group of buddies to the game, make sure you each have a sufficient number of singles (or the denomination of your choice). For each successive batter, you take a cup and pass it on to the next friend. For each batter, whoever has the cup has to put a dollar in the cup if the batter does not get a hit; then pass the cup on to the next guy. If the batter does get a hit, then the guy with the cup gets to take all the money that's been accumulated in the cup so far; then pass the cup on to the next guy.

    This way, everyone is invested in every batter. If you have the cup, obviously you're rooting for the guy to get a hit; if you don't have the cup, you're rooting for the batter not to get a hit.

    Makes the baseball game a lot of fun.
    , @MBlanc46
    Maybe you have to have played the game, even if badly.
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  31. It’s all about economic incentives. As long as sports are on broadcast television, there is an incentive to make games longer, with more breaks, to increase commercials and revenue. TV networks, owners and players are all aligned in their interests. The only people harmed are the fans.

    Time to move sports to pay per view networks. Then the incentive will be on shortening the games and improving the quality of the viewing experience to attract viewers. Look at TV shows now. All of the good ones for many years Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, etc) are not broadcast.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corn
    “It’s all about economic incentives. As long as sports are on broadcast television, there is an incentive to make games longer, with more breaks, to increase commercials and revenue. ”

    Good point. Whenever the football concussion issue comes up here, some iStevers offer rugby as an alternative. Four or five years ago I watched a rugby game on BBC America. One of the Six Nations tournament games IIRC. It was really fun to watch, far fewer clock stoppages than NFL, few if any commercials. I thought if we ever need an alternative to football this could be it. Yet I also thought being the capitalistic country we are if rugby did catch on there would be pressure on the rugby league or broadcasters to have more time outs, stoppages or excuses for commercials.
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  32. anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Jonathan Mason
    Baseball and NFL football probably need to evolve a bit for changing times.

    Cricket is renowned for having games called Test Matches that last up to 5 days. Actually they used to last until there was a winner, until a lengthy match in the 1930s was unfinished due to the England team having to catch their ship home from Australia with the match still in progress. After that the 5-day limit was introduced. Evolution, you see.

    Now no one has time for 5-day games unless they are retired, and one of the most popular forms of the professional game today is the so called 20-20 in which each team gets just 120 pitches and the game is over in about 3 hours.

    20-20 is a veritable slugfest with 6 hits (equivalent to home runs) all over the place, and while some players are specialists in 20-20, some players are good enough to star in both 20-20 and the 5-day game. Chris Gayle is a mighty slugger who excels in all forms of the game, except that he has become so old and fat that he can hardly run any more and relies on mighty blows even in the 5-day game.

    In one game he scored 175 runs off 66 balls, a world record, including no less than17 6-hits or home runs.

    His image was slightly tarnished when he gave some candid answers in live interviews with female journalists. Here is a summary of his views:

    Gayle said Jamaicans were "more relaxed about sex. We're not so hung up about it. This is what people like doing. It's no big deal."

    The interview took place in Bangalore, where Gayle has been playing with the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League.

    "I haven't had a shag since I been here," he said. "Ten t'ousand women will throw themselves at me. The fact is that I am damn good-looking."

    Asked if he threw himself at women, he sighed: "Your questions, you suck me dry."

    Gayle, one of the biggest stars in world cricket, boasted about his "very, very big bat" and asked The Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes if she had ever had a threesome.

    http://f9view.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Chris-Gayle%E2%80%99s-HD-Wallpaper-Size-532x360-px.jpg

    Although it may not appeal to baseball purists, a form of the game with MORE home runs and more larger than life characters would probably bring in the advertising dollars without which no professional sport can survive these days.

    If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1q5rXZskYk

    “If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.”

    Please stick to wickets — you’ve no idea how these would, in turn, foul up other aspects of baseball. The “obvious” answer is to moderately deaden the ball, as per my earlier (11:24 am GMT) comment once again sitting forgotten in the dugout.*

    *These odd delays are limited to my comments posted to Mr. Sailer’s blog, and apparently “at whim” indeed, as later back & forth among others keeps rolling out while I anxiously await publication and interaction. Is there a purgatory or pecking order for those of us who aren’t as big fans? I can’t bring myself to write “Hey, Steve” in addressing someone I’ve never met.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Use a name - anonymous does not help. Then we can read your track record. For example, the following command my immediate attention:

    Jack Hanson, AM, The Last Real Calvinist, Olorin, Buzz Mohawk, Another Dad, Dave Pinsen, Kylie, Rod1963, Dr. X, Desiderius, Intelligent Dasein, Thea, kihowi, NickG, Lugash, peterike, Buffalo Joe, Harry Baldwin, Jack D, whorefinder, Svigor, Romanian, Twinkie, DCThrowback, Polynikes, Autochthon, Chris Mallory, slumber_j, Yojimbo/Zatoichi, Anonym, Travis, MBlanc46, Hibernian, IHTG, MEH 0910, Jenner Ickham Errican, unit472, Diversity Heretic, The Anti-Gnostic, pyrrhus, LondonBob, Pericles, ,yaqub the mad scientist, NOTA, Kevin C., The Alarmist, Father O'Hara, Opinionator, candid_observer, Discordiax, Hodag, Ivy, AKAHorace, ShoutingThomas, Johann Ricke, J1234, Citizen of a Silly Country, James Kabala, vinteuil, Broski, Chrisnonymous, Hapalong Cassidy, Weltanschauung, Verymuchalive, Je Suis Charlie Martel, tbraton, Art Deco, anony-mouse, Neoconned, Barnard, snorlax, Reg Caesar, Rosamond Vincy, DevOps Dad, Maj. Kong (in no particular order, though I admit that the first few are in a separate category).

    I am sure that I am leaving out some that also do command my attention. And for those that I have omitted, please accept my apology.

    The following:

    Charles Pewitt, Jonathon Mason, International Jew, Colleen Pater, MarkinLA, donut, Dissident, Trelane, fish, Dieter Kief, dearime, Guy de Champlagne

    have much to commend them, but prudence dictates that they must be approached with great caution.

    And Tiny Duck is a champion of stupidity, and not just impaired stupidity, not just no-smarter-than-a-drosophila-melanogaster stupidity, but relentless, mindless, willful stupidity.

    The Duck is closely followed by Corvinus, AndrewR, Truth, Sane Left Libertarian, and, no doubt, some others working very hard to rival their affection for human suffering.

    So get a name. And we will watch what you post.
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  33. @Jonathan Mason
    Baseball and NFL football probably need to evolve a bit for changing times.

    Cricket is renowned for having games called Test Matches that last up to 5 days. Actually they used to last until there was a winner, until a lengthy match in the 1930s was unfinished due to the England team having to catch their ship home from Australia with the match still in progress. After that the 5-day limit was introduced. Evolution, you see.

    Now no one has time for 5-day games unless they are retired, and one of the most popular forms of the professional game today is the so called 20-20 in which each team gets just 120 pitches and the game is over in about 3 hours.

    20-20 is a veritable slugfest with 6 hits (equivalent to home runs) all over the place, and while some players are specialists in 20-20, some players are good enough to star in both 20-20 and the 5-day game. Chris Gayle is a mighty slugger who excels in all forms of the game, except that he has become so old and fat that he can hardly run any more and relies on mighty blows even in the 5-day game.

    In one game he scored 175 runs off 66 balls, a world record, including no less than17 6-hits or home runs.

    His image was slightly tarnished when he gave some candid answers in live interviews with female journalists. Here is a summary of his views:

    Gayle said Jamaicans were "more relaxed about sex. We're not so hung up about it. This is what people like doing. It's no big deal."

    The interview took place in Bangalore, where Gayle has been playing with the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League.

    "I haven't had a shag since I been here," he said. "Ten t'ousand women will throw themselves at me. The fact is that I am damn good-looking."

    Asked if he threw himself at women, he sighed: "Your questions, you suck me dry."

    Gayle, one of the biggest stars in world cricket, boasted about his "very, very big bat" and asked The Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes if she had ever had a threesome.

    http://f9view.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Chris-Gayle%E2%80%99s-HD-Wallpaper-Size-532x360-px.jpg

    Although it may not appeal to baseball purists, a form of the game with MORE home runs and more larger than life characters would probably bring in the advertising dollars without which no professional sport can survive these days.

    If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1q5rXZskYk

    I should perhaps add to the above in case people think this behavior is acceptable in cricket circles, that Gayle was fined $Aus 10,000 for inappropriate behavior and made a broadcast non-apology apology in which he said it was all just a joke that was taken too seriously, and he did not believe the journalist was really offended. (You can find this on YouTube if you are interested.)

    I think his problem is one of many rich and famous people, for example Hillary Clinton, which is that when they are on TV they completely forget why they are on TV and who their target audience is, which in Gayle’s case includes a large number of children and families.

    This is given away by his comments about never having seen the journalist’s eyes before, which I take to mean that when she is off camera she is always wearing dark glasses, a fact that would not be obvious to a wider audience, which makes it inappropriate for a broadcast interview intended (though perhaps not understood by the player) to promote the sport to a family audience.

    No news on whether Gayle has any plans to take a knee, but I would think not.

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  34. @DCThrowback
    LOL, the NBA regular season is the most boring part of any of the big 4's sports seasons (yes, baseball and hockey are better). Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons' Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.

    The reason? There is hardly any suspense in an 82 game season where the best teams are rarely threatened and no one cares what happens until either a/ the conference final round of the playoffs or b/ the draft/trade/which players have colluded to play with each other in which big market. Sorry Milwaukee and Charlotte, another wasted year at 39-43, enjoy that Golden State / Cleveland final everyone!

    Reading NBA barometers like Bill Simmons’ Ringer, the offseason tumult of which drama queen will sign where generates 10x more think pieces than the results on the court of any given Tuesday.

    Indeed. I’ve sworn off espn, so the only general-sports site I glance at these days is Yahoo sports. I swear 50-60% of the articles they publish are NBA gossip pieces — and not just wheeling and dealing stuff, either. Lots of them are trivial ‘who dissed whom’ stories that are purely personality-driven. It’s like reading a Facebook group for Sweet Valley junior high. Most days now I don’t even bother to look.

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  35. Baseball in 2017 is turning into pro softball where all the runs score on homers.

    Why? One theory is that the seams on the baseball were tightened so that breaking balls don’t break as much, while fly balls are more likely to carry out of the park.

    Is that true? I don’t know.

    I don’t know either, but my bet’s on juiced balls. Besides an increase in homers, there was also the phenomenon of pitchers getting more blisters, which they attributed to the change in seams.

    The widespread and across-the-board elevated homers this year suggests a top-down change. MLB has altered ball characteristics before in the past.

    The suggestions of new launch angles or new PEDs being the cause are less likely as they would require a simultaneous bottom-up change of behavior from dozens, if not hundreds, of pitchers or batters.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Brutusale
    Not juiced, just lower, tighter seams. Some pitcher was recently complaining about the seams making it more difficult for him to throw his breaking stuff.
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  36. OT (hey, it’s a baseball post): John McWhorter is stunned by the recent turn against Ta-Nehisi Coates but figures out where the genius went wrong: he forced “the kind of people who read the New Yorker on their iPhone while waiting in line at Zabar’s” (now THATS a good euphemism) to realize Coates doesn’t distinguish between them and rural western PA Trump voters.

    https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/47877

    McWhorter and Loury go on to discuss why they hate Coates. It’s sad hearing how painful this is for McWhorter but he really can’t take it anymore. “When white people come up to me–and this happens once a week–to tell me how much they love Coates, I’m left wondering if that’s how they think of me, too. It’s racism. Coates is just a bad thinker and nobody would think otherwise if he weren’t black.”

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    • Agree: (((Owen)))
    • Replies: @Brutusale
    Except in NYC (((people))) wait ON line at Zabar's.
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  37. slumber_j says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    the tedious penalties and replays

    Right. I stopped watching the NFL completely at least a decade ago when I realized that the typical endgame was like watching a lawsuit.

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  38. Ryan says:

    My dad and I were at an Astros game about a month ago. They were playing the A’s. Both teams were using these maddening infield shifts. It was crazy how many times the batter would hit a ground ball directly at the third baseman who was playing shortstop while the shortstop was standing over second base.

    But the thing we could just not wrap our heads around was this: There isn’t a bloody third baseman. Just bunt the ball towards third and you get a free hit. It was like we were in an insane asylum.

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    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
    Yes! Why isn't this a thing?
    , @Captain Tripps
    Right. If they are giving you the whole left side of the infield, bunt the ball that way. Unless the art of bunting has gone downhill (another topic altogether).
    , @EdwardM
    Three reasons as far as I can tell:

    1. The prima donna players don't want to tap/spray the ball, abandoning their long-perfected hitting stroke.

    2. Nobody knows how to bunt anymore. (This is evident elsewhere in the game.)

    3. That strategy might work once, then the defense would get wise to it. You'd think someone would use it in a playoff game or at least in a high-leverage situation.

    As for (3), you'd also think that it would be a great advantage for the batter: if the shift is so statistically valuable on average, then it would be smart for the batter to do this in the first game of the season to force the defense to abandon the shift at the risk of giving up a single every time.

    This leads to my conclusion that it's some combination of (1) and (2), which would be pathetic. I don't get it.
    , @whorefinder
    Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles, which is why I think Steve's theory about everyone changing the angle of their swing is bogus; few players in the majors would do it.

    But players aren't wrong to be so stubborn: even slightly changing your swing can mess up your mechanics and throw you into a slump. Hitting a baseball thrown at 90 mph with a round bat is such an unnatural activity that when a player finds a golden hitting style they will stick to it like a gambler with his lucky numbers. And because it's so unnatural players might not know what they actually discovered, but will go to extremes to keep it going---hence a lot of baseball superstitions, such as not changing socks or bats during a hit streak.

    I'm sure there's some numbers out there that show that even with a shift a pull hitter is better hitting his own way rather than trying to hit a way foreign to him. Ted Williams and David Ortiz had massive shifts on them most of their careers, and yet both are HOFers with great numers.

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  39. @Jonathan Mason
    Baseball and NFL football probably need to evolve a bit for changing times.

    Cricket is renowned for having games called Test Matches that last up to 5 days. Actually they used to last until there was a winner, until a lengthy match in the 1930s was unfinished due to the England team having to catch their ship home from Australia with the match still in progress. After that the 5-day limit was introduced. Evolution, you see.

    Now no one has time for 5-day games unless they are retired, and one of the most popular forms of the professional game today is the so called 20-20 in which each team gets just 120 pitches and the game is over in about 3 hours.

    20-20 is a veritable slugfest with 6 hits (equivalent to home runs) all over the place, and while some players are specialists in 20-20, some players are good enough to star in both 20-20 and the 5-day game. Chris Gayle is a mighty slugger who excels in all forms of the game, except that he has become so old and fat that he can hardly run any more and relies on mighty blows even in the 5-day game.

    In one game he scored 175 runs off 66 balls, a world record, including no less than17 6-hits or home runs.

    His image was slightly tarnished when he gave some candid answers in live interviews with female journalists. Here is a summary of his views:

    Gayle said Jamaicans were "more relaxed about sex. We're not so hung up about it. This is what people like doing. It's no big deal."

    The interview took place in Bangalore, where Gayle has been playing with the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League.

    "I haven't had a shag since I been here," he said. "Ten t'ousand women will throw themselves at me. The fact is that I am damn good-looking."

    Asked if he threw himself at women, he sighed: "Your questions, you suck me dry."

    Gayle, one of the biggest stars in world cricket, boasted about his "very, very big bat" and asked The Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes if she had ever had a threesome.

    http://f9view.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Chris-Gayle%E2%80%99s-HD-Wallpaper-Size-532x360-px.jpg

    Although it may not appeal to baseball purists, a form of the game with MORE home runs and more larger than life characters would probably bring in the advertising dollars without which no professional sport can survive these days.

    If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1q5rXZskYk

    A much easier fix would be to shorten the distance between the mound and the plate. That would change a lot as hitters would have to choke up to make contact and the homer would disappear.

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  40. OFF TOPIC — But they won’t allow baseball bats at Richard Spencer’s University of Florida speech this afternoon.

    My prediction is it goes smoothly with no major problems. The Florida police should send Richard Spencer a thank you note for providing more overtime and some interesting work on the FREE SPEECH DETAIL.

    The Florida cops could also send a thank you note to the so-called “Antifa” thugs who are causing all this mayhem in Florida.

    FREE SPEECH is under attack from the vile thugs in the so-called “Antifa” mob. Government workers and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will protect FREE SPEECH. Because if they don’t, that signals a breakdown in law and order that the so-called “Antifa” will see as weakness.

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  41. A1 says:
    @prosa123
    OT: Siemens just announced the finalists for its highly prestigious science contest for high school students. Out of the 11 here on Long Island the breakdown is four East Asian males, four South Asian males, one East Asian female, one South Asian (maybe Middle Eastern) female, one white female.

    Kids science projects are meaningless – more an indicator or the parents resources and interests.

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  42. Not having cable it is impossible to watch baseball on TV with just an antenna, including the playoffs, except for the WS.

    I was a former huge baseball fan (e.g. I can still list the starting lineups of the 77/78 Dodgers or the 75/76 Reds or the 93 Giants). What you just described sounds like a prescription for a self-inflicted gunshot wound if made to watch a game like that.

    Who could watch an NBA game these days? The he’ll with the NFL, just another SJW pussyhat party.

    Good riddance to them all. I’d rather read big books, lift heavy weights, shoot bullets straight and fast and fight bigger and younger guys in the gym and spend quality time with my children than watch a bunch of future convicts play with balls.

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  43. Marty says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    The first night game I ever attended, 4/27/62, ran 3:33. Perry v. Bunning. Nine innings, eleven pitchers. Giants 14, Phillies 13. Matty Alou won it with a homer in the 9th.

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    • Replies: @Sir Q
    You were just off by 3 years exactly!:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN196504270.shtml

    (I love these, I've located several boyhood games here ... )
    , @fred c dobbs
    14-13? I can assume neither HOF starter was true to form that evening. LOL LOL LOL.....=)
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  44. AndrewR says:

    Your posts about non-political sports topics and golf course architecture should be separate

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    • Replies: @Autochthon
    Nah; his obsession with these arguably zany and obscure subjects (golfing courses’ architecture and hyper-analysing sports), are integral parts of how Steve thinks and views the world – particuarly the dicussions of athletics, which provide insight and fodder for discussion about human biodiversity not just vis-a-vis the athletes and their activities, but also how they are managed, what the games and their place in society tell about sociobiology, etc. (Steve’s always been, if anything, more interested in sociobiology than politics per se.)

    Without his obsession with golf courses’ architecture and sports – and his sharing his thoughts thereon – we would be deprived of a great thing, in the same way we would by not knowing about Tolkien’s obsession with philology, glossopoeia, etc. and how they undergird and enrich his literary and philosophical legacy, allowing us to better understand them – even if the linguistic and philological stuff isn’t of primary interest to a given reader, by ignoring it that reader won’t fully understand and appreciate the rest; so with Steve and his golfing courses’ archtecture.

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  45. OFF TOPIC

    Reports are there are hundreds of cops and dozens of police vehicles at the University of Florida to make sure the Richard Spencer speech goes on without any problems. On a lighter note, it wouldn’t make the cops bad guys if they appreciated the beauty of the college gals while they protect FREE SPEECH from the attacks of the so-called “Antifa” thugs.

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  46. eD says:
    @Barnard
    Before the rise of the NFL and NBA, the three most popular spectator sports in America were baseball, horse racing and boxing. Gambling is still a huge component in what is popular and gambling on college and pro football is big business. If you think watching an NFL game on TV is bad, I can't understand the people who spends hundreds of dollars and waste most of their Sunday going to the stadium. After getting gouged for parking, food and their uncomfortable seat, most of them have a view of the game that is far worse than it would be from their couch watching on TV.

    Its been explained to me by a season ticket holder that its for the social atmosphere and drinking.

    Though you get that by watching the game at a bar with a big screen TV, so I’m still confused on the point.

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    • Replies: @Barnard
    At the sports bar it is also much easier to get up and use the bathroom when you need to and you get a better variety and less expensive food and beer. Plus they don't charge you $20-$50 for parking.

    I went to a college game several years and went to the bathroom and got a hot dog from the concession stand immediately as half time started, I missed the first five minutes of the third quarter. They seem to be paying huge sums of money for the opportunity to tailgate at the stadium and say "I was at the game" when they talk about it during the following week.

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  47. … speed up the outfield grass by, say, mowing it away from home plate…

    Golf again. I love it!

    Players and Americans in general are bigger and stronger than they used to be, so why not move the fences out a bit, lengthen the baselines a little, and make pitchers throw slightly farther?

    This all reminds me of what happened in automobile racing when cars got so fast: Rules were written to restrict engine power and to limit handling grip, and chicanes were built into road tracks to force drivers to slow down. Racing has lost its sense of progress and adventure in the intervening decades.

    Bigger, longer road courses would allow modern cars to really open up. Expanding the baseball diamond just a little bit would accomplish something similar.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    You move home plate back five feet toward the backstop and leave the outfield fences where they are. This cuts down on foul territory and thus foul outs, which are pretty boring usually. Wrigley Field, for example, has tiny foul territory, which means the seats are closer to the players and there is more offense due to fewer foul outs. People like going to Wrigley even though the Cubs weren't that good on average until recently.
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  48. Barnard says:
    @eD
    Its been explained to me by a season ticket holder that its for the social atmosphere and drinking.

    Though you get that by watching the game at a bar with a big screen TV, so I'm still confused on the point.

    At the sports bar it is also much easier to get up and use the bathroom when you need to and you get a better variety and less expensive food and beer. Plus they don’t charge you $20-$50 for parking.

    I went to a college game several years and went to the bathroom and got a hot dog from the concession stand immediately as half time started, I missed the first five minutes of the third quarter. They seem to be paying huge sums of money for the opportunity to tailgate at the stadium and say “I was at the game” when they talk about it during the following week.

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    • Replies: @eD
    I get the impression that going to football games is one of those things you do to say you've done it.
    , @whorefinder
    I don't understand sports bars, unless one is an out-of-towner in for the weekend, or else your wife has banned you from watching at home, neither of which seems to be the majority.

    When I have gone to sports bars, the majority I've noticed seem to be lonely guys looking for camraderie and perhaps a wink from a cute waitress (such as at Hooters). The alcohol certainly helps them to deal with their solitude.

    Movies, TV, and plays in the U.S. used to depict people who hung out at bars as lonely wretches. See, for example, The Iceman Cometh. I think Rocky had some scenes of him at a bar early on, and it is when he's completely alone and going nowhere in life.

    I think the rise of sports bars/gathering at bars coincided with Cheers and the rise of lonely folks making makeshift "families" out of acquaintances as divorce and family separation became routine and pop culture/society de-emphasized the family unit.

    And, of course, the death of unions---unions offered guys camraderie and friendship, and, in many places, a union hall that they could drink and hang out, but amongst close friends. When unions were gone, guys sought it out in other places.

    Note this is different than "pub culture" in the British Isles; usually in those places the whole family joins you at the pub, whether for Sunday brunch or a beer after work or a fun drinking session. Before the Muzzies took the islands you could walk into any pub there before 8pm and see children running around while their dads and mums had drinks.

    , @RadicalCenter
    I know some MLB cities, like D.C. & NYC & Boston, are much worse, but here in LA we pay $10 online directly to the team for general parking, and bring water & most of our food from home. Cheaper than the sports bar because we bring most of the food.
    , @Brutusale
    A few years ago someone in the local media ran some numbers and declared that, for a family of 4 to attend a Red $ox game at Fenway and enjoying the full ballpark experience (hot dogs, programs, souvenirs), it would run upwards of $600.

    Might as well take the tykes to Disney World!
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  49. JerryC says:
    @Travis
    The greatest game ever played was on Oct. 13, 1960, the Yankees and Pirates played a climactic Game 7. It was a game that saw the lead change hands four times, most dramatically, of course, with the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history. It featured 19 runs and 24 hits and was played in a brisk 2 hours and 36 minutes despite going into extra innings and having 8 pitching changes.

    By the way, there were zero strikeouts in that game.

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  50. dwb says:

    Speaking of the disappearance of extra base hits (and base stealing).

    I wonder if it is not correlated with the fact that there are now just two teams playing on turf (Toronto and Tampa Bay)?

    The two big “speed” teams in the 1980s were the Cardinals and the Royals, who relied on doubles (and triples), getting on base, and stealing bases. Both still play in (more or less) the same stadiums now as they did then, but both Busch Stadium and Royals Stadium (whatever it’s called these days) took the turf away and replaced with grass.

    With turf, a line drive or even a ball rolled in the right spot would have a decent chance to go to the fence. This forced outfielders to ‘cheat’ towards the middle of the field.

    Here is an analysis done (games were over a ten year period of 1985-1995) (http://www.bostonbaseball.com/whitesox/baseball_extras/turf.html)

    The effect of turf was to increase doubles by about 20% and triples by 35%. Singles were more likely on grass fields – a ball hit into the gap would be more likely to be slowed to the point that the CF could cut it off.

    If you’re going to swing to hit it over the heads of the outfielders, forget the line drive – just get it over the fence.

    I’ve looked for data on stolen bases, but could not (in the two minutes I invested) find any, but I strongly suspect that running on the turf to second is just enough of an advantage vs. dirt that it changes the calculus.

    The last epoch of the home run was in the 1950s, when there was no turf. The running game began to creep in in the 1960s and 1970s, as turf was on about half the fields. It’s hard to remember, but even Candlestick Park in San Francisco experimented with turf for a couple of seasons.

    Steve’s suggestion to shorten the grass, especially in the outfield, would likely make other options more attractive, cutting the reliance on the home run.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    This isn't entirely accurate. During the deadball era (ca.1901-20), SB's were much higher on average per team vs the 1960's-80's. Mainly because the fences were too far away to hit very many HR's, and of course the "dead" ball used by MLB at that time. Of course, all the fields in MLB during the deadball era were grass and dirt, but somehow players were able to steal bases quite frequently since it was deployed as a useful scoring weapon since HR's were harder to come by. With the farther back fences, 3B's were much higher than compared to today.

    One factor that should be noticed is that during the 1960-mid. 80's era was the high water mark for black players in MLB. Since around the '94 strike, HR's have gone up and SB's on average have gone down, along with blacks as a percentage of MLB's total number of players. Generally, white players don't steal too many bases, perhaps because they don't seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks. Increase the total percentage of blacks in baseball and slowly but steadily SB's will increase again.
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  51. eD says:
    @Barnard
    At the sports bar it is also much easier to get up and use the bathroom when you need to and you get a better variety and less expensive food and beer. Plus they don't charge you $20-$50 for parking.

    I went to a college game several years and went to the bathroom and got a hot dog from the concession stand immediately as half time started, I missed the first five minutes of the third quarter. They seem to be paying huge sums of money for the opportunity to tailgate at the stadium and say "I was at the game" when they talk about it during the following week.

    I get the impression that going to football games is one of those things you do to say you’ve done it.

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    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    Pretty much. Football is often really cold, but at least it's expensive, there's not much action, and the players increasingly dislike and disrespect us. What a deal.

    Wish I could have back the time and money that I spent going to NFL games back in the day, and to the two college football games I was talked into attending.

    We're worshipping moron college "students" because they can play football or basketball, and meanwhile our college-"educated" (indoctrinated) kids are often getting their clocks cleaned by harder-working, more disciplined, better prepared Asians, both immigrants and their children, who spent time on real marketable subjects rather than cheering drunkenly for their favorite Africans for four years.

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  52. Well, Steve, it would appear that you’ll get your wish. LA finally at long last in the WS. And against the Yankees, of all teams. An LA vs NY series. That should make the bookies very, very happy and of course hearken back to ’77, ’78, and ’81 as well as recall classic NY-LA WS of yore.

    LA should bring back Scully to call all the WS games either in the local LA market, on the national network radio broadcast. Perhaps for the network TV audience, Scully could be brought back for the first home game in LA and NY (since he started in Brooklyn), to call a few innings in each game.

    Do the right thing, LA. Bring back Scully. He’s earned it.

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    • Agree: RadicalCenter
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  53. Farenheit says:
    @Robert Hume
    Tom Boswell, sports writer for the Washington Post, says he watches football games by recording them and then speeding through commercials and most commentary.

    The preferred method to watch both football and baseball is to TIVO the game. Then start watching it an hour and a half after it has begun. Liberally use your TIVO’s 30 second skip button to blast through the commercials and on screen detritus. Then in the late fourth quarter, or 8th inning, you’re caught up and in real time, and you don’t have to worry about your duffus brother in law texting you the results and ruining the exciting ending.

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    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    The MLB website provides a 'condensed game' video that usually shows up as a link on the 'game wrap' page about 3-4 hours after a game has ended.

    They show how every batter who gets on base, i.e. hits, the last pitch of each walk, HBPs, etc. They also show the last pitch of each strikeout. Routine fielding plays are left out, but flashy highlight-reel plays are included.

    Depending on how much offense there's been, these condensed games range in length from about 12-20 minutes.

    It's a good feature, but emphasizing walks and strikeouts further reinforces the 'three true outcomes' obsession. It would be nice to see all of the fielding plays, too.

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  54. @Jonathan Mason
    Baseball and NFL football probably need to evolve a bit for changing times.

    Cricket is renowned for having games called Test Matches that last up to 5 days. Actually they used to last until there was a winner, until a lengthy match in the 1930s was unfinished due to the England team having to catch their ship home from Australia with the match still in progress. After that the 5-day limit was introduced. Evolution, you see.

    Now no one has time for 5-day games unless they are retired, and one of the most popular forms of the professional game today is the so called 20-20 in which each team gets just 120 pitches and the game is over in about 3 hours.

    20-20 is a veritable slugfest with 6 hits (equivalent to home runs) all over the place, and while some players are specialists in 20-20, some players are good enough to star in both 20-20 and the 5-day game. Chris Gayle is a mighty slugger who excels in all forms of the game, except that he has become so old and fat that he can hardly run any more and relies on mighty blows even in the 5-day game.

    In one game he scored 175 runs off 66 balls, a world record, including no less than17 6-hits or home runs.

    His image was slightly tarnished when he gave some candid answers in live interviews with female journalists. Here is a summary of his views:

    Gayle said Jamaicans were "more relaxed about sex. We're not so hung up about it. This is what people like doing. It's no big deal."

    The interview took place in Bangalore, where Gayle has been playing with the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League.

    "I haven't had a shag since I been here," he said. "Ten t'ousand women will throw themselves at me. The fact is that I am damn good-looking."

    Asked if he threw himself at women, he sighed: "Your questions, you suck me dry."

    Gayle, one of the biggest stars in world cricket, boasted about his "very, very big bat" and asked The Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes if she had ever had a threesome.

    http://f9view.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Chris-Gayle%E2%80%99s-HD-Wallpaper-Size-532x360-px.jpg

    Although it may not appeal to baseball purists, a form of the game with MORE home runs and more larger than life characters would probably bring in the advertising dollars without which no professional sport can survive these days.

    If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1q5rXZskYk

    A bit surprised that the reporter didn’t sue for sexual harassment, unless she liked the content of the questions and was merely embarrassed that he would ask her publicly on air, rather than off camera.

    Having a pitch count per batter is definitely one way to reduce the duration of MLB games and would restore some semblance to the pitchers.

    Aside from that cogent point, however, fact remains that cricket is a sissy game. Traditionally very few proles played it as compared to Association Football much less Rugby. The uniforms look drab, the players look unseemly playing it, and it remains a sissy game, especially if a nation like India is one of the all time powerhouses.

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    • Replies: @anon
    India isn't an ''all time powerhouse''. Bans on intimidatory fast bowling and close in fielder restrictions level the competitors in limited overs matches.
    Test Matches are a different story. India has won only 26 of 94 Tests against Australia, and most of those 26 have been in India with Indian umpires.
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  55. @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    I didn’t have any problem watching Game Four NLCS in terms of length or otherwise, and I’m a Dodgers fan. To each his own, I guess.

    I love baseball and don’t care much about some variation in the duration of a game, though I understand the concern about turning off other potential fans who DO care a lot about that.

    As for the NFL and NBA, I couldn’t care less about those leagues, their many oversexed, borderline-retarded players, and their PC pussy owners and the anti-white, anti-American propaganda they are allowing, excusing, & encouraging.

    And who cares if those two schmucks have “gruesome leg injuries” or not? Any normal American with self-respect and pride in his nation and people, who is still watching or supporting the NBA or NFL, is a cuck anyway.

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    • Replies: @MBlanc46
    That’s harsh. Pretty much on point, but harsh.
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  56. @AndrewR
    Your posts about non-political sports topics and golf course architecture should be separate

    Nah; his obsession with these arguably zany and obscure subjects (golfing courses’ architecture and hyper-analysing sports), are integral parts of how Steve thinks and views the world – particuarly the dicussions of athletics, which provide insight and fodder for discussion about human biodiversity not just vis-a-vis the athletes and their activities, but also how they are managed, what the games and their place in society tell about sociobiology, etc. (Steve’s always been, if anything, more interested in sociobiology than politics per se.)

    Without his obsession with golf courses’ architecture and sports – and his sharing his thoughts thereon – we would be deprived of a great thing, in the same way we would by not knowing about Tolkien’s obsession with philology, glossopoeia, etc. and how they undergird and enrich his literary and philosophical legacy, allowing us to better understand them – even if the linguistic and philological stuff isn’t of primary interest to a given reader, by ignoring it that reader won’t fully understand and appreciate the rest; so with Steve and his golfing courses’ archtecture.

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  57. Njguy73 says:
    @CAL2
    Three things would speed up the game. The pitch clock which they use in the minors and seems to help quite a bit. And if you replace a pitcher, there is one warm-up pitch otherwise what is the bullpen for? Finally, only the manager can go to the mound with the same rule of the second time the pitcher is out of the game. No more of the catcher walking out there three times in an inning. The manager would have the length of the pitch clock for discussion.

    Baseball needs to shoot for, at the most, 15 minutes per inning. That keeps the games under 2 1/2 hours. It would still keep things leisurely but not feel interminable.

    Rule 8.04.

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  58. @CAL2
    Three things would speed up the game. The pitch clock which they use in the minors and seems to help quite a bit. And if you replace a pitcher, there is one warm-up pitch otherwise what is the bullpen for? Finally, only the manager can go to the mound with the same rule of the second time the pitcher is out of the game. No more of the catcher walking out there three times in an inning. The manager would have the length of the pitch clock for discussion.

    Baseball needs to shoot for, at the most, 15 minutes per inning. That keeps the games under 2 1/2 hours. It would still keep things leisurely but not feel interminable.

    Great point about pitchers warming up in the bullpen instead of when they get to the mound. We could allow just a couple warm-up pitches on the mound instead of the eight pitches that the MLB Rules allow now.

    There are often three relievers appearing for each side in a game nowadays, especially in these playoffs.

    Even with five relievers appearing in a game (for both teams combined), this rule change would save 5 x 6 = THIRTY warm-up pitches. Even assuming the warm-up pitches take only twenty seconds each, that would save ten minutes per game right there.

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  59. Njguy73 says:
    @Hubbub
    Tommy John? Oh, Tommy John. Isn't his name mentioned more each baseball season than any former great ball player? Every game I've watched this season (A Cubbie fan who watched all televised Cubs games) Tommy John has been mentioned one or more times in relation to pitchers' arms. Now, multiply that by all the other games being televised or radioized and you get quite a number of mentions for good ol' Tommy John. Do you suppose that - during baseball season at least - that Tommy John references rank up there with Trump? Putin? Jesus? Hitler? Mao? Tommy John, Tommy John, Tommy Jo.....

    Well, Tommy John was involved in that other thing, the thing he had…

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  60. @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    Yes, the three true outcomes games are deathly dull. I think there’s also a exploitable angle to the analytics.

    Yes, we know the numbers over the regular season that have led to the death of the bunt, the steal, their love child the suicide squeeze, etc. best not to give up an out against pitching that may or may not be very good.

    This changes when facing excellent staffs in the playoffs. Best example is probably 2001 Diamondbacks, with Schilling and Randy Johnson and other pitchers who sucked. I think three games went into extra innings. In any case, the logic of playing for more runs that holds in the regular season changes when one run is harder to come by. Bunting with men on first and second and no Out makes sense in removing the double play and allowing a run to score without a hit, given the quality of the pitching.

    The Yankees performed so poorly offensively in the first two games of the ALCS this year that one might not have noticed how well they were pitching. It must be excruciating for Astros fans to watch as no plays are executed to try to manufacture runs, as last night when the man on third wasn’t squeezed home.

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  61. @eD
    I get the impression that going to football games is one of those things you do to say you've done it.

    Pretty much. Football is often really cold, but at least it’s expensive, there’s not much action, and the players increasingly dislike and disrespect us. What a deal.

    Wish I could have back the time and money that I spent going to NFL games back in the day, and to the two college football games I was talked into attending.

    We’re worshipping moron college “students” because they can play football or basketball, and meanwhile our college-”educated” (indoctrinated) kids are often getting their clocks cleaned by harder-working, more disciplined, better prepared Asians, both immigrants and their children, who spent time on real marketable subjects rather than cheering drunkenly for their favorite Africans for four years.

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  62. @JerryC

    ***23 of the game’s 51 outs came via strikeout.
     
    This is the heart of the matter. It's very hard to generate extended rallies when 45% of the batters can't even put the ball in play. They may need to lower the mound again to get the number of balls in play back to a reasonable level.

    Or, de-emphasize the home run. Valorize the “walking triple,” as when Rickey Henderson would be a threat to steal second and third after a lead off walk.

    A solo home run scores a run, but it doesn’t distract the pitcher like a base runner.

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    • Replies: @Ian M.

    A solo home run scores a run, but it doesn’t distract the pitcher like a base runner.
     
    Do the sabermetrics guys take this into account when determining the value of a stolen base? One might expect that the value of a stolen base not only needs to include the probability of success, but also how it might affect the batter getting a hit or a walk, for precisely the reason you mentioned.
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  63. @The Last Real Calvinist
    One additional depressing detail about the NLCS Game 4: Steve mentioned that of the game's 9 hits, 5 were home runs. The other 4 were all singles, so there were no doubles or triples at all. Dull.

