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Screenshot 2017-06-01 23.45.41The Washington Post has an article with some interesting graphics about how home run hitting in baseball is up, perhaps attributable to the introduction of technology in 2015 recording the launch angle and exit velocity of batted balls. In 2016 a number of hitters, such as Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals, switched to trying to hit more fly balls than ground balls, with good results. This year the trend toward fly balls and homers seems to be increasing.

The graph above, with launch angle on the vertical scale and how hard the ball is hit on the left to right scale shows that quite a few hits in baseball are flukes, such as all the Texas Leaguer bloops that fall in for singles in front of outfielders, bunts, slow dribblers, and hard Baltimore Chops that take so long to come down that the batter beats out the hit. (Does anybody still use terms like Texas Leaguer and Baltimore Chops? I have all this Branch Rickey era baseball vocabulary, like Merkle’s Boner, from the used baseball books my mom would bring home from the thrift shop where she worked in 1967, but I can’t tell whether anybody knows those terms anymore.)

Due to better data, about a half decade ago, teams started shifting infielders around radically for each batter, whereas back in the 1940s only Ted Williams had been greeted with a personalized shift. So batters are now using launch angle data to respond to the declining chance of hitting a grounder between infielders by hitting more balls in the air.

On the other hand, some hitters have had seasons wrecked by trying to alter their swings to put the ball in the air more, such as Jason Heyward who had an embarrassing year in 2016 with the otherwise sterling Chicago Cubs. This year they told him to just go back to swinging the way he had been and he’s doing somewhat better.

The problem with baseball is that the home run is really so much more valuable than other kinds of hits that baseball has a logical tendency to turn into home run hitting contest.

A problem with that is that not many men much below 200 pounds, and only very strong ones above 200 pounds, can regularly hit balls over major league fences. Yet baseball is a more interesting game when it has a role for interesting non-sluggers like Ichiro Suzuki, Ozzie Smith, Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, Mark Belanger, Eddie Collins, Willie Wilson, Maury Wills, Juan Pierre, and David Eckstein.

Baseball hierarchs should be thinking about how to reward line drive hitters. The ability to hit a 90+ mph pitch squarely is pretty interesting even if you can’t consistently hit it over the fence.

I wrote a post in 2014 about how they could greenskeep the outfields so that the ball would roll faster on the grass so that line drives would be more likely to roll between the outfielders to the fence for a triple, the most entertaining kind of hit (other than the rare inside-the-park homer).

For example, today they usually mow the outfield so that the nap of the grass is back and forth, making those attractive geometric designs. But they could mow the grass so the the blades lay down away from home plate, thus cutting resistance.

The most radical change would be to dig up the outfield and resod them, sloping the outfields downward away from home plate, kind of like at the Lord’s Cricket Club in London.

 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    (Does anybody still use terms like Texas Leaguer and Baltimore Chops? I have all this Branch Rickey era baseball vocabulary, like Merkle’s Boner, from the used baseball books my mom would bring home from the thrift shop where she worked in 1967, but I can’t tell whether anybody knows those terms anymore.)

    Cincinnati Bowtie and Cleveland Steamer are still used.

    • Replies: @Father O'Hara
    @Anonymous

    Texas Leaguer? It's used in Chicago!

  2. Steve, ever wonder why Lou Piniella couldn’t run? In his new autobiography, he says it’s because he broke his ankle on the way down from a hike to Mt. Baldy in 1962. His team went to Ontario for the Pony league World Series.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Marty

    You can run down the face of Mt. Baldy: it's ping-pong ball sized big pebbles that you slide a couple of feet in with each stride.

  3. I heard “Texas Leaguer” on my local MLB team’s radio broadcast the other day. I’ve noticed folksy old terms with historical resonance like “Baltimore Chop” are more common on local broadcast than on national TV.

    • Replies: @Forbes
    @MC

    Well that's because your local broadcasters are actually interested in the game.

    National broadcasters are interested in everything but the game: how they look, in-game interviews, trivia-filled graphics, personal anecdotes regarding who they spoke to before the game or at dinner last night, crowd shots, dugout shots, and on and on...

    Buy no worry, the local broadcasters will catch on, an soon their broadcasts will be just as bad. Though, radio is hard to screw up, inasmuch as it can be done badly.

  4. I don’t know that batters are just trying to smash it over the shift. Smart batters can just hit inside out or even just bunt a dribbler the other way. Look at Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. They can *crush* homers, but they can also use the whole field. By contrast, the Yankees dumped Brian McCann and ate half his salary because he couldn’t learn how to go the other way. Like any technological innovation in battle, the shift is going to diminish in efficacy as offenses develop countermeasures.