    Generally, the teams with the best pitching and defense going in to the post-season, will advance. The Cubs and Dodgers have pretty good staffs, with the Dodgers having the better middle-late relief consistency. The Cubs have been living on the edge with their late relievers, who are more inconsistent this post-season without Chapman. Surprisingly, the Yankees pitching staff (particularly the old veteran Sabathia) has been better than they were in the regular season, and were able to stifle Cleveland’s offense. Looks like they are starting to do the same with Houston.

    Point is, pitching and defense are starting to dominate, making extra base hits a premium. That is a general rule, supported by stats over time. Of course, you can get wild games or series, where both teams start hitting the ball all over the place, so, if the Cubs can extend the series, maybe that will happen; both teams have the offensive talent in the lineup.

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    • Replies: @MBlanc46
    Good defense certainly helps, but Bill Veeck, who knew a thing or two about the game, said that the two most important things were pitching and power.
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  64. Sir Q says:
    @Marty
    The first night game I ever attended, 4/27/62, ran 3:33. Perry v. Bunning. Nine innings, eleven pitchers. Giants 14, Phillies 13. Matty Alou won it with a homer in the 9th.

    You were just off by 3 years exactly!:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN196504270.shtml

    (I love these, I’ve located several boyhood games here … )

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    • Replies: @Marty
    Thanks. Early onset?
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  65. @eD
    I attempted to watch a NFL game recently, the only game the Giants have won this season.

    I was never a big football fan but would sometimes watch NFL games (I grew up in New York City, the one place in the USA where college football is just not a big part of the local culture). Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don't bother me. The concussion problem does, but I always knew the sport was violent and am still working through the implications on that one.

    But I couldn't watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high. It has always been higher than in other sports, but seems to have gotten worse.

    I agree the NBA is also unwatchable, at least in the ridiculous regular season. The problems with baseball, as have been pointed out here, are at least more fixable.

    One thing is that professional sports as we know it, and particularly the NFL, are really tightly woven into the TV and car base mass culture that arose to dominance in the USA in the 50s and 60s. But this is starting to fade away. Baseball was big in an earlier time, and though the MLB adapted to broadcast TV and made lots of money off it, I think the professional sport should be OK without it.

    “But I couldn’t watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high.”

    You’ve got that right.

    A few years back I didn’t have cable so I tried to watch the college playoffs on my computer. Being a cheapskate and not really giving that much of a hoot, I wouldn’t pay so I ended up watching the games on an offbeat site that could only broadcast from the skycam. That meant: no replays, no closeups of faces of players on the sidelines or of fans in the bleachers, no commercials and no commentary.

    So what did players do during the frequent and interminable breaks? Nothing. Stood around on the field mostly, drinking a bit of Gator Aid and scratching their behinds.

    It really drove the point home of how much white space there is in a televised football game and how different what is happening on the field is from what a viewer sees on the tube. Without all the distractions, stripped of its geegaws, a televised football game is agonizingly slow.

    It’s no surprise that football isn’t considered an aerobic sport.

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  66. Spud Boy says:

    As a Chicago native who only recently starting watching baseball again (Cubs), I will say this: The game moves at a glacial pace. Too many pitching changes, instant replay, pitchers stepping off the mound all the time; batters stepping out of the box.

    I can only watch if the game is on DVR and I can skip all the non-action.

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  67. @anonymous
    Once a pretty big sports fan, I've been down to baseball on the radio for many years, and may be giving up on that, too.

    Whatever the cause(s) of the renewed prevalence of homers, the industry could dial things back with a simple adjustment to the specifications for manufacturing the ball. Isn't it clear, then, that the industry wants what we now have, a game tweaked and twerked for the consumption of people who won't otherwise consume the product?* If you enjoy anything as a spectator, beware its vulnerability to the mass market.

    *A corollary bitch. Homering up what used to be a far more interesting game also enables the cliche spectacle of players (often in camouflage) looking and pointing skyward as they trot across the plate.

    What’s with the home plate mosh pit when a player hits a walk-off home run? Granted, I can see if you hit one in the bottom of the 9th or later in an LCS or World Series Game 7 getting really excited and doing it, but they do it in regular season games too. What ever happened to just trotting the bases and high-fiving your teammates in the dugout? Act like you been there before.

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  68. @Ryan
    My dad and I were at an Astros game about a month ago. They were playing the A's. Both teams were using these maddening infield shifts. It was crazy how many times the batter would hit a ground ball directly at the third baseman who was playing shortstop while the shortstop was standing over second base.

    But the thing we could just not wrap our heads around was this: There isn't a bloody third baseman. Just bunt the ball towards third and you get a free hit. It was like we were in an insane asylum.

    Yes! Why isn’t this a thing?

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  69. @Ryan
    My dad and I were at an Astros game about a month ago. They were playing the A's. Both teams were using these maddening infield shifts. It was crazy how many times the batter would hit a ground ball directly at the third baseman who was playing shortstop while the shortstop was standing over second base.

    But the thing we could just not wrap our heads around was this: There isn't a bloody third baseman. Just bunt the ball towards third and you get a free hit. It was like we were in an insane asylum.

    Right. If they are giving you the whole left side of the infield, bunt the ball that way. Unless the art of bunting has gone downhill (another topic altogether).

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  70. I suspect where Steve’s rooting interest lies in the Cubs-Dodgers series, being a SoCal boy and all. I wonder where Mrs. iSteve’s rooting interests are (being a Windy City native)? Unless she’s a heretic and roots for that OTHER Chicago team.

    Speaking of that Sandberg-McGee game, I remember watching it live on TV (it was the NBC GOTW, and Costas was the play-by-play guy). One of the all-time great regular season Cub games, in my book.

    A Cubs-Yankees World Series would be interesting; a Cubs series victory over the Yankees could erase the sting of the Ruth “Called Shot” in the 1932 series.

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  71. @CAL2
    Three things would speed up the game. The pitch clock which they use in the minors and seems to help quite a bit. And if you replace a pitcher, there is one warm-up pitch otherwise what is the bullpen for? Finally, only the manager can go to the mound with the same rule of the second time the pitcher is out of the game. No more of the catcher walking out there three times in an inning. The manager would have the length of the pitch clock for discussion.

    Baseball needs to shoot for, at the most, 15 minutes per inning. That keeps the games under 2 1/2 hours. It would still keep things leisurely but not feel interminable.

    Baseball, like everything else on TV now, has as its main purpose selling advertising. The actual game is secondary to that. Game 5 of the NLDS was 9 innings and took 4 hrs and 37 minutes. So all of those pitching changes, trips to the mound, interminable breaks between innings, etc. keep the cash registers ringing. It’s really difficult to be a day-in, day-out fan these days of anything except the NHL. They have 3 2-min breaks per period, and the puck is actually in play for 60 minutes.

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  72. Corn says:
    @NJ Transit Commuter
    It's all about economic incentives. As long as sports are on broadcast television, there is an incentive to make games longer, with more breaks, to increase commercials and revenue. TV networks, owners and players are all aligned in their interests. The only people harmed are the fans.

    Time to move sports to pay per view networks. Then the incentive will be on shortening the games and improving the quality of the viewing experience to attract viewers. Look at TV shows now. All of the good ones for many years Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, etc) are not broadcast.

    “It’s all about economic incentives. As long as sports are on broadcast television, there is an incentive to make games longer, with more breaks, to increase commercials and revenue. ”

    Good point. Whenever the football concussion issue comes up here, some iStevers offer rugby as an alternative. Four or five years ago I watched a rugby game on BBC America. One of the Six Nations tournament games IIRC. It was really fun to watch, far fewer clock stoppages than NFL, few if any commercials. I thought if we ever need an alternative to football this could be it. Yet I also thought being the capitalistic country we are if rugby did catch on there would be pressure on the rugby league or broadcasters to have more time outs, stoppages or excuses for commercials.

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  73. whorefinder says: • Website

    Ty Cobb and other basestealing deadball types used to claim that their being on the bases was better than a homerun because their dancing around and threatening pitchers with a stolen base (and harranguing them from the paths) made the pitchers nervous and made it easier for the hitter since the pitcher’s concentration was off.

    Cobb also used to steal home, which must’ve really rattled guys. I stole home once on a whim in Little League, and my coach nearly bit my head off because I hadn’t even told the batter and he could’ve swung and taken my head off.

    I remember when Dave Roberts of the Red Sox stole second during the 2004 baseball playoffs. It was a a huge moment.

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    • Replies: @Brutusale
    Because of the stolen base, Dave Roberts will never have to buy a drink in Boston for as long as he lives.
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  74. @Autochthon
    Also, the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.

    (Apologies for two replies; I botched an edition.)

    the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.

    James Burke. Stick with the first (1978) Connections series–the sequels weren’t as good as Burke (a) was beating a dead horse with his method and getting more tendentious, (b) didn’t have as lavish a BBC production budget.

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    • Replies: @(((Owen)))
    The more science-focused Burke series, The Day The Universe Changed, was also delightful.
    , @Bubba
    Agreed - I really enjoyed watching Connections, but the sequels were a total disappointment. In retrospect it seems like they were prequels to the PC garbage that has ruined most documentaries today.
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  75. whorefinder says: • Website
    @Barnard
    At the sports bar it is also much easier to get up and use the bathroom when you need to and you get a better variety and less expensive food and beer. Plus they don't charge you $20-$50 for parking.

    I went to a college game several years and went to the bathroom and got a hot dog from the concession stand immediately as half time started, I missed the first five minutes of the third quarter. They seem to be paying huge sums of money for the opportunity to tailgate at the stadium and say "I was at the game" when they talk about it during the following week.

    I don’t understand sports bars, unless one is an out-of-towner in for the weekend, or else your wife has banned you from watching at home, neither of which seems to be the majority.

    When I have gone to sports bars, the majority I’ve noticed seem to be lonely guys looking for camraderie and perhaps a wink from a cute waitress (such as at Hooters). The alcohol certainly helps them to deal with their solitude.

    Movies, TV, and plays in the U.S. used to depict people who hung out at bars as lonely wretches. See, for example, The Iceman Cometh. I think Rocky had some scenes of him at a bar early on, and it is when he’s completely alone and going nowhere in life.

    I think the rise of sports bars/gathering at bars coincided with Cheers and the rise of lonely folks making makeshift “families” out of acquaintances as divorce and family separation became routine and pop culture/society de-emphasized the family unit.

    And, of course, the death of unions—unions offered guys camraderie and friendship, and, in many places, a union hall that they could drink and hang out, but amongst close friends. When unions were gone, guys sought it out in other places.

    Note this is different than “pub culture” in the British Isles; usually in those places the whole family joins you at the pub, whether for Sunday brunch or a beer after work or a fun drinking session. Before the Muzzies took the islands you could walk into any pub there before 8pm and see children running around while their dads and mums had drinks.

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    • Replies: @MBlanc46
    The neighborhood bar was a fixture in many urban neighborhoods, although you might not want to wander into the wrong one. It seems to me that TVs in the home was very damaging to them and TVs in the bar compounded the damage.
    , @Autochthon
    Quaere: To what extent – overtly and purposefully by interested powers, or as a matter of secondary effect and happenstance – did the decline (demise?) of the Elks, Masons, Rotary, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, etc. shift a public benefit (community, a safe place to drink and be men away from women – from both nagging but loving wives, from whom guys need to release steam, and from scheming adventuresses – and trouble from drinking in a public venue, de facto social welare nets, volunteering work...) with privatized costs (dues from members, bequests by wealthy, deceased sponsors) into a private good of lesser value (money for Hooters, Inc. et al. and ersatz companionship and community) with socialised costs (more drunk driving, exposure to adventuresses and inescapable harassment by wives, higher prices for it all)?

    I genuinely think this could make a solid doctoral dissertation for an aspiring Ph.D. in economics, sociology, etc. and the answers might be worth reading.

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  76. @Hubbub
    Tommy John? Oh, Tommy John. Isn't his name mentioned more each baseball season than any former great ball player? Every game I've watched this season (A Cubbie fan who watched all televised Cubs games) Tommy John has been mentioned one or more times in relation to pitchers' arms. Now, multiply that by all the other games being televised or radioized and you get quite a number of mentions for good ol' Tommy John. Do you suppose that - during baseball season at least - that Tommy John references rank up there with Trump? Putin? Jesus? Hitler? Mao? Tommy John, Tommy John, Tommy Jo.....

    Ya, he makes great subs. Fast.

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    • Replies: @Hubbub
    That,s his brother with the subs.
    , @Autochthon
    So fast you’ll freak!
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  77. Tiny Duck says:

    George Bush OWNS Trump

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/politics/bush-speech-trump-bigotry/index.html

    You know its bad when red blooded conservatives are calling you out

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    • Replies: @james wilson
    Blue blooded.
    , @Eric Ruttencutter
    Cut to footage of Bush sitting stupefied at kindergarten on 9/11.
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  78. Ian M. says:
    @joeyjoejoe
    I've always thought that baseball is the most boring sport ever invented. I once went to a pro baseball game (southern California team, I don't know which) with a friend. We got there late, and were bored enough to leave early (military, transients, no local allegiance).

    My son played baseball last year, and I was the scorekeeper on the team. They are still young enough for coach pitch. Keeping score makes it a very interesting game. You are forced to pay attention to every hit, and to know the current status of the game at all times (and thus, to know what the coaches are concerned with, what the possibilities of each hit/play are, etc). It also helps that at that age, about 1/3 of the kids strike out, but 2/3 get a hit of some kind-either to get on base, or to require a defensive play.

    We went to a local minor league game, and I brought my scoresheets to practice. It was again very interesting (albeit as the only one in the stands keeping score, I was obviously the geek of the park)-and actively keeping score helps. We got very lucky: my kids could last about 2-3 innings, and in that 2-3 innings, 4 or 6 runs were scored. After we left, nothing happened for the rest of the game. And being minor league, we got tickets for about $5 right behind home plate. We spent more on food and beer than on tickets.

    Having said that, now that my son doesn't want to play baseball again, I don't think I'll spend another minute in a baseball park. This post only reinforces that speculation.

    joe

    Another way to make a baseball game interesting when you have no attachment to either team is of course with betting: go with a group of buddies to the game, make sure you each have a sufficient number of singles (or the denomination of your choice). For each successive batter, you take a cup and pass it on to the next friend. For each batter, whoever has the cup has to put a dollar in the cup if the batter does not get a hit; then pass the cup on to the next guy. If the batter does get a hit, then the guy with the cup gets to take all the money that’s been accumulated in the cup so far; then pass the cup on to the next guy.

    This way, everyone is invested in every batter. If you have the cup, obviously you’re rooting for the guy to get a hit; if you don’t have the cup, you’re rooting for the batter not to get a hit.

    Makes the baseball game a lot of fun.

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  79. Daniel H says:

    Raise the mound to the sixties levels. Too late to reconfigure ball parks to make the outfield deeper (though that would have been the best thing for baseball if, when they were designing new parks, they mandated and extra 30-60 feet on all fences).

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    • Replies: @Travis
    or stop juicing the balls, go back to the softer balls and raise the seems back to how they were prior to 2015. The owners clearly want smaller ballparks and more home runs. Which is why the ballparks have gotten smaller and the ball was changed to travel further and thus increase the number of homers.
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  80. It’s not complicated. Infield defense is insufferably good. Range and skills. Now add shifts. Not getting the ball in the air is suddenly a loser. Even a strikeout is better than a double play.

    Off topic, pace of play. I’d like to see a couple exhibition games with our four balls and three strikes becoming three balls and two strikes. Start each at bat 1-1.

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    • Replies: @Of course it was
    That's how my company beer league plays. And how my dad's beer league played in the 70s. Also only one foul ball after two strikes. Can't sit and foul them off forever. In the big leagues there's the interminable throws to first when a runner gets on. In my mind that's a pitch out of the strike zone, i.e. a ball.
    , @Anonymous

    Off topic, pace of play. I’d like to see a couple exhibition games with our four balls and three strikes becoming three balls and two strikes. Start each at bat 1-1.
     
    There used to be a youth league called "three and two baseball". Is that what it was?

    I think that of all major spectator sports in the US, baseball is the one least amenable to real structural change, despite the designated hitter.
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  81. Ian M. says:
    @TomSchmidt
    Or, de-emphasize the home run. Valorize the "walking triple," as when Rickey Henderson would be a threat to steal second and third after a lead off walk.

    A solo home run scores a run, but it doesn't distract the pitcher like a base runner.

    A solo home run scores a run, but it doesn’t distract the pitcher like a base runner.

    Do the sabermetrics guys take this into account when determining the value of a stolen base? One might expect that the value of a stolen base not only needs to include the probability of success, but also how it might affect the batter getting a hit or a walk, for precisely the reason you mentioned.

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    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
    I've never read deeply enough to know. I'd love to hear from someone who does.
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  82. @Autochthon
    Also, the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.

    (Apologies for two replies; I botched an edition.)

    I remember Connections. My favorite episode involved gin and tonics and the invention of refrigeration.

    In summertime, my wife always says, “thank God for air conditioning,” and I always respond, “no, thank the guy who invented refrigeration.”

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  83. Marty says:
    @Sir Q
    You were just off by 3 years exactly!:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN196504270.shtml

    (I love these, I've located several boyhood games here ... )

    Thanks. Early onset?

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  84. MBlanc46 says:
    @Travis
    The greatest game ever played was on Oct. 13, 1960, the Yankees and Pirates played a climactic Game 7. It was a game that saw the lead change hands four times, most dramatically, of course, with the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history. It featured 19 runs and 24 hits and was played in a brisk 2 hours and 36 minutes despite going into extra innings and having 8 pitching changes.

    I was a freshman in high school. We were in the auditorium for some sort of assembly. Someone had a transistor radio and kept giving updates. It was indeed thrilling, but the outcome was devastating to a Yankee-fan-in-October. Almost as bad as my White Sox falling to the hated Dodgers the year before.

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  85. MBlanc46 says:
    @whorefinder
    I don't understand sports bars, unless one is an out-of-towner in for the weekend, or else your wife has banned you from watching at home, neither of which seems to be the majority.

    When I have gone to sports bars, the majority I've noticed seem to be lonely guys looking for camraderie and perhaps a wink from a cute waitress (such as at Hooters). The alcohol certainly helps them to deal with their solitude.

    Movies, TV, and plays in the U.S. used to depict people who hung out at bars as lonely wretches. See, for example, The Iceman Cometh. I think Rocky had some scenes of him at a bar early on, and it is when he's completely alone and going nowhere in life.

    I think the rise of sports bars/gathering at bars coincided with Cheers and the rise of lonely folks making makeshift "families" out of acquaintances as divorce and family separation became routine and pop culture/society de-emphasized the family unit.

    And, of course, the death of unions---unions offered guys camraderie and friendship, and, in many places, a union hall that they could drink and hang out, but amongst close friends. When unions were gone, guys sought it out in other places.

    Note this is different than "pub culture" in the British Isles; usually in those places the whole family joins you at the pub, whether for Sunday brunch or a beer after work or a fun drinking session. Before the Muzzies took the islands you could walk into any pub there before 8pm and see children running around while their dads and mums had drinks.

    The neighborhood bar was a fixture in many urban neighborhoods, although you might not want to wander into the wrong one. It seems to me that TVs in the home was very damaging to them and TVs in the bar compounded the damage.

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    • Agree: Barnard
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  86. @whorefinder
    I don't understand sports bars, unless one is an out-of-towner in for the weekend, or else your wife has banned you from watching at home, neither of which seems to be the majority.

    When I have gone to sports bars, the majority I've noticed seem to be lonely guys looking for camraderie and perhaps a wink from a cute waitress (such as at Hooters). The alcohol certainly helps them to deal with their solitude.

    Movies, TV, and plays in the U.S. used to depict people who hung out at bars as lonely wretches. See, for example, The Iceman Cometh. I think Rocky had some scenes of him at a bar early on, and it is when he's completely alone and going nowhere in life.

    I think the rise of sports bars/gathering at bars coincided with Cheers and the rise of lonely folks making makeshift "families" out of acquaintances as divorce and family separation became routine and pop culture/society de-emphasized the family unit.

    And, of course, the death of unions---unions offered guys camraderie and friendship, and, in many places, a union hall that they could drink and hang out, but amongst close friends. When unions were gone, guys sought it out in other places.

    Note this is different than "pub culture" in the British Isles; usually in those places the whole family joins you at the pub, whether for Sunday brunch or a beer after work or a fun drinking session. Before the Muzzies took the islands you could walk into any pub there before 8pm and see children running around while their dads and mums had drinks.

    Quaere: To what extent – overtly and purposefully by interested powers, or as a matter of secondary effect and happenstance – did the decline (demise?) of the Elks, Masons, Rotary, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, etc. shift a public benefit (community, a safe place to drink and be men away from women – from both nagging but loving wives, from whom guys need to release steam, and from scheming adventuresses – and trouble from drinking in a public venue, de facto social welare nets, volunteering work…) with privatized costs (dues from members, bequests by wealthy, deceased sponsors) into a private good of lesser value (money for Hooters, Inc. et al. and ersatz companionship and community) with socialised costs (more drunk driving, exposure to adventuresses and inescapable harassment by wives, higher prices for it all)?

    I genuinely think this could make a solid doctoral dissertation for an aspiring Ph.D. in economics, sociology, etc. and the answers might be worth reading.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Oh, obviously, obviously. Especially if one came from the mythical cohort of the vaunted years of SAT scores. But then, having a high SAT score from the Baby Boomer generation (1946-64) would suggest a white collar/professional class member or "yuppie", who simply can't relate to the nature of neighborhood bars, most of which catered to blue collar tradesmen/manufacturing sector class. In other words, the neighborhood bar of yore tended to mostly cater to Fishtown and not to Bellmont (much less to Beverly Hills or Upper West Side).

    Want the neighborhood bars to return? Bring the blue collar jobs back and allow the working classes to rebuild their neighborhoods (or build new ones).

    , @Captain Tripps
    My agree button doesn't work but if it did I'd click it 10 times.
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  87. Travis says:

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/in-mlbs-new-home-run-era-its-the-baseballs-that-are-juicing/

    Smaller baseballs with flatter seams are carrying farther, turning some warning-track outs into round-trippers….Lindbergh and Lichtman found that, since 2016, the balls became smaller and their seams got lower — changes that make the ball smoother and subject to less air resistance. When air resistance — also known as drag — decreases, a batted ball will go farther. High or low drag can mean the difference between a lazy warning-track fly out and a ball that lands a few rows into the seats.

    The findings in the data have anecdotally been supported by several players and coaches. The findings in the data have anecdotally been supported by several players and coaches. New York Mets manager Terry Collins said “The seams on the ball are definitely lower. … And there’s no question that the ball is harder.” Collins joined a chorus of established veterans who claim that the ball has changed this year, including Justin Verlander, Andrew McCutchen and Jake Arrieta.

    it turns out there was an experiment in progress under our noses all along. Baseball’s camera- and radar-tracking technologies measure the speed of the ball shortly after the pitcher releases it and then again when it crosses the plate. By examining how much speed it loses between those two locations, we can calculate its air resistance…
    They found a significant decrease in the drag on the ball in general over the past few seasons, with the MLB-wide average drag coefficient dropping by about 0.01 from 2015 to 2017. Calculations show that even a change that small can add up to 5 feet of distance on a well-hit fly ball, which in turn would be enough to make 10 to 15 percent more balls leave the yard in a given season.

    From their low in 2014 to their high this year, home runs have jumped 47 percent. Half of that increase occurred suddenly in the middle of the 2015 season, because the balls became bouncier, as Lindbergh and Lichtman found. The other half has been spread out over the 18 months since opening day of 2016. Some of the home run spike might be the result of players gearing their swings to hit more fly balls, but it’s clear that diminished air resistance also played a big role. About one-quarter of the home run spike could be attributable to decreased drag from the change in the balls.

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  88. MBlanc46 says:
    @Captain Tripps
    Generally, the teams with the best pitching and defense going in to the post-season, will advance. The Cubs and Dodgers have pretty good staffs, with the Dodgers having the better middle-late relief consistency. The Cubs have been living on the edge with their late relievers, who are more inconsistent this post-season without Chapman. Surprisingly, the Yankees pitching staff (particularly the old veteran Sabathia) has been better than they were in the regular season, and were able to stifle Cleveland's offense. Looks like they are starting to do the same with Houston.

    Point is, pitching and defense are starting to dominate, making extra base hits a premium. That is a general rule, supported by stats over time. Of course, you can get wild games or series, where both teams start hitting the ball all over the place, so, if the Cubs can extend the series, maybe that will happen; both teams have the offensive talent in the lineup.

    Good defense certainly helps, but Bill Veeck, who knew a thing or two about the game, said that the two most important things were pitching and power.

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  89. MBlanc46 says:
    @RadicalCenter
    I didn't have any problem watching Game Four NLCS in terms of length or otherwise, and I'm a Dodgers fan. To each his own, I guess.

    I love baseball and don't care much about some variation in the duration of a game, though I understand the concern about turning off other potential fans who DO care a lot about that.

    As for the NFL and NBA, I couldn't care less about those leagues, their many oversexed, borderline-retarded players, and their PC pussy owners and the anti-white, anti-American propaganda they are allowing, excusing, & encouraging.

    And who cares if those two schmucks have "gruesome leg injuries" or not? Any normal American with self-respect and pride in his nation and people, who is still watching or supporting the NBA or NFL, is a cuck anyway.

    That’s harsh. Pretty much on point, but harsh.

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  90. drive-by says:

    Since the game has fundamentally changed (emphasis on walks, the shift, players throwing harder than ever), you need a few changes to fundamental rules in baseball, but without changing the character of the game. Essentially, the amount of action (time spent with the ball in-play) per unit time is now so low that baseball is hard to enjoy unless you have a rooting interest.

    The average time per game has gone from 1:58 in 1920 to 3:05 in 2017, though commercials may be a significant part of that. In that interval, strikeouts have tripled.

    These will never happen, but here are my suggestions. The goal is to increase men on base and balls put in play, and decrease idle time.

    To increase action:

    1. Move the mound further away from home plate — enough to restore the original hitter’s reaction time. Pitchers today throw much harder than when baseball was invented, and so hitters simply don’t have time to physically react. If necessary, to prevent too many walks, expand the strike zone a bit. This might also defeat the shift, as players will have a better chance of hitting to open spaces, if presented. I’d also be open to larger baseballs or bats, if they could increase solid contact rates.

    2. Move the fences back 20-40 feet. Doubles and triples are more exciting than home runes, especially with men already on base. This may generate more singles, as the fielders have to play back some more. Similarly, consider making the foul lines wider (but keep the bases where they are). Many well-hit balls are just foul.

    To reduce idle time. Nothing too dramatic here:

    3. Eliminate pick-off moves. The game grinds to a halt with players on base. Have a maximum lead indicator. If this is too offensive to purists, at least charge the pitcher with a ball on a pick-off move (thrown or faked).

    4. Eliminate mound conferences, and relief pitchers shouldn’t get any warm-ups on the mound when coming in. They warmed up in the bullpen. A professional pitchers should be able to come in and pitch.

    5. Pitch clock. Current pace is ridiculous.

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    • Replies: @Ganderson
    Good ideas, all!
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  91. @dwb
    Speaking of the disappearance of extra base hits (and base stealing).

    I wonder if it is not correlated with the fact that there are now just two teams playing on turf (Toronto and Tampa Bay)?

    The two big "speed" teams in the 1980s were the Cardinals and the Royals, who relied on doubles (and triples), getting on base, and stealing bases. Both still play in (more or less) the same stadiums now as they did then, but both Busch Stadium and Royals Stadium (whatever it's called these days) took the turf away and replaced with grass.

    With turf, a line drive or even a ball rolled in the right spot would have a decent chance to go to the fence. This forced outfielders to 'cheat' towards the middle of the field.

    Here is an analysis done (games were over a ten year period of 1985-1995) (http://www.bostonbaseball.com/whitesox/baseball_extras/turf.html)

    The effect of turf was to increase doubles by about 20% and triples by 35%. Singles were more likely on grass fields - a ball hit into the gap would be more likely to be slowed to the point that the CF could cut it off.

    If you're going to swing to hit it over the heads of the outfielders, forget the line drive - just get it over the fence.

    I've looked for data on stolen bases, but could not (in the two minutes I invested) find any, but I strongly suspect that running on the turf to second is just enough of an advantage vs. dirt that it changes the calculus.

    The last epoch of the home run was in the 1950s, when there was no turf. The running game began to creep in in the 1960s and 1970s, as turf was on about half the fields. It's hard to remember, but even Candlestick Park in San Francisco experimented with turf for a couple of seasons.

    Steve's suggestion to shorten the grass, especially in the outfield, would likely make other options more attractive, cutting the reliance on the home run.

    This isn’t entirely accurate. During the deadball era (ca.1901-20), SB’s were much higher on average per team vs the 1960′s-80′s. Mainly because the fences were too far away to hit very many HR’s, and of course the “dead” ball used by MLB at that time. Of course, all the fields in MLB during the deadball era were grass and dirt, but somehow players were able to steal bases quite frequently since it was deployed as a useful scoring weapon since HR’s were harder to come by. With the farther back fences, 3B’s were much higher than compared to today.

    One factor that should be noticed is that during the 1960-mid. 80′s era was the high water mark for black players in MLB. Since around the ’94 strike, HR’s have gone up and SB’s on average have gone down, along with blacks as a percentage of MLB’s total number of players. Generally, white players don’t steal too many bases, perhaps because they don’t seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks. Increase the total percentage of blacks in baseball and slowly but steadily SB’s will increase again.

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    • Replies: @dwb
    Of course it's "not entirely accurate."

    There are multiple sources of variation. What happened in the 1920s that changed the game?

    Don't be so aspy.
    , @Pericles
    So you're saying blacks are better at stealing?
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  92. MBlanc46 says:
    @Jonathan Mason
    Baseball and NFL football probably need to evolve a bit for changing times.

    Cricket is renowned for having games called Test Matches that last up to 5 days. Actually they used to last until there was a winner, until a lengthy match in the 1930s was unfinished due to the England team having to catch their ship home from Australia with the match still in progress. After that the 5-day limit was introduced. Evolution, you see.

    Now no one has time for 5-day games unless they are retired, and one of the most popular forms of the professional game today is the so called 20-20 in which each team gets just 120 pitches and the game is over in about 3 hours.

    20-20 is a veritable slugfest with 6 hits (equivalent to home runs) all over the place, and while some players are specialists in 20-20, some players are good enough to star in both 20-20 and the 5-day game. Chris Gayle is a mighty slugger who excels in all forms of the game, except that he has become so old and fat that he can hardly run any more and relies on mighty blows even in the 5-day game.

    In one game he scored 175 runs off 66 balls, a world record, including no less than17 6-hits or home runs.

    His image was slightly tarnished when he gave some candid answers in live interviews with female journalists. Here is a summary of his views:

    Gayle said Jamaicans were "more relaxed about sex. We're not so hung up about it. This is what people like doing. It's no big deal."

    The interview took place in Bangalore, where Gayle has been playing with the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League.

    "I haven't had a shag since I been here," he said. "Ten t'ousand women will throw themselves at me. The fact is that I am damn good-looking."

    Asked if he threw himself at women, he sighed: "Your questions, you suck me dry."

    Gayle, one of the biggest stars in world cricket, boasted about his "very, very big bat" and asked The Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes if she had ever had a threesome.

    http://f9view.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Chris-Gayle%E2%80%99s-HD-Wallpaper-Size-532x360-px.jpg

    Although it may not appeal to baseball purists, a form of the game with MORE home runs and more larger than life characters would probably bring in the advertising dollars without which no professional sport can survive these days.

    If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1q5rXZskYk

    When I lived in London, I watched a fair bit of forty overs, because I had Sundays free. But any limited overs game isn’t real cricket. The balance between bat and ball is lost. From all I’ve heard about 20/20, it’s complete rubbish. And those garish outfits. White flannels, please.And, if my memory serves, only South Africa had timeless tests.

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    • Replies: @anon
    20/20 cricket is absolute rubbish.
    In Australia, Cricket has been overtaken by television money making schemes. The 5 Test Matches against England this year will be played between the 23rd. of November and the 8th. of January.
    The rest of the Season after that is given over to forgettable limited over day/ night Matches.
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  93. MBlanc46 says:
    @joeyjoejoe
    I've always thought that baseball is the most boring sport ever invented. I once went to a pro baseball game (southern California team, I don't know which) with a friend. We got there late, and were bored enough to leave early (military, transients, no local allegiance).

    My son played baseball last year, and I was the scorekeeper on the team. They are still young enough for coach pitch. Keeping score makes it a very interesting game. You are forced to pay attention to every hit, and to know the current status of the game at all times (and thus, to know what the coaches are concerned with, what the possibilities of each hit/play are, etc). It also helps that at that age, about 1/3 of the kids strike out, but 2/3 get a hit of some kind-either to get on base, or to require a defensive play.

    We went to a local minor league game, and I brought my scoresheets to practice. It was again very interesting (albeit as the only one in the stands keeping score, I was obviously the geek of the park)-and actively keeping score helps. We got very lucky: my kids could last about 2-3 innings, and in that 2-3 innings, 4 or 6 runs were scored. After we left, nothing happened for the rest of the game. And being minor league, we got tickets for about $5 right behind home plate. We spent more on food and beer than on tickets.

    Having said that, now that my son doesn't want to play baseball again, I don't think I'll spend another minute in a baseball park. This post only reinforces that speculation.

    joe

    Maybe you have to have played the game, even if badly.

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  94. @The Man From K Street

    the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.
     
    James Burke. Stick with the first (1978) Connections series--the sequels weren't as good as Burke (a) was beating a dead horse with his method and getting more tendentious, (b) didn't have as lavish a BBC production budget.

    The more science-focused Burke series, The Day The Universe Changed, was also delightful.

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  95. @Tiny Duck
    George Bush OWNS Trump

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/politics/bush-speech-trump-bigotry/index.html

    You know its bad when red blooded conservatives are calling you out

    Blue blooded.

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  96. EriK says:
    @Travis
    The greatest game ever played was on Oct. 13, 1960, the Yankees and Pirates played a climactic Game 7. It was a game that saw the lead change hands four times, most dramatically, of course, with the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history. It featured 19 runs and 24 hits and was played in a brisk 2 hours and 36 minutes despite going into extra innings and having 8 pitching changes.

    It featured 19 runs and 24 hits and was played in a brisk 2 hours and 36 minutes despite going into extra innings and having 8 pitching changes.

    How many TV timeouts?

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  97. Perhaps. The 1986 playoffs had the most drama. Wasn’t a fan of any of the teams, but it seemed that every game was dramatic
    , including Mets-Astros 16 inning game 6 clincher, Angels-Red Sox 11 inning game 5 that saw the Angels 1 out from their first WS, and of course Mets-Sox game 6 Buckner’s legs. The 70s had some great matchups that delivered: Reds-A’s, Reds-Sox, Yanks-Dodgers. ’01 was outstanding.

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  98. EriK says:
    @CAL2
    Three things would speed up the game. The pitch clock which they use in the minors and seems to help quite a bit. And if you replace a pitcher, there is one warm-up pitch otherwise what is the bullpen for? Finally, only the manager can go to the mound with the same rule of the second time the pitcher is out of the game. No more of the catcher walking out there three times in an inning. The manager would have the length of the pitch clock for discussion.

    Baseball needs to shoot for, at the most, 15 minutes per inning. That keeps the games under 2 1/2 hours. It would still keep things leisurely but not feel interminable.

    I agree on the pitch clock, but not on the one (!) warm up pitch.

    Signed,
    a former reliever

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    • Replies: @whorefinder
    They need to limit the number of relievers per inning. Most of the length of games is stalling for relievers to come in and managers bringing in relievers for only one batter (e.g. lefty on lefty).

    A team can be allowed one reliever to come in mid-inning, but that's it. You can start the inning with a new pitcher, but you only can replace him once that inning. If you want to pull that reliever, the guy hitting the showers must be injured and go on the DL for 15 days---this would fake injuries.

    And the pitch clock would be good, but most pitchers actually keep to it fairly well naturally. They need to shorten it to 10 seconds, not the 15-20s they have now. Also, once the pitcher steps on the rubber, the batter can't leave the box or a strike is called against him.

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  99. @Travis
    The greatest game ever played was on Oct. 13, 1960, the Yankees and Pirates played a climactic Game 7. It was a game that saw the lead change hands four times, most dramatically, of course, with the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history. It featured 19 runs and 24 hits and was played in a brisk 2 hours and 36 minutes despite going into extra innings and having 8 pitching changes.

    The 1960 10-9 Game 7 of Pirates over Yankees was indeed played in 2 hours and 36 minutes, but it didn’t go into extra innings.

    It was anomalous in that there were no strikeouts in the game, perhaps because the increasingly aged and eccentric Yankees manager Casey Stengel didn’t start his Hall of Fame bound ace Whitey Ford. (Stengel got fired during the off-season.)

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    • Replies: @fred c dobbs
    Most amazing stat I've ever run across.....

    In 1950, 25-year-old Yogi Berra had 656 plate appearances: 597 AB, .322 BA, 192 hits, 28 HR, 124 RBI.

    He struck out 12 times.
    , @whorefinder
    Stengel had a good ability to make players relaxed and like him, and also to give good copy.

    I many good baseball managers talk so funny (Stengelese, Yogi Berra etc.) because they have to say things that both don't set off their players (as temperamental athletes) and also somehow disarm them enough to get them to stop pressing so hard (one of the hardest things one learns in playing baseball is that, unlike in other sports such as football or basketball, ramping up your aggressiveness to 11 actually really hurts your game). And they also have to deal with the press.

    Some are more naturally diplomatic (e.g. Joe Torre,Tony Larussa), while others just become weirdos like Berra and Stengel in order to survive. Billy Martin was openly fighting with his players, but he was always a rare exception, and an extreme paranoid individual with a sociopathic edge.
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    No, Ford wasn't particularly known for having a high strikeout ratio (as say, Bob Feller). He was more of a sinker pitcher. He made this observation some years ago "My teammates liked playing behind me because I pitched fast games. I didn't have the batters swinging and missing a lot". In other words if there was a NY pitcher known for tons of K's during the '50's and early 60's, it wasn't Whitey Ford.
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  100. @Marty
    The first night game I ever attended, 4/27/62, ran 3:33. Perry v. Bunning. Nine innings, eleven pitchers. Giants 14, Phillies 13. Matty Alou won it with a homer in the 9th.

    14-13? I can assume neither HOF starter was true to form that evening. LOL LOL LOL…..=)

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  101. @Steve Sailer
    The 1960 10-9 Game 7 of Pirates over Yankees was indeed played in 2 hours and 36 minutes, but it didn't go into extra innings.

    It was anomalous in that there were no strikeouts in the game, perhaps because the increasingly aged and eccentric Yankees manager Casey Stengel didn't start his Hall of Fame bound ace Whitey Ford. (Stengel got fired during the off-season.)

    Most amazing stat I’ve ever run across…..

    In 1950, 25-year-old Yogi Berra had 656 plate appearances: 597 AB, .322 BA, 192 hits, 28 HR, 124 RBI.

    He struck out 12 times.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    In '41, the year of his still standing 56 consecutive game hitting streak, Joe DiMaggio's line was:

    G 139
    AB 541
    R 122
    H 193
    HR 43
    RBI 125
    SO 13
    BA. .357
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  102. Hubbub says:
    @Jack O'Fire
    Ya, he makes great subs. Fast.

    That,s his brother with the subs.

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  103. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    A bit surprised that the reporter didn't sue for sexual harassment, unless she liked the content of the questions and was merely embarrassed that he would ask her publicly on air, rather than off camera.

    Having a pitch count per batter is definitely one way to reduce the duration of MLB games and would restore some semblance to the pitchers.

    Aside from that cogent point, however, fact remains that cricket is a sissy game. Traditionally very few proles played it as compared to Association Football much less Rugby. The uniforms look drab, the players look unseemly playing it, and it remains a sissy game, especially if a nation like India is one of the all time powerhouses.

    India isn’t an ”all time powerhouse”. Bans on intimidatory fast bowling and close in fielder restrictions level the competitors in limited overs matches.
    Test Matches are a different story. India has won only 26 of 94 Tests against Australia, and most of those 26 have been in India with Indian umpires.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Still a sissy game, you know. Or one played by tossers. Most cricketters couldn't last long in a rugby match, much less in an NFL game.
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  104. Ian M. says:

    To speed up the game, what about limiting the number of pitching changes to no more than one per inning? Or you could have a slightly less extreme rule where you could only make a second pitching change within the inning if the pitcher gave up a run (or multiple runs).

    This would cut down on bringing in specialists for just one batter.

    In the case of an injury where a team would be forced to make a second pitching change, you could have a requirement that the injured pitcher has to sit out a certain number of games.

    Alternatively, if we didn’t want to change any of the rules, what about just limiting the number of pitchers a team can keep on its roster, say to 10? Or even 9, though that’s probably pushing it.

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  105. EdwardM says:
    @Ryan
    My dad and I were at an Astros game about a month ago. They were playing the A's. Both teams were using these maddening infield shifts. It was crazy how many times the batter would hit a ground ball directly at the third baseman who was playing shortstop while the shortstop was standing over second base.

    But the thing we could just not wrap our heads around was this: There isn't a bloody third baseman. Just bunt the ball towards third and you get a free hit. It was like we were in an insane asylum.

    Three reasons as far as I can tell:

    1. The prima donna players don’t want to tap/spray the ball, abandoning their long-perfected hitting stroke.

    2. Nobody knows how to bunt anymore. (This is evident elsewhere in the game.)

    3. That strategy might work once, then the defense would get wise to it. You’d think someone would use it in a playoff game or at least in a high-leverage situation.

    As for (3), you’d also think that it would be a great advantage for the batter: if the shift is so statistically valuable on average, then it would be smart for the batter to do this in the first game of the season to force the defense to abandon the shift at the risk of giving up a single every time.

    This leads to my conclusion that it’s some combination of (1) and (2), which would be pathetic. I don’t get it.

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    • Replies: @megabar
    That's crazy. There are plenty of players that would gladly learn to bunt and spray the ball, because there's so much money at stake. The modern sabermetrics guys love (and will pay for) high OBP guys. But they can't -- it's too hard with modern pitching.

    I see lots of players try to bunt to beat the shift, and anecdotally, I rarely see it work.

    It's hard to do much of anything with a 93mph slider.
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  106. whorefinder says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer
    The 1960 10-9 Game 7 of Pirates over Yankees was indeed played in 2 hours and 36 minutes, but it didn't go into extra innings.

    It was anomalous in that there were no strikeouts in the game, perhaps because the increasingly aged and eccentric Yankees manager Casey Stengel didn't start his Hall of Fame bound ace Whitey Ford. (Stengel got fired during the off-season.)

    Stengel had a good ability to make players relaxed and like him, and also to give good copy.

    I many good baseball managers talk so funny (Stengelese, Yogi Berra etc.) because they have to say things that both don’t set off their players (as temperamental athletes) and also somehow disarm them enough to get them to stop pressing so hard (one of the hardest things one learns in playing baseball is that, unlike in other sports such as football or basketball, ramping up your aggressiveness to 11 actually really hurts your game). And they also have to deal with the press.

    Some are more naturally diplomatic (e.g. Joe Torre,Tony Larussa), while others just become weirdos like Berra and Stengel in order to survive. Billy Martin was openly fighting with his players, but he was always a rare exception, and an extreme paranoid individual with a sociopathic edge.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    In Martin's case, you mean psychopathic edge.
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  107. whorefinder says: • Website
    @EriK
    I agree on the pitch clock, but not on the one (!) warm up pitch.

    Signed,
    a former reliever

    They need to limit the number of relievers per inning. Most of the length of games is stalling for relievers to come in and managers bringing in relievers for only one batter (e.g. lefty on lefty).

    A team can be allowed one reliever to come in mid-inning, but that’s it. You can start the inning with a new pitcher, but you only can replace him once that inning. If you want to pull that reliever, the guy hitting the showers must be injured and go on the DL for 15 days—this would fake injuries.

    And the pitch clock would be good, but most pitchers actually keep to it fairly well naturally. They need to shorten it to 10 seconds, not the 15-20s they have now. Also, once the pitcher steps on the rubber, the batter can’t leave the box or a strike is called against him.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ian M.
    Oh, you beat me to the suggestion. Agree. This would be a simple change and instead making baseball more unrecognizable from how it's been traditionally as some of the more drastic suggestions would (e.g., two strikes, changing number of outs/inning), it would in fact result in the game being more like it was in its golden age.
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  108. @Jack O'Fire
    Ya, he makes great subs. Fast.

    So fast you’ll freak!

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  109. whorefinder says: • Website
    @Ryan
    My dad and I were at an Astros game about a month ago. They were playing the A's. Both teams were using these maddening infield shifts. It was crazy how many times the batter would hit a ground ball directly at the third baseman who was playing shortstop while the shortstop was standing over second base.

    But the thing we could just not wrap our heads around was this: There isn't a bloody third baseman. Just bunt the ball towards third and you get a free hit. It was like we were in an insane asylum.

    Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles, which is why I think Steve’s theory about everyone changing the angle of their swing is bogus; few players in the majors would do it.

    But players aren’t wrong to be so stubborn: even slightly changing your swing can mess up your mechanics and throw you into a slump. Hitting a baseball thrown at 90 mph with a round bat is such an unnatural activity that when a player finds a golden hitting style they will stick to it like a gambler with his lucky numbers. And because it’s so unnatural players might not know what they actually discovered, but will go to extremes to keep it going—hence a lot of baseball superstitions, such as not changing socks or bats during a hit streak.

    I’m sure there’s some numbers out there that show that even with a shift a pull hitter is better hitting his own way rather than trying to hit a way foreign to him. Ted Williams and David Ortiz had massive shifts on them most of their careers, and yet both are HOFers with great numers.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    "Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles,"

    Baseball players these days aren't Nuke Laloosh. They often have their own personal hitting tutor to work with in the off-season, especially since personal launch-angle and velocity statistics became available a few years ago. Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, for example, retooled their swings to hit more flyballs.

    Last winter, in contrast, Giancarlo Stanton, following an off year, made his swing shorter to make more contact with the ball on the theory that he is one of the few players in baseball that doesn't need to strive harder for homers because he's so strong that just making solid contact will often result in homers.

    Baseball players typically play golf as well, and they are highly familiar with famous golfers rebuilding their swings as Tiger Woods did between 1998 and 1999, which launched him on the greatest streak of all time by 2000.

    Launch angle data on the practice tee had a big impact on pro golfers in the early 2000s as they switched swings, clubs, and balls to optimize for more distance. Now baseball players have launch angle data from actual games, so it's not surprising that they would be doing what golfers did a decade or more before. A large fraction of big league baseball players have paid to have sophisticated analyses done of their golf swings by golf pros using launch angle and velocity monitors to optimize their distance off the tee, so it's hardly surprising that they would apply the same type of analysis to their profession.

    , @ScarletNumber
    Don't count your Ortiz chickens before they hatch.
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  110. @CAL2
    Three things would speed up the game. The pitch clock which they use in the minors and seems to help quite a bit. And if you replace a pitcher, there is one warm-up pitch otherwise what is the bullpen for? Finally, only the manager can go to the mound with the same rule of the second time the pitcher is out of the game. No more of the catcher walking out there three times in an inning. The manager would have the length of the pitch clock for discussion.

    Baseball needs to shoot for, at the most, 15 minutes per inning. That keeps the games under 2 1/2 hours. It would still keep things leisurely but not feel interminable.

    Cal2, How about the batter can only step out of the box if he swung at a pitch and missed or fouled off. How many times do you need to adjust the strap on your batting glove?

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    • Agree: Travis
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  111. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @MBlanc46
    When I lived in London, I watched a fair bit of forty overs, because I had Sundays free. But any limited overs game isn’t real cricket. The balance between bat and ball is lost. From all I’ve heard about 20/20, it’s complete rubbish. And those garish outfits. White flannels, please.And, if my memory serves, only South Africa had timeless tests.

    20/20 cricket is absolute rubbish.
    In Australia, Cricket has been overtaken by television money making schemes. The 5 Test Matches against England this year will be played between the 23rd. of November and the 8th. of January.
    The rest of the Season after that is given over to forgettable limited over day/ night Matches.

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  112. @eD
    I attempted to watch a NFL game recently, the only game the Giants have won this season.

    I was never a big football fan but would sometimes watch NFL games (I grew up in New York City, the one place in the USA where college football is just not a big part of the local culture). Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don't bother me. The concussion problem does, but I always knew the sport was violent and am still working through the implications on that one.

    But I couldn't watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high. It has always been higher than in other sports, but seems to have gotten worse.

    I agree the NBA is also unwatchable, at least in the ridiculous regular season. The problems with baseball, as have been pointed out here, are at least more fixable.

    One thing is that professional sports as we know it, and particularly the NFL, are really tightly woven into the TV and car base mass culture that arose to dominance in the USA in the 50s and 60s. But this is starting to fade away. Baseball was big in an earlier time, and though the MLB adapted to broadcast TV and made lots of money off it, I think the professional sport should be OK without it.

    eD, Add Jon Gruden’s constant, condescending pontification to any NFL game, and a root canal becomes a better choice.

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  113. Baseball on TV suffers from the strike zone box super imposed on the screen. Strikes called balls, balls called strikes and the announcers’ justification that the ump is “calling them as he sees them” for both teams. Same strike zone for 5-6 Jose Altuve and 6-7 Aaron Judge.

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  114. @whorefinder
    Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles, which is why I think Steve's theory about everyone changing the angle of their swing is bogus; few players in the majors would do it.

    But players aren't wrong to be so stubborn: even slightly changing your swing can mess up your mechanics and throw you into a slump. Hitting a baseball thrown at 90 mph with a round bat is such an unnatural activity that when a player finds a golden hitting style they will stick to it like a gambler with his lucky numbers. And because it's so unnatural players might not know what they actually discovered, but will go to extremes to keep it going---hence a lot of baseball superstitions, such as not changing socks or bats during a hit streak.

    I'm sure there's some numbers out there that show that even with a shift a pull hitter is better hitting his own way rather than trying to hit a way foreign to him. Ted Williams and David Ortiz had massive shifts on them most of their careers, and yet both are HOFers with great numers.

    “Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles,”

    Baseball players these days aren’t Nuke Laloosh. They often have their own personal hitting tutor to work with in the off-season, especially since personal launch-angle and velocity statistics became available a few years ago. Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, for example, retooled their swings to hit more flyballs.

    Last winter, in contrast, Giancarlo Stanton, following an off year, made his swing shorter to make more contact with the ball on the theory that he is one of the few players in baseball that doesn’t need to strive harder for homers because he’s so strong that just making solid contact will often result in homers.

    Baseball players typically play golf as well, and they are highly familiar with famous golfers rebuilding their swings as Tiger Woods did between 1998 and 1999, which launched him on the greatest streak of all time by 2000.

    Launch angle data on the practice tee had a big impact on pro golfers in the early 2000s as they switched swings, clubs, and balls to optimize for more distance. Now baseball players have launch angle data from actual games, so it’s not surprising that they would be doing what golfers did a decade or more before. A large fraction of big league baseball players have paid to have sophisticated analyses done of their golf swings by golf pros using launch angle and velocity monitors to optimize their distance off the tee, so it’s hardly surprising that they would apply the same type of analysis to their profession.

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    • Replies: @whorefinder
    Every few years there are articles written about how scientifically advanced players are in changing their swings and analyzing hitting and such. Then Manny Ramirez barely takes batting practice, takes a bunch of 'roids, gets in the box, and swings from his heels, and makes the all-star game.

    It's a cover story man; there's probably 5 players per year that (1) seriously study via new scientific methods; and (2) retool their swing. But if you're not the new Tony Gwynn, it ain't happening. Daniel Murphy and his kin can say all they want about how they changed their swings through study; it's just a front. Much like how guys "lost so much weight from Yoga" the season after they started testing for steroids.

    Some hitting nerds do study, but most of it goes into analyzing pitcher's tendencies---knowing when a fastball is coming versus a curve, knowing whether he'll jam you versus make you reach for one. Then they work on hitting each type of pitch they get. But they're not going to retool their swing/stance unless they face injury or they're in a severe slump---and, in the latter case, a retooling actually makes them worse off, as they get all out of whack.

    And about half the league doesn't think, they just react. Think Lenny Dykstra and Manny Ramirez, not Ted Williams. Steroids allowed them to keep up their "react, don't think" mindset longer.

    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    The irony of course, is that as MLB has become more and more specialized, the US as a whole, uh, just doesn't very much give a damn, as judged by overall network ratings. MLB is no longer the ratings leader it once was back in the '60's and '70's. Among Gen. X and Millennials, it simply isn't on their radar. MLB is becoming more and more identified with older, whiter generations. In the parlance of today, it ain't all that.

    In about ten years time from now, MMA will likely outdraw MLB per national TV ratings (if it isn't already outdrawing MLB in the ratings).

    I believe it was around 2012 or 2013, a rerun episode of the reality TV series "Keeping up with the Kardashians" outdrew a TX vs NY divisional series. And of course the WS doesn't come anywhere near close to matching the Super Bowl or the NCAA Tourney.

    It could simply be that MLB isn't considered cool, in, or hip anymore but simply old, white, and therefore boring. After all, no one ever says that the NFL, much less the MMA is boring to watch.

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  115. ltravail says:

    What the game has become today was inevitable once it became popular to refer to fielding as defense, batting as offense, the pennant as league-championship-series; when batting stances went from closed to wide-open, a player’s stats would no longer fit on the back of a baseball card (thanks Sabermetrics), the radical “shift” took over subtle positioning (thanks Sabermetrics), pitch-count superseded innings- pitched as the prime indicator of pitcher workload, and English became a second language for the majority of players. Baseball, being a game of statistics, more than any other of the Big-4 sports has prostrated itself to the digital revolution. Digitization sucks the life out of every aspect of social discourse it takes over. It has done so to baseball more than any other sport. With fielder positioning decisions (oh dreaded shift) and swing techniques (for launch angle and exit velocity) being determined by computer simulations and econometric analysis, the players aren’t competing so much against each other as they are against computer models. Much of the spontaneity and competitive mojo has been lost from the game, to be sure. In that regard, the Little League World Series is more exciting than MLB. Nevertheless, being the sport of my first and foremost allegiance growing up, it still remains so. Let the NBA and NFL prima donnas protest and sashay their way out of existence. I would not miss it a bit. But kill baseball you might as well take me with it.

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    • Agree: Ian M.
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  116. megabar says:
    @EdwardM
    Three reasons as far as I can tell:

    1. The prima donna players don't want to tap/spray the ball, abandoning their long-perfected hitting stroke.

    2. Nobody knows how to bunt anymore. (This is evident elsewhere in the game.)

    3. That strategy might work once, then the defense would get wise to it. You'd think someone would use it in a playoff game or at least in a high-leverage situation.

    As for (3), you'd also think that it would be a great advantage for the batter: if the shift is so statistically valuable on average, then it would be smart for the batter to do this in the first game of the season to force the defense to abandon the shift at the risk of giving up a single every time.

    This leads to my conclusion that it's some combination of (1) and (2), which would be pathetic. I don't get it.

    That’s crazy. There are plenty of players that would gladly learn to bunt and spray the ball, because there’s so much money at stake. The modern sabermetrics guys love (and will pay for) high OBP guys. But they can’t — it’s too hard with modern pitching.

    I see lots of players try to bunt to beat the shift, and anecdotally, I rarely see it work.

    It’s hard to do much of anything with a 93mph slider.

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  117. whorefinder says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer
    "Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles,"

    Baseball players these days aren't Nuke Laloosh. They often have their own personal hitting tutor to work with in the off-season, especially since personal launch-angle and velocity statistics became available a few years ago. Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, for example, retooled their swings to hit more flyballs.

    Last winter, in contrast, Giancarlo Stanton, following an off year, made his swing shorter to make more contact with the ball on the theory that he is one of the few players in baseball that doesn't need to strive harder for homers because he's so strong that just making solid contact will often result in homers.

    Baseball players typically play golf as well, and they are highly familiar with famous golfers rebuilding their swings as Tiger Woods did between 1998 and 1999, which launched him on the greatest streak of all time by 2000.

    Launch angle data on the practice tee had a big impact on pro golfers in the early 2000s as they switched swings, clubs, and balls to optimize for more distance. Now baseball players have launch angle data from actual games, so it's not surprising that they would be doing what golfers did a decade or more before. A large fraction of big league baseball players have paid to have sophisticated analyses done of their golf swings by golf pros using launch angle and velocity monitors to optimize their distance off the tee, so it's hardly surprising that they would apply the same type of analysis to their profession.

    Every few years there are articles written about how scientifically advanced players are in changing their swings and analyzing hitting and such. Then Manny Ramirez barely takes batting practice, takes a bunch of ‘roids, gets in the box, and swings from his heels, and makes the all-star game.

    It’s a cover story man; there’s probably 5 players per year that (1) seriously study via new scientific methods; and (2) retool their swing. But if you’re not the new Tony Gwynn, it ain’t happening. Daniel Murphy and his kin can say all they want about how they changed their swings through study; it’s just a front. Much like how guys “lost so much weight from Yoga” the season after they started testing for steroids.

    Some hitting nerds do study, but most of it goes into analyzing pitcher’s tendencies—knowing when a fastball is coming versus a curve, knowing whether he’ll jam you versus make you reach for one. Then they work on hitting each type of pitch they get. But they’re not going to retool their swing/stance unless they face injury or they’re in a severe slump—and, in the latter case, a retooling actually makes them worse off, as they get all out of whack.

    And about half the league doesn’t think, they just react. Think Lenny Dykstra and Manny Ramirez, not Ted Williams. Steroids allowed them to keep up their “react, don’t think” mindset longer.

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  118. @anon
    India isn't an ''all time powerhouse''. Bans on intimidatory fast bowling and close in fielder restrictions level the competitors in limited overs matches.
    Test Matches are a different story. India has won only 26 of 94 Tests against Australia, and most of those 26 have been in India with Indian umpires.

    Still a sissy game, you know. Or one played by tossers. Most cricketters couldn’t last long in a rugby match, much less in an NFL game.

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    • Replies: @anon
    And Rugby and the NFL aren't sissy games, since play is mostly either blokes hugging one another, or sniffing each other's butts?
    , @Pericles
    Do they get to use their bats though?
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  119. @Steve Sailer
    The 1960 10-9 Game 7 of Pirates over Yankees was indeed played in 2 hours and 36 minutes, but it didn't go into extra innings.

    It was anomalous in that there were no strikeouts in the game, perhaps because the increasingly aged and eccentric Yankees manager Casey Stengel didn't start his Hall of Fame bound ace Whitey Ford. (Stengel got fired during the off-season.)

    No, Ford wasn’t particularly known for having a high strikeout ratio (as say, Bob Feller). He was more of a sinker pitcher. He made this observation some years ago “My teammates liked playing behind me because I pitched fast games. I didn’t have the batters swinging and missing a lot”. In other words if there was a NY pitcher known for tons of K’s during the ’50′s and early 60′s, it wasn’t Whitey Ford.

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  120. @fred c dobbs
    Most amazing stat I've ever run across.....

    In 1950, 25-year-old Yogi Berra had 656 plate appearances: 597 AB, .322 BA, 192 hits, 28 HR, 124 RBI.

    He struck out 12 times.

    In ’41, the year of his still standing 56 consecutive game hitting streak, Joe DiMaggio’s line was:

    G 139
    AB 541
    R 122
    H 193
    HR 43
    RBI 125
    SO 13
    BA. .357

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    • Replies: @Ian M.
    What's particularly impressive about guys like DiMaggio and Berra are the combination of low strikeout totals with power.

    Guys like Mickey Cochrane and Ty Cobb had some very low strikeout totals (Cochrane had two seasons under 10 strikeouts with over 500 PA; Cobb near the end of his career had several seasons with strikeout totals in the 12-20 range - interestingly, Cobb's strikeout totals improved at the end of his career). But neither Cochrane nor Cobb were power hitters (although Cochrane had one year where he belted 23; his strikeout total that year was 22; and Cobb could hit for power if he wanted to, once belting five HR in two games just to prove he could do what Ruth could).
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  121. @whorefinder
    Stengel had a good ability to make players relaxed and like him, and also to give good copy.

    I many good baseball managers talk so funny (Stengelese, Yogi Berra etc.) because they have to say things that both don't set off their players (as temperamental athletes) and also somehow disarm them enough to get them to stop pressing so hard (one of the hardest things one learns in playing baseball is that, unlike in other sports such as football or basketball, ramping up your aggressiveness to 11 actually really hurts your game). And they also have to deal with the press.

    Some are more naturally diplomatic (e.g. Joe Torre,Tony Larussa), while others just become weirdos like Berra and Stengel in order to survive. Billy Martin was openly fighting with his players, but he was always a rare exception, and an extreme paranoid individual with a sociopathic edge.

    In Martin’s case, you mean psychopathic edge.

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  122. @Buzz Mohawk

    ... speed up the outfield grass by, say, mowing it away from home plate...
     
    Golf again. I love it!

    Players and Americans in general are bigger and stronger than they used to be, so why not move the fences out a bit, lengthen the baselines a little, and make pitchers throw slightly farther?

    This all reminds me of what happened in automobile racing when cars got so fast: Rules were written to restrict engine power and to limit handling grip, and chicanes were built into road tracks to force drivers to slow down. Racing has lost its sense of progress and adventure in the intervening decades.

    Bigger, longer road courses would allow modern cars to really open up. Expanding the baseball diamond just a little bit would accomplish something similar.

    You move home plate back five feet toward the backstop and leave the outfield fences where they are. This cuts down on foul territory and thus foul outs, which are pretty boring usually. Wrigley Field, for example, has tiny foul territory, which means the seats are closer to the players and there is more offense due to fewer foul outs. People like going to Wrigley even though the Cubs weren’t that good on average until recently.

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  123. Travis says:
    @Daniel H
    Raise the mound to the sixties levels. Too late to reconfigure ball parks to make the outfield deeper (though that would have been the best thing for baseball if, when they were designing new parks, they mandated and extra 30-60 feet on all fences).

    or stop juicing the balls, go back to the softer balls and raise the seems back to how they were prior to 2015. The owners clearly want smaller ballparks and more home runs. Which is why the ballparks have gotten smaller and the ball was changed to travel further and thus increase the number of homers.

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    • Replies: @Wally
    Proof for the often alleged altered construction of the ball is lacking.

    I suggest you learn about the emphasis in hitting now which increases the launch angle ... which can reduce the batting average for some, but also increase power numbers.

    And indeed, the guys are just in better shape, they stay that way year round, & the training techniques are massively better.

    I like my old timers, but I maintain that a lot of them wouldn't even make a major league team today.

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  124. @Steve Sailer
    "Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles,"

    Baseball players these days aren't Nuke Laloosh. They often have their own personal hitting tutor to work with in the off-season, especially since personal launch-angle and velocity statistics became available a few years ago. Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, for example, retooled their swings to hit more flyballs.

    Last winter, in contrast, Giancarlo Stanton, following an off year, made his swing shorter to make more contact with the ball on the theory that he is one of the few players in baseball that doesn't need to strive harder for homers because he's so strong that just making solid contact will often result in homers.

    Baseball players typically play golf as well, and they are highly familiar with famous golfers rebuilding their swings as Tiger Woods did between 1998 and 1999, which launched him on the greatest streak of all time by 2000.

    Launch angle data on the practice tee had a big impact on pro golfers in the early 2000s as they switched swings, clubs, and balls to optimize for more distance. Now baseball players have launch angle data from actual games, so it's not surprising that they would be doing what golfers did a decade or more before. A large fraction of big league baseball players have paid to have sophisticated analyses done of their golf swings by golf pros using launch angle and velocity monitors to optimize their distance off the tee, so it's hardly surprising that they would apply the same type of analysis to their profession.

    The irony of course, is that as MLB has become more and more specialized, the US as a whole, uh, just doesn’t very much give a damn, as judged by overall network ratings. MLB is no longer the ratings leader it once was back in the ’60′s and ’70′s. Among Gen. X and Millennials, it simply isn’t on their radar. MLB is becoming more and more identified with older, whiter generations. In the parlance of today, it ain’t all that.

    In about ten years time from now, MMA will likely outdraw MLB per national TV ratings (if it isn’t already outdrawing MLB in the ratings).

    I believe it was around 2012 or 2013, a rerun episode of the reality TV series “Keeping up with the Kardashians” outdrew a TX vs NY divisional series. And of course the WS doesn’t come anywhere near close to matching the Super Bowl or the NCAA Tourney.

    It could simply be that MLB isn’t considered cool, in, or hip anymore but simply old, white, and therefore boring. After all, no one ever says that the NFL, much less the MMA is boring to watch.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    MLB is making lots of money. The Dodger's pitcher tonight is being paid $34 million per year. A classmate of my son has a $325 million contract for 13 years.
    , @Anonymous
    Baseball is still very popular locally. Lots of fans follow their local teams and go to games during the summer, but won't follow the other teams and won't sit for 3+ hours watching non local teams play. Baseball games aren't national television spectacles, but they have strong local fan bases.

    It's not fair to compare baseball telecasts with combat PPV spectacles like MMA or the NCAA tourney and Superbowl. Moreover, even NFL telecasts have been declining in ratings. In an age of smartphones and Netflix, it's harder to get people to sit through several hours watching a game. Baseball's comparative advantage today is that seeing local teams play live is very accessible, unlike MMA and the NFL.
    , @RadicalCenter
    The NFL is boring to watch. There you go.
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  125. @Autochthon
    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs. I know nothing of professional basketball, but I laughed because even I knew it was true just because the stuff was always on television and being discussed for interminable lengths of time – months, maybe. I always thought “What the Hell? Isn’t it over yet?” When baseball added the wildcard nonsense, central divisions, and inter-league play all year, the same exaperated, boring feeling of “sheesh, what’s even the point of the season or special about the playoffs?” crept in.

    It seems sports’ executives just can’t help themselves from over-egging the pudding more and more each year in this regard. Team’s demanding new stadia and moving around every two years is another aspect of the problem. The whole thing just becomes silly: casual fans can’t keep up with it, and dedicated fans are deprived of meaningful traditions and continuity.

    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs.

    This was literally true in 1967. In the modern era, only 7 teams didn’t make the playoffs per year from 1984-88.

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  126. @Autochthon
    Quaere: To what extent – overtly and purposefully by interested powers, or as a matter of secondary effect and happenstance – did the decline (demise?) of the Elks, Masons, Rotary, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, etc. shift a public benefit (community, a safe place to drink and be men away from women – from both nagging but loving wives, from whom guys need to release steam, and from scheming adventuresses – and trouble from drinking in a public venue, de facto social welare nets, volunteering work...) with privatized costs (dues from members, bequests by wealthy, deceased sponsors) into a private good of lesser value (money for Hooters, Inc. et al. and ersatz companionship and community) with socialised costs (more drunk driving, exposure to adventuresses and inescapable harassment by wives, higher prices for it all)?

    I genuinely think this could make a solid doctoral dissertation for an aspiring Ph.D. in economics, sociology, etc. and the answers might be worth reading.

    Oh, obviously, obviously. Especially if one came from the mythical cohort of the vaunted years of SAT scores. But then, having a high SAT score from the Baby Boomer generation (1946-64) would suggest a white collar/professional class member or “yuppie”, who simply can’t relate to the nature of neighborhood bars, most of which catered to blue collar tradesmen/manufacturing sector class. In other words, the neighborhood bar of yore tended to mostly cater to Fishtown and not to Bellmont (much less to Beverly Hills or Upper West Side).

    Want the neighborhood bars to return? Bring the blue collar jobs back and allow the working classes to rebuild their neighborhoods (or build new ones).

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  127. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    The irony of course, is that as MLB has become more and more specialized, the US as a whole, uh, just doesn't very much give a damn, as judged by overall network ratings. MLB is no longer the ratings leader it once was back in the '60's and '70's. Among Gen. X and Millennials, it simply isn't on their radar. MLB is becoming more and more identified with older, whiter generations. In the parlance of today, it ain't all that.

    In about ten years time from now, MMA will likely outdraw MLB per national TV ratings (if it isn't already outdrawing MLB in the ratings).

    I believe it was around 2012 or 2013, a rerun episode of the reality TV series "Keeping up with the Kardashians" outdrew a TX vs NY divisional series. And of course the WS doesn't come anywhere near close to matching the Super Bowl or the NCAA Tourney.

    It could simply be that MLB isn't considered cool, in, or hip anymore but simply old, white, and therefore boring. After all, no one ever says that the NFL, much less the MMA is boring to watch.

    MLB is making lots of money. The Dodger’s pitcher tonight is being paid $34 million per year. A classmate of my son has a $325 million contract for 13 years.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Right, and that's mainly because MLB is the US's oldest established sports league. In other words it has had the profits longer than either NFL or NBA, was the nation's number one sport for well near a century (ca.1876-1960s/1970's). The sixteen original franchises counting from 1903 remain intact. Due to a monopolistic control over their product, MLB has built up over the decades sizable profits. MLB was the first to greatly profit by network TV and couple that with the internet streaming and merchandise, on paper it's doing quite well.

    Based on demographics, actual long term health of the sport, however, remains a serious question mark. Especially when factored in that the sport simply is not very popular among the under 40 demographic. Again, MMA and other niche sports will overtake MLB if not in actual attendance then in network profits by around 2030.
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Also keep in mind that the most profitable sports franchises in the US tend to be NFL teams first.

    Just saw the news. LA wins in five. The Dodgers win the Pennant, the Dodgers win the Pennant.

    Congratulations. Long time in coming. And with home field advantage in the WS, perhaps finally a championship.
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  128. @whorefinder
    Players are extremely stubborn about their hitting styles, which is why I think Steve's theory about everyone changing the angle of their swing is bogus; few players in the majors would do it.

    But players aren't wrong to be so stubborn: even slightly changing your swing can mess up your mechanics and throw you into a slump. Hitting a baseball thrown at 90 mph with a round bat is such an unnatural activity that when a player finds a golden hitting style they will stick to it like a gambler with his lucky numbers. And because it's so unnatural players might not know what they actually discovered, but will go to extremes to keep it going---hence a lot of baseball superstitions, such as not changing socks or bats during a hit streak.

    I'm sure there's some numbers out there that show that even with a shift a pull hitter is better hitting his own way rather than trying to hit a way foreign to him. Ted Williams and David Ortiz had massive shifts on them most of their careers, and yet both are HOFers with great numers.

    Don’t count your Ortiz chickens before they hatch.

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  129. @Autochthon
    Quaere: To what extent – overtly and purposefully by interested powers, or as a matter of secondary effect and happenstance – did the decline (demise?) of the Elks, Masons, Rotary, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, etc. shift a public benefit (community, a safe place to drink and be men away from women – from both nagging but loving wives, from whom guys need to release steam, and from scheming adventuresses – and trouble from drinking in a public venue, de facto social welare nets, volunteering work...) with privatized costs (dues from members, bequests by wealthy, deceased sponsors) into a private good of lesser value (money for Hooters, Inc. et al. and ersatz companionship and community) with socialised costs (more drunk driving, exposure to adventuresses and inescapable harassment by wives, higher prices for it all)?

    I genuinely think this could make a solid doctoral dissertation for an aspiring Ph.D. in economics, sociology, etc. and the answers might be worth reading.

    My agree button doesn’t work but if it did I’d click it 10 times.

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  130. The key to improving baseball is changing the amount of outs in an inning.

    Increasing specialization in relief pitchers and sabermetic defensive shifting tactics have made “get him on, get him over, get him in”, a thing of the past. The way around this is to knock it completely out of the park.

    My preference is to have 5 4-out innings and and a 6th 5 out finale inning. Since teams spend less of the game near their last out, steals and sacrifice bunts are more appealing. The final inning would be a big home advantage, because the home team exactly how aggressive to be in the bottom of the 6th.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    They aren't going to make radical changes to baseball rules like 4 outs or 2 strikes and you're out.

    They've got a popular product with a huge amount of tradition behind it. All they need is to make slight tweaks to keep sabermetrics from making the game too boring.

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  131. @Steve Sailer
    Perhaps Tommy John-style sinkerballs pitchers will make a comeback?

    Perhaps Tommy John-style sinkerballs pitchers will make a comeback?

    It seems as if sinkerballers fade in and out in popularity. There were a few good ones a decade back or so, e.g. Brandon Webb, Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay, etc. I guess you could classify Dallas Keuchel as a sinkerball pitcher now, and Corey Kluber uses one, but the guys who throw the sinker a great majority of the time like Lowe and Webb seem to be less common now.

    You’d think the rise in home runs motivate more young pitchers to work on the sinker, but baseball trends and fads are hard to predict.

    The sinkerball does seem to be a somewhat fickle mistress. Just my impression, but it does seem as if a sinkerballer who doesn’t ‘have it’ on a particular day will really get hammered. At the MLB level, sinkers absolutely cannot be left up in the zone, so if a sinkerballer’s command is off just a bit, well, he’s sunk.

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  132. @duderinompc
    The key to improving baseball is changing the amount of outs in an inning.

    Increasing specialization in relief pitchers and sabermetic defensive shifting tactics have made "get him on, get him over, get him in", a thing of the past. The way around this is to knock it completely out of the park.

    My preference is to have 5 4-out innings and and a 6th 5 out finale inning. Since teams spend less of the game near their last out, steals and sacrifice bunts are more appealing. The final inning would be a big home advantage, because the home team exactly how aggressive to be in the bottom of the 6th.

    They aren’t going to make radical changes to baseball rules like 4 outs or 2 strikes and you’re out.

    They’ve got a popular product with a huge amount of tradition behind it. All they need is to make slight tweaks to keep sabermetrics from making the game too boring.

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    • Replies: @anonymous
    wwebd (what would ernest borgnine do) said: the main problem with baseball, as you say, is not that it needs radical changes. The main problem with baseball is that, in order to make it in baseball, you have to be willing to spend more than 200 days a year with the boring NCO-bureacratic-type people who play baseball. Sucks the life right out of you, and the self-respect: hence, long "conferences" on the mound, .250 hitters with the narcissism to "step out of the batter's box" every chance they get, that sort of thing. If the average baseball player had half the self-respect of a Marine grunt or even a marginal motorcycle gang member, we would not be talking about how boring the sport is to watch on TV, they would be keeping it interesting just out of minimal self-respect (watching it live is not boring, but that is another topic). Hockey is almost as bad, but hockey at least has the advantage that it is mostly Canadians hanging out with other Canadians, and it is played to the clock, so it is a finite-time subset of one country instead of a goat-rope mashup of several lazy countries with no concept of other people's time. Football players hardly talk to each other if they aren't playing the same position (or if they are not in one of the groupings - long snapper/kicker, OL/QB, QB/WR, middle linemen, etc.) and that is a good thing. True, football players are as boring as you can imagine, but they aren't as boring as baseball players, because there are not so many "game days" and so there are more "non-game days" (I base this observation on the fact that baseball announcers who were jocks don't really get any good until they are in their 50s and football announcers - all of whom are bad compared to John Madden, but let's leave that aside - are either good when they start or will never get good.) As for basketball, the only good basketball announcers among the vets are guys who aren't quite right in the head - Frazier, Barkley and so on. Interesting to listen to, but not quite right in the head. Not quite sure why that is. Maybe spending too much time inside on nice autumn and nice winter days.
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Like a seven pitch pitch count per batter. That would tend to move the game along.

    Also, MLBers are doing quite well due to the fact that it's the only sport in America without a salary cap. When are the owners going to demand a salary cap, like the other sports have in place? Not sure what the owners would have to give up in exchange for a salary cap, but if there's a chance for it, they'll push for it.
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  133. Hibernian says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist
    So glad you posted on this, Steve.

    A few other details about the game:

    ***Even with not much going on on the bases, the game ran 3 hours and 15 minutes.

    ***Cubs pitchers walked 8 Dodgers, but the Dodgers' staff had zero walks. If they'd had the normal few, the game would have taken even longer.