    • Agree: slumber_j
    • Replies: @josh
    @O'Really

    I don't understand why batters don't bunt against the shift. I saw Ken Griffey Jr. do this twice in a game and the opposing team stopped shifting. One side or the other is being irrational.

    Replies: @EriK, @justwonderingaboutbaseball

  5. MC says:

    Another reason that batters have been raising their launch angle is in response to the increasing preponderance of ground ball pitchers. When I was a kid in the 80’s-90’s, there were generally three kinds of pitchers: strikeout pitchers, ground ball pitchers, and fly ball pitchers. Two things happened that more or less wiped out fly ball pitchers. One is that steroids turned a lot of routine fly balls into homers, which wrecked the careers of a lot fly ball pitchers in the late 90s.

    The other thing is that Sabermetrics revealed that getting outs as a fly ball pitcher required a fair amount of luck that isn’t replicable. A successful ground ball pitcher or strikeout pitcher is more likely to repeat their success in the future.

    So MLB teams started to seek out mostly strikeout and ground ball pitchers. Ground ball % became one of the most important stats for prospects. This mostly increased the number of ground ball pitchers, since pitchers only try becoming GB or FB pitchers once they’ve failed to become strikeout pitchers.

    Thus, ground ball percentage has been going up for years. The higher swing angle is an evolutionary response to that trend.

    And in the endless cycle of pitchers v. hitters, you’re now seeing (just this year) some pitchers try to pitch up in the strike zone more, in an attempt to induce the higher angled swings into pop-ups.

    • Replies: @Hodag
    @MC

    The Dodgers just swept the Cubs by making them hit fly balls. This is a good strategy at Chavez Ravine.

    Trackman launch monitors have really taken over elite golf. The flight of the ball for all these gorillas is similar. The low spin balls just hang in the air forever. Maybe requiring a higher spin ball would keep the bomb and gougers from dominating. The US Open at Erin Hills can stretch their course to 8000 yards. I have turned down two invitations to play because I do not want to walk that much.

    Replies: @Danindc

    , @Njguy73
    @MC


    Two things happened that more or less wiped out fly ball pitchers. One is that steroids turned a lot of routine fly balls into homers, which wrecked the careers of a lot fly ball pitchers in the late 90s.

    The other thing is that Sabermetrics revealed that getting outs as a fly ball pitcher required a fair amount of luck that isn’t replicable. A successful ground ball pitcher or strikeout pitcher is more likely to repeat their success in the future.
     
    And pitcher friendly venues like Baltimore's Memorial Stadium and the Astrodome were replaced with hitter-friendly venues like Camden Yards and Minute Maid Park.

    Replies: @MC

  6. It’s all about the Three True Outcomes:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Three_True_Outcomes

    Strikeouts have increased at a phenomenal rate, too.

    Here’s a guy with 13 home runs who was hitting .167 last time I checked:

    http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/news/ryan-schimpf-stats-san-diego-padres-fantasy-bryce-harper-aaron-judge-comparisons/1e7nsvahv6e0i1w8fmcxyij4qe

  7. How to Have a Hit?

    • LOL: Buffalo Joe
    • Replies: @Forbes
    @Buzz Mohawk

    When I was in college, we made a bong out of the bowl from a corncob pipe, a Coke can, the sleeve from a Bic pen, and some Scotch tape. Necessity is the mother of invention.

    Amazingly, we didn't need an instructional video on how to use it from a chick who's already high...

  8. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    This is p much the only, 2 or 3 maybe, time out of a million posts where you mention ue mom unlike the bazillion when you mention your dad. If I were steve sailer I’m sure I would go into multi paragraph analysis about what this means exactly about your childhood and life and personality.

    Anyway I know what the terms Baltimore Chop and Texas leauger mean because I used to read bill james and other books from or set in the 70s and 80s

  9. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    This is p much the only, 2 or 3 maybe, time out of a million posts where you mention ue mom unlike the bazillion when you mention your dad. If I were steve sailer I’m sure I would go into multi paragraph analysis about what this means exactly about your childhood and life and personality.

    [MORE]

    Anyway I know what the terms Baltimore Chop and Texas leauger mean because I used to read bill james and other books from or set in the 70s and 80s

  10. Texas leaguer is still used. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard “Baltimore chop” in my 33 years of watching games.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    @Sideways

    In the old Polo Grounds of blessed memory, it was 258 feet down the right field line. Homers hit to right field were nicknamed "Chinese home runs". Where the word "Chinese" came from I have no idea. It was also a paltry 279 to left. Willie Mays no doubt fattened up his home run stats during the five years that he played there)

    Replies: @Njguy73

    , @Forbes
    @Sideways

    "Baltimore chop" heard this week--of course it was a game played in Baltimore--discussed among broadcasters that included former Oriole Ken Singleton.