    ***Although it was a low-scoring game, nine pitchers were used.

    ***Four of those pitchers were in for less than an inning.

    ***23 of the game's 51 outs came via strikeout.

    In other words, this was a 'three true outcomes' dream game, which means pretty dull stuff except for the big hits.

    US pro sports and their place in the culture may be pushing toward a turning point.

    MLB baseball is getting increasingly hard to watch because of games just like this one.

    The NFL is, finally, paying the price for the protests, the brain injuries, the other injuries, the lack of actual play on the field, the tedious penalties and replays, etc.

    And although the NBA season has barely started, and the general mood there seems to be positive, what with the Warriors and their sleek style of play, I noticed that both Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin have already gone down with gruesome leg injuries.

    Baseball is slow and boring but doesn’t generally have situations like Bears’ Danny Trevathan/Packers’ Davonte Adams or Aaron Rodgers broken collarbone, or this:

    https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/10/17/sources-bulls-nikola-mirotic-hospitalized-after-practice-altercation-with-teammate-bobby-portis/23246772/

    Imagine Adams getting speared or Rodgers getting his collarbone broken by a fellow Packer at practice, with coaches in attendace.

    Yes, I’m aware of beanballs, baserunners sliding into the catcher, Juan Marichal going crazy when I was in jr. high, etc.

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  134. Hibernian says:
    @Autochthon
    I recall some comedian many years ago quipping that the NBA plays all season just to see which two teams don’t make the playoffs. I know nothing of professional basketball, but I laughed because even I knew it was true just because the stuff was always on television and being discussed for interminable lengths of time – months, maybe. I always thought “What the Hell? Isn’t it over yet?” When baseball added the wildcard nonsense, central divisions, and inter-league play all year, the same exaperated, boring feeling of “sheesh, what’s even the point of the season or special about the playoffs?” crept in.

    It seems sports’ executives just can’t help themselves from over-egging the pudding more and more each year in this regard. Team’s demanding new stadia and moving around every two years is another aspect of the problem. The whole thing just becomes silly: casual fans can’t keep up with it, and dedicated fans are deprived of meaningful traditions and continuity.

    Was literally true of the NHL when there were only 6 clubs.

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  135. @Steve Richter
    fun video of a retired Greg Maddux pranking Kris Bryant
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axkik-8oFTs

    Thanks for that; it’s excellent.

    Maddux was my favorite player; good to see he’s still got it.

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  136. dwb says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    This isn't entirely accurate. During the deadball era (ca.1901-20), SB's were much higher on average per team vs the 1960's-80's. Mainly because the fences were too far away to hit very many HR's, and of course the "dead" ball used by MLB at that time. Of course, all the fields in MLB during the deadball era were grass and dirt, but somehow players were able to steal bases quite frequently since it was deployed as a useful scoring weapon since HR's were harder to come by. With the farther back fences, 3B's were much higher than compared to today.

    One factor that should be noticed is that during the 1960-mid. 80's era was the high water mark for black players in MLB. Since around the '94 strike, HR's have gone up and SB's on average have gone down, along with blacks as a percentage of MLB's total number of players. Generally, white players don't steal too many bases, perhaps because they don't seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks. Increase the total percentage of blacks in baseball and slowly but steadily SB's will increase again.

    Of course it’s “not entirely accurate.”

    There are multiple sources of variation. What happened in the 1920s that changed the game?

    Don’t be so aspy.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    And what happened post '80's (ca. 1994 strike)? Fewer blacks started switching preferences to play NFL and NBA at the expense of MLB.

    You were going on about how turf seemed to make a major difference in SB totals, while I noticed that for the most part, uh, the league leaders in SBs during 60's-80's happened to be black. Once blacks stopped playing MLB in a significant percentage, the SB totals dropped across the board. Whites generally don't like to steal bases. Or perhaps they've forgotten how.
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  137. @Farenheit
    The preferred method to watch both football and baseball is to TIVO the game. Then start watching it an hour and a half after it has begun. Liberally use your TIVO's 30 second skip button to blast through the commercials and on screen detritus. Then in the late fourth quarter, or 8th inning, you're caught up and in real time, and you don't have to worry about your duffus brother in law texting you the results and ruining the exciting ending.

    The MLB website provides a ‘condensed game’ video that usually shows up as a link on the ‘game wrap’ page about 3-4 hours after a game has ended.

    They show how every batter who gets on base, i.e. hits, the last pitch of each walk, HBPs, etc. They also show the last pitch of each strikeout. Routine fielding plays are left out, but flashy highlight-reel plays are included.

    Depending on how much offense there’s been, these condensed games range in length from about 12-20 minutes.

    It’s a good feature, but emphasizing walks and strikeouts further reinforces the ‘three true outcomes’ obsession. It would be nice to see all of the fielding plays, too.

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  138. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Still a sissy game, you know. Or one played by tossers. Most cricketters couldn't last long in a rugby match, much less in an NFL game.

    And Rugby and the NFL aren’t sissy games, since play is mostly either blokes hugging one another, or sniffing each other’s butts?

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    There are very few concussions per yr. in cricket matches, especially when compared to soccer. There are few broken bones, broken backs, torn ligaments, tendons, etc. in cricket. The protective gear is fairly light. Few cricketters have ever been paralyzed for life due to an on field play (as there have been in the NFL and one would assume has perhaps occurred in Rugby as well). It remains a soft sport that has stayed true for the most part to its gentlemen's heritage. Soft and sissy.

    Doesn't one of Elton John's album covers show the artist dressed in full cricket gear? Think that does tend to sum it up.
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  139. Oh Lord, in NLCS Game 5 — which is a blowout — I see the Cubs have just put John Lackey in. Speaking of pace of play, in one sequence in game 3 it took Lackey five solid minutes to throw six pitches.

    https://streamable.com/8wdxi

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  140. @eD
    I attempted to watch a NFL game recently, the only game the Giants have won this season.

    I was never a big football fan but would sometimes watch NFL games (I grew up in New York City, the one place in the USA where college football is just not a big part of the local culture). Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don't bother me. The concussion problem does, but I always knew the sport was violent and am still working through the implications on that one.

    But I couldn't watch the game. The ratio of commercials to something happening on the field had just gotten too high. It has always been higher than in other sports, but seems to have gotten worse.

    I agree the NBA is also unwatchable, at least in the ridiculous regular season. The problems with baseball, as have been pointed out here, are at least more fixable.

    One thing is that professional sports as we know it, and particularly the NFL, are really tightly woven into the TV and car base mass culture that arose to dominance in the USA in the 50s and 60s. But this is starting to fade away. Baseball was big in an earlier time, and though the MLB adapted to broadcast TV and made lots of money off it, I think the professional sport should be OK without it.

    Unlike with most iSteve commentators, the protests don’t bother me.

    Of course not, your allegiance is not to America.

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  141. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    The irony of course, is that as MLB has become more and more specialized, the US as a whole, uh, just doesn't very much give a damn, as judged by overall network ratings. MLB is no longer the ratings leader it once was back in the '60's and '70's. Among Gen. X and Millennials, it simply isn't on their radar. MLB is becoming more and more identified with older, whiter generations. In the parlance of today, it ain't all that.

    In about ten years time from now, MMA will likely outdraw MLB per national TV ratings (if it isn't already outdrawing MLB in the ratings).

    I believe it was around 2012 or 2013, a rerun episode of the reality TV series "Keeping up with the Kardashians" outdrew a TX vs NY divisional series. And of course the WS doesn't come anywhere near close to matching the Super Bowl or the NCAA Tourney.

    It could simply be that MLB isn't considered cool, in, or hip anymore but simply old, white, and therefore boring. After all, no one ever says that the NFL, much less the MMA is boring to watch.

    Baseball is still very popular locally. Lots of fans follow their local teams and go to games during the summer, but won’t follow the other teams and won’t sit for 3+ hours watching non local teams play. Baseball games aren’t national television spectacles, but they have strong local fan bases.

    It’s not fair to compare baseball telecasts with combat PPV spectacles like MMA or the NCAA tourney and Superbowl. Moreover, even NFL telecasts have been declining in ratings. In an age of smartphones and Netflix, it’s harder to get people to sit through several hours watching a game. Baseball’s comparative advantage today is that seeing local teams play live is very accessible, unlike MMA and the NFL.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    That isn't accurate. MMA is more and more becoming widely accessible to local and regional viewers as there are local fighters who gain a local and then regional followings. The sport is about to overtake boxing, long a part of network TV and evidence may suggest that it's PPV will overtake boxing as well.

    "Who said that life was fair?"--JFK

    Also, there are more NCAA teams than MLB, and NCAA football remains a far more popular sport than MLB either in viewing live or on network TV. Ordinary sports fans can't identify with gazillionaire players (many aren't even American and don't speak much English, by the way) but they can identify with college teams. After all, many Americans attended college and therefore there is a built in following unlike MLB. In the South, for instance, MLB doesn't come anywhere close to NCAA football. Not even close.

    You also helped make my point: For the most part, MLB is boring (for those under 40). Whereas in the dead ball era and even up thru the 50's and 60's, an average duration of an MLB game was often under 2 hrs. Lawrence S. Ritter's The Glory of Their Times an old time player comments on this fact (being interviewed in the '60's), that they played MLB games much faster during his era than the modern times (60's, when the book first came out). The point being MLB full nine inning game was often played in about ninety minutes.

    Remember, there was no night baseball prior to 1935, and even then it didn't fully catch on til after WW2. As most games tended to start on the weekday at around 4 , one couldn't waste three or four hours with the foolishness that goes on that extends MLB games today or there would've been far more games called on account of darkness. The longest inning game, played in 1920 was 26 innings and ended in a 1-1 tie. It lasted about three hours. The reason it was called was because it was twilight and starting to get dark. Can you imagine how long a 26 inning game would take to play in MLB in 2017? Probably ten hrs to half a day, easily. But that's how fast MLBers used to play. And that's also why NFL and NBA figured out that three hrs is about how long most sports fans are willing to devote to watching a single game. For the most part, NFL games generally don't go beyond that time limit. The famous 1971 Dec. 25 AFC Divisional game between MIA vs KC took about four and a half hours to play, and that's still one of the longest games for an NFL game.

    More and more of the younger generations are watching MMA and not MLB. It's all action, it's quick and fast, and not too many commercial interruptions. As soon as MMA starts to appear on the networks, that should be among the final nails in MLB. Superbowl and NCAA Tourney is the equivalent of MLB's WS so that is definitely accurate to compare to ascertain which sport has the most total viewership.
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  142. anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Steve Sailer
    They aren't going to make radical changes to baseball rules like 4 outs or 2 strikes and you're out.

    They've got a popular product with a huge amount of tradition behind it. All they need is to make slight tweaks to keep sabermetrics from making the game too boring.

    wwebd (what would ernest borgnine do) said: the main problem with baseball, as you say, is not that it needs radical changes. The main problem with baseball is that, in order to make it in baseball, you have to be willing to spend more than 200 days a year with the boring NCO-bureacratic-type people who play baseball. Sucks the life right out of you, and the self-respect: hence, long “conferences” on the mound, .250 hitters with the narcissism to “step out of the batter’s box” every chance they get, that sort of thing. If the average baseball player had half the self-respect of a Marine grunt or even a marginal motorcycle gang member, we would not be talking about how boring the sport is to watch on TV, they would be keeping it interesting just out of minimal self-respect (watching it live is not boring, but that is another topic). Hockey is almost as bad, but hockey at least has the advantage that it is mostly Canadians hanging out with other Canadians, and it is played to the clock, so it is a finite-time subset of one country instead of a goat-rope mashup of several lazy countries with no concept of other people’s time. Football players hardly talk to each other if they aren’t playing the same position (or if they are not in one of the groupings – long snapper/kicker, OL/QB, QB/WR, middle linemen, etc.) and that is a good thing. True, football players are as boring as you can imagine, but they aren’t as boring as baseball players, because there are not so many “game days” and so there are more “non-game days” (I base this observation on the fact that baseball announcers who were jocks don’t really get any good until they are in their 50s and football announcers – all of whom are bad compared to John Madden, but let’s leave that aside – are either good when they start or will never get good.) As for basketball, the only good basketball announcers among the vets are guys who aren’t quite right in the head – Frazier, Barkley and so on. Interesting to listen to, but not quite right in the head. Not quite sure why that is. Maybe spending too much time inside on nice autumn and nice winter days.

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    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    Any baseball player with a quality college education can tell you how dumb their teammates are. Mike Mussina went to Stanford, as did Black Jack McDowell. McDowell did great with the White Sox, got traded to the Yankees, gave up the winning run in the playoffs to the Mariners, and fell off of the face of the Earth.
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  143. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    What about not letting relievers warm up at all, and making them come out of the closer dugout rather than jogging in from the bullpen in the outfield? That would speed up the game. And it would introduce a new strategic element where the manager has to decide between the tired starter and a new pitcher who isn’t allowed warm up pitches.

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    • Replies: @Ian M.
    Interesting idea. But I think if you don't allow the pitcher to warm up at all, that's an injury waiting to happen. He's got to get his arm loose.
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  144. @anonymous
    "If you did want to reduce the number of home runs, the answer is obviously to extend the boundaries of the field so that a longer carry is needed, or to reduce the maximum length of the bat and thus reduce the velocity of the sweet spot.”

    Please stick to wickets — you’ve no idea how these would, in turn, foul up other aspects of baseball. The “obvious” answer is to moderately deaden the ball, as per my earlier (11:24 am GMT) comment once again sitting forgotten in the dugout.*

    *These odd delays are limited to my comments posted to Mr. Sailer’s blog, and apparently “at whim” indeed, as later back & forth among others keeps rolling out while I anxiously await publication and interaction. Is there a purgatory or pecking order for those of us who aren’t as big fans? I can’t bring myself to write “Hey, Steve” in addressing someone I’ve never met.

    Use a name – anonymous does not help. Then we can read your track record. For example, the following command my immediate attention:

    Jack Hanson, AM, The Last Real Calvinist, Olorin, Buzz Mohawk, Another Dad, Dave Pinsen, Kylie, Rod1963, Dr. X, Desiderius, Intelligent Dasein, Thea, kihowi, NickG, Lugash, peterike, Buffalo Joe, Harry Baldwin, Jack D, whorefinder, Svigor, Romanian, Twinkie, DCThrowback, Polynikes, Autochthon, Chris Mallory, slumber_j, Yojimbo/Zatoichi, Anonym, Travis, MBlanc46, Hibernian, IHTG, MEH 0910, Jenner Ickham Errican, unit472, Diversity Heretic, The Anti-Gnostic, pyrrhus, LondonBob, Pericles, ,yaqub the mad scientist, NOTA, Kevin C., The Alarmist, Father O’Hara, Opinionator, candid_observer, Discordiax, Hodag, Ivy, AKAHorace, ShoutingThomas, Johann Ricke, J1234, Citizen of a Silly Country, James Kabala, vinteuil, Broski, Chrisnonymous, Hapalong Cassidy, Weltanschauung, Verymuchalive, Je Suis Charlie Martel, tbraton, Art Deco, anony-mouse, Neoconned, Barnard, snorlax, Reg Caesar, Rosamond Vincy, DevOps Dad, Maj. Kong (in no particular order, though I admit that the first few are in a separate category).

    I am sure that I am leaving out some that also do command my attention. And for those that I have omitted, please accept my apology.

    The following:

    Charles Pewitt, Jonathon Mason, International Jew, Colleen Pater, MarkinLA, donut, Dissident, Trelane, fish, Dieter Kief, dearime, Guy de Champlagne

    have much to commend them, but prudence dictates that they must be approached with great caution.

    And Tiny Duck is a champion of stupidity, and not just impaired stupidity, not just no-smarter-than-a-drosophila-melanogaster stupidity, but relentless, mindless, willful stupidity.

    The Duck is closely followed by Corvinus, AndrewR, Truth, Sane Left Libertarian, and, no doubt, some others working very hard to rival their affection for human suffering.

    So get a name. And we will watch what you post.

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    • Replies: @anonymous
    I've had exchanges with others about this.

    No offense to you or some of those commenters you've named, but my view is that a substantial portion of people who adopt a pseudonym end up commenting to prolong or avenge a previous interaction, to recycle an obsession, or simply because it's expected of them. See, e.g., the insufferable threads at Takimag and the same people in the same pews for every Kunstler article on Fridays and Mondays. It concerns me to see some of that here, and I've said so in other comments.

    A "track record" also can get in the way ("RealHandle is a zygote, don't listen to her!") when we should be trying to learn from each other. My opinions about baseball are just as valid no matter what I've posted (or not) on other topics.

    Your reply seems bossy, but not hostile. I take it that you find what I wrote worthwhile, maybe that you recognize a parallel to my other comments, and that you want to make sure to see any more. But no, thanks.

    , @ScarletNumber
    This hurts my feelings.
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  145. @james wilson
    It's not complicated. Infield defense is insufferably good. Range and skills. Now add shifts. Not getting the ball in the air is suddenly a loser. Even a strikeout is better than a double play.

    Off topic, pace of play. I'd like to see a couple exhibition games with our four balls and three strikes becoming three balls and two strikes. Start each at bat 1-1.

    That’s how my company beer league plays. And how my dad’s beer league played in the 70s. Also only one foul ball after two strikes. Can’t sit and foul them off forever. In the big leagues there’s the interminable throws to first when a runner gets on. In my mind that’s a pitch out of the strike zone, i.e. a ball.

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  146. @anon
    And Rugby and the NFL aren't sissy games, since play is mostly either blokes hugging one another, or sniffing each other's butts?

    There are very few concussions per yr. in cricket matches, especially when compared to soccer. There are few broken bones, broken backs, torn ligaments, tendons, etc. in cricket. The protective gear is fairly light. Few cricketters have ever been paralyzed for life due to an on field play (as there have been in the NFL and one would assume has perhaps occurred in Rugby as well). It remains a soft sport that has stayed true for the most part to its gentlemen’s heritage. Soft and sissy.

    Doesn’t one of Elton John’s album covers show the artist dressed in full cricket gear? Think that does tend to sum it up.

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    • Replies: @Pericles
    Baseball is the toughest, because it's the major sport where the most spectators get injured. Last season, I seem to recall a woman got impaled by a broken bat flying into the stands. ("Expected to survive", I see.) This season, a little girl got hit in the face by a smoking foul ball and was carted off after several minutes. Presumably there are others.
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  147. @dwb
    Of course it's "not entirely accurate."

    There are multiple sources of variation. What happened in the 1920s that changed the game?

    Don't be so aspy.

    And what happened post ’80′s (ca. 1994 strike)? Fewer blacks started switching preferences to play NFL and NBA at the expense of MLB.

    You were going on about how turf seemed to make a major difference in SB totals, while I noticed that for the most part, uh, the league leaders in SBs during 60′s-80′s happened to be black. Once blacks stopped playing MLB in a significant percentage, the SB totals dropped across the board. Whites generally don’t like to steal bases. Or perhaps they’ve forgotten how.

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    • Replies: @dwb
    The problem with your analysis is the same as the one offered by Torii Hunter a couple of years ago.

    That is to say, your definition of "blacks" includes ONLY black Americans.

    I don't know if it is true that "fewer blacks started switching preferences to play NFL and NBA at the expense of MLB" (I think what you actually meant to say is either "fewer blacks are playing in baseball" or, "blacks switching preferences"), but there is a decline over the past 50 years.

    Here is an analysis from SABR:


    https://sabr.org/sites/default/files/MLB-Demographics-Armour-Levitt-Figure1.png

    https://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/baseball-demographics-1947-2012

    In the 1980s, when stolen bases and the running game were much more significant, blacks (defined as "African Americans") in MLB were 17-18%. In the 2010s, they are roughly half that.

    So far, so good.

    At the same time, in the 1980s, white players were around 70% of the league. In the current decade, they are...64%.

    You're comment about white players and their ability to and knowledge of how to steal a base is funny, but it's just wrong.

    There are fewer whites (as a percentage) playing now than there ever have been.

    What has happened is the explosion of Latino players, many of whom are, in fact, not "African American" because they were born in the Dominican Republic and not Detroit.

    Yasiel Puig is not "black," but Andre Ethier is.

    Now, I am sure that some of the Latin players are "White Hispanics", but unless there is some significant difference you want to point out between a black African born in Cuba vs. one born 90 miles away in Miami, I think your point is wrong.
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  148. @Ian M.

    A solo home run scores a run, but it doesn’t distract the pitcher like a base runner.
     
    Do the sabermetrics guys take this into account when determining the value of a stolen base? One might expect that the value of a stolen base not only needs to include the probability of success, but also how it might affect the batter getting a hit or a walk, for precisely the reason you mentioned.

    I’ve never read deeply enough to know. I’d love to hear from someone who does.

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    • Replies: @ex-banker
    Don't have ready access to studies backing it up, but the fact that HR are more valued than SB in the era of big data and analytics is pretty good evidence that whatever incremental advantage a team gains by having speedy baserunners distracting pitchers is not enough to justify a strategy switch.

    The history of baseball, especially post-sabermetric revolution, shows evolving strategies that take advantage of inefficiently priced assets. A's/Red Sox of the early aughts focused on power and patience, eschewed base stealing and defense. Then skills like defense and speed became too cheap (think Royals). One of the reasons speed had become undervalued was the decline in catchers' arms -- then as speed became more relevant, catchers' arms became more important.

    The other overriding factor is the overall run environment -- speed and defense are much more relevant when teams are averaging 4 runs per game than when it's 4.5 runs or more.
    , @res
    I know a little bit here, but am not an expert. Sabermetrics of base stealing tends to look at the probability of a run being scored with a given runners/outs situation. This should implicitly account for the pitcher being distracted by the advanced runner. The big problem with stealing is getting caught (surprise ; ). Here is some more detail: https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/2/20/5425744/stolen-bases-lack-value

    This probabilistic approach is good because it incorporates all the details implicitly (e.g. fielders shifting depending on where the runners are) and statistically averages out the details. More detailed analysis is needed to evaluate if attempting to steal is appropriate in a given runner/batter/catcher/pitcher/score/etc. situation, but required success rate gives a benchmark for making the choice.

    Here is a look at the expected value (and break even point) by base stealing success rate in different situations: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/breaking-down-stolen-base-break-even-points/
    A rule of thumb is that a 70-75% success rate is necessary to make stealing worthwhile. Based on this analysis stealing home with two outs is an outlier with only a 1/3 chance of success being the break even point.

    P.S. For anyone interested, this Hardball Times article is a good introduction to analyzing baseball data with R: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/a-short-ish-introduction-to-using-r-for-baseball-research/
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  149. @Steve Sailer
    MLB is making lots of money. The Dodger's pitcher tonight is being paid $34 million per year. A classmate of my son has a $325 million contract for 13 years.

    Right, and that’s mainly because MLB is the US’s oldest established sports league. In other words it has had the profits longer than either NFL or NBA, was the nation’s number one sport for well near a century (ca.1876-1960s/1970′s). The sixteen original franchises counting from 1903 remain intact. Due to a monopolistic control over their product, MLB has built up over the decades sizable profits. MLB was the first to greatly profit by network TV and couple that with the internet streaming and merchandise, on paper it’s doing quite well.

    Based on demographics, actual long term health of the sport, however, remains a serious question mark. Especially when factored in that the sport simply is not very popular among the under 40 demographic. Again, MMA and other niche sports will overtake MLB if not in actual attendance then in network profits by around 2030.

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    • Replies: @Anon87
    You are obviously an MMA fan, and there is no way to settle this if we bet, but your 2030 scenerio will never happen. Maybe if you combine every niche sport on earth perhaps. MMA has a very low ceiling that it is bumping up against. Its best PPV numbers are still paltry compared to a long claimed "dead" sport of boxing. I can spot plenty of young and old, male and female, at the ballpark. Not so at MMA events.

    Baseball will be fine, but won't be restored to the mind share it used to have. And no other sport will either given how Americans now spent their free time and entertainment dollars. Boxing will survive as well. I am more worried about horse racing and movie theaters.
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  150. @Anonymous
    Baseball is still very popular locally. Lots of fans follow their local teams and go to games during the summer, but won't follow the other teams and won't sit for 3+ hours watching non local teams play. Baseball games aren't national television spectacles, but they have strong local fan bases.

    It's not fair to compare baseball telecasts with combat PPV spectacles like MMA or the NCAA tourney and Superbowl. Moreover, even NFL telecasts have been declining in ratings. In an age of smartphones and Netflix, it's harder to get people to sit through several hours watching a game. Baseball's comparative advantage today is that seeing local teams play live is very accessible, unlike MMA and the NFL.

    That isn’t accurate. MMA is more and more becoming widely accessible to local and regional viewers as there are local fighters who gain a local and then regional followings. The sport is about to overtake boxing, long a part of network TV and evidence may suggest that it’s PPV will overtake boxing as well.

    “Who said that life was fair?”–JFK

    Also, there are more NCAA teams than MLB, and NCAA football remains a far more popular sport than MLB either in viewing live or on network TV. Ordinary sports fans can’t identify with gazillionaire players (many aren’t even American and don’t speak much English, by the way) but they can identify with college teams. After all, many Americans attended college and therefore there is a built in following unlike MLB. In the South, for instance, MLB doesn’t come anywhere close to NCAA football. Not even close.

    You also helped make my point: For the most part, MLB is boring (for those under 40). Whereas in the dead ball era and even up thru the 50′s and 60′s, an average duration of an MLB game was often under 2 hrs. Lawrence S. Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times an old time player comments on this fact (being interviewed in the ’60′s), that they played MLB games much faster during his era than the modern times (60′s, when the book first came out). The point being MLB full nine inning game was often played in about ninety minutes.

    Remember, there was no night baseball prior to 1935, and even then it didn’t fully catch on til after WW2. As most games tended to start on the weekday at around 4 , one couldn’t waste three or four hours with the foolishness that goes on that extends MLB games today or there would’ve been far more games called on account of darkness. The longest inning game, played in 1920 was 26 innings and ended in a 1-1 tie. It lasted about three hours. The reason it was called was because it was twilight and starting to get dark. Can you imagine how long a 26 inning game would take to play in MLB in 2017? Probably ten hrs to half a day, easily. But that’s how fast MLBers used to play. And that’s also why NFL and NBA figured out that three hrs is about how long most sports fans are willing to devote to watching a single game. For the most part, NFL games generally don’t go beyond that time limit. The famous 1971 Dec. 25 AFC Divisional game between MIA vs KC took about four and a half hours to play, and that’s still one of the longest games for an NFL game.

    More and more of the younger generations are watching MMA and not MLB. It’s all action, it’s quick and fast, and not too many commercial interruptions. As soon as MMA starts to appear on the networks, that should be among the final nails in MLB. Superbowl and NCAA Tourney is the equivalent of MLB’s WS so that is definitely accurate to compare to ascertain which sport has the most total viewership.

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    • Replies: @Ian M.

    And that’s also why NFL and NBA figured out that three hrs is about how long most sports fans are willing to devote to watching a single game. For the most part, NFL games generally don’t go beyond that time limit.
     
    Although the average NFL game is longer than the average MLB game. The average NCAA football game is even longer (approaching 3.5 hours).
    , @Anonymous
    I disagree about MMA being very local. The local and regional scenes aren't followed that heavily. The big bouts aren't held in local venues, but in a handful of major areas like Vegas. Furthermore, the live matches are a prizefight atmosphere. Going to an MMA fight is not like a family friendly outing like going to a ballgame.

    Finally, MMA fights are not as exciting to watch as a you suggest. The striking is not that exciting or exceptional, and most of the fights end up being "ground and pound" and wrestling events that are boring to watch to everyone except martial arts enthusiasts. Mainstream, casual fans find 2 guys holding onto each other and wrestling around on the ground for most of the fight to be boring.

    The "ground and pound" and ground grappling nature of MMA will always limit its popular appeal.
    , @ScarletNumber
    The length of game is what makes the NFL superior to college. Those college games are like torture to watch.
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  151. @Steve Sailer
    MLB is making lots of money. The Dodger's pitcher tonight is being paid $34 million per year. A classmate of my son has a $325 million contract for 13 years.

    Also keep in mind that the most profitable sports franchises in the US tend to be NFL teams first.

    Just saw the news. LA wins in five. The Dodgers win the Pennant, the Dodgers win the Pennant.

    Congratulations. Long time in coming. And with home field advantage in the WS, perhaps finally a championship.

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  152. @Steve Sailer
    They aren't going to make radical changes to baseball rules like 4 outs or 2 strikes and you're out.

    They've got a popular product with a huge amount of tradition behind it. All they need is to make slight tweaks to keep sabermetrics from making the game too boring.

    Like a seven pitch pitch count per batter. That would tend to move the game along.

    Also, MLBers are doing quite well due to the fact that it’s the only sport in America without a salary cap. When are the owners going to demand a salary cap, like the other sports have in place? Not sure what the owners would have to give up in exchange for a salary cap, but if there’s a chance for it, they’ll push for it.

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    • Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    "Like a seven pitch pitch count per batter. That would tend to move the game along."

    This is an idea I can get behind. Then again, even as more of a baseball traditionalist, I'm ready for some radical changes because the essence of the game requires saving. Right now, it's turning into a bland, simpler version of Cricket where the majority of action is between the pitcher&hitter. In that context, baseball can't compete because there is a bit more variety in Cricket.

    Baseball works best as a running and fielding game.

    The seven pitch per batter would be like when they introduced foul strikes and the four pitch walk- maybe call it a Full At Bat (FAB) where the player retires back to the dugout without making an out.

    We could also:

    -Only allow one warm up pitch for a relief pitcher to test the mound when coming into the game.

    -Require a manager to designate 4 available pitchers for 9 regulation innings (and a similiar limit on the position players; ) with the rest of the bullpen only becoming available in extra innings or due to injury (and lifting a pitcher for injury should be an automatic 7 or 10 day DL stint.)

    -Require players to use slightly heavier bats, smaller gloves (maybe even go back to something like the dead ball era gloves,) and change the ball.

    -Move the fences back where possible. Or change groundrules league wide so that only centerfield (and maybe also a certain, team-chosen zone) are home runs and the rest are ground rule doubles or triples.

    -Eliminate most mound visits, with the exception of injury checks.

    -MLB owns all the rights to the video and video technology teams use- limit its use- like no more super slo-mo frame by frame footage teams and fans are able to dissect. I foresee such a change will be violated in a number of ways, but it doesn't have to be out of control and will cut down on analytically obsessing over every detail of the game until it is impossible to play without a three-true outcome scenario.

    -Move the mound back an inch or two; maybe even move 1st base up an inch or two...make it easier to hit an on the ground single and the value of going for a single will increase.

    -Eliminate the walk altogether or, make it so that every two ball-four counts is a walk; or, let managers "collect" walks per game so that they can deploy designated runners at their choosing. Limit how many walks can be used in an inning to only two per half inning with only one at a time- so a second one couldn't be used until the designated runner either scores or is thrown out before a second one could be used. This would add a bit more strategy to the game and guarantee runners and action on the basepaths almost every inning.

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  153. @Barnard
    At the sports bar it is also much easier to get up and use the bathroom when you need to and you get a better variety and less expensive food and beer. Plus they don't charge you $20-$50 for parking.

    I went to a college game several years and went to the bathroom and got a hot dog from the concession stand immediately as half time started, I missed the first five minutes of the third quarter. They seem to be paying huge sums of money for the opportunity to tailgate at the stadium and say "I was at the game" when they talk about it during the following week.

    I know some MLB cities, like D.C. & NYC & Boston, are much worse, but here in LA we pay $10 online directly to the team for general parking, and bring water & most of our food from home. Cheaper than the sports bar because we bring most of the food.

    Read More
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  154. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    The irony of course, is that as MLB has become more and more specialized, the US as a whole, uh, just doesn't very much give a damn, as judged by overall network ratings. MLB is no longer the ratings leader it once was back in the '60's and '70's. Among Gen. X and Millennials, it simply isn't on their radar. MLB is becoming more and more identified with older, whiter generations. In the parlance of today, it ain't all that.

    In about ten years time from now, MMA will likely outdraw MLB per national TV ratings (if it isn't already outdrawing MLB in the ratings).

    I believe it was around 2012 or 2013, a rerun episode of the reality TV series "Keeping up with the Kardashians" outdrew a TX vs NY divisional series. And of course the WS doesn't come anywhere near close to matching the Super Bowl or the NCAA Tourney.

    It could simply be that MLB isn't considered cool, in, or hip anymore but simply old, white, and therefore boring. After all, no one ever says that the NFL, much less the MMA is boring to watch.

    The NFL is boring to watch. There you go.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    "Nobody goes to that place anymore, it's too crowded"--Yogi Berra.

    That's why the NFL is the highest watched sport per network TV in the US.
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  155. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @james wilson
    It's not complicated. Infield defense is insufferably good. Range and skills. Now add shifts. Not getting the ball in the air is suddenly a loser. Even a strikeout is better than a double play.

    Off topic, pace of play. I'd like to see a couple exhibition games with our four balls and three strikes becoming three balls and two strikes. Start each at bat 1-1.

    Off topic, pace of play. I’d like to see a couple exhibition games with our four balls and three strikes becoming three balls and two strikes. Start each at bat 1-1.

    There used to be a youth league called “three and two baseball”. Is that what it was?

    I think that of all major spectator sports in the US, baseball is the one least amenable to real structural change, despite the designated hitter.

    Read More
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  156. Wally says:
    @Travis
    or stop juicing the balls, go back to the softer balls and raise the seems back to how they were prior to 2015. The owners clearly want smaller ballparks and more home runs. Which is why the ballparks have gotten smaller and the ball was changed to travel further and thus increase the number of homers.

    Proof for the often alleged altered construction of the ball is lacking.

    I suggest you learn about the emphasis in hitting now which increases the launch angle … which can reduce the batting average for some, but also increase power numbers.

    And indeed, the guys are just in better shape, they stay that way year round, & the training techniques are massively better.

    I like my old timers, but I maintain that a lot of them wouldn’t even make a major league team today.

    Read More
    • Replies: @anonymous
    But irrespective of prior alterations, moderately deadening the ball at this point in the game would ameliorate the HR/K/W binge and parade of pitchers from the sixth inning on, rejuvenate offensive teamwork, create more exciting plays in the field, and do so without disturbing the other aspects of the game.

    You may prefer bashball, of course. But the majority view here seems to be that the game has become less interesting for its aficionados, perhaps intentionally so in order to engage a broader audience of people more appreciative of feats of strength.

    Anyone disagree?
    , @RadicalCenter
    Conversely, what would the titans of baseball's past achieve with personal trainers, a conditioning and dietary regimen, less tiring first-class travel, batting gloves, etc? How many home runs would Babe Ruth hit if he actually freeking worked out, esp with today's equipment and trainers? Let alone PEDs.
    , @Travis
    https://www.theringer.com/2017/6/14/16044264/2017-mlb-home-run-spike-juiced-ball-testing-reveal-155cd21108bc

    The Juiced Ball Is Back
    New testing suggests the baseball is responsible for MLB’s huge homer spike.
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  157. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Like a seven pitch pitch count per batter. That would tend to move the game along.

    Also, MLBers are doing quite well due to the fact that it's the only sport in America without a salary cap. When are the owners going to demand a salary cap, like the other sports have in place? Not sure what the owners would have to give up in exchange for a salary cap, but if there's a chance for it, they'll push for it.

    “Like a seven pitch pitch count per batter. That would tend to move the game along.”

    This is an idea I can get behind. Then again, even as more of a baseball traditionalist, I’m ready for some radical changes because the essence of the game requires saving. Right now, it’s turning into a bland, simpler version of Cricket where the majority of action is between the pitcher&hitter. In that context, baseball can’t compete because there is a bit more variety in Cricket.

    Baseball works best as a running and fielding game.

    The seven pitch per batter would be like when they introduced foul strikes and the four pitch walk- maybe call it a Full At Bat (FAB) where the player retires back to the dugout without making an out.

    We could also:

    -Only allow one warm up pitch for a relief pitcher to test the mound when coming into the game.

    -Require a manager to designate 4 available pitchers for 9 regulation innings (and a similiar limit on the position players; ) with the rest of the bullpen only becoming available in extra innings or due to injury (and lifting a pitcher for injury should be an automatic 7 or 10 day DL stint.)

    -Require players to use slightly heavier bats, smaller gloves (maybe even go back to something like the dead ball era gloves,) and change the ball.

    -Move the fences back where possible. Or change groundrules league wide so that only centerfield (and maybe also a certain, team-chosen zone) are home runs and the rest are ground rule doubles or triples.

    -Eliminate most mound visits, with the exception of injury checks.

    -MLB owns all the rights to the video and video technology teams use- limit its use- like no more super slo-mo frame by frame footage teams and fans are able to dissect. I foresee such a change will be violated in a number of ways, but it doesn’t have to be out of control and will cut down on analytically obsessing over every detail of the game until it is impossible to play without a three-true outcome scenario.

    -Move the mound back an inch or two; maybe even move 1st base up an inch or two…make it easier to hit an on the ground single and the value of going for a single will increase.

    -Eliminate the walk altogether or, make it so that every two ball-four counts is a walk; or, let managers “collect” walks per game so that they can deploy designated runners at their choosing. Limit how many walks can be used in an inning to only two per half inning with only one at a time- so a second one couldn’t be used until the designated runner either scores or is thrown out before a second one could be used. This would add a bit more strategy to the game and guarantee runners and action on the basepaths almost every inning.

    Read More
    • Replies: @anonymous
    Has this thread become a science fair?

    Just moderately deaden the ball.
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  158. anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Use a name - anonymous does not help. Then we can read your track record. For example, the following command my immediate attention:

    Jack Hanson, AM, The Last Real Calvinist, Olorin, Buzz Mohawk, Another Dad, Dave Pinsen, Kylie, Rod1963, Dr. X, Desiderius, Intelligent Dasein, Thea, kihowi, NickG, Lugash, peterike, Buffalo Joe, Harry Baldwin, Jack D, whorefinder, Svigor, Romanian, Twinkie, DCThrowback, Polynikes, Autochthon, Chris Mallory, slumber_j, Yojimbo/Zatoichi, Anonym, Travis, MBlanc46, Hibernian, IHTG, MEH 0910, Jenner Ickham Errican, unit472, Diversity Heretic, The Anti-Gnostic, pyrrhus, LondonBob, Pericles, ,yaqub the mad scientist, NOTA, Kevin C., The Alarmist, Father O'Hara, Opinionator, candid_observer, Discordiax, Hodag, Ivy, AKAHorace, ShoutingThomas, Johann Ricke, J1234, Citizen of a Silly Country, James Kabala, vinteuil, Broski, Chrisnonymous, Hapalong Cassidy, Weltanschauung, Verymuchalive, Je Suis Charlie Martel, tbraton, Art Deco, anony-mouse, Neoconned, Barnard, snorlax, Reg Caesar, Rosamond Vincy, DevOps Dad, Maj. Kong (in no particular order, though I admit that the first few are in a separate category).

    I am sure that I am leaving out some that also do command my attention. And for those that I have omitted, please accept my apology.

    The following:

    Charles Pewitt, Jonathon Mason, International Jew, Colleen Pater, MarkinLA, donut, Dissident, Trelane, fish, Dieter Kief, dearime, Guy de Champlagne

    have much to commend them, but prudence dictates that they must be approached with great caution.

    And Tiny Duck is a champion of stupidity, and not just impaired stupidity, not just no-smarter-than-a-drosophila-melanogaster stupidity, but relentless, mindless, willful stupidity.

    The Duck is closely followed by Corvinus, AndrewR, Truth, Sane Left Libertarian, and, no doubt, some others working very hard to rival their affection for human suffering.

    So get a name. And we will watch what you post.

    I’ve had exchanges with others about this.

    No offense to you or some of those commenters you’ve named, but my view is that a substantial portion of people who adopt a pseudonym end up commenting to prolong or avenge a previous interaction, to recycle an obsession, or simply because it’s expected of them. See, e.g., the insufferable threads at Takimag and the same people in the same pews for every Kunstler article on Fridays and Mondays. It concerns me to see some of that here, and I’ve said so in other comments.

    A “track record” also can get in the way (“RealHandle is a zygote, don’t listen to her!”) when we should be trying to learn from each other. My opinions about baseball are just as valid no matter what I’ve posted (or not) on other topics.

    Your reply seems bossy, but not hostile. I take it that you find what I wrote worthwhile, maybe that you recognize a parallel to my other comments, and that you want to make sure to see any more. But no, thanks.

    Read More
    • Replies: @res
    Interesting. Not the usual take on why anonymity is useful. Thanks.

    Given the choice you have made I assume you find it worthwhile, but I still feel the pros of being identifiable outweigh the cons you describe (which do exist!).

    I wonder if there is some way of creating "anonymous" comments which at least are identifiable within a single thread (say number the anons by order of initial thread comment, distinguished by IP). I think that would be a good way to address some of the cons of anonymity without impacting your points too much. What do you think?
    , @Hibernian
    Pseudonyms protect us from Big Brother.
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  159. anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Wally
    Proof for the often alleged altered construction of the ball is lacking.

    I suggest you learn about the emphasis in hitting now which increases the launch angle ... which can reduce the batting average for some, but also increase power numbers.

    And indeed, the guys are just in better shape, they stay that way year round, & the training techniques are massively better.

    I like my old timers, but I maintain that a lot of them wouldn't even make a major league team today.

    But irrespective of prior alterations, moderately deadening the ball at this point in the game would ameliorate the HR/K/W binge and parade of pitchers from the sixth inning on, rejuvenate offensive teamwork, create more exciting plays in the field, and do so without disturbing the other aspects of the game.

    You may prefer bashball, of course. But the majority view here seems to be that the game has become less interesting for its aficionados, perhaps intentionally so in order to engage a broader audience of people more appreciative of feats of strength.

    Anyone disagree?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wally
    The strategy zapping American League DH, and the intentional walk without throwing a pitch doesn't help, IMO.

    Also, pace of game:
    Too much time between pitches, too may trips to the mound by catchers.
    AND the length of time it takes to review a contested play. Yikes.

    Indeed, people like offense and macho displays, look at the dunk in basketball, it's still only 2 points, but people still get all worked up about them.

    Thanks.
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  160. anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    "Like a seven pitch pitch count per batter. That would tend to move the game along."

    This is an idea I can get behind. Then again, even as more of a baseball traditionalist, I'm ready for some radical changes because the essence of the game requires saving. Right now, it's turning into a bland, simpler version of Cricket where the majority of action is between the pitcher&hitter. In that context, baseball can't compete because there is a bit more variety in Cricket.

    Baseball works best as a running and fielding game.

    The seven pitch per batter would be like when they introduced foul strikes and the four pitch walk- maybe call it a Full At Bat (FAB) where the player retires back to the dugout without making an out.

    We could also:

    -Only allow one warm up pitch for a relief pitcher to test the mound when coming into the game.

    -Require a manager to designate 4 available pitchers for 9 regulation innings (and a similiar limit on the position players; ) with the rest of the bullpen only becoming available in extra innings or due to injury (and lifting a pitcher for injury should be an automatic 7 or 10 day DL stint.)

    -Require players to use slightly heavier bats, smaller gloves (maybe even go back to something like the dead ball era gloves,) and change the ball.

    -Move the fences back where possible. Or change groundrules league wide so that only centerfield (and maybe also a certain, team-chosen zone) are home runs and the rest are ground rule doubles or triples.

    -Eliminate most mound visits, with the exception of injury checks.

    -MLB owns all the rights to the video and video technology teams use- limit its use- like no more super slo-mo frame by frame footage teams and fans are able to dissect. I foresee such a change will be violated in a number of ways, but it doesn't have to be out of control and will cut down on analytically obsessing over every detail of the game until it is impossible to play without a three-true outcome scenario.

    -Move the mound back an inch or two; maybe even move 1st base up an inch or two...make it easier to hit an on the ground single and the value of going for a single will increase.

    -Eliminate the walk altogether or, make it so that every two ball-four counts is a walk; or, let managers "collect" walks per game so that they can deploy designated runners at their choosing. Limit how many walks can be used in an inning to only two per half inning with only one at a time- so a second one couldn't be used until the designated runner either scores or is thrown out before a second one could be used. This would add a bit more strategy to the game and guarantee runners and action on the basepaths almost every inning.

    Has this thread become a science fair?

    Just moderately deaden the ball.

    Read More
    • Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    Like the blues brothers on a mission from God, I am here to save baseball from itself.
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  161. ex-banker says:
    @TomSchmidt
    I've never read deeply enough to know. I'd love to hear from someone who does.

    Don’t have ready access to studies backing it up, but the fact that HR are more valued than SB in the era of big data and analytics is pretty good evidence that whatever incremental advantage a team gains by having speedy baserunners distracting pitchers is not enough to justify a strategy switch.

    The history of baseball, especially post-sabermetric revolution, shows evolving strategies that take advantage of inefficiently priced assets. A’s/Red Sox of the early aughts focused on power and patience, eschewed base stealing and defense. Then skills like defense and speed became too cheap (think Royals). One of the reasons speed had become undervalued was the decline in catchers’ arms — then as speed became more relevant, catchers’ arms became more important.

    The other overriding factor is the overall run environment — speed and defense are much more relevant when teams are averaging 4 runs per game than when it’s 4.5 runs or more.

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  162. Ian M. says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    In '41, the year of his still standing 56 consecutive game hitting streak, Joe DiMaggio's line was:

    G 139
    AB 541
    R 122
    H 193
    HR 43
    RBI 125
    SO 13
    BA. .357

    What’s particularly impressive about guys like DiMaggio and Berra are the combination of low strikeout totals with power.

    Guys like Mickey Cochrane and Ty Cobb had some very low strikeout totals (Cochrane had two seasons under 10 strikeouts with over 500 PA; Cobb near the end of his career had several seasons with strikeout totals in the 12-20 range – interestingly, Cobb’s strikeout totals improved at the end of his career). But neither Cochrane nor Cobb were power hitters (although Cochrane had one year where he belted 23; his strikeout total that year was 22; and Cobb could hit for power if he wanted to, once belting five HR in two games just to prove he could do what Ruth could).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    For the dead ball era, Ty Cobb was indeed a power hitter. Ways to measure what was considered "power" back then is look at th batting order. Cobb wasn't a leadoff hitter. He usually batted fourth, sometimes third. He won the Triple Crown in 1909. He also has a career total of 1,938 RBI's which is higher than either Willie Mays or Ted Williams. Starting from when SO's were officially counted for batters, Cobb's officially whiffed 357 times. Even if we project backward with SO's for the first eight years of his career, it's unlikely that he struck out more than 500 times in his entire twenty-four year career.

    When one looks at the major sluggers of the era, and how few they tended to strike out per season (especially when compared to today's hitters), it makes one appreciate how a pitcher like Walter Johnson could get 3,508 strikeouts for his career in one of the most difficult eras of MLB when hitters simply didn't rack up tons of strike outs.

    If Johnson pitched today, he'd easily have nearly 7,000 career strike outs for his career. Easily.
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  163. Ian M. says:
    @whorefinder
    They need to limit the number of relievers per inning. Most of the length of games is stalling for relievers to come in and managers bringing in relievers for only one batter (e.g. lefty on lefty).

    A team can be allowed one reliever to come in mid-inning, but that's it. You can start the inning with a new pitcher, but you only can replace him once that inning. If you want to pull that reliever, the guy hitting the showers must be injured and go on the DL for 15 days---this would fake injuries.

    And the pitch clock would be good, but most pitchers actually keep to it fairly well naturally. They need to shorten it to 10 seconds, not the 15-20s they have now. Also, once the pitcher steps on the rubber, the batter can't leave the box or a strike is called against him.

    Oh, you beat me to the suggestion. Agree. This would be a simple change and instead making baseball more unrecognizable from how it’s been traditionally as some of the more drastic suggestions would (e.g., two strikes, changing number of outs/inning), it would in fact result in the game being more like it was in its golden age.

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  164. @Wally
    Proof for the often alleged altered construction of the ball is lacking.

    I suggest you learn about the emphasis in hitting now which increases the launch angle ... which can reduce the batting average for some, but also increase power numbers.

    And indeed, the guys are just in better shape, they stay that way year round, & the training techniques are massively better.

    I like my old timers, but I maintain that a lot of them wouldn't even make a major league team today.

    Conversely, what would the titans of baseball’s past achieve with personal trainers, a conditioning and dietary regimen, less tiring first-class travel, batting gloves, etc? How many home runs would Babe Ruth hit if he actually freeking worked out, esp with today’s equipment and trainers? Let alone PEDs.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    During the mid. and late '20's, Babe Ruth did work out. You can only use the technology available during your era.
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  165. Ian M. says:
    @Anonymous
    What about not letting relievers warm up at all, and making them come out of the closer dugout rather than jogging in from the bullpen in the outfield? That would speed up the game. And it would introduce a new strategic element where the manager has to decide between the tired starter and a new pitcher who isn't allowed warm up pitches.

    Interesting idea. But I think if you don’t allow the pitcher to warm up at all, that’s an injury waiting to happen. He’s got to get his arm loose.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    That's part of the point. The manager has to choose between the warmed up, but tired, starter, and a fresh reliever with no warm up. The reliever would have to warm up while pitching live, which means he'd be throwing lots of balls early on or slower pitches down the middle. Either way - the tired starter or fresh reliever - would stimulate offense.
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  166. Ian M. says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    That isn't accurate. MMA is more and more becoming widely accessible to local and regional viewers as there are local fighters who gain a local and then regional followings. The sport is about to overtake boxing, long a part of network TV and evidence may suggest that it's PPV will overtake boxing as well.

    "Who said that life was fair?"--JFK

    Also, there are more NCAA teams than MLB, and NCAA football remains a far more popular sport than MLB either in viewing live or on network TV. Ordinary sports fans can't identify with gazillionaire players (many aren't even American and don't speak much English, by the way) but they can identify with college teams. After all, many Americans attended college and therefore there is a built in following unlike MLB. In the South, for instance, MLB doesn't come anywhere close to NCAA football. Not even close.

    You also helped make my point: For the most part, MLB is boring (for those under 40). Whereas in the dead ball era and even up thru the 50's and 60's, an average duration of an MLB game was often under 2 hrs. Lawrence S. Ritter's The Glory of Their Times an old time player comments on this fact (being interviewed in the '60's), that they played MLB games much faster during his era than the modern times (60's, when the book first came out). The point being MLB full nine inning game was often played in about ninety minutes.

    Remember, there was no night baseball prior to 1935, and even then it didn't fully catch on til after WW2. As most games tended to start on the weekday at around 4 , one couldn't waste three or four hours with the foolishness that goes on that extends MLB games today or there would've been far more games called on account of darkness. The longest inning game, played in 1920 was 26 innings and ended in a 1-1 tie. It lasted about three hours. The reason it was called was because it was twilight and starting to get dark. Can you imagine how long a 26 inning game would take to play in MLB in 2017? Probably ten hrs to half a day, easily. But that's how fast MLBers used to play. And that's also why NFL and NBA figured out that three hrs is about how long most sports fans are willing to devote to watching a single game. For the most part, NFL games generally don't go beyond that time limit. The famous 1971 Dec. 25 AFC Divisional game between MIA vs KC took about four and a half hours to play, and that's still one of the longest games for an NFL game.

    More and more of the younger generations are watching MMA and not MLB. It's all action, it's quick and fast, and not too many commercial interruptions. As soon as MMA starts to appear on the networks, that should be among the final nails in MLB. Superbowl and NCAA Tourney is the equivalent of MLB's WS so that is definitely accurate to compare to ascertain which sport has the most total viewership.

    And that’s also why NFL and NBA figured out that three hrs is about how long most sports fans are willing to devote to watching a single game. For the most part, NFL games generally don’t go beyond that time limit.

    Although the average NFL game is longer than the average MLB game. The average NCAA football game is even longer (approaching 3.5 hours).

    Read More
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  167. Ian M. says:

    What about making the outfield walls have a funky shape? Make it wavy or something. Different parks could choose different designs. That way you get more odd bounces and more doubles and triples. And more inside-the-park homeruns.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    If you google traditional MLB ball park OF configurations pre-1950, you'll see that that's exactly what they did have. It wasn't 'til the late '50's/'60's with the desire to make all the parks symetrical.

    Of course, by allowing MLB parks to return to having their own character per OF designs would definitely annoy Bill James and his legions of sabermetricians who would howl with protests that such things tend to throw off their hallowed stats. After all, a HR really isn't a HR if every single ball park doesn't have the same symetrical configuration. Next, one might try and repeal the 1958 rule that power alleys and CF, RF, and LF cannot be less than a certain distance from home plate.

    And we can't afford to offend the keepers of the official stats of MLB.
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  168. Brutusale says:
    @Laugh Track

    Baseball in 2017 is turning into pro softball where all the runs score on homers.

    Why? One theory is that the seams on the baseball were tightened so that breaking balls don’t break as much, while fly balls are more likely to carry out of the park.

    Is that true? I don’t know.
     
    I don't know either, but my bet's on juiced balls. Besides an increase in homers, there was also the phenomenon of pitchers getting more blisters, which they attributed to the change in seams.

    The widespread and across-the-board elevated homers this year suggests a top-down change. MLB has altered ball characteristics before in the past.

    The suggestions of new launch angles or new PEDs being the cause are less likely as they would require a simultaneous bottom-up change of behavior from dozens, if not hundreds, of pitchers or batters.

    Not juiced, just lower, tighter seams. Some pitcher was recently complaining about the seams making it more difficult for him to throw his breaking stuff.

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  169. res says:
    @TomSchmidt
    I've never read deeply enough to know. I'd love to hear from someone who does.

    I know a little bit here, but am not an expert. Sabermetrics of base stealing tends to look at the probability of a run being scored with a given runners/outs situation. This should implicitly account for the pitcher being distracted by the advanced runner. The big problem with stealing is getting caught (surprise ; ). Here is some more detail: https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/2/20/5425744/stolen-bases-lack-value

    This probabilistic approach is good because it incorporates all the details implicitly (e.g. fielders shifting depending on where the runners are) and statistically averages out the details. More detailed analysis is needed to evaluate if attempting to steal is appropriate in a given runner/batter/catcher/pitcher/score/etc. situation, but required success rate gives a benchmark for making the choice.

    Here is a look at the expected value (and break even point) by base stealing success rate in different situations: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/breaking-down-stolen-base-break-even-points/
    A rule of thumb is that a 70-75% success rate is necessary to make stealing worthwhile. Based on this analysis stealing home with two outs is an outlier with only a 1/3 chance of success being the break even point.

    P.S. For anyone interested, this Hardball Times article is a good introduction to analyzing baseball data with R: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/a-short-ish-introduction-to-using-r-for-baseball-research/

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    The real point regarding SB's is that they aren't as frequent as they used to be. There is always a risk in every offensive endeavor in MLB. If one swings for the fences for the HR, one can tend to strike out more (which is in fact what most of today's power sluggers tend to do). What is important to keep in mind, is that those who possess above average speed on the basepaths should be allowed to steal bases on his own (like they were allowed to back in the day). SB's are a useful weapon and help a team score more runs, if they are employed by the right runners. A SB also helps avoid the double play by the next batter(s).

    For whatever the reason, SB's are definitely discouraged. This may in fact be due to the fact that fewer black Americans play in MLB, and few white players are considered fast enough to steal bases in prodigious numbers. It has to be a unique player with exceptional speed to be permitted to steal on a regular basis.
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  170. Brutusale says:
    @anonymouslee
    OT (hey, it's a baseball post): John McWhorter is stunned by the recent turn against Ta-Nehisi Coates but figures out where the genius went wrong: he forced "the kind of people who read the New Yorker on their iPhone while waiting in line at Zabar's" (now THATS a good euphemism) to realize Coates doesn't distinguish between them and rural western PA Trump voters.
    https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/47877

    McWhorter and Loury go on to discuss why they hate Coates. It's sad hearing how painful this is for McWhorter but he really can't take it anymore. "When white people come up to me--and this happens once a week--to tell me how much they love Coates, I'm left wondering if that's how they think of me, too. It's racism. Coates is just a bad thinker and nobody would think otherwise if he weren't black."

    Except in NYC (((people))) wait ON line at Zabar’s.

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  171. Brutusale says:
    @Barnard
    At the sports bar it is also much easier to get up and use the bathroom when you need to and you get a better variety and less expensive food and beer. Plus they don't charge you $20-$50 for parking.

    I went to a college game several years and went to the bathroom and got a hot dog from the concession stand immediately as half time started, I missed the first five minutes of the third quarter. They seem to be paying huge sums of money for the opportunity to tailgate at the stadium and say "I was at the game" when they talk about it during the following week.

    A few years ago someone in the local media ran some numbers and declared that, for a family of 4 to attend a Red $ox game at Fenway and enjoying the full ballpark experience (hot dogs, programs, souvenirs), it would run upwards of $600.

    Might as well take the tykes to Disney World!

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  172. res says:
    @anonymous
    I've had exchanges with others about this.

    No offense to you or some of those commenters you've named, but my view is that a substantial portion of people who adopt a pseudonym end up commenting to prolong or avenge a previous interaction, to recycle an obsession, or simply because it's expected of them. See, e.g., the insufferable threads at Takimag and the same people in the same pews for every Kunstler article on Fridays and Mondays. It concerns me to see some of that here, and I've said so in other comments.

    A "track record" also can get in the way ("RealHandle is a zygote, don't listen to her!") when we should be trying to learn from each other. My opinions about baseball are just as valid no matter what I've posted (or not) on other topics.

    Your reply seems bossy, but not hostile. I take it that you find what I wrote worthwhile, maybe that you recognize a parallel to my other comments, and that you want to make sure to see any more. But no, thanks.

    Interesting. Not the usual take on why anonymity is useful. Thanks.

    Given the choice you have made I assume you find it worthwhile, but I still feel the pros of being identifiable outweigh the cons you describe (which do exist!).

    I wonder if there is some way of creating “anonymous” comments which at least are identifiable within a single thread (say number the anons by order of initial thread comment, distinguished by IP). I think that would be a good way to address some of the cons of anonymity without impacting your points too much. What do you think?

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    • Replies: @anonymous
    If there could be a system in which both RealHandle and anon# could participate, that's fine by me. I already have from time to time noted which upthread posts are mine, when it wouldn't otherwise have been apparent.

    But I wouldn't want to see my preference for anonymity deprive others of the identities that they and others value, especially if it would drive away any of the impressive contributors. Someone else told us the last time this all came up for discussion that a purely anonymous regime on another forum (4Chan or something?) seemed, for whatever reason, to bring out lots of short, nasty stuff, which I glanced at long enough to confirm.

    I think the rules here at UR are the best for now. Mr. Unz can, if necessary, throw out those that are abusing their privilege.
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  173. Brutusale says:
    @whorefinder
    Ty Cobb and other basestealing deadball types used to claim that their being on the bases was better than a homerun because their dancing around and threatening pitchers with a stolen base (and harranguing them from the paths) made the pitchers nervous and made it easier for the hitter since the pitcher's concentration was off.

    Cobb also used to steal home, which must've really rattled guys. I stole home once on a whim in Little League, and my coach nearly bit my head off because I hadn't even told the batter and he could've swung and taken my head off.

    I remember when Dave Roberts of the Red Sox stole second during the 2004 baseball playoffs. It was a a huge moment.

    Because of the stolen base, Dave Roberts will never have to buy a drink in Boston for as long as he lives.

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    • Replies: @whorefinder
    Despite it being one of the Red Sox most memorable moments ever, and occurring in the 2004 AL playoffs, Roberts was left off the 2004 World Series roster (I never quite understand the playoff-roster- machinations) and the Red Sox got rid of him after the season ended. It was odd for such a hero, and, in the offseason, one sports reporter stated that Roberts was not let go because of his ability, but because of "personal issues."

    Very interestingly, Roberts is half-Japanese and half-black. His father was a black Marine station in Okinawa who banged his mother. Most stories you hear about America soldiers assaulting local women are about blacks stationed in either Japan or Korea.

    Anyway, Roberts is currently an MLB manager, which is a pretty hard gig to get if you're some typical airheaded affirmative action case OR if you have difficulty getting along with your teammates (i.e. hey're not giving a managerial job to Gary Sheffield or Many Ramirez or Barry Bonds anytime soon). SO we can conclude he's pretty smart and knowledgeable about baseball and knows how to get along with most of his players.

    So I really wonder what "personality issues" Roberts displayed in 2004 to go from hero to "get him off the team." Alcoholism? Sleeping with someone's wife?

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  174. dwb says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    And what happened post '80's (ca. 1994 strike)? Fewer blacks started switching preferences to play NFL and NBA at the expense of MLB.

    You were going on about how turf seemed to make a major difference in SB totals, while I noticed that for the most part, uh, the league leaders in SBs during 60's-80's happened to be black. Once blacks stopped playing MLB in a significant percentage, the SB totals dropped across the board. Whites generally don't like to steal bases. Or perhaps they've forgotten how.

    The problem with your analysis is the same as the one offered by Torii Hunter a couple of years ago.

    That is to say, your definition of “blacks” includes ONLY black Americans.

    I don’t know if it is true that “fewer blacks started switching preferences to play NFL and NBA at the expense of MLB” (I think what you actually meant to say is either “fewer blacks are playing in baseball” or, “blacks switching preferences”), but there is a decline over the past 50 years.

    Here is an analysis from SABR:

    https://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/baseball-demographics-1947-2012

    In the 1980s, when stolen bases and the running game were much more significant, blacks (defined as “African Americans”) in MLB were 17-18%. In the 2010s, they are roughly half that.

    So far, so good.

    At the same time, in the 1980s, white players were around 70% of the league. In the current decade, they are…64%.

    You’re comment about white players and their ability to and knowledge of how to steal a base is funny, but it’s just wrong.

    There are fewer whites (as a percentage) playing now than there ever have been.

    What has happened is the explosion of Latino players, many of whom are, in fact, not “African American” because they were born in the Dominican Republic and not Detroit.

    Yasiel Puig is not “black,” but Andre Ethier is.

    Now, I am sure that some of the Latin players are “White Hispanics”, but unless there is some significant difference you want to point out between a black African born in Cuba vs. one born 90 miles away in Miami, I think your point is wrong.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Traditionally, MLB has been a US based sport. For decades the total number of foreign imports remained low. So I was indeed correct that fewer blacks as in African-Americans (few actual African-Africans play in MLB).

    Latinos is another issue.

    There are indeed caucasian Hispanics and African-Hispanics. Perhaps then it is true that there are more African-based Hispanics as opposed to African-Americans.

    White participants in MLB while high has slightly declined from the '80's due to the influx of Hispanics. So the only demographic that's seen steady growth in MLB has been Hispanics, both caucasian and African-based.

    Much like the US's total demographics due to immigration.In this sense, there is a vast difference between native born Americans who are black and foreign born black hispanics where English isn't a first language and, were it not for their skill in sport, wouldn't likely be in the US in the first place. One eternal appealing thing about NCAA and the NFL is that the vast majority of the players are native born Americans and not foreign born. Perhaps in this sense football has replaced baseball as the nation's pastime with regards to having nearly 100% of its players born in the USA and not foreign born.

    Wouldn't entirely rule out that as the game has gotten less black and white, that more and more of the younger whiter generations are turning their interest toward other sports that are still fairly strongly majority white (ca.85-95%) as in MMA; Xgames type of sports, and NHL.

    Those sports, for the most part, have few blacks from any nation and even fewer hispanics.

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  175. 1985 Cardinals are still my all-time favorite team. Nobody plays baseball like that anymore. Don’t get me started on Denkinger

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  176. @RadicalCenter
    The NFL is boring to watch. There you go.

    “Nobody goes to that place anymore, it’s too crowded”–Yogi Berra.

    That’s why the NFL is the highest watched sport per network TV in the US.

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  177. Pericles says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    This isn't entirely accurate. During the deadball era (ca.1901-20), SB's were much higher on average per team vs the 1960's-80's. Mainly because the fences were too far away to hit very many HR's, and of course the "dead" ball used by MLB at that time. Of course, all the fields in MLB during the deadball era were grass and dirt, but somehow players were able to steal bases quite frequently since it was deployed as a useful scoring weapon since HR's were harder to come by. With the farther back fences, 3B's were much higher than compared to today.

    One factor that should be noticed is that during the 1960-mid. 80's era was the high water mark for black players in MLB. Since around the '94 strike, HR's have gone up and SB's on average have gone down, along with blacks as a percentage of MLB's total number of players. Generally, white players don't steal too many bases, perhaps because they don't seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks. Increase the total percentage of blacks in baseball and slowly but steadily SB's will increase again.

    So you’re saying blacks are better at stealing?

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    I thought that was clear enough. For example, when was the last time a white MLBer stole over 95 bases in a single season? It's not enough to state "Well, whites have lead the league in SB's even post 1947", yes they have. Dom Dimaggio lead the AL in 1950, with 15.

    That's not what we're talking about. To me, a significant SB's in a single year is more than 70, because that means, if taken what some have stated here that you need at least a 75% success rate, that would tend to mean that the runner attempted to steal at least 95 times per year. Enough to catch the leagues interest in him each time he reaches 1B or 2B.
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  178. @Tiny Duck
    George Bush OWNS Trump

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/politics/bush-speech-trump-bigotry/index.html

    You know its bad when red blooded conservatives are calling you out

    Cut to footage of Bush sitting stupefied at kindergarten on 9/11.

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  179. @dwb
    The problem with your analysis is the same as the one offered by Torii Hunter a couple of years ago.

    That is to say, your definition of "blacks" includes ONLY black Americans.

    I don't know if it is true that "fewer blacks started switching preferences to play NFL and NBA at the expense of MLB" (I think what you actually meant to say is either "fewer blacks are playing in baseball" or, "blacks switching preferences"), but there is a decline over the past 50 years.

    Here is an analysis from SABR:


    https://sabr.org/sites/default/files/MLB-Demographics-Armour-Levitt-Figure1.png

    https://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/baseball-demographics-1947-2012

    In the 1980s, when stolen bases and the running game were much more significant, blacks (defined as "African Americans") in MLB were 17-18%. In the 2010s, they are roughly half that.

    So far, so good.

    At the same time, in the 1980s, white players were around 70% of the league. In the current decade, they are...64%.

    You're comment about white players and their ability to and knowledge of how to steal a base is funny, but it's just wrong.

    There are fewer whites (as a percentage) playing now than there ever have been.

    What has happened is the explosion of Latino players, many of whom are, in fact, not "African American" because they were born in the Dominican Republic and not Detroit.

    Yasiel Puig is not "black," but Andre Ethier is.

    Now, I am sure that some of the Latin players are "White Hispanics", but unless there is some significant difference you want to point out between a black African born in Cuba vs. one born 90 miles away in Miami, I think your point is wrong.

    Traditionally, MLB has been a US based sport. For decades the total number of foreign imports remained low. So I was indeed correct that fewer blacks as in African-Americans (few actual African-Africans play in MLB).

    Latinos is another issue.

    There are indeed caucasian Hispanics and African-Hispanics. Perhaps then it is true that there are more African-based Hispanics as opposed to African-Americans.

    White participants in MLB while high has slightly declined from the ’80′s due to the influx of Hispanics. So the only demographic that’s seen steady growth in MLB has been Hispanics, both caucasian and African-based.

    Much like the US’s total demographics due to immigration.In this sense, there is a vast difference between native born Americans who are black and foreign born black hispanics where English isn’t a first language and, were it not for their skill in sport, wouldn’t likely be in the US in the first place. One eternal appealing thing about NCAA and the NFL is that the vast majority of the players are native born Americans and not foreign born. Perhaps in this sense football has replaced baseball as the nation’s pastime with regards to having nearly 100% of its players born in the USA and not foreign born.

    Wouldn’t entirely rule out that as the game has gotten less black and white, that more and more of the younger whiter generations are turning their interest toward other sports that are still fairly strongly majority white (ca.85-95%) as in MMA; Xgames type of sports, and NHL.

    Those sports, for the most part, have few blacks from any nation and even fewer hispanics.

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    • Replies: @dwb
    I totally 'get' that baseball has been, traditionally, a US game, and that its players have been overwhelmingly Americans.

    I totally understand that the demographics of the US have changed - dramatically. I was a young kid in Southern California in the 1970s - pretty much in the middle of Orange Country (Garden Grove, to be specific). This was juuuust before the 'boat people' started to arrive, and well before the invasion from south of the border. One Cuban family lived across the street (and IIRC, many of the older people on the block used to make 'jokes' about "Loooocy" and Ricky, which I did not understand at the time).

    But whether the league is seeing a shift away from 'black" players to Latinos (more than a small slice of which are of African origins) means that the demographics have changed, but that it seems bizarre that a physical aspect of the game - running - would. Does it make sense that a black guy from the DR would think, "yeah, I'm a Latino. I'm not fast enough to try for a steal?"

    I further understand (though I do not agree) that as the NFL has more native-born Americans, it is more appealing (I can think of fewer more boring things than professional football), that, too, has nothing to do with the conjecture that there is less base stealing because there are fewer black players.

    And your implication that there is less running now than the 1980s because "Generally, white players don’t steal too many bases, perhaps because they don’t seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks" is easily falsifiable.

    There are fewer, not more, whites playing now as compared to the 1970s and 1980s.

    If one looks at things from what Steve (and others) call the HBD perspective, there is very little reason a black guy raised in Detroit (or Los Angeles) would be faster than a black guy raised in Santo Domingo.

    What remains then to determine is, if there are now 7% of the players in MLB who are black (down from 16% a generation ago), and whites, too, are down from 70 to 63%, that Latino players now making up 1 in 4 (27%), and that some are, as you say, 'white based' and others are 'black based', then the true racial mixture is unchanged, more or less, depending on the split of Latinos. If of the 27%, 2/3 are "white based" (the sort that the New York Times could make the next great white defendant), and 1/3 are "black based," then apportioning them to black/white makes the league in 2016 would have 16% of the league be "black", half of the blacks coming from the Caribbean.

    Which is to say, about the same as it was in the 1970s.

    The league "looks" more or less as it did in 1980, with the exception that more of the black guys are named Pedro and Juan and fewer named Larvell and Mookie.

    But let's take your conjecture in any case as at least partly true. That there are, in fact, fewer "black" players. It's entirely possible that this is an effect rather than a cause.

    The league, for whatever reason, has come to be styled for guys like David Ortiz rather than for Vince Coleman. Scouts, minor league decision makers, GMs, and the guys making the draft choices are showing their revealed preferences. This could easily mean, a guy (like Vince Coleman) whose sole real skill is the running game is going to stay in Louisville if he hits .260 with no power.

    Coleman, the prototypical of that class, was really not very good, btw. In 1985 (his ROY season), his offensive WAR was just 1. The guy had 110 stolen bases, but honestly, he couldn't hit and he was awful in the field (no arm) despite being able to run. The guy stole 400 bases in his first season, and was 11 and 12 in the MVP voting (1985, 1987 respectively) as the Cardinals went to (and lost) two World Series.

    He could steal bases, and that was about it. Guys with WAR around 0 are going to have little value over the long haul.

    His parallel in the AL was Willie Wilson, but Wilson could actually play.

    Teams, figuring out that the way the game is played has changed, have kept a lot fewer guys like Coleman around. The guy playing center field is now expected to actually hit....

    The random walk into (yet another) discussion of MMA is more or less a journey into Whiskey land.

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  180. Pericles says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Still a sissy game, you know. Or one played by tossers. Most cricketters couldn't last long in a rugby match, much less in an NFL game.

    Do they get to use their bats though?

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  181. @RadicalCenter
    Conversely, what would the titans of baseball's past achieve with personal trainers, a conditioning and dietary regimen, less tiring first-class travel, batting gloves, etc? How many home runs would Babe Ruth hit if he actually freeking worked out, esp with today's equipment and trainers? Let alone PEDs.

    During the mid. and late ’20′s, Babe Ruth did work out. You can only use the technology available during your era.

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  182. Pericles says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    There are very few concussions per yr. in cricket matches, especially when compared to soccer. There are few broken bones, broken backs, torn ligaments, tendons, etc. in cricket. The protective gear is fairly light. Few cricketters have ever been paralyzed for life due to an on field play (as there have been in the NFL and one would assume has perhaps occurred in Rugby as well). It remains a soft sport that has stayed true for the most part to its gentlemen's heritage. Soft and sissy.

    Doesn't one of Elton John's album covers show the artist dressed in full cricket gear? Think that does tend to sum it up.

    Baseball is the toughest, because it’s the major sport where the most spectators get injured. Last season, I seem to recall a woman got impaled by a broken bat flying into the stands. (“Expected to survive”, I see.) This season, a little girl got hit in the face by a smoking foul ball and was carted off after several minutes. Presumably there are others.

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  183. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Ian M.
    Interesting idea. But I think if you don't allow the pitcher to warm up at all, that's an injury waiting to happen. He's got to get his arm loose.

    That’s part of the point. The manager has to choose between the warmed up, but tired, starter, and a fresh reliever with no warm up. The reliever would have to warm up while pitching live, which means he’d be throwing lots of balls early on or slower pitches down the middle. Either way – the tired starter or fresh reliever – would stimulate offense.

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    • Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    It is too much of an injury risk to go in cold like that, especially for a full season. It takes a good amount of energy to just get the guys up and loose; especially as the season drags on and they are pitching through fatigue, dead arms and minor pains.

    A manager would never choose a cold pitcher in that scenario. You may as well make it so that a starter must complete every inning he begins before he can be substituted, barring injury.

    On the positive side, it would cut down on time wasted on pitching changes and batter-to-batter shenanigans.
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  184. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    That isn't accurate. MMA is more and more becoming widely accessible to local and regional viewers as there are local fighters who gain a local and then regional followings. The sport is about to overtake boxing, long a part of network TV and evidence may suggest that it's PPV will overtake boxing as well.

    "Who said that life was fair?"--JFK

    Also, there are more NCAA teams than MLB, and NCAA football remains a far more popular sport than MLB either in viewing live or on network TV. Ordinary sports fans can't identify with gazillionaire players (many aren't even American and don't speak much English, by the way) but they can identify with college teams. After all, many Americans attended college and therefore there is a built in following unlike MLB. In the South, for instance, MLB doesn't come anywhere close to NCAA football. Not even close.

    You also helped make my point: For the most part, MLB is boring (for those under 40). Whereas in the dead ball era and even up thru the 50's and 60's, an average duration of an MLB game was often under 2 hrs. Lawrence S. Ritter's The Glory of Their Times an old time player comments on this fact (being interviewed in the '60's), that they played MLB games much faster during his era than the modern times (60's, when the book first came out). The point being MLB full nine inning game was often played in about ninety minutes.

    Remember, there was no night baseball prior to 1935, and even then it didn't fully catch on til after WW2. As most games tended to start on the weekday at around 4 , one couldn't waste three or four hours with the foolishness that goes on that extends MLB games today or there would've been far more games called on account of darkness. The longest inning game, played in 1920 was 26 innings and ended in a 1-1 tie. It lasted about three hours. The reason it was called was because it was twilight and starting to get dark. Can you imagine how long a 26 inning game would take to play in MLB in 2017? Probably ten hrs to half a day, easily. But that's how fast MLBers used to play. And that's also why NFL and NBA figured out that three hrs is about how long most sports fans are willing to devote to watching a single game. For the most part, NFL games generally don't go beyond that time limit. The famous 1971 Dec. 25 AFC Divisional game between MIA vs KC took about four and a half hours to play, and that's still one of the longest games for an NFL game.

    More and more of the younger generations are watching MMA and not MLB. It's all action, it's quick and fast, and not too many commercial interruptions. As soon as MMA starts to appear on the networks, that should be among the final nails in MLB. Superbowl and NCAA Tourney is the equivalent of MLB's WS so that is definitely accurate to compare to ascertain which sport has the most total viewership.

    I disagree about MMA being very local. The local and regional scenes aren’t followed that heavily. The big bouts aren’t held in local venues, but in a handful of major areas like Vegas. Furthermore, the live matches are a prizefight atmosphere. Going to an MMA fight is not like a family friendly outing like going to a ballgame.