  11. @Marty
    Steve, ever wonder why Lou Piniella couldn't run? In his new autobiography, he says it's because he broke his ankle on the way down from a hike to Mt. Baldy in 1962. His team went to Ontario for the Pony league World Series.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    You can run down the face of Mt. Baldy: it’s ping-pong ball sized big pebbles that you slide a couple of feet in with each stride.

  12. I hear Baltimore Chop very infrequently; mostly from older announcers.

    A lot of baseball argot seems to be in disuse. The reasons being a decline in sports-writing and radio broadcasts which require descriptive language and as a run off of the sabermetrics revolution (not necessarily the sabermetrician crowd itself), which discourages any terms of art with any chance of being out of its purview.

    • Replies: @riches
    @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    Speaking of baseball and argot--or an anagram of, here's info on former Pirate/Blue Devil Dick Groat:

    https://baseballpastandpresent.com/2010/11/24/bobby-knight-calls-dick-groat-the-best-basketball-player/

    Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball

  13. We need more articles about cricket, no one cares about Yankee sports.

    • Agree: MBlanc46
    • Replies: @MBlanc46
    @jim jones

    I'm impressed that Steve has ever heard about Lord's. I'm all for more cricket talk on iSteve.

  14. Another possible way to increase the number of inside-the-park hits that grab fans’ interest — e.g. gappers that go for doubles and triples — is simply to play around a bit more strategically with the size of the field itself.

    If I recall correctly, one reason the Colorado Rockies’ home park, Coors Field, is so conducive to offense is that it’s got lots and lots of space in the outfield because the fences are set unusually far back in order to offset the effects of the thin air, i.e. thin air makes it too easy to hit home runs. This extra area in the outfield opens up additional room for extra-base hits to drop in and roll.

    Making parks at lower altitudes bigger would also make it harder to hit home runs, and hence reshape the game quite a bit, perhaps pushing it back away from the ‘three true outcomes’ tyranny it seems stuck in at the moment.

  15. How to have a hit?

  16. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t know jack about baseball, but I learned most of my electronics and aircraft tech (before I went to school for it) from books published 10 to 30 years before my birth. So I know a lot of old terms in those fields, and use them to the consternation of others.

    I can tell you about the relative merits of linen vs. cotton fabric for aircraft, nitrate vs. butyrate dope, pegger-necking coolant or oil pipes, and the intricacies of Scott vs. Maule tailwheels. And swinging vs. smoothing chokes, how to tell what a tube does from its number, the use of the grid dip oscillator, and so forth.

    Lots of good that does me.

  17. They could always go back to Astroturf … got good ball-action on that stuff, though it was miserable to play on.

    • Replies: @Njguy73
    @The Alarmist


    They could always go back to Astroturf … got good ball-action on that stuff, though it was miserable to play on.
     
    Yeah, it's not like ballplayers need their knees later in life.
  18. Baseball hierarchs should be thinking about how to reward line drive hitters.

    Two words: “Polo Grounds.”

    Bigger outfields are the real answer…in theory anyway. The problem is that people–including me–like home runs a lot. So even when teams build ballparks for fewer homers, they end up moving the fences back in after a few years.

    Good point about Lords, among other cricket venues. The ball rolls a lot, so you get tons of boundaries. So maybe you’re right that the long-term answer to the line-drive problem lies in groundskeeping.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @slumber_j

    Kansas City had hard artificial turf so a line drive hitter like George Brett could hit as many as 20 triples in a year. Grass is nicer than astroturf, but steps could be taken to make grass play faster than it does now.

  19. @MC
    Another reason that batters have been raising their launch angle is in response to the increasing preponderance of ground ball pitchers. When I was a kid in the 80's-90's, there were generally three kinds of pitchers: strikeout pitchers, ground ball pitchers, and fly ball pitchers. Two things happened that more or less wiped out fly ball pitchers. One is that steroids turned a lot of routine fly balls into homers, which wrecked the careers of a lot fly ball pitchers in the late 90s.

    The other thing is that Sabermetrics revealed that getting outs as a fly ball pitcher required a fair amount of luck that isn't replicable. A successful ground ball pitcher or strikeout pitcher is more likely to repeat their success in the future.

    So MLB teams started to seek