    Finally, MMA fights are not as exciting to watch as a you suggest. The striking is not that exciting or exceptional, and most of the fights end up being “ground and pound” and wrestling events that are boring to watch to everyone except martial arts enthusiasts. Mainstream, casual fans find 2 guys holding onto each other and wrestling around on the ground for most of the fight to be boring.

    The “ground and pound” and ground grappling nature of MMA will always limit its popular appeal.

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  185. whorefinder says: • Website
    @Brutusale
    Because of the stolen base, Dave Roberts will never have to buy a drink in Boston for as long as he lives.

    Despite it being one of the Red Sox most memorable moments ever, and occurring in the 2004 AL playoffs, Roberts was left off the 2004 World Series roster (I never quite understand the playoff-roster- machinations) and the Red Sox got rid of him after the season ended. It was odd for such a hero, and, in the offseason, one sports reporter stated that Roberts was not let go because of his ability, but because of “personal issues.”

    Very interestingly, Roberts is half-Japanese and half-black. His father was a black Marine station in Okinawa who banged his mother. Most stories you hear about America soldiers assaulting local women are about blacks stationed in either Japan or Korea.

    Anyway, Roberts is currently an MLB manager, which is a pretty hard gig to get if you’re some typical airheaded affirmative action case OR if you have difficulty getting along with your teammates (i.e. hey’re not giving a managerial job to Gary Sheffield or Many Ramirez or Barry Bonds anytime soon). SO we can conclude he’s pretty smart and knowledgeable about baseball and knows how to get along with most of his players.

    So I really wonder what “personality issues” Roberts displayed in 2004 to go from hero to “get him off the team.” Alcoholism? Sleeping with someone’s wife?

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  186. @anonymous
    Has this thread become a science fair?

    Just moderately deaden the ball.

    Like the blues brothers on a mission from God, I am here to save baseball from itself.

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  187. @Anonymous
    That's part of the point. The manager has to choose between the warmed up, but tired, starter, and a fresh reliever with no warm up. The reliever would have to warm up while pitching live, which means he'd be throwing lots of balls early on or slower pitches down the middle. Either way - the tired starter or fresh reliever - would stimulate offense.

    It is too much of an injury risk to go in cold like that, especially for a full season. It takes a good amount of energy to just get the guys up and loose; especially as the season drags on and they are pitching through fatigue, dead arms and minor pains.

    A manager would never choose a cold pitcher in that scenario. You may as well make it so that a starter must complete every inning he begins before he can be substituted, barring injury.

    On the positive side, it would cut down on time wasted on pitching changes and batter-to-batter shenanigans.

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  188. dwb says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Traditionally, MLB has been a US based sport. For decades the total number of foreign imports remained low. So I was indeed correct that fewer blacks as in African-Americans (few actual African-Africans play in MLB).

    Latinos is another issue.

    There are indeed caucasian Hispanics and African-Hispanics. Perhaps then it is true that there are more African-based Hispanics as opposed to African-Americans.

    White participants in MLB while high has slightly declined from the '80's due to the influx of Hispanics. So the only demographic that's seen steady growth in MLB has been Hispanics, both caucasian and African-based.

    Much like the US's total demographics due to immigration.In this sense, there is a vast difference between native born Americans who are black and foreign born black hispanics where English isn't a first language and, were it not for their skill in sport, wouldn't likely be in the US in the first place. One eternal appealing thing about NCAA and the NFL is that the vast majority of the players are native born Americans and not foreign born. Perhaps in this sense football has replaced baseball as the nation's pastime with regards to having nearly 100% of its players born in the USA and not foreign born.

    Wouldn't entirely rule out that as the game has gotten less black and white, that more and more of the younger whiter generations are turning their interest toward other sports that are still fairly strongly majority white (ca.85-95%) as in MMA; Xgames type of sports, and NHL.

    Those sports, for the most part, have few blacks from any nation and even fewer hispanics.

    I totally ‘get’ that baseball has been, traditionally, a US game, and that its players have been overwhelmingly Americans.

    I totally understand that the demographics of the US have changed – dramatically. I was a young kid in Southern California in the 1970s – pretty much in the middle of Orange Country (Garden Grove, to be specific). This was juuuust before the ‘boat people’ started to arrive, and well before the invasion from south of the border. One Cuban family lived across the street (and IIRC, many of the older people on the block used to make ‘jokes’ about “Loooocy” and Ricky, which I did not understand at the time).

    But whether the league is seeing a shift away from ‘black” players to Latinos (more than a small slice of which are of African origins) means that the demographics have changed, but that it seems bizarre that a physical aspect of the game – running – would. Does it make sense that a black guy from the DR would think, “yeah, I’m a Latino. I’m not fast enough to try for a steal?”

    I further understand (though I do not agree) that as the NFL has more native-born Americans, it is more appealing (I can think of fewer more boring things than professional football), that, too, has nothing to do with the conjecture that there is less base stealing because there are fewer black players.

    And your implication that there is less running now than the 1980s because “Generally, white players don’t steal too many bases, perhaps because they don’t seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks” is easily falsifiable.

    There are fewer, not more, whites playing now as compared to the 1970s and 1980s.

    If one looks at things from what Steve (and others) call the HBD perspective, there is very little reason a black guy raised in Detroit (or Los Angeles) would be faster than a black guy raised in Santo Domingo.

    What remains then to determine is, if there are now 7% of the players in MLB who are black (down from 16% a generation ago), and whites, too, are down from 70 to 63%, that Latino players now making up 1 in 4 (27%), and that some are, as you say, ‘white based’ and others are ‘black based’, then the true racial mixture is unchanged, more or less, depending on the split of Latinos. If of the 27%, 2/3 are “white based” (the sort that the New York Times could make the next great white defendant), and 1/3 are “black based,” then apportioning them to black/white makes the league in 2016 would have 16% of the league be “black”, half of the blacks coming from the Caribbean.

    Which is to say, about the same as it was in the 1970s.

    The league “looks” more or less as it did in 1980, with the exception that more of the black guys are named Pedro and Juan and fewer named Larvell and Mookie.

    But let’s take your conjecture in any case as at least partly true. That there are, in fact, fewer “black” players. It’s entirely possible that this is an effect rather than a cause.

    The league, for whatever reason, has come to be styled for guys like David Ortiz rather than for Vince Coleman. Scouts, minor league decision makers, GMs, and the guys making the draft choices are showing their revealed preferences. This could easily mean, a guy (like Vince Coleman) whose sole real skill is the running game is going to stay in Louisville if he hits .260 with no power.

    Coleman, the prototypical of that class, was really not very good, btw. In 1985 (his ROY season), his offensive WAR was just 1. The guy had 110 stolen bases, but honestly, he couldn’t hit and he was awful in the field (no arm) despite being able to run. The guy stole 400 bases in his first season, and was 11 and 12 in the MVP voting (1985, 1987 respectively) as the Cardinals went to (and lost) two World Series.

    He could steal bases, and that was about it. Guys with WAR around 0 are going to have little value over the long haul.

    His parallel in the AL was Willie Wilson, but Wilson could actually play.

    Teams, figuring out that the way the game is played has changed, have kept a lot fewer guys like Coleman around. The guy playing center field is now expected to actually hit….

    The random walk into (yet another) discussion of MMA is more or less a journey into Whiskey land.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Among fast black guys with no power, Cincinnati has the Second Slidin' Billy Hamilton, but he's pretty bad. Miami has Dee Gordon, who is valuable ... if he's contending for the batting title. Gordon scored 114 runs this year by hitting .308 and having Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 homers behind him.

    But these kind of Willie Wilson / Vince Coleman players were more valuable in artificial turf parks where they'd be a threat to hit triples and even inside the park homers.

    Coleman was kind of a bad attitude case so he burned out fast. Lance Johnson had a longer career, peaking at age 32. I imagine he was a better personality to have on your team, but I'm just guessing.

    The White Sox usually used Lance Johnson not as a lead off hitter (using an older Tim Raines for that with his high OBP) but as a sort of second lead off hitter late in the batting order. If you have Frank Thomas batting third, you don't really need your lead off hitter to steal second so he can score on a single because Thomas hit 80 or so extrabase hits a year that would score a man from first. You just need your leadoff man to get on base. It's silly to play for Just One Run when a monster hitter like Thomas is coming up.

    It makes more sense to play for Just One Run down at the bottom of your order. If Lance did get on base, he might steal second and score on a single by a lesser hitter at the bottom of the order like, say, Ozzie Guillen or by Raines at the top of the order.

    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    No, MMA and other niche sports are highly favored among the younger generations and over time they will begin to cut into MLB's numbers.

    Also, notice that most MLB ballparks do not seat 50,ooo and above the way that many parks used to. That suggests that fewer people attend MLB games in the numbers that they used to, or, that with the exception of a few markets, the total number in attendance was overestimated.

    NFL draws higher ratings than MLB and has for over a generation. Most of the US's most profitable franchises tend to be NFL teams.

    My other point is that while more black-hispanics or white-hispanics, for whatever the reason, they tend not to steal any more than white players. They don't steal in the same numbers as did the black SB leaders during the '60's-80's. Not sure as to why, as back in the day black Hispanics such as Omar Moreno and Frank Traveras had a couple of seasons of exceptionally high SB totals. But as of the last few decades they, like their white counterparts, don't tend to steal a high total of bases per season.

    It was understood at the time, that leadoff and second in the lineup were the tablesetters, those who were to get on base, to set up a potential big inning for the heart of the order. SB's would help position the team to score some runs as well as hit score runs.

    The one player who should've been permitted to steal more bases was Ichiro. He could play the OF, and had a strong arm. With all those hits, he should've been stealing more bases. His earlier years in the US suggested that he could have stolen more bases but apparently for whatever the reason did not choose to do so.

    Forty years ago, 16% blacks in MLB would have been equivalent to about 30% today, as the US was much smaller in population so we have to adjust for that. But over the decades its a truism that black Americans have chosen not to join the ranks of playing baseball. That's one reason behind former commissioner Selig's RBI program (Reviving baseball in the Inner City). Why was there considered a "need" to revive baseball among black Americans unless fewer blacks are playing the game compared to when they used to? Their total of the NBA (about 82%) and in the NFL (about 70%) strongly suggests that they are going into those sports at the expense of playing baseball. It is purely a decision on their part which sport they want to invest their time and efforts into learning so they can go onto the pros.

    Also, I'd remind you and Steve that Rickey Henderson's high SB totals tended to come when he played for OAK. ACStadium was a natural grass field, by the way. Either one can steal bases in massive totals, or one cannot. Really shouldn't matter if the field is turf or dirt if one can steal.
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  189. anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @res
    Interesting. Not the usual take on why anonymity is useful. Thanks.

    Given the choice you have made I assume you find it worthwhile, but I still feel the pros of being identifiable outweigh the cons you describe (which do exist!).

    I wonder if there is some way of creating "anonymous" comments which at least are identifiable within a single thread (say number the anons by order of initial thread comment, distinguished by IP). I think that would be a good way to address some of the cons of anonymity without impacting your points too much. What do you think?

    If there could be a system in which both RealHandle and anon# could participate, that’s fine by me. I already have from time to time noted which upthread posts are mine, when it wouldn’t otherwise have been apparent.

    But I wouldn’t want to see my preference for anonymity deprive others of the identities that they and others value, especially if it would drive away any of the impressive contributors. Someone else told us the last time this all came up for discussion that a purely anonymous regime on another forum (4Chan or something?) seemed, for whatever reason, to bring out lots of short, nasty stuff, which I glanced at long enough to confirm.

    I think the rules here at UR are the best for now. Mr. Unz can, if necessary, throw out those that are abusing their privilege.

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  190. @dwb
    I totally 'get' that baseball has been, traditionally, a US game, and that its players have been overwhelmingly Americans.

    I totally understand that the demographics of the US have changed - dramatically. I was a young kid in Southern California in the 1970s - pretty much in the middle of Orange Country (Garden Grove, to be specific). This was juuuust before the 'boat people' started to arrive, and well before the invasion from south of the border. One Cuban family lived across the street (and IIRC, many of the older people on the block used to make 'jokes' about "Loooocy" and Ricky, which I did not understand at the time).

    But whether the league is seeing a shift away from 'black" players to Latinos (more than a small slice of which are of African origins) means that the demographics have changed, but that it seems bizarre that a physical aspect of the game - running - would. Does it make sense that a black guy from the DR would think, "yeah, I'm a Latino. I'm not fast enough to try for a steal?"

    I further understand (though I do not agree) that as the NFL has more native-born Americans, it is more appealing (I can think of fewer more boring things than professional football), that, too, has nothing to do with the conjecture that there is less base stealing because there are fewer black players.

    And your implication that there is less running now than the 1980s because "Generally, white players don’t steal too many bases, perhaps because they don’t seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks" is easily falsifiable.

    There are fewer, not more, whites playing now as compared to the 1970s and 1980s.

    If one looks at things from what Steve (and others) call the HBD perspective, there is very little reason a black guy raised in Detroit (or Los Angeles) would be faster than a black guy raised in Santo Domingo.

    What remains then to determine is, if there are now 7% of the players in MLB who are black (down from 16% a generation ago), and whites, too, are down from 70 to 63%, that Latino players now making up 1 in 4 (27%), and that some are, as you say, 'white based' and others are 'black based', then the true racial mixture is unchanged, more or less, depending on the split of Latinos. If of the 27%, 2/3 are "white based" (the sort that the New York Times could make the next great white defendant), and 1/3 are "black based," then apportioning them to black/white makes the league in 2016 would have 16% of the league be "black", half of the blacks coming from the Caribbean.

    Which is to say, about the same as it was in the 1970s.

    The league "looks" more or less as it did in 1980, with the exception that more of the black guys are named Pedro and Juan and fewer named Larvell and Mookie.

    But let's take your conjecture in any case as at least partly true. That there are, in fact, fewer "black" players. It's entirely possible that this is an effect rather than a cause.

    The league, for whatever reason, has come to be styled for guys like David Ortiz rather than for Vince Coleman. Scouts, minor league decision makers, GMs, and the guys making the draft choices are showing their revealed preferences. This could easily mean, a guy (like Vince Coleman) whose sole real skill is the running game is going to stay in Louisville if he hits .260 with no power.

    Coleman, the prototypical of that class, was really not very good, btw. In 1985 (his ROY season), his offensive WAR was just 1. The guy had 110 stolen bases, but honestly, he couldn't hit and he was awful in the field (no arm) despite being able to run. The guy stole 400 bases in his first season, and was 11 and 12 in the MVP voting (1985, 1987 respectively) as the Cardinals went to (and lost) two World Series.

    He could steal bases, and that was about it. Guys with WAR around 0 are going to have little value over the long haul.

    His parallel in the AL was Willie Wilson, but Wilson could actually play.

    Teams, figuring out that the way the game is played has changed, have kept a lot fewer guys like Coleman around. The guy playing center field is now expected to actually hit....

    The random walk into (yet another) discussion of MMA is more or less a journey into Whiskey land.

    Among fast black guys with no power, Cincinnati has the Second Slidin’ Billy Hamilton, but he’s pretty bad. Miami has Dee Gordon, who is valuable … if he’s contending for the batting title. Gordon scored 114 runs this year by hitting .308 and having Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 homers behind him.

    But these kind of Willie Wilson / Vince Coleman players were more valuable in artificial turf parks where they’d be a threat to hit triples and even inside the park homers.

    Coleman was kind of a bad attitude case so he burned out fast. Lance Johnson had a longer career, peaking at age 32. I imagine he was a better personality to have on your team, but I’m just guessing.

    The White Sox usually used Lance Johnson not as a lead off hitter (using an older Tim Raines for that with his high OBP) but as a sort of second lead off hitter late in the batting order. If you have Frank Thomas batting third, you don’t really need your lead off hitter to steal second so he can score on a single because Thomas hit 80 or so extrabase hits a year that would score a man from first. You just need your leadoff man to get on base. It’s silly to play for Just One Run when a monster hitter like Thomas is coming up.

    It makes more sense to play for Just One Run down at the bottom of your order. If Lance did get on base, he might steal second and score on a single by a lesser hitter at the bottom of the order like, say, Ozzie Guillen or by Raines at the top of the order.

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    • Replies: @Desiderius

    Cincinnati has the Second Slidin’ Billy Hamilton, but he’s pretty bad
     
    He plays a mean center field and has a really great Jesse Owens-style attitude. My guess is he could have benefited from better coaching somewhere along the way.
    , @dwb
    Yeah - I remember that Coleman had some bad press for being sullen. If you are an all-star, people will put up with bad behaviour for a while (CF: Richie Allen). Even Dave Kingman played for many years despite actually sending a rat to a reported in a shoe box.

    I'm old enough (Gen X) to remember when the pre-season Sporting News used to talk about guys like Glenn Braggs (who could run, but not really do much of anything else) were can't-miss prospects. Their AAA numbers were always so-so in places like Albuquerque or Phoenix where the league hit .290. They struck out a lot, hit .275 or so, but stole 100 bases. They would "learn to hit the curve."

    Of course, no one who is a mediocre talent can "learn to hit" at the big-league level, so guys like Braggs would be out of the league after a couple of years hitting .220.

    The Cleveland Indians at one point actually re-aligned their entire outfield, pushing the CF fence out to some ridiculous depth, when a guy called Alex Cole had a decent half-season, stealing 40 bases in 60 games.

    It was a disaster, and Cole was traded a year later.

    The strategy of the game has changed - reading your comment about Willie Wilson, I guess you agree with me that the disappearance of turf has had a role in this - and you don't hear that so much anymore. As you say, it's no longer Gospel that the leadoff man has to be able to steal 50-100 bases per year; when even the SS is a threat to hit one over the fence, just being on base puts you in scoring position.
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  191. Hibernian says:
    @anonymous
    I've had exchanges with others about this.

    No offense to you or some of those commenters you've named, but my view is that a substantial portion of people who adopt a pseudonym end up commenting to prolong or avenge a previous interaction, to recycle an obsession, or simply because it's expected of them. See, e.g., the insufferable threads at Takimag and the same people in the same pews for every Kunstler article on Fridays and Mondays. It concerns me to see some of that here, and I've said so in other comments.

    A "track record" also can get in the way ("RealHandle is a zygote, don't listen to her!") when we should be trying to learn from each other. My opinions about baseball are just as valid no matter what I've posted (or not) on other topics.

    Your reply seems bossy, but not hostile. I take it that you find what I wrote worthwhile, maybe that you recognize a parallel to my other comments, and that you want to make sure to see any more. But no, thanks.

    Pseudonyms protect us from Big Brother.

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    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    Not if the gov really wants to know who we are. Not hard for them to find out exactly which devices and IP addresses we used for each comment.
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  192. Wally says:
    @anonymous
    But irrespective of prior alterations, moderately deadening the ball at this point in the game would ameliorate the HR/K/W binge and parade of pitchers from the sixth inning on, rejuvenate offensive teamwork, create more exciting plays in the field, and do so without disturbing the other aspects of the game.

    You may prefer bashball, of course. But the majority view here seems to be that the game has become less interesting for its aficionados, perhaps intentionally so in order to engage a broader audience of people more appreciative of feats of strength.

    Anyone disagree?

    The strategy zapping American League DH, and the intentional walk without throwing a pitch doesn’t help, IMO.

    Also, pace of game:
    Too much time between pitches, too may trips to the mound by catchers.
    AND the length of time it takes to review a contested play. Yikes.

    Indeed, people like offense and macho displays, look at the dunk in basketball, it’s still only 2 points, but people still get all worked up about them.

    Thanks.

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  193. Ganderson says:
    @drive-by
    Since the game has fundamentally changed (emphasis on walks, the shift, players throwing harder than ever), you need a few changes to fundamental rules in baseball, but without changing the character of the game. Essentially, the amount of action (time spent with the ball in-play) per unit time is now so low that baseball is hard to enjoy unless you have a rooting interest.

    The average time per game has gone from 1:58 in 1920 to 3:05 in 2017, though commercials may be a significant part of that. In that interval, strikeouts have tripled.

    These will never happen, but here are my suggestions. The goal is to increase men on base and balls put in play, and decrease idle time.

    To increase action:

    1. Move the mound further away from home plate -- enough to restore the original hitter's reaction time. Pitchers today throw much harder than when baseball was invented, and so hitters simply don't have time to physically react. If necessary, to prevent too many walks, expand the strike zone a bit. This might also defeat the shift, as players will have a better chance of hitting to open spaces, if presented. I'd also be open to larger baseballs or bats, if they could increase solid contact rates.

    2. Move the fences back 20-40 feet. Doubles and triples are more exciting than home runes, especially with men already on base. This may generate more singles, as the fielders have to play back some more. Similarly, consider making the foul lines wider (but keep the bases where they are). Many well-hit balls are just foul.

    To reduce idle time. Nothing too dramatic here:

    3. Eliminate pick-off moves. The game grinds to a halt with players on base. Have a maximum lead indicator. If this is too offensive to purists, at least charge the pitcher with a ball on a pick-off move (thrown or faked).

    4. Eliminate mound conferences, and relief pitchers shouldn't get any warm-ups on the mound when coming in. They warmed up in the bullpen. A professional pitchers should be able to come in and pitch.

    5. Pitch clock. Current pace is ridiculous.

    Good ideas, all!

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  194. @Steve Sailer
    Among fast black guys with no power, Cincinnati has the Second Slidin' Billy Hamilton, but he's pretty bad. Miami has Dee Gordon, who is valuable ... if he's contending for the batting title. Gordon scored 114 runs this year by hitting .308 and having Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 homers behind him.

    But these kind of Willie Wilson / Vince Coleman players were more valuable in artificial turf parks where they'd be a threat to hit triples and even inside the park homers.

    Coleman was kind of a bad attitude case so he burned out fast. Lance Johnson had a longer career, peaking at age 32. I imagine he was a better personality to have on your team, but I'm just guessing.

    The White Sox usually used Lance Johnson not as a lead off hitter (using an older Tim Raines for that with his high OBP) but as a sort of second lead off hitter late in the batting order. If you have Frank Thomas batting third, you don't really need your lead off hitter to steal second so he can score on a single because Thomas hit 80 or so extrabase hits a year that would score a man from first. You just need your leadoff man to get on base. It's silly to play for Just One Run when a monster hitter like Thomas is coming up.

    It makes more sense to play for Just One Run down at the bottom of your order. If Lance did get on base, he might steal second and score on a single by a lesser hitter at the bottom of the order like, say, Ozzie Guillen or by Raines at the top of the order.

    Cincinnati has the Second Slidin’ Billy Hamilton, but he’s pretty bad

    He plays a mean center field and has a really great Jesse Owens-style attitude. My guess is he could have benefited from better coaching somewhere along the way.

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  195. Baseball in 2017 is turning into pro softball where all the runs score on homers.

    Nah, that was in Ruth’s day. The game you describe sounds more like H-O-R-S-E.

    Why? One theory is that the seams on the baseball were tightened so that breaking balls don’t break as much, while fly balls are more likely to carry out of the park.

    In sports, evolution favors defense, while technology favors offense.

    Consider this: Earlier this year, some guy in Syracuse bowled a 900 in 87 seconds. That’s three perfect games in a minute and an half. He held a ball in each hand, and was permitted to use all the lanes available.

    (After all, it was only 90 seconds, right? I’m sure the crowd didn’t mind, and probably loved it. Or they went for more fries and beer.)

    300 games have become quite cheap due to equipment design, including the lanes themselves.

    In tenpin, that is. In over a century of competition in both candlepin and duckpin bowling, no one, not even a professional, has ever bowled a 300. Or even a 280.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    And of the three games in the US, tenpin, duckpin, candlepin, which one is the most popular to play as well as gets the TV ratings (when bowling is covered on TV at all)? Some might also counter that there is little in the way of aerobic exercise in bowling, or that it's about the same as playing pool or pinball (or XBOX for that matter). One doesn't have to be in any great physical condition to bowl the way one would have to to play NFL, MLB, etc.
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  196. @Ian M.
    What's particularly impressive about guys like DiMaggio and Berra are the combination of low strikeout totals with power.

    Guys like Mickey Cochrane and Ty Cobb had some very low strikeout totals (Cochrane had two seasons under 10 strikeouts with over 500 PA; Cobb near the end of his career had several seasons with strikeout totals in the 12-20 range - interestingly, Cobb's strikeout totals improved at the end of his career). But neither Cochrane nor Cobb were power hitters (although Cochrane had one year where he belted 23; his strikeout total that year was 22; and Cobb could hit for power if he wanted to, once belting five HR in two games just to prove he could do what Ruth could).

    For the dead ball era, Ty Cobb was indeed a power hitter. Ways to measure what was considered “power” back then is look at th batting order. Cobb wasn’t a leadoff hitter. He usually batted fourth, sometimes third. He won the Triple Crown in 1909. He also has a career total of 1,938 RBI’s which is higher than either Willie Mays or Ted Williams. Starting from when SO’s were officially counted for batters, Cobb’s officially whiffed 357 times. Even if we project backward with SO’s for the first eight years of his career, it’s unlikely that he struck out more than 500 times in his entire twenty-four year career.

    When one looks at the major sluggers of the era, and how few they tended to strike out per season (especially when compared to today’s hitters), it makes one appreciate how a pitcher like Walter Johnson could get 3,508 strikeouts for his career in one of the most difficult eras of MLB when hitters simply didn’t rack up tons of strike outs.

    If Johnson pitched today, he’d easily have nearly 7,000 career strike outs for his career. Easily.

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    • Replies: @Ian M.

    Cobb’s officially whiffed 357 times. Even if we project backward with SO’s for the first eight years of his career, it’s unlikely that he struck out more than 500 times in his entire twenty-four year career.
     
    Baseball reference gives strikeout totals for his first eight seasons:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cobbty01.shtml

    He's usually somewhere in the 40s for each of those first eight. It lists his career strikeout total as 680.
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  197. @Ian M.
    What about making the outfield walls have a funky shape? Make it wavy or something. Different parks could choose different designs. That way you get more odd bounces and more doubles and triples. And more inside-the-park homeruns.

    If you google traditional MLB ball park OF configurations pre-1950, you’ll see that that’s exactly what they did have. It wasn’t ’til the late ’50′s/’60′s with the desire to make all the parks symetrical.

    Of course, by allowing MLB parks to return to having their own character per OF designs would definitely annoy Bill James and his legions of sabermetricians who would howl with protests that such things tend to throw off their hallowed stats. After all, a HR really isn’t a HR if every single ball park doesn’t have the same symetrical configuration. Next, one might try and repeal the 1958 rule that power alleys and CF, RF, and LF cannot be less than a certain distance from home plate.

    And we can’t afford to offend the keepers of the official stats of MLB.

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    • Replies: @Ian M.
    Ah, interesting, thanks. It would have been cool to see something like the old Polo Grounds.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    It wasn’t ’til the late ’50′s/’60′s with the desire to make all the parks sym[m]etrical.
     
    The first symmetrical park in the majors was Comiskey Park, built in 1910. It was also the oldest park in the majors from 1971 to 1990.

    I love asymmetry in baseball, but Comiskey was right-- unless it's forced, it's fake. If they wanted retro parks (without the retro financing, of course), they could have found retro lots, of which there seem to be many in our decaying cities.
    , @dwb
    The old parks used to be asymmetrical in large part because they were squeezed into lots in cities, and were (with a few exceptions) made for baseball-only. The Polo Grounds in New York is a famous counter-example. The advent of the mutli-purpose stadium (of which the Oakland Coliseum is perhaps the most egregious, terrible example) built on large lots with a sea of parking around them in the 1960s lead to the nearly perfectly round stadiums of that era (Riverfront Stadium, Three Rivers, Veterans Stadium, etc.)

    I think Camden Yards (Baltimore) was the first of the throw-back fields, built only for baseball, with relatively small seating.

    I won't argue with you that the popularity of baseball is declining (your fetish for MMA to the side - it is never, never going to surpass baseball in popularity, sorry), especially compared to football or the NBA. It's my personal bias (I find football incredibly boring, as I do the NBA itself), but I think this is due to an over-all degradation in the culture of our country.

    What makes the NBA so 'exciting?' There are endless stoppages of play, a ridiculous half-time with cheerleaders and loud, "urban" music. Five games of one-on-one at the time. Constant noise and flashing lights telling the crowd when to cheer. Baseball has tried to introduce some of this (walk-up music for the hitters, for example).

    Americans have gotten to the point where it seems they need to be distracted constantly with noise and images. The NBA and NFL are perfect examples, and I'm surprised to see that you seem to find these a net positive.

    My other point is that while more black-hispanics or white-hispanics, for whatever the reason, they tend not to steal any more than white players. They don’t steal in the same numbers as did the black SB leaders during the ’60′s-80′s. Not sure as to why, as back in the day black Hispanics such as Omar Moreno and Frank Traveras had a couple of seasons of exceptionally high SB totals. But as of the last few decades they, like their white counterparts, don’t tend to steal a high total of bases per season.
     
    Doesn't this seem to support the idea that there is something much more fundamental than that there are fewer American blacks in the league is at play here? When even black Latinos like Omar Moreno (who was, in truth, a terrible player) no longer steal bases like they used to? Even the black players who are still in the league seem to run less?

    Ironically, the last time anyone stole 70 bases in a season was 10 years ago when Jacoby Ellsbury (who looks to be Native American) did it. Teams run less, because they've figured out that unless you can get away with a steal at least 70-80% of the time, it's a net loser. Even Moreno, in his best year (96 SB) was thrown out 33 times.

    It was understood at the time, that leadoff and second in the lineup were the tablesetters, those who were to get on base, to set up a potential big inning for the heart of the order. SB’s would help position the team to score some runs as well as hit score runs.
     
    Yes, but then teams started to look at the fact that getting on base (and scoring on a home run) was more important than stealing second if you could not get on base enough. There has always been an adage that you cannot steal first. Moreno, in his 96 SB season hit .249, and scored only 87 runs. Teams used to be OK with a fast guy at the top, but if that guy is only capable of a .306 OBP (Moreno's lifetime stat), he's just making too many outs. Not to harp on Moreno too much, but in the year he had 96 SB, he also got caught 33 times, and had 695 ABs (with only 168 hits). So he alone accounted for 560 outs (his ABs where he failed to get a hit, PLUS the times he did get on and was thrown out stealing). That is a huge number of outs for a guy "setting the table."

    Forty years ago, 16% blacks in MLB would have been equivalent to about 30% today, as the US was much smaller in population so we have to adjust for that.
     
    I'm really confused by this claim - the 16% is a fraction of the total. Whether it's 100 MM or 300 MM population, I do not know why necessarily that the percentage of black players should double just because the population total does. Unless the black population is over-represented in the newcomers, which we all know it isn't. If I have a glass of sea water that is 12 ozs and has a certain amount of salinity, adding more seawater should not mean that, as a percentage, the salt content should increase. Sure, there's more salt, but there is also more water.

    What am I missing here?

    Also, I’d remind you and Steve that Rickey Henderson’s high SB totals tended to come when he played for OAK. ACS tadium was a natural grass field, by the way. Either one can steal bases in massive totals, or one cannot. Really shouldn’t matter if the field is turf or dirt if one can steal.


    Rickey's top totals were at the Coliseum in large part because that is where he was when he was his youngest (and perhaps, fastest). Henderson, who one year stole 130 bases, is really a corner case. The Coliseum is, in addition to being a turf field, one with a huge amount of foul territory (there are popups that end up in the gloves of third and first basemen that would be well back in the seats everywhere else in the league) making each run more difficult. In addition, it's a terrible park for the home run - large outfield, heavy, cold air. This put a premium on stealing. When Rickey came up, he was a somewhat one-dimensional player - no power at all. His highest HR total in Oakland (his first tour) was 16 - in his last season. But he always had a very good eye (high OBP - Rickey's career OBP was .401), and his speed was legendary.

    But your counterfactual is a bit false. The question for a guy like Henderson (a unique talent) is how many stolen bases would he have had if he played on turf? We can only look at the season he was a rent-a-player in Toronto. He had 22 SB (and only 2 CS) in 40 games. He was already 35 years old in that season.

    The rest of your points, I agree. I see no reason why the league should necessarily be concerned with increasing the number of black people playing. If blacks prefer to play football or other sports, that's their choice. I personally do not care if there are 6, 16, or 60% (like the NFL) of the players who are black.
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  198. @res
    I know a little bit here, but am not an expert. Sabermetrics of base stealing tends to look at the probability of a run being scored with a given runners/outs situation. This should implicitly account for the pitcher being distracted by the advanced runner. The big problem with stealing is getting caught (surprise ; ). Here is some more detail: https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/2/20/5425744/stolen-bases-lack-value

    This probabilistic approach is good because it incorporates all the details implicitly (e.g. fielders shifting depending on where the runners are) and statistically averages out the details. More detailed analysis is needed to evaluate if attempting to steal is appropriate in a given runner/batter/catcher/pitcher/score/etc. situation, but required success rate gives a benchmark for making the choice.

    Here is a look at the expected value (and break even point) by base stealing success rate in different situations: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/breaking-down-stolen-base-break-even-points/
    A rule of thumb is that a 70-75% success rate is necessary to make stealing worthwhile. Based on this analysis stealing home with two outs is an outlier with only a 1/3 chance of success being the break even point.

    P.S. For anyone interested, this Hardball Times article is a good introduction to analyzing baseball data with R: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/a-short-ish-introduction-to-using-r-for-baseball-research/

    The real point regarding SB’s is that they aren’t as frequent as they used to be. There is always a risk in every offensive endeavor in MLB. If one swings for the fences for the HR, one can tend to strike out more (which is in fact what most of today’s power sluggers tend to do). What is important to keep in mind, is that those who possess above average speed on the basepaths should be allowed to steal bases on his own (like they were allowed to back in the day). SB’s are a useful weapon and help a team score more runs, if they are employed by the right runners. A SB also helps avoid the double play by the next batter(s).

    For whatever the reason, SB’s are definitely discouraged. This may in fact be due to the fact that fewer black Americans play in MLB, and few white players are considered fast enough to steal bases in prodigious numbers. It has to be a unique player with exceptional speed to be permitted to steal on a regular basis.

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  199. @Pericles
    So you're saying blacks are better at stealing?

    I thought that was clear enough. For example, when was the last time a white MLBer stole over 95 bases in a single season? It’s not enough to state “Well, whites have lead the league in SB’s even post 1947″, yes they have. Dom Dimaggio lead the AL in 1950, with 15.

    That’s not what we’re talking about. To me, a significant SB’s in a single year is more than 70, because that means, if taken what some have stated here that you need at least a 75% success rate, that would tend to mean that the runner attempted to steal at least 95 times per year. Enough to catch the leagues interest in him each time he reaches 1B or 2B.

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  200. @dwb
    I totally 'get' that baseball has been, traditionally, a US game, and that its players have been overwhelmingly Americans.

    I totally understand that the demographics of the US have changed - dramatically. I was a young kid in Southern California in the 1970s - pretty much in the middle of Orange Country (Garden Grove, to be specific). This was juuuust before the 'boat people' started to arrive, and well before the invasion from south of the border. One Cuban family lived across the street (and IIRC, many of the older people on the block used to make 'jokes' about "Loooocy" and Ricky, which I did not understand at the time).

    But whether the league is seeing a shift away from 'black" players to Latinos (more than a small slice of which are of African origins) means that the demographics have changed, but that it seems bizarre that a physical aspect of the game - running - would. Does it make sense that a black guy from the DR would think, "yeah, I'm a Latino. I'm not fast enough to try for a steal?"

    I further understand (though I do not agree) that as the NFL has more native-born Americans, it is more appealing (I can think of fewer more boring things than professional football), that, too, has nothing to do with the conjecture that there is less base stealing because there are fewer black players.

    And your implication that there is less running now than the 1980s because "Generally, white players don’t steal too many bases, perhaps because they don’t seem to run very fast on average when compared to blacks" is easily falsifiable.

    There are fewer, not more, whites playing now as compared to the 1970s and 1980s.

    If one looks at things from what Steve (and others) call the HBD perspective, there is very little reason a black guy raised in Detroit (or Los Angeles) would be faster than a black guy raised in Santo Domingo.

    What remains then to determine is, if there are now 7% of the players in MLB who are black (down from 16% a generation ago), and whites, too, are down from 70 to 63%, that Latino players now making up 1 in 4 (27%), and that some are, as you say, 'white based' and others are 'black based', then the true racial mixture is unchanged, more or less, depending on the split of Latinos. If of the 27%, 2/3 are "white based" (the sort that the New York Times could make the next great white defendant), and 1/3 are "black based," then apportioning them to black/white makes the league in 2016 would have 16% of the league be "black", half of the blacks coming from the Caribbean.

    Which is to say, about the same as it was in the 1970s.

    The league "looks" more or less as it did in 1980, with the exception that more of the black guys are named Pedro and Juan and fewer named Larvell and Mookie.

    But let's take your conjecture in any case as at least partly true. That there are, in fact, fewer "black" players. It's entirely possible that this is an effect rather than a cause.

    The league, for whatever reason, has come to be styled for guys like David Ortiz rather than for Vince Coleman. Scouts, minor league decision makers, GMs, and the guys making the draft choices are showing their revealed preferences. This could easily mean, a guy (like Vince Coleman) whose sole real skill is the running game is going to stay in Louisville if he hits .260 with no power.

    Coleman, the prototypical of that class, was really not very good, btw. In 1985 (his ROY season), his offensive WAR was just 1. The guy had 110 stolen bases, but honestly, he couldn't hit and he was awful in the field (no arm) despite being able to run. The guy stole 400 bases in his first season, and was 11 and 12 in the MVP voting (1985, 1987 respectively) as the Cardinals went to (and lost) two World Series.

    He could steal bases, and that was about it. Guys with WAR around 0 are going to have little value over the long haul.

    His parallel in the AL was Willie Wilson, but Wilson could actually play.

    Teams, figuring out that the way the game is played has changed, have kept a lot fewer guys like Coleman around. The guy playing center field is now expected to actually hit....

    The random walk into (yet another) discussion of MMA is more or less a journey into Whiskey land.

    No, MMA and other niche sports are highly favored among the younger generations and over time they will begin to cut into MLB’s numbers.

    Also, notice that most MLB ballparks do not seat 50,ooo and above the way that many parks used to. That suggests that fewer people attend MLB games in the numbers that they used to, or, that with the exception of a few markets, the total number in attendance was overestimated.

    NFL draws higher ratings than MLB and has for over a generation. Most of the US’s most profitable franchises tend to be NFL teams.

    My other point is that while more black-hispanics or white-hispanics, for whatever the reason, they tend not to steal any more than white players. They don’t steal in the same numbers as did the black SB leaders during the ’60′s-80′s. Not sure as to why, as back in the day black Hispanics such as Omar Moreno and Frank Traveras had a couple of seasons of exceptionally high SB totals. But as of the last few decades they, like their white counterparts, don’t tend to steal a high total of bases per season.

    It was understood at the time, that leadoff and second in the lineup were the tablesetters, those who were to get on base, to set up a potential big inning for the heart of the order. SB’s would help position the team to score some runs as well as hit score runs.

    The one player who should’ve been permitted to steal more bases was Ichiro. He could play the OF, and had a strong arm. With all those hits, he should’ve been stealing more bases. His earlier years in the US suggested that he could have stolen more bases but apparently for whatever the reason did not choose to do so.

    Forty years ago, 16% blacks in MLB would have been equivalent to about 30% today, as the US was much smaller in population so we have to adjust for that. But over the decades its a truism that black Americans have chosen not to join the ranks of playing baseball. That’s one reason behind former commissioner Selig’s RBI program (Reviving baseball in the Inner City). Why was there considered a “need” to revive baseball among black Americans unless fewer blacks are playing the game compared to when they used to? Their total of the NBA (about 82%) and in the NFL (about 70%) strongly suggests that they are going into those sports at the expense of playing baseball. It is purely a decision on their part which sport they want to invest their time and efforts into learning so they can go onto the pros.

    Also, I’d remind you and Steve that Rickey Henderson’s high SB totals tended to come when he played for OAK. ACStadium was a natural grass field, by the way. Either one can steal bases in massive totals, or one cannot. Really shouldn’t matter if the field is turf or dirt if one can steal.

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  201. Bubba says:
    @The Man From K Street

    the idea of exploring seemingly trivial things with spectacular effects upon the course of history brings to mind Connections, an underappreciated and brilliant old documentary series from a British dude whose name escapes me and which Steve’s readers would appreciate.
     
    James Burke. Stick with the first (1978) Connections series--the sequels weren't as good as Burke (a) was beating a dead horse with his method and getting more tendentious, (b) didn't have as lavish a BBC production budget.

    Agreed – I really enjoyed watching Connections, but the sequels were a total disappointment. In retrospect it seems like they were prequels to the PC garbage that has ruined most documentaries today.

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  202. @Reg Cæsar

    Baseball in 2017 is turning into pro softball where all the runs score on homers.
     
    Nah, that was in Ruth's day. The game you describe sounds more like H-O-R-S-E.

    Why? One theory is that the seams on the baseball were tightened so that breaking balls don’t break as much, while fly balls are more likely to carry out of the park.
     
    In sports, evolution favors defense, while technology favors offense.

    Consider this: Earlier this year, some guy in Syracuse bowled a 900 in 87 seconds. That's three perfect games in a minute and an half. He held a ball in each hand, and was permitted to use all the lanes available.

    (After all, it was only 90 seconds, right? I'm sure the crowd didn't mind, and probably loved it. Or they went for more fries and beer.)

    300 games have become quite cheap due to equipment design, including the lanes themselves.

    In tenpin, that is. In over a century of competition in both candlepin and duckpin bowling, no one, not even a professional, has ever bowled a 300. Or even a 280.

    And of the three games in the US, tenpin, duckpin, candlepin, which one is the most popular to play as well as gets the TV ratings (when bowling is covered on TV at all)? Some might also counter that there is little in the way of aerobic exercise in bowling, or that it’s about the same as playing pool or pinball (or XBOX for that matter). One doesn’t have to be in any great physical condition to bowl the way one would have to to play NFL, MLB, etc.

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    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    And of the three games in the US, tenpin, duckpin, candlepin, which one is the most popular to play as well as gets the TV ratings (when bowling is covered on TV at all)?
     
    I don't know about duckpin, but candlepin (in New England) and five-pin (in Canada) are regional favorites which have indeed been shown on local TV in their home territories.

    I hadn't bowled in ten years-- and that was candlepin, in Maine-- when I was invited to join friends at a university lane for tenpin. We bowled one game, then discussed whether we should play another, or go do something else. Out of boredom, I picked a ball up and rolled it down the lane, just for the exercise.

    Strike! Dammit, now we had to play! (It still irks me that in a lunchtime card game in eighth grade, I was dealt A-K-Q-J-9-- someone didn't shuffle properly-- when the teacher broke it up before we could start the hand.)

    But the trend in tenpin bowling is the same as in golf-- few kids want to play anymore. So perhaps candlepin and duckpin will spread, like craft beer against the declining major brewers.

    Tenpin has become as exciting as batting practice.

    I tell people who say baseball needs more scoring to be interesting to come back after a five-day cricket test match, and tell me that.

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  203. @Hibernian
    Pseudonyms protect us from Big Brother.

    Not if the gov really wants to know who we are. Not hard for them to find out exactly which devices and IP addresses we used for each comment.

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  204. Anon87 says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Right, and that's mainly because MLB is the US's oldest established sports league. In other words it has had the profits longer than either NFL or NBA, was the nation's number one sport for well near a century (ca.1876-1960s/1970's). The sixteen original franchises counting from 1903 remain intact. Due to a monopolistic control over their product, MLB has built up over the decades sizable profits. MLB was the first to greatly profit by network TV and couple that with the internet streaming and merchandise, on paper it's doing quite well.

    Based on demographics, actual long term health of the sport, however, remains a serious question mark. Especially when factored in that the sport simply is not very popular among the under 40 demographic. Again, MMA and other niche sports will overtake MLB if not in actual attendance then in network profits by around 2030.

    You are obviously an MMA fan, and there is no way to settle this if we bet, but your 2030 scenerio will never happen. Maybe if you combine every niche sport on earth perhaps. MMA has a very low ceiling that it is bumping up against. Its best PPV numbers are still paltry compared to a long claimed “dead” sport of boxing. I can spot plenty of young and old, male and female, at the ballpark. Not so at MMA events.

    Baseball will be fine, but won’t be restored to the mind share it used to have. And no other sport will either given how Americans now spent their free time and entertainment dollars. Boxing will survive as well. I am more worried about horse racing and movie theaters.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Boxing is nearly dead. It's been overtaken by MMA in actual matches attended. Aside from the large PPV hyped heavyweight division title matches, MMA more than holds its own vs the other weight divisions of boxing.
    I'm sorry to hear that you think so little of a growing mostly white sport for the younger demographics. Check the attendance in MLB on TV and you see families, yes. Are they really there for the game, or the other things going on (Thanks to Bill Veeck, who generally owned awful teams aside from winning two AL pennants. Hence his reliance on gimmicks to lure people into the park). Also, parks today aren't built to accommodate 50k and above but much smaller to accomodate for realities that MLB doesn't draw larger crowds compared to NFL.

    The NCAA far exceeds MLB in live attendance, judging by the major football powerhouses with stadiums of 60, 70, and 80-110,ooo seaters.

    The future of baseball is not coming from the younger white generations (Millennials, Gen. Y). It's a sport for the elderly and the middle aged. It's already been pointed out that blacks don't play the sport much anymore so its players are white and hispanic, with some Asians thrown in for good measure. And blacks recognize this. How often do you see blacks attending MLB games? Not at the stadium working, but attending as MLB fans? Probably less than 2%, if that high. When St. Louis had its riots and Baltimore post-Freddie Gray, most of those attending the MLB games were white. Very telling.

    For your love of MLB, I have to assume that you are not a Millennial or a Gen. Y, just like most Sabermetricians who are white and older, MLB is now identified as for whites as well as an older audience. Accept the facts as they are and deal with it. When Keeping up with the Kardashians reruns beats an AL Division Series a few yrs ago in the TV ratings, that isn't a good sign.

    We keep hearing that MLB offers families a chance to have a family event at the park, maybe so. But why should families risk being killed, raped, or robbed by BLM and gangs that largely populate the cities of which these parks are located? MMA events on the other hand can just as easily be held in the outer ring suburbs or in whitopian cities. The future may or may not be MMA, but in this niche compartamentalized nation with few things that unite us in the way that the National Pastime once did, it certainly isn't MLB (as it isn't right now).
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  205. Anon87 says:

    Why are people obsessed with making the game shorter? Give me less of a product I enjoy?? Especially if you decide to attend in person and spent too much money. Potentially hundreds of dollars for 2 hours of entertainment? Prices should go down if games get shorter (fat chance).

    To speed up the game without radical changes, cut a few commercials. Sounds unlikely, but the new picture in picture method might actually help. The other potential is to keep hitters in the batters box. Very simple, but rarely enforced. Watching old games on Youtube, or even Barry Bonds at his video game peak, it is refreshing to see hitters quickly be ready for the next pitch. Enough lolly gagging.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Uh, because unlike say, MMA or the NFL, MLB is perceived as dull and boring. Very little constant and consistent action occurs. At best it occurs in brief spurts, as opposed to non-stop continuous action. Therefore to ask people to watch a sport that many perceive to be as exciting as "watching paint dry", is a challenge. Therefore, by shortening the game to make it acceptable to view. I take for granted that many here are familiar with non-MLB but fans of other sports complaints about baseball. It's slow and boring to watch. Yet, no one, NO ONE, ever claims that NHL, NBA, NFL, and MMA are boring to watch. There's a reason for that. They may be many things, but they're not boring to watch.

    To be fair to the critics, they do have a point at times. When it was in its youthful heyday (ca.1880's-1940's) it was the bees knees. During its maturity (ca.1950's-1990), it was excellent and provided an amazing bang for the buck. Ironically, this was the great time of "white flight" which also made MLB attendance drop across the board so they wisely turned to TV to recap their loss in attendance.

    But this is now 2017. With the era of the internet, which shows quick non-stop action and for short attention span viewers, nothing appears to be happening in the sport. To them it is irrelevant and never going to make strong headway with these younger demographics (hence the reason they turn to other sports and things to occupy their time. They also have more options than ever before).
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  206. Ian M. says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    For the dead ball era, Ty Cobb was indeed a power hitter. Ways to measure what was considered "power" back then is look at th batting order. Cobb wasn't a leadoff hitter. He usually batted fourth, sometimes third. He won the Triple Crown in 1909. He also has a career total of 1,938 RBI's which is higher than either Willie Mays or Ted Williams. Starting from when SO's were officially counted for batters, Cobb's officially whiffed 357 times. Even if we project backward with SO's for the first eight years of his career, it's unlikely that he struck out more than 500 times in his entire twenty-four year career.

    When one looks at the major sluggers of the era, and how few they tended to strike out per season (especially when compared to today's hitters), it makes one appreciate how a pitcher like Walter Johnson could get 3,508 strikeouts for his career in one of the most difficult eras of MLB when hitters simply didn't rack up tons of strike outs.

    If Johnson pitched today, he'd easily have nearly 7,000 career strike outs for his career. Easily.

    Cobb’s officially whiffed 357 times. Even if we project backward with SO’s for the first eight years of his career, it’s unlikely that he struck out more than 500 times in his entire twenty-four year career.

    Baseball reference gives strikeout totals for his first eight seasons:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cobbty01.shtml

    He’s usually somewhere in the 40s for each of those first eight. It lists his career strikeout total as 680.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Thanks. But 680 is over a twenty-four year career. 680 SO's vs. 4,191 H. Not a bad ratio which is why his career BA. is .367.
    If this is a higher ratio than most of the hitters of his era, this would also lend further credence that Cobb was viewed not only as a speedster, but a power hitter as well. And of course he did win the Triple Crown in '09 (leading the AL in HR's).
    Many sluggers today pass 680 SO's within 4-5yrs.
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  207. Ian M. says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    If you google traditional MLB ball park OF configurations pre-1950, you'll see that that's exactly what they did have. It wasn't 'til the late '50's/'60's with the desire to make all the parks symetrical.

    Of course, by allowing MLB parks to return to having their own character per OF designs would definitely annoy Bill James and his legions of sabermetricians who would howl with protests that such things tend to throw off their hallowed stats. After all, a HR really isn't a HR if every single ball park doesn't have the same symetrical configuration. Next, one might try and repeal the 1958 rule that power alleys and CF, RF, and LF cannot be less than a certain distance from home plate.

    And we can't afford to offend the keepers of the official stats of MLB.

    Ah, interesting, thanks. It would have been cool to see something like the old Polo Grounds.

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  208. @Ian M.

    Cobb’s officially whiffed 357 times. Even if we project backward with SO’s for the first eight years of his career, it’s unlikely that he struck out more than 500 times in his entire twenty-four year career.
     
    Baseball reference gives strikeout totals for his first eight seasons:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cobbty01.shtml

    He's usually somewhere in the 40s for each of those first eight. It lists his career strikeout total as 680.

    Thanks. But 680 is over a twenty-four year career. 680 SO’s vs. 4,191 H. Not a bad ratio which is why his career BA. is .367.
    If this is a higher ratio than most of the hitters of his era, this would also lend further credence that Cobb was viewed not only as a speedster, but a power hitter as well. And of course he did win the Triple Crown in ’09 (leading the AL in HR’s).
    Many sluggers today pass 680 SO’s within 4-5yrs.

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  209. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    And of the three games in the US, tenpin, duckpin, candlepin, which one is the most popular to play as well as gets the TV ratings (when bowling is covered on TV at all)? Some might also counter that there is little in the way of aerobic exercise in bowling, or that it's about the same as playing pool or pinball (or XBOX for that matter). One doesn't have to be in any great physical condition to bowl the way one would have to to play NFL, MLB, etc.

    And of the three games in the US, tenpin, duckpin, candlepin, which one is the most popular to play as well as gets the TV ratings (when bowling is covered on TV at all)?

    I don’t know about duckpin, but candlepin (in New England) and five-pin (in Canada) are regional favorites which have indeed been shown on local TV in their home territories.

    I hadn’t bowled in ten years– and that was candlepin, in Maine– when I was invited to join friends at a university lane for tenpin. We bowled one game, then discussed whether we should play another, or go do something else. Out of boredom, I picked a ball up and rolled it down the lane, just for the exercise.

    Strike! Dammit, now we had to play! (It still irks me that in a lunchtime card game in eighth grade, I was dealt A-K-Q-J-9– someone didn’t shuffle properly– when the teacher broke it up before we could start the hand.)

    But the trend in tenpin bowling is the same as in golf– few kids want to play anymore. So perhaps candlepin and duckpin will spread, like craft beer against the declining major brewers.

    Tenpin has become as exciting as batting practice.

    I tell people who say baseball needs more scoring to be interesting to come back after a five-day cricket test match, and tell me that.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    I don't follow. Cricket is never going to be popular in the US and whatever people have heard about it consider it even more boring that MLB. Also, Cricket isn't as popular in the UK among the proles as is Association Football and Rugby. In fact, among the European proles and Aussies, cricket is never among the top three sports to play or to watch compared to soccer, rugby, basketball, hockey, etc.

    I think we both know that ten pin is the US's most popular form of bowling. Say the world bowling and like, 99% of folks automatically think ten pin. Come on. But it was never a pure sport per se as PGA, tennis, etc. It was always more about families or buddies forming a bowling team on weekends. It was also popular among the blue collar proles. But since the erosion of the two parent family, going bowling simply isn't considered the thing to do. In some ways bowling is seen as an oddity. Slightly below playing pinball or billiards. It's like "so what?" and "who cares".
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  210. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    If you google traditional MLB ball park OF configurations pre-1950, you'll see that that's exactly what they did have. It wasn't 'til the late '50's/'60's with the desire to make all the parks symetrical.

    Of course, by allowing MLB parks to return to having their own character per OF designs would definitely annoy Bill James and his legions of sabermetricians who would howl with protests that such things tend to throw off their hallowed stats. After all, a HR really isn't a HR if every single ball park doesn't have the same symetrical configuration. Next, one might try and repeal the 1958 rule that power alleys and CF, RF, and LF cannot be less than a certain distance from home plate.

    And we can't afford to offend the keepers of the official stats of MLB.

    It wasn’t ’til the late ’50′s/’60′s with the desire to make all the parks sym[m]etrical.

    The first symmetrical park in the majors was Comiskey Park, built in 1910. It was also the oldest park in the majors from 1971 to 1990.

    I love asymmetry in baseball, but Comiskey was right– unless it’s forced, it’s fake. If they wanted retro parks (without the retro financing, of course), they could have found retro lots, of which there seem to be many in our decaying cities.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    No, it wasn't. The oldest park from 1971-90 would be Tiger Stadium (built in the late 1890's and has the distinction of having been MLB's oldest park built on the original ground). It went thru many facelifts and refurbishings, the more familiar update also occurred in 1910. So it's a draw between Comiskey and Tiger Stadium. With DET the oldest as defined by remaining on the original site for over a century. Most of the original concrete and steel parks that started with Shibe in PHI and Forbes in PIT (both 1909) were asymmetrical and it was natural.
    There may have been many things wrong with MLB in the late 50's early 60's but asymmetrical ballparks wasn't one of them. The owners were cheap and saw a way to bilk the cities for funding, which is how they got symmetrical, multi-venue arenas that were ugly and mostly turf. Many of these parks didn't last even thirty-five years.
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  211. @Anon87
    You are obviously an MMA fan, and there is no way to settle this if we bet, but your 2030 scenerio will never happen. Maybe if you combine every niche sport on earth perhaps. MMA has a very low ceiling that it is bumping up against. Its best PPV numbers are still paltry compared to a long claimed "dead" sport of boxing. I can spot plenty of young and old, male and female, at the ballpark. Not so at MMA events.

    Baseball will be fine, but won't be restored to the mind share it used to have. And no other sport will either given how Americans now spent their free time and entertainment dollars. Boxing will survive as well. I am more worried about horse racing and movie theaters.

    Boxing is nearly dead. It’s been overtaken by MMA in actual matches attended. Aside from the large PPV hyped heavyweight division title matches, MMA more than holds its own vs the other weight divisions of boxing.
    I’m sorry to hear that you think so little of a growing mostly white sport for the younger demographics. Check the attendance in MLB on TV and you see families, yes. Are they really there for the game, or the other things going on (Thanks to Bill Veeck, who generally owned awful teams aside from winning two AL pennants. Hence his reliance on gimmicks to lure people into the park). Also, parks today aren’t built to accommodate 50k and above but much smaller to accomodate for realities that MLB doesn’t draw larger crowds compared to NFL.

    The NCAA far exceeds MLB in live attendance, judging by the major football powerhouses with stadiums of 60, 70, and 80-110,ooo seaters.

    The future of baseball is not coming from the younger white generations (Millennials, Gen. Y). It’s a sport for the elderly and the middle aged. It’s already been pointed out that blacks don’t play the sport much anymore so its players are white and hispanic, with some Asians thrown in for good measure. And blacks recognize this. How often do you see blacks attending MLB games? Not at the stadium working, but attending as MLB fans? Probably less than 2%, if that high. When St. Louis had its riots and Baltimore post-Freddie Gray, most of those attending the MLB games were white. Very telling.

    For your love of MLB, I have to assume that you are not a Millennial or a Gen. Y, just like most Sabermetricians who are white and older, MLB is now identified as for whites as well as an older audience. Accept the facts as they are and deal with it. When Keeping up with the Kardashians reruns beats an AL Division Series a few yrs ago in the TV ratings, that isn’t a good sign.

    We keep hearing that MLB offers families a chance to have a family event at the park, maybe so. But why should families risk being killed, raped, or robbed by BLM and gangs that largely populate the cities of which these parks are located? MMA events on the other hand can just as easily be held in the outer ring suburbs or in whitopian cities. The future may or may not be MMA, but in this niche compartamentalized nation with few things that unite us in the way that the National Pastime once did, it certainly isn’t MLB (as it isn’t right now).

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  212. @anonymous
    wwebd (what would ernest borgnine do) said: the main problem with baseball, as you say, is not that it needs radical changes. The main problem with baseball is that, in order to make it in baseball, you have to be willing to spend more than 200 days a year with the boring NCO-bureacratic-type people who play baseball. Sucks the life right out of you, and the self-respect: hence, long "conferences" on the mound, .250 hitters with the narcissism to "step out of the batter's box" every chance they get, that sort of thing. If the average baseball player had half the self-respect of a Marine grunt or even a marginal motorcycle gang member, we would not be talking about how boring the sport is to watch on TV, they would be keeping it interesting just out of minimal self-respect (watching it live is not boring, but that is another topic). Hockey is almost as bad, but hockey at least has the advantage that it is mostly Canadians hanging out with other Canadians, and it is played to the clock, so it is a finite-time subset of one country instead of a goat-rope mashup of several lazy countries with no concept of other people's time. Football players hardly talk to each other if they aren't playing the same position (or if they are not in one of the groupings - long snapper/kicker, OL/QB, QB/WR, middle linemen, etc.) and that is a good thing. True, football players are as boring as you can imagine, but they aren't as boring as baseball players, because there are not so many "game days" and so there are more "non-game days" (I base this observation on the fact that baseball announcers who were jocks don't really get any good until they are in their 50s and football announcers - all of whom are bad compared to John Madden, but let's leave that aside - are either good when they start or will never get good.) As for basketball, the only good basketball announcers among the vets are guys who aren't quite right in the head - Frazier, Barkley and so on. Interesting to listen to, but not quite right in the head. Not quite sure why that is. Maybe spending too much time inside on nice autumn and nice winter days.

    Any baseball player with a quality college education can tell you how dumb their teammates are. Mike Mussina went to Stanford, as did Black Jack McDowell. McDowell did great with the White Sox, got traded to the Yankees, gave up the winning run in the playoffs to the Mariners, and fell off of the face of the Earth.

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  213. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Use a name - anonymous does not help. Then we can read your track record. For example, the following command my immediate attention:

    Jack Hanson, AM, The Last Real Calvinist, Olorin, Buzz Mohawk, Another Dad, Dave Pinsen, Kylie, Rod1963, Dr. X, Desiderius, Intelligent Dasein, Thea, kihowi, NickG, Lugash, peterike, Buffalo Joe, Harry Baldwin, Jack D, whorefinder, Svigor, Romanian, Twinkie, DCThrowback, Polynikes, Autochthon, Chris Mallory, slumber_j, Yojimbo/Zatoichi, Anonym, Travis, MBlanc46, Hibernian, IHTG, MEH 0910, Jenner Ickham Errican, unit472, Diversity Heretic, The Anti-Gnostic, pyrrhus, LondonBob, Pericles, ,yaqub the mad scientist, NOTA, Kevin C., The Alarmist, Father O'Hara, Opinionator, candid_observer, Discordiax, Hodag, Ivy, AKAHorace, ShoutingThomas, Johann Ricke, J1234, Citizen of a Silly Country, James Kabala, vinteuil, Broski, Chrisnonymous, Hapalong Cassidy, Weltanschauung, Verymuchalive, Je Suis Charlie Martel, tbraton, Art Deco, anony-mouse, Neoconned, Barnard, snorlax, Reg Caesar, Rosamond Vincy, DevOps Dad, Maj. Kong (in no particular order, though I admit that the first few are in a separate category).

    I am sure that I am leaving out some that also do command my attention. And for those that I have omitted, please accept my apology.

    The following:

    Charles Pewitt, Jonathon Mason, International Jew, Colleen Pater, MarkinLA, donut, Dissident, Trelane, fish, Dieter Kief, dearime, Guy de Champlagne

    have much to commend them, but prudence dictates that they must be approached with great caution.

    And Tiny Duck is a champion of stupidity, and not just impaired stupidity, not just no-smarter-than-a-drosophila-melanogaster stupidity, but relentless, mindless, willful stupidity.

    The Duck is closely followed by Corvinus, AndrewR, Truth, Sane Left Libertarian, and, no doubt, some others working very hard to rival their affection for human suffering.

    So get a name. And we will watch what you post.

    This hurts my feelings.

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  214. @Anon87
    Why are people obsessed with making the game shorter? Give me less of a product I enjoy?? Especially if you decide to attend in person and spent too much money. Potentially hundreds of dollars for 2 hours of entertainment? Prices should go down if games get shorter (fat chance).

    To speed up the game without radical changes, cut a few commercials. Sounds unlikely, but the new picture in picture method might actually help. The other potential is to keep hitters in the batters box. Very simple, but rarely enforced. Watching old games on Youtube, or even Barry Bonds at his video game peak, it is refreshing to see hitters quickly be ready for the next pitch. Enough lolly gagging.

    Uh, because unlike say, MMA or the NFL, MLB is perceived as dull and boring. Very little constant and consistent action occurs. At best it occurs in brief spurts, as opposed to non-stop continuous action. Therefore to ask people to watch a sport that many perceive to be as exciting as “watching paint dry”, is a challenge. Therefore, by shortening the game to make it acceptable to view. I take for granted that many here are familiar with non-MLB but fans of other sports complaints about baseball. It’s slow and boring to watch. Yet, no one, NO ONE, ever claims that NHL, NBA, NFL, and MMA are boring to watch. There’s a reason for that. They may be many things, but they’re not boring to watch.

    To be fair to the critics, they do have a point at times. When it was in its youthful heyday (ca.1880′s-1940′s) it was the bees knees. During its maturity (ca.1950′s-1990), it was excellent and provided an amazing bang for the buck. Ironically, this was the great time of “white flight” which also made MLB attendance drop across the board so they wisely turned to TV to recap their loss in attendance.

    But this is now 2017. With the era of the internet, which shows quick non-stop action and for short attention span viewers, nothing appears to be happening in the sport. To them it is irrelevant and never going to make strong headway with these younger demographics (hence the reason they turn to other sports and things to occupy their time. They also have more options than ever before).

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    • Replies: @Anon87
    Have you ever attended an NFL game? Beyond dull.

    MMA has a lower ceiling than any major sport, even the NHL which has yet to achieve any breakthrough after Gary Bettman sold out for mass appeal. But hockey is certainly constant motion for ADHD attention spans. MMA is short spurts at best..
    , @Reg Cæsar

    But this is now 2017. With the era of the internet, which shows quick non-stop action and for short attention span viewers, nothing appears to be happening in the sport.
     
    We've heard all this before. "Add violence! Add sex! Add more violence! No-hitters are dull, and perfect games duller!"

    LEGO was in the water closet 15 years ago, losing the "digital natives" to video games (do they still make those?) and other geegaws. Putting tiny plastic bricks together was dull, dull, dull. It required thought, an increasingly obsolete activity. Experts advised them they had to simplify their toys and make them more exciting.

    Martin Lindstrom explains how their research inspired them to do precisely the opposite, making their product more complex than it had ever been:


    Inspired by what an 11-year-old German boy had told them about an old pair of Adidas sneakers, the team realized that children attain social currency among their peers by playing and achieving a high level of mastery at their chosen skill, whatever that skill happens to be.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/lego-engineered-remarkable-turnaround-its-business-howd-lindstrom/
     

    Forbes now says they've passed Ferrari as the world's most powerful brand. So much for your theory.

    Baseball and chess will always be dull to those who can't be bothered to think and anticipate. It's all in the anticipation. Those with and high time preferences and limited horizons will inevitably find such activities stagnant. These people can go watch Negroes cripple each other on other fields and courts.

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  215. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    That isn't accurate. MMA is more and more becoming widely accessible to local and regional viewers as there are local fighters who gain a local and then regional followings. The sport is about to overtake boxing, long a part of network TV and evidence may suggest that it's PPV will overtake boxing as well.

    "Who said that life was fair?"--JFK

    Also, there are more NCAA teams than MLB, and NCAA football remains a far more popular sport than MLB either in viewing live or on network TV. Ordinary sports fans can't identify with gazillionaire players (many aren't even American and don't speak much English, by the way) but they can identify with college teams. After all, many Americans attended college and therefore there is a built in following unlike MLB. In the South, for instance, MLB doesn't come anywhere close to NCAA football. Not even close.

    You also helped make my point: For the most part, MLB is boring (for those under 40). Whereas in the dead ball era and even up thru the 50's and 60's, an average duration of an MLB game was often under 2 hrs. Lawrence S. Ritter's The Glory of Their Times an old time player comments on this fact (being interviewed in the '60's), that they played MLB games much faster during his era than the modern times (60's, when the book first came out). The point being MLB full nine inning game was often played in about ninety minutes.

    Remember, there was no night baseball prior to 1935, and even then it didn't fully catch on til after WW2. As most games tended to start on the weekday at around 4 , one couldn't waste three or four hours with the foolishness that goes on that extends MLB games today or there would've been far more games called on account of darkness. The longest inning game, played in 1920 was 26 innings and ended in a 1-1 tie. It lasted about three hours. The reason it was called was because it was twilight and starting to get dark. Can you imagine how long a 26 inning game would take to play in MLB in 2017? Probably ten hrs to half a day, easily. But that's how fast MLBers used to play. And that's also why NFL and NBA figured out that three hrs is about how long most sports fans are willing to devote to watching a single game. For the most part, NFL games generally don't go beyond that time limit. The famous 1971 Dec. 25 AFC Divisional game between MIA vs KC took about four and a half hours to play, and that's still one of the longest games for an NFL game.

    More and more of the younger generations are watching MMA and not MLB. It's all action, it's quick and fast, and not too many commercial interruptions. As soon as MMA starts to appear on the networks, that should be among the final nails in MLB. Superbowl and NCAA Tourney is the equivalent of MLB's WS so that is definitely accurate to compare to ascertain which sport has the most total viewership.

    The length of game is what makes the NFL superior to college. Those college games are like torture to watch.

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Agreed, but in large sections of the US (e.g. the Solid South), NCAA is king. You also have NCAA stadiums that seat 80-110,000. Safe to say that a baseball only park that seats 110,000 will never be built, by the way. If anything, the MLB parks have gotten smaller for a reason: fewer and fewer attend the games.
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  216. @Reg Cæsar

    And of the three games in the US, tenpin, duckpin, candlepin, which one is the most popular to play as well as gets the TV ratings (when bowling is covered on TV at all)?
     
    I don't know about duckpin, but candlepin (in New England) and five-pin (in Canada) are regional favorites which have indeed been shown on local TV in their home territories.

    I hadn't bowled in ten years-- and that was candlepin, in Maine-- when I was invited to join friends at a university lane for tenpin. We bowled one game, then discussed whether we should play another, or go do something else. Out of boredom, I picked a ball up and rolled it down the lane, just for the exercise.

    Strike! Dammit, now we had to play! (It still irks me that in a lunchtime card game in eighth grade, I was dealt A-K-Q-J-9-- someone didn't shuffle properly-- when the teacher broke it up before we could start the hand.)

    But the trend in tenpin bowling is the same as in golf-- few kids want to play anymore. So perhaps candlepin and duckpin will spread, like craft beer against the declining major brewers.

    Tenpin has become as exciting as batting practice.

    I tell people who say baseball needs more scoring to be interesting to come back after a five-day cricket test match, and tell me that.

    I don’t follow. Cricket is never going to be popular in the US and whatever people have heard about it consider it even more boring that MLB. Also, Cricket isn’t as popular in the UK among the proles as is Association Football and Rugby. In fact, among the European proles and Aussies, cricket is never among the top three sports to play or to watch compared to soccer, rugby, basketball, hockey, etc.

    I think we both know that ten pin is the US’s most popular form of bowling. Say the world bowling and like, 99% of folks automatically think ten pin. Come on. But it was never a pure sport per se as PGA, tennis, etc. It was always more about families or buddies forming a bowling team on weekends. It was also popular among the blue collar proles. But since the erosion of the two parent family, going bowling simply isn’t considered the thing to do. In some ways bowling is seen as an oddity. Slightly below playing pinball or billiards. It’s like “so what?” and “who cares”.

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  217. @Reg Cæsar

    It wasn’t ’til the late ’50′s/’60′s with the desire to make all the parks sym[m]etrical.
     
    The first symmetrical park in the majors was Comiskey Park, built in 1910. It was also the oldest park in the majors from 1971 to 1990.

    I love asymmetry in baseball, but Comiskey was right-- unless it's forced, it's fake. If they wanted retro parks (without the retro financing, of course), they could have found retro lots, of which there seem to be many in our decaying cities.

    No, it wasn’t. The oldest park from 1971-90 would be Tiger Stadium (built in the late 1890′s and has the distinction of having been MLB’s oldest park built on the original ground). It went thru many facelifts and refurbishings, the more familiar update also occurred in 1910. So it’s a draw between Comiskey and Tiger Stadium. With DET the oldest as defined by remaining on the original site for over a century. Most of the original concrete and steel parks that started with Shibe in PHI and Forbes in PIT (both 1909) were asymmetrical and it was natural.
    There may have been many things wrong with MLB in the late 50′s early 60′s but asymmetrical ballparks wasn’t one of them. The owners were cheap and saw a way to bilk the cities for funding, which is how they got symmetrical, multi-venue arenas that were ugly and mostly turf. Many of these parks didn’t last even thirty-five years.

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    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    oldest park built on the original ground
     
    If you're using that metric, the oldest stadium that used a retractable roof is the Roman Coliseum. But the roof, and the slaves that operated it, are long gone.

    Braves Field in Boston survives, in part, as Nickerson Field at BU, and Jarry Park in Montreal now hosts tennis and other sports. (Nickerson is an ironic name for a man who made his mark with Gilette safety razors.)

    Cincinnati's Crosley Field was rebuilt, elsewhere, twice:


    http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/2015/06/01/crosley-field-lives-blue-ash/28182345/
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  218. @ScarletNumber
    The length of game is what makes the NFL superior to college. Those college games are like torture to watch.

    Agreed, but in large sections of the US (e.g. the Solid South), NCAA is king. You also have NCAA stadiums that seat 80-110,000. Safe to say that a baseball only park that seats 110,000 will never be built, by the way. If anything, the MLB parks have gotten smaller for a reason: fewer and fewer attend the games.

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  219. Anon87 says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Uh, because unlike say, MMA or the NFL, MLB is perceived as dull and boring. Very little constant and consistent action occurs. At best it occurs in brief spurts, as opposed to non-stop continuous action. Therefore to ask people to watch a sport that many perceive to be as exciting as "watching paint dry", is a challenge. Therefore, by shortening the game to make it acceptable to view. I take for granted that many here are familiar with non-MLB but fans of other sports complaints about baseball. It's slow and boring to watch. Yet, no one, NO ONE, ever claims that NHL, NBA, NFL, and MMA are boring to watch. There's a reason for that. They may be many things, but they're not boring to watch.

    To be fair to the critics, they do have a point at times. When it was in its youthful heyday (ca.1880's-1940's) it was the bees knees. During its maturity (ca.1950's-1990), it was excellent and provided an amazing bang for the buck. Ironically, this was the great time of "white flight" which also made MLB attendance drop across the board so they wisely turned to TV to recap their loss in attendance.

    But this is now 2017. With the era of the internet, which shows quick non-stop action and for short attention span viewers, nothing appears to be happening in the sport. To them it is irrelevant and never going to make strong headway with these younger demographics (hence the reason they turn to other sports and things to occupy their time. They also have more options than ever before).

    Have you ever attended an NFL game? Beyond dull.

    MMA has a lower ceiling than any major sport, even the NHL which has yet to achieve any breakthrough after Gary Bettman sold out for mass appeal. But hockey is certainly constant motion for ADHD attention spans. MMA is short spurts at best..

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  220. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    No, it wasn't. The oldest park from 1971-90 would be Tiger Stadium (built in the late 1890's and has the distinction of having been MLB's oldest park built on the original ground). It went thru many facelifts and refurbishings, the more familiar update also occurred in 1910. So it's a draw between Comiskey and Tiger Stadium. With DET the oldest as defined by remaining on the original site for over a century. Most of the original concrete and steel parks that started with Shibe in PHI and Forbes in PIT (both 1909) were asymmetrical and it was natural.
    There may have been many things wrong with MLB in the late 50's early 60's but asymmetrical ballparks wasn't one of them. The owners were cheap and saw a way to bilk the cities for funding, which is how they got symmetrical, multi-venue arenas that were ugly and mostly turf. Many of these parks didn't last even thirty-five years.

    oldest park built on the original ground

    If you’re using that metric, the oldest stadium that used a retractable roof is the Roman Coliseum. But the roof, and the slaves that operated it, are long gone.

    Braves Field in Boston survives, in part, as Nickerson Field at BU, and Jarry Park in Montreal now hosts tennis and other sports. (Nickerson is an ironic name for a man who made his mark with Gilette safety razors.)

    Cincinnati’s Crosley Field was rebuilt, elsewhere, twice:

    http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/2015/06/01/crosley-field-lives-blue-ash/28182345/

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    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    No, Tiger Stadium pre-dates Comiskey Park. It existed in one form or another in MLB on the original site up until 2000, when it was torn down and the Tigers moved elsewhere. That's a reasonable metric, namely, that one team in MLB used the same site for their ballpark (albeit refurbished several times) for over a century. For baseball, that's near ancient. Again, not many of the 6o's all purpose turf fields exist anymore for MLB. They couldn't even make it thirty-five yrs. and most of them built at taxpayers expense.
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  221. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Uh, because unlike say, MMA or the NFL, MLB is perceived as dull and boring. Very little constant and consistent action occurs. At best it occurs in brief spurts, as opposed to non-stop continuous action. Therefore to ask people to watch a sport that many perceive to be as exciting as "watching paint dry", is a challenge. Therefore, by shortening the game to make it acceptable to view. I take for granted that many here are familiar with non-MLB but fans of other sports complaints about baseball. It's slow and boring to watch. Yet, no one, NO ONE, ever claims that NHL, NBA, NFL, and MMA are boring to watch. There's a reason for that. They may be many things, but they're not boring to watch.

    To be fair to the critics, they do have a point at times. When it was in its youthful heyday (ca.1880's-1940's) it was the bees knees. During its maturity (ca.1950's-1990), it was excellent and provided an amazing bang for the buck. Ironically, this was the great time of "white flight" which also made MLB attendance drop across the board so they wisely turned to TV to recap their loss in attendance.

    But this is now 2017. With the era of the internet, which shows quick non-stop action and for short attention span viewers, nothing appears to be happening in the sport. To them it is irrelevant and never going to make strong headway with these younger demographics (hence the reason they turn to other sports and things to occupy their time. They also have more options than ever before).

    But this is now 2017. With the era of the internet, which shows quick non-stop action and for short attention span viewers, nothing appears to be happening in the sport.

    We’ve heard all this before. “Add violence! Add sex! Add more violence! No-hitters are dull, and perfect games duller!”

    LEGO was in the water closet 15 years ago, losing the “digital natives” to video games (do they still make those?) and other geegaws. Putting tiny plastic bricks together was dull, dull, dull. It required thought, an increasingly obsolete activity. Experts advised them they had to simplify their toys and make them more exciting.

    Martin Lindstrom explains how their research inspired them to do precisely the opposite, making their product more complex than it had ever been:

    Inspired by what an 11-year-old German boy had told them about an old pair of Adidas sneakers, the team realized that children attain social currency among their peers by playing and achieving a high level of mastery at their chosen skill, whatever that skill happens to be.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/lego-engineered-remarkable-turnaround-its-business-howd-lindstrom/

    Forbes now says they’ve passed Ferrari as the world’s most powerful brand. So much for your theory.

    Baseball and chess will always be dull to those who can’t be bothered to think and anticipate. It’s all in the anticipation. Those with and high time preferences and limited horizons will inevitably find such activities stagnant. These people can go watch Negroes cripple each other on other fields and courts.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Apple and Google are the world's most powerful brands, duh. You're saying that LEGO came out of the closet, then? A blessing in disguise.

    The facts remain the facts: MLB is losing younger demographic marketshare to other sports.It is now primarily watched closely (even casually for the most part) by the older and whiter.

    Mainly because it's no longer the only game in town, so to speak. This ain't 1924, when every small town had a ball team, big cities fielded tons of semi-pro teams, and kids played the game everywhere. Back then the NFL was a leatherhead joke, the NCAA was way ahead of it in fan interest. The NBA was a thing of the future, and hockey was even more regional than it is now. Aside from the Olympics and boxing (and maybe horse racing but that mainly for the elites and organized gambling), MLB had total dominance of the US's time and money by default.

    Times have changed and this is now 2017, where there's several viable sports that are more than able to step up and fill the gap, should baseball suddenly disappear forever starting tomorrow afternoon.

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  222. @Reg Cæsar

    oldest park built on the original ground
     
    If you're using that metric, the oldest stadium that used a retractable roof is the Roman Coliseum. But the roof, and the slaves that operated it, are long gone.

    Braves Field in Boston survives, in part, as Nickerson Field at BU, and Jarry Park in Montreal now hosts tennis and other sports. (Nickerson is an ironic name for a man who made his mark with Gilette safety razors.)

    Cincinnati's Crosley Field was rebuilt, elsewhere, twice:


    http://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/2015/06/01/crosley-field-lives-blue-ash/28182345/

    No, Tiger Stadium pre-dates Comiskey Park. It existed in one form or another in MLB on the original site up until 2000, when it was torn down and the Tigers moved elsewhere. That’s a reasonable metric, namely, that one team in MLB used the same site for their ballpark (albeit refurbished several times) for over a century. For baseball, that’s near ancient. Again, not many of the 6o’s all purpose turf fields exist anymore for MLB. They couldn’t even make it thirty-five yrs. and most of them built at taxpayers expense.

    Read More
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  223. @Reg Cæsar

    But this is now 2017. With the era of the internet, which shows quick non-stop action and for short attention span viewers, nothing appears to be happening in the sport.
     
    We've heard all this before. "Add violence! Add sex! Add more violence! No-hitters are dull, and perfect games duller!"

    LEGO was in the water closet 15 years ago, losing the "digital natives" to video games (do they still make those?) and other geegaws. Putting tiny plastic bricks together was dull, dull, dull. It required thought, an increasingly obsolete activity. Experts advised them they had to simplify their toys and make them more exciting.

    Martin Lindstrom explains how their research inspired them to do precisely the opposite, making their product more complex than it had ever been:


    Inspired by what an 11-year-old German boy had told them about an old pair of Adidas sneakers, the team realized that children attain social currency among their peers by playing and achieving a high level of mastery at their chosen skill, whatever that skill happens to be.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/lego-engineered-remarkable-turnaround-its-business-howd-lindstrom/
     

    Forbes now says they've passed Ferrari as the world's most powerful brand. So much for your theory.

    Baseball and chess will always be dull to those who can't be bothered to think and anticipate. It's all in the anticipation. Those with and high time preferences and limited horizons will inevitably find such activities stagnant. These people can go watch Negroes cripple each other on other fields and courts.

    Apple and Google are the world’s most powerful brands, duh. You’re saying that LEGO came out of the closet, then? A blessing in disguise.

    The facts remain the facts: MLB is losing younger demographic marketshare to other sports.It is now primarily watched closely (even casually for the most part) by the older and whiter.

    Mainly because it’s no longer the only game in town, so to speak. This ain’t 1924, when every small town had a ball team, big cities fielded tons of semi-pro teams, and kids played the game everywhere. Back then the NFL was a leatherhead joke, the NCAA was way ahead of it in fan interest. The NBA was a thing of the future, and hockey was even more regional than it is now. Aside from the Olympics and boxing (and maybe horse racing but that mainly for the elites and organized gambling), MLB had total dominance of the US’s time and money by default.

    Times have changed and this is now 2017, where there’s several viable sports that are more than able to step up and fill the gap, should baseball suddenly disappear forever starting tomorrow afternoon.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    Apple and Google are the world’s most powerful brands, duh.
     
    What are you talking about? All my PC magazines say that Apple is done for, as it cannot stand up to the Microsoft onslaught and its inevitable assimilation. Are you saying the conventional wisdom is wrong?

    OK, these magazines are library discards from the '90s, but conventional wisdom is conventional for a reason, isn't it, and not quick to change.

    So chess, baseball, and LEGO are boring and thus bound to die. And Microsoft is boring, and thus bound to take over the world.
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  224. Astros vs. Dodgers.

    DAMN IT! This is what happens when NY refused to go to the matt and outbid every team for Clayton Kershaw.

    If only Aaron Judge had stepped up and belted three-four HR’s during his AB’s. This is gonna wreck havok on his WAR. Nothing like a screwed up WAR when going into arbitration. GM’s tend to have long memories on this sort of thing, especially since they generally follow after Bill James.

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  225. Travis says:
    @Wally
    Proof for the often alleged altered construction of the ball is lacking.

    I suggest you learn about the emphasis in hitting now which increases the launch angle ... which can reduce the batting average for some, but also increase power numbers.

    And indeed, the guys are just in better shape, they stay that way year round, & the training techniques are massively better.

    I like my old timers, but I maintain that a lot of them wouldn't even make a major league team today.

    https://www.theringer.com/2017/6/14/16044264/2017-mlb-home-run-spike-juiced-ball-testing-reveal-155cd21108bc

    The Juiced Ball Is Back
    New testing suggests the baseball is responsible for MLB’s huge homer spike.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Of course. Believe that and we'll tell you another one. Something (e.g. players) is/are probably juiced up. Three guesses what that could be.
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  226. @Travis
    https://www.theringer.com/2017/6/14/16044264/2017-mlb-home-run-spike-juiced-ball-testing-reveal-155cd21108bc

    The Juiced Ball Is Back
    New testing suggests the baseball is responsible for MLB’s huge homer spike.

    Of course. Believe that and we’ll tell you another one. Something (e.g. players) is/are probably juiced up. Three guesses what that could be.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Travis
    players have been juicing for decades...but even during the late 90s when Juicing was legal and condoned by the owners and no testing was done on the players they hit less home runs than in 2016 and 2017...

    The balls from 2015 became bouncier...confirmed by testing 2015 balls against 2015 balls.
    The balls became smaller in 2017, with lowered seems...just as they did in NCAA baseball which also saw an increase in home runs after they introduced the smaller balls. In fact Home runs in NCAA baseball increased by the exact amount as in MLB since the introduction of the new balls..47%

    In an effort to boost offense, the Division I Baseball Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to switch from the raised-seam baseball currently used during the NCAA tournament to a flat-seamed ball, starting in 2015.
    Read more at http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/ncaa-to-switch-to-flat-seamed-balls-in-2015/#3ktmCVHj7fPLraLF.99

    http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/06/29/a-second-study-confirms-that-home-runs-are-up-due-to-a-change-in-the-baseball/
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  227. Travis says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Of course. Believe that and we'll tell you another one. Something (e.g. players) is/are probably juiced up. Three guesses what that could be.

    players have been juicing for decades…but even during the late 90s when Juicing was legal and condoned by the owners and no testing was done on the players they hit less home runs than in 2016 and 2017…

    The balls from 2015 became bouncier…confirmed by testing 2015 balls against 2015 balls.
    The balls became smaller in 2017, with lowered seems…just as they did in NCAA baseball which also saw an increase in home runs after they introduced the smaller balls. In fact Home runs in NCAA baseball increased by the exact amount as in MLB since the introduction of the new balls..47%

    In an effort to boost offense, the Division I Baseball Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to switch from the raised-seam baseball currently used during the NCAA tournament to a flat-seamed ball, starting in 2015.
    Read more at http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/ncaa-to-switch-to-flat-seamed-balls-in-2015/#3ktmCVHj7fPLraLF.99

    http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/06/29/a-second-study-confirms-that-home-runs-are-up-due-to-a-change-in-the-baseball/

    Read More
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  228. dwb says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Among fast black guys with no power, Cincinnati has the Second Slidin' Billy Hamilton, but he's pretty bad. Miami has Dee Gordon, who is valuable ... if he's contending for the batting title. Gordon scored 114 runs this year by hitting .308 and having Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 homers behind him.

    But these kind of Willie Wilson / Vince Coleman players were more valuable in artificial turf parks where they'd be a threat to hit triples and even inside the park homers.

    Coleman was kind of a bad attitude case so he burned out fast. Lance Johnson had a longer career, peaking at age 32. I imagine he was a better personality to have on your team, but I'm just guessing.

    The White Sox usually used Lance Johnson not as a lead off hitter (using an older Tim Raines for that with his high OBP) but as a sort of second lead off hitter late in the batting order. If you have Frank Thomas batting third, you don't really need your lead off hitter to steal second so he can score on a single because Thomas hit 80 or so extrabase hits a year that would score a man from first. You just need your leadoff man to get on base. It's silly to play for Just One Run when a monster hitter like Thomas is coming up.

    It makes more sense to play for Just One Run down at the bottom of your order. If Lance did get on base, he might steal second and score on a single by a lesser hitter at the bottom of the order like, say, Ozzie Guillen or by Raines at the top of the order.

    Yeah – I remember that Coleman had some bad press for being sullen. If you are an all-star, people will put up with bad behaviour for a while (CF: Richie Allen). Even Dave Kingman played for many years despite actually sending a rat to a reported in a shoe box.

    I’m old enough (Gen X) to remember when the pre-season Sporting News used to talk about guys like Glenn Braggs (who could run, but not really do much of anything else) were can’t-miss prospects. Their AAA numbers were always so-so in places like Albuquerque or Phoenix where the league hit .290. They struck out a lot, hit .275 or so, but stole 100 bases. They would “learn to hit the curve.”

    Of course, no one who is a mediocre talent can “learn to hit” at the big-league level, so guys like Braggs would be out of the league after a couple of years hitting .220.

    The Cleveland Indians at one point actually re-aligned their entire outfield, pushing the CF fence out to some ridiculous depth, when a guy called Alex Cole had a decent half-season, stealing 40 bases in 60 games.

    It was a disaster, and Cole was traded a year later.

    The strategy of the game has changed – reading your comment about Willie Wilson, I guess you agree with me that the disappearance of turf has had a role in this – and you don’t hear that so much anymore. As you say, it’s no longer Gospel that the leadoff man has to be able to steal 50-100 bases per year; when even the SS is a threat to hit one over the fence, just being on base puts you in scoring position.

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  229. dwb says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    If you google traditional MLB ball park OF configurations pre-1950, you'll see that that's exactly what they did have. It wasn't 'til the late '50's/'60's with the desire to make all the parks symetrical.

    Of course, by allowing MLB parks to return to having their own character per OF designs would definitely annoy Bill James and his legions of sabermetricians who would howl with protests that such things tend to throw off their hallowed stats. After all, a HR really isn't a HR if every single ball park doesn't have the same symetrical configuration. Next, one might try and repeal the 1958 rule that power alleys and CF, RF, and LF cannot be less than a certain distance from home plate.

    And we can't afford to offend the keepers of the official stats of MLB.

    The old parks used to be asymmetrical in large part because they were squeezed into lots in cities, and were (with a few exceptions) made for baseball-only. The Polo Grounds in New York is a famous counter-example. The advent of the mutli-purpose stadium (of which the Oakland Coliseum is perhaps the most egregious, terrible example) built on large lots with a sea of parking around them in the 1960s lead to the nearly perfectly round stadiums of that era (Riverfront Stadium, Three Rivers, Veterans Stadium, etc.)

    I think Camden Yards (Baltimore) was the first of the throw-back fields, built only for baseball, with relatively small seating.

    I won’t argue with you that the popularity of baseball is declining (your fetish for MMA to the side – it is never, never going to surpass baseball in popularity, sorry), especially compared to football or the NBA. It’s my personal bias (I find football incredibly boring, as I do the NBA itself), but I think this is due to an over-all degradation in the culture of our country.

    What makes the NBA so ‘exciting?’ There are endless stoppages of play, a ridiculous half-time with cheerleaders and loud, “urban” music. Five games of one-on-one at the time. Constant noise and flashing lights telling the crowd when to cheer. Baseball has tried to introduce some of this (walk-up music for the hitters, for example).

    Americans have gotten to the point where it seems they need to be distracted constantly with noise and images. The NBA and NFL are perfect examples, and I’m surprised to see that you seem to find these a net positive.

    My other point is that while more black-hispanics or white-hispanics, for whatever the reason, they tend not to steal any more than white players. They don’t steal in the same numbers as did the black SB leaders during the ’60′s-80′s. Not sure as to why, as back in the day black Hispanics such as Omar Moreno and Frank Traveras had a couple of seasons of exceptionally high SB totals. But as of the last few decades they, like their white counterparts, don’t tend to steal a high total of bases per season.

    Doesn’t this seem to support the idea that there is something much more fundamental than that there are fewer American blacks in the league is at play here? When even black Latinos like Omar Moreno (who was, in truth, a terrible player) no longer steal bases like they used to? Even the black players who are still in the league seem to run less?

    Ironically, the last time anyone stole 70 bases in a season was 10 years ago when Jacoby Ellsbury (who looks to be Native American) did it. Teams run less, because they’ve figured out that unless you can get away with a steal at least 70-80% of the time, it’s a net loser. Even Moreno, in his best year (96 SB) was thrown out 33 times.

    It was understood at the time, that leadoff and second in the lineup were the tablesetters, those who were to get on base, to set up a potential big inning for the heart of the order. SB’s would help position the team to score some runs as well as hit score runs.

    Yes, but then teams started to look at the fact that getting on base (and scoring on a home run) was more important than stealing second if you could not get on base enough. There has always been an adage that you cannot steal first. Moreno, in his 96 SB season hit .249, and scored only 87 runs. Teams used to be OK with a fast guy at the top, but if that guy is only capable of a .306 OBP (Moreno’s lifetime stat), he’s just making too many outs. Not to harp on Moreno too much, but in the year he had 96 SB, he also got caught 33 times, and had 695 ABs (with only 168 hits). So he alone accounted for 560 outs (his ABs where he failed to get a hit, PLUS the times he did get on and was thrown out stealing). That is a huge number of outs for a guy “setting the table.”

    Forty years ago, 16% blacks in MLB would have been equivalent to about 30% today, as the US was much smaller in population so we have to adjust for that.

    I’m really confused by this claim – the 16% is a fraction of the total. Whether it’s 100 MM or 300 MM population, I do not know why necessarily that the percentage of black players should double just because the population total does. Unless the black population is over-represented in the newcomers, which we all know it isn’t. If I have a glass of sea water that is 12 ozs and has a certain amount of salinity, adding more seawater should not mean that, as a percentage, the salt content should increase. Sure, there’s more salt, but there is also more water.

    What am I missing here?

    Also, I’d remind you and Steve that Rickey Henderson’s high SB totals tended to come when he played for OAK. ACS tadium was a natural grass field, by the way. Either one can steal bases in massive totals, or one cannot. Really shouldn’t matter if the field is turf or dirt if one can steal.

    Rickey’s top totals were at the Coliseum in large part because that is where he was when he was his youngest (and perhaps, fastest). Henderson, who one year stole 130 bases, is really a corner case. The Coliseum is, in addition to being a turf field, one with a huge amount of foul territory (there are popups that end up in the gloves of third and first basemen that would be well back in the seats everywhere else in the league) making each run more difficult. In addition, it’s a terrible park for the home run – large outfield, heavy, cold air. This put a premium on stealing. When Rickey came up, he was a somewhat one-dimensional player – no power at all. His highest HR total in Oakland (his first tour) was 16 – in his last season. But he always had a very good eye (high OBP – Rickey’s career OBP was .401), and his speed was legendary.

    But your counterfactual is a bit false. The question for a guy like Henderson (a unique talent) is how many stolen bases would he have had if he played on turf? We can only look at the season he was a rent-a-player in Toronto. He had 22 SB (and only 2 CS) in 40 games. He was already 35 years old in that season.

    The rest of your points, I agree. I see no reason why the league should necessarily be concerned with increasing the number of black people playing. If blacks prefer to play football or other sports, that’s their choice. I personally do not care if there are 6, 16, or 60% (like the NFL) of the players who are black.

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    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    Yes, Baltimore started the trend toward retro ballparks. The White Sox just missed it with their new stadium. Even though it is baseball only, it looked just like the sterile multi-purpose ones. They have had to renovate it just to keep up with the current trends.

    The Blue Jays built a multi-purpose stadium because of the Argonauts, but ironically they moved into a smaller stadium built on the site of old Exhibition Stadium. SkyDome cost C$570 MM to build in 1989 and was bought out of bankruptcy court in 1999 for C$80 MM.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    Baseball has tried to introduce some of this (walk-up music for the hitters, for example).
     
    Nancy Faust created the "walk-up music", and she belongs in the Hall of Fame. Not the organists' hall of fame, but Cooperstown's. Like the Eiffel Tower, she was the first and last great one of a kind, and all the knock-offs are degrading and ugly. I went to a game at new Comiskey in its first year, and even they were drowning her out with recorded music. That's like pinch-hitting for Babe or Ty or Joltin' Joe.

    What baseball has introduced isn't so much basketball, but football. The DH is position-platooning. The bogus "divisions" came from 12-game football seasons, where a single standard matters less. The "wild card" came from the NFL as well, though tellingly the term originates in poker. How noble! They should apologize to Pete Rose.


    When Rickey came up, he was a somewhat one-dimensional player – no power at all... But he always had a very good eye (high OBP – Rickey’s career OBP was .401)...

     

    What's notable about Henderson is that he threw left and batted right, an extreme rarity in MLB. According to (probably) the only guy who ever researched this issue, he was the greatest such player in history. Cleon Jones was in the top four, as were two early-20th-century players no one remembers now.
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  230. @dwb
    The old parks used to be asymmetrical in large part because they were squeezed into lots in cities, and were (with a few exceptions) made for baseball-only. The Polo Grounds in New York is a famous counter-example. The advent of the mutli-purpose stadium (of which the Oakland Coliseum is perhaps the most egregious, terrible example) built on large lots with a sea of parking around them in the 1960s lead to the nearly perfectly round stadiums of that era (Riverfront Stadium, Three Rivers, Veterans Stadium, etc.)

    I think Camden Yards (Baltimore) was the first of the throw-back fields, built only for baseball, with relatively small seating.

    I won't argue with you that the popularity of baseball is declining (your fetish for MMA to the side - it is never, never going to surpass baseball in popularity, sorry), especially compared to football or the NBA. It's my personal bias (I find football incredibly boring, as I do the NBA itself), but I think this is due to an over-all degradation in the culture of our country.

    What makes the NBA so 'exciting?' There are endless stoppages of play, a ridiculous half-time with cheerleaders and loud, "urban" music. Five games of one-on-one at the time. Constant noise and flashing lights telling the crowd when to cheer. Baseball has tried to introduce some of this (walk-up music for the hitters, for example).

    Americans have gotten to the point where it seems they need to be distracted constantly with noise and images. The NBA and NFL are perfect examples, and I'm surprised to see that you seem to find these a net positive.

    My other point is that while more black-hispanics or white-hispanics, for whatever the reason, they tend not to steal any more than white players. They don’t steal in the same numbers as did the black SB leaders during the ’60′s-80′s. Not sure as to why, as back in the day black Hispanics such as Omar Moreno and Frank Traveras had a couple of seasons of exceptionally high SB totals. But as of the last few decades they, like their white counterparts, don’t tend to steal a high total of bases per season.
     
    Doesn't this seem to support the idea that there is something much more fundamental than that there are fewer American blacks in the league is at play here? When even black Latinos like Omar Moreno (who was, in truth, a terrible player) no longer steal bases like they used to? Even the black players who are still in the league seem to run less?

    Ironically, the last time anyone stole 70 bases in a season was 10 years ago when Jacoby Ellsbury (who looks to be Native American) did it. Teams run less, because they've figured out that unless you can get away with a steal at least 70-80% of the time, it's a net loser. Even Moreno, in his best year (96 SB) was thrown out 33 times.

    It was understood at the time, that leadoff and second in the lineup were the tablesetters, those who were to get on base, to set up a potential big inning for the heart of the order. SB’s would help position the team to score some runs as well as hit score runs.
     
    Yes, but then teams started to look at the fact that getting on base (and scoring on a home run) was more important than stealing second if you could not get on base enough. There has always been an adage that you cannot steal first. Moreno, in his 96 SB season hit .249, and scored only 87 runs. Teams used to be OK with a fast guy at the top, but if that guy is only capable of a .306 OBP (Moreno's lifetime stat), he's just making too many outs. Not to harp on Moreno too much, but in the year he had 96 SB, he also got caught 33 times, and had 695 ABs (with only 168 hits). So he alone accounted for 560 outs (his ABs where he failed to get a hit, PLUS the times he did get on and was thrown out stealing). That is a huge number of outs for a guy "setting the table."

    Forty years ago, 16% blacks in MLB would have been equivalent to about 30% today, as the US was much smaller in population so we have to adjust for that.
     
    I'm really confused by this claim - the 16% is a fraction of the total. Whether it's 100 MM or 300 MM population, I do not know why necessarily that the percentage of black players should double just because the population total does. Unless the black population is over-represented in the newcomers, which we all know it isn't. If I have a glass of sea water that is 12 ozs and has a certain amount of salinity, adding more seawater should not mean that, as a percentage, the salt content should increase. Sure, there's more salt, but there is also more water.

    What am I missing here?

    Also, I’d remind you and Steve that Rickey Henderson’s high SB totals tended to come when he played for OAK. ACS tadium was a natural grass field, by the way. Either one can steal bases in massive totals, or one cannot. Really shouldn’t matter if the field is turf or dirt if one can steal.


    Rickey's top totals were at the Coliseum in large part because that is where he was when he was his youngest (and perhaps, fastest). Henderson, who one year stole 130 bases, is really a corner case. The Coliseum is, in addition to being a turf field, one with a huge amount of foul territory (there are popups that end up in the gloves of third and first basemen that would be well back in the seats everywhere else in the league) making each run more difficult. In addition, it's a terrible park for the home run - large outfield, heavy, cold air. This put a premium on stealing. When Rickey came up, he was a somewhat one-dimensional player - no power at all. His highest HR total in Oakland (his first tour) was 16 - in his last season. But he always had a very good eye (high OBP - Rickey's career OBP was .401), and his speed was legendary.

    But your counterfactual is a bit false. The question for a guy like Henderson (a unique talent) is how many stolen bases would he have had if he played on turf? We can only look at the season he was a rent-a-player in Toronto. He had 22 SB (and only 2 CS) in 40 games. He was already 35 years old in that season.

    The rest of your points, I agree. I see no reason why the league should necessarily be concerned with increasing the number of black people playing. If blacks prefer to play football or other sports, that's their choice. I personally do not care if there are 6, 16, or 60% (like the NFL) of the players who are black.

    Yes, Baltimore started the trend toward retro ballparks. The White Sox just missed it with their new stadium. Even though it is baseball only, it looked just like the sterile multi-purpose ones. They have had to renovate it just to keep up with the current trends.

    The Blue Jays built a multi-purpose stadium because of the Argonauts, but ironically they moved into a smaller stadium built on the site of old Exhibition Stadium. SkyDome cost C$570 MM to build in 1989 and was bought out of bankruptcy court in 1999 for C$80 MM.

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  231. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Apple and Google are the world's most powerful brands, duh. You're saying that LEGO came out of the closet, then? A blessing in disguise.

    The facts remain the facts: MLB is losing younger demographic marketshare to other sports.It is now primarily watched closely (even casually for the most part) by the older and whiter.

    Mainly because it's no longer the only game in town, so to speak. This ain't 1924, when every small town had a ball team, big cities fielded tons of semi-pro teams, and kids played the game everywhere. Back then the NFL was a leatherhead joke, the NCAA was way ahead of it in fan interest. The NBA was a thing of the future, and hockey was even more regional than it is now. Aside from the Olympics and boxing (and maybe horse racing but that mainly for the elites and organized gambling), MLB had total dominance of the US's time and money by default.

    Times have changed and this is now 2017, where there's several viable sports that are more than able to step up and fill the gap, should baseball suddenly disappear forever starting tomorrow afternoon.

    Apple and Google are the world’s most powerful brands, duh.

    What are you talking about? All my PC magazines say that Apple is done for, as it cannot stand up to the Microsoft onslaught and its inevitable assimilation. Are you saying the conventional wisdom is wrong?

    OK, these magazines are library discards from the ’90s, but conventional wisdom is conventional for a reason, isn’t it, and not quick to change.

    So chess, baseball, and LEGO are boring and thus bound to die. And Microsoft is boring, and thus bound to take over the world.

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  232. @dwb
    The old parks used to be asymmetrical in large part because they were squeezed into lots in cities, and were (with a few exceptions) made for baseball-only. The Polo Grounds in New York is a famous counter-example. The advent of the mutli-purpose stadium (of which the Oakland Coliseum is perhaps the most egregious, terrible example) built on large lots with a sea of parking around them in the 1960s lead to the nearly perfectly round stadiums of that era (Riverfront Stadium, Three Rivers, Veterans Stadium, etc.)

    I think Camden Yards (Baltimore) was the first of the throw-back fields, built only for baseball, with relatively small seating.

    I won't argue with you that the popularity of baseball is declining (your fetish for MMA to the side - it is never, never going to surpass baseball in popularity, sorry), especially compared to football or the NBA. It's my personal bias (I find football incredibly boring, as I do the NBA itself), but I think this is due to an over-all degradation in the culture of our country.

    What makes the NBA so 'exciting?' There are endless stoppages of play, a ridiculous half-time with cheerleaders and loud, "urban" music. Five games of one-on-one at the time. Constant noise and flashing lights telling the crowd when to cheer. Baseball has tried to introduce some of this (walk-up music for the hitters, for example).

    Americans have gotten to the point where it seems they need to be distracted constantly with noise and images. The NBA and NFL are perfect examples, and I'm surprised to see that you seem to find these a net positive.

    My other point is that while more black-hispanics or white-hispanics, for whatever the reason, they tend not to steal any more than white players. They don’t steal in the same numbers as did the black SB leaders during the ’60′s-80′s. Not sure as to why, as back in the day black Hispanics such as Omar Moreno and Frank Traveras had a couple of seasons of exceptionally high SB totals. But as of the last few decades they, like their white counterparts, don’t tend to steal a high total of bases per season.
     
    Doesn't this seem to support the idea that there is something much more fundamental than that there are fewer American blacks in the league is at play here? When even black Latinos like Omar Moreno (who was, in truth, a terrible player) no longer steal bases like they used to? Even the black players who are still in the league seem to run less?

    Ironically, the last time anyone stole 70 bases in a season was 10 years ago when Jacoby Ellsbury (who looks to be Native American) did it. Teams run less, because they've figured out that unless you can get away with a steal at least 70-80% of the time, it's a net loser. Even Moreno, in his best year (96 SB) was thrown out 33 times.

    It was understood at the time, that leadoff and second in the lineup were the tablesetters, those who were to get on base, to set up a potential big inning for the heart of the order. SB’s would help position the team to score some runs as well as hit score runs.
     
    Yes, but then teams started to look at the fact that getting on base (and scoring on a home run) was more important than stealing second if you could not get on base enough. There has always been an adage that you cannot steal first. Moreno, in his 96 SB season hit .249, and scored only 87 runs. Teams used to be OK with a fast guy at the top, but if that guy is only capable of a .306 OBP (Moreno's lifetime stat), he's just making too many outs. Not to harp on Moreno too much, but in the year he had 96 SB, he also got caught 33 times, and had 695 ABs (with only 168 hits). So he alone accounted for 560 outs (his ABs where he failed to get a hit, PLUS the times he did get on and was thrown out stealing). That is a huge number of outs for a guy "setting the table."

    Forty years ago, 16% blacks in MLB would have been equivalent to about 30% today, as the US was much smaller in population so we have to adjust for that.
     
    I'm really confused by this claim - the 16% is a fraction of the total. Whether it's 100 MM or 300 MM population, I do not know why necessarily that the percentage of black players should double just because the population total does. Unless the black population is over-represented in the newcomers, which we all know it isn't. If I have a glass of sea water that is 12 ozs and has a certain amount of salinity, adding more seawater should not mean that, as a percentage, the salt content should increase. Sure, there's more salt, but there is also more water.

    What am I missing here?

    Also, I’d remind you and Steve that Rickey Henderson’s high SB totals tended to come when he played for OAK. ACS tadium was a natural grass field, by the way. Either one can steal bases in massive totals, or one cannot. Really shouldn’t matter if the field is turf or dirt if one can steal.


    Rickey's top totals were at the Coliseum in large part because that is where he was when he was his youngest (and perhaps, fastest). Henderson, who one year stole 130 bases, is really a corner case. The Coliseum is, in addition to being a turf field, one with a huge amount of foul territory (there are popups that end up in the gloves of third and first basemen that would be well back in the seats everywhere else in the league) making each run more difficult. In addition, it's a terrible park for the home run - large outfield, heavy, cold air. This put a premium on stealing. When Rickey came up, he was a somewhat one-dimensional player - no power at all. His highest HR total in Oakland (his first tour) was 16 - in his last season. But he always had a very good eye (high OBP - Rickey's career OBP was .401), and his speed was legendary.

    But your counterfactual is a bit false. The question for a guy like Henderson (a unique talent) is how many stolen bases would he have had if he played on turf? We can only look at the season he was a rent-a-player in Toronto. He had 22 SB (and only 2 CS) in 40 games. He was already 35 years old in that season.

    The rest of your points, I agree. I see no reason why the league should necessarily be concerned with increasing the number of black people playing. If blacks prefer to play football or other sports, that's their choice. I personally do not care if there are 6, 16, or 60% (like the NFL) of the players who are black.

    Baseball has tried to introduce some of this (walk-up music for the hitters, for example).

    Nancy Faust created the “walk-up music”, and she belongs in the Hall of Fame. Not the organists’ hall of fame, but Cooperstown’s. Like the Eiffel Tower, she was the first and last great one of a kind, and all the knock-offs are degrading and ugly. I went to a game at new Comiskey in its first year, and even they were drowning her out with recorded music. That’s like pinch-hitting for Babe or Ty or Joltin’ Joe.

    What baseball has introduced isn’t so much basketball, but football. The DH is position-platooning. The bogus “divisions” came from 12-game football seasons, where a single standard matters less. The “wild card” came from the NFL as well, though tellingly the term originates in poker. How noble! They should apologize to Pete Rose.

    When Rickey came up, he was a somewhat one-dimensional player – no power at all… But he always had a very good eye (high OBP – Rickey’s career OBP was .401)…

    What’s notable about Henderson is that he threw left and batted right, an extreme rarity in MLB. According to (probably) the only guy who ever researched this issue, he was the greatest such player in history. Cleon Jones was in the top four, as were two early-20th-century players no one remembers now.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Sandy Koufax threw left and batted right, exposing his valuable left arm to getting hit by a pitch.

    He was a terrible hitter.

    My Koufax Challenge is to find a single anecdote in which Koufax ever got an edge on an opponent by doing anything clever.
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  233. @Reg Cæsar

    Baseball has tried to introduce some of this (walk-up music for the hitters, for example).
     
    Nancy Faust created the "walk-up music", and she belongs in the Hall of Fame. Not the organists' hall of fame, but Cooperstown's. Like the Eiffel Tower, she was the first and last great one of a kind, and all the knock-offs are degrading and ugly. I went to a game at new Comiskey in its first year, and even they were drowning her out with recorded music. That's like pinch-hitting for Babe or Ty or Joltin' Joe.

    What baseball has introduced isn't so much basketball, but football. The DH is position-platooning. The bogus "divisions" came from 12-game football seasons, where a single standard matters less. The "wild card" came from the NFL as well, though tellingly the term originates in poker. How noble! They should apologize to Pete Rose.


    When Rickey came up, he was a somewhat one-dimensional player – no power at all... But he always had a very good eye (high OBP – Rickey’s career OBP was .401)...

     

    What's notable about Henderson is that he threw left and batted right, an extreme rarity in MLB. According to (probably) the only guy who ever researched this issue, he was the greatest such player in history. Cleon Jones was in the top four, as were two early-20th-century players no one remembers now.

    Sandy Koufax threw left and batted right, exposing his valuable left arm to getting hit by a pitch.

    He was a terrible hitter.

    My Koufax Challenge is to find a single anecdote in which Koufax ever got an edge on an opponent by doing anything clever.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    Sandy Koufax threw left and batted right, exposing his valuable left arm to getting hit by a pitch.
     
    The analysis I referred to explicitly excluded pitchers:

    https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/bats-right-throws-left-the-best-players-in-major-league-history/

    Hitting ability is a trivial portion of a pitcher's worth, so many more TL/BRs make it through to the majors. Position players are subject to a more brutal Darwinianism. Only 57 TL/BRs have made it to the majors and stayed.

    TR/BL is a much more advantageous set-up, and gave us Cobb, Williams, Berra, and Morgan among others.

    I imagine many lefties bat right as kids due to righty fathers and brothers. I think that's why my lefty cousin/classmate/manager in sandlot hit right. I switch-hit, but with only two ABs against a lefty, I became a de facto lefty hitter myself.

    My head thus drifts toward my right shoulder rather than my left, when someone mentions "pitcher". This is why I suspect John Elway's doing the same might just have been an advantage of some sort at QB. Someone should look into this.


    He was a terrible hitter.
     
    So was Jerry Koosman, who also batted right. And 1969 was his worst year.

    Jim Kaat batted left, and hit much better, though not quite .200. In retirement, he's golfed his age four times, once right-handed. He's the Jimi Hendrix of golf.


    My Koufax Challenge is to find a single anecdote in which Koufax ever got an edge on an opponent by doing anything clever.
     
    For some reason, Jewish athletes are as dull as their comedians and movie producers are, well... interesting. For a truly clever Jewish ballplayer, you can't beat Moe Berg.

    I don't know how much you can trust ballplayers' bios written for tweens, but the ones I read of Ruth and Koufax both claimed their first position was at catcher. Weird. If I remember right, Ruth wore a standard glove backwards, while Koufax tore his apart, turned it inside-out, and re-stitched it.

    That's similar to string instruments. It's possible to retune a ukulele, with its narrow range, from right to left (though it's not ideal.) With a guitar, it requires major surgery, i.e., re-bridging and re-stringing.

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  234. @Steve Sailer
    Sandy Koufax threw left and batted right, exposing his valuable left arm to getting hit by a pitch.

    He was a terrible hitter.

    My Koufax Challenge is to find a single anecdote in which Koufax ever got an edge on an opponent by doing anything clever.

    Sandy Koufax threw left and batted right, exposing his valuable left arm to getting hit by a pitch.

    The analysis I referred to explicitly excluded pitchers:

    https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/bats-right-throws-left-the-best-players-in-major-league-history/

    Hitting ability is a trivial portion of a pitcher’s worth, so many more TL/BRs make it through to the majors. Position players are subject to a more brutal Darwinianism. Only 57 TL/BRs have made it to the majors and stayed.

    TR/BL is a much more advantageous set-up, and gave us Cobb, Williams, Berra, and Morgan among others.

    I imagine many lefties bat right as kids due to righty fathers and brothers. I think that’s why my lefty cousin/classmate/manager in sandlot hit right. I switch-hit, but with only two ABs against a lefty, I became a de facto lefty hitter myself.

    My head thus drifts toward my right shoulder rather than my left, when someone mentions “pitcher”. This is why I suspect John Elway’s doing the same might just have been an advantage of some sort at QB. Someone should look into this.

    He was a terrible hitter.

    So was Jerry Koosman, who also batted right. And 1969 was his worst year.

    Jim Kaat batted left, and hit much better, though not quite .200. In retirement, he’s golfed his age four times, once right-handed. He’s the Jimi Hendrix of golf.

    My Koufax Challenge is to find a single anecdote in which Koufax ever got an edge on an opponent by doing anything clever.

    For some reason, Jewish athletes are as dull as their comedians and movie producers are, well… interesting. For a truly clever Jewish ballplayer, you can’t beat Moe Berg.

    I don’t know how much you can trust ballplayers’ bios written for tweens, but the ones I read of Ruth and Koufax both claimed their first position was at catcher. Weird. If I remember right, Ruth wore a standard glove backwards, while Koufax tore his apart, turned it inside-out, and re-stitched it.

    That’s similar to string instruments. It’s possible to retune a ukulele, with its narrow range, from right to left (though it’s not ideal.) With a guitar, it requires major surgery, i.e., re-bridging and re-stringing.

    Read More
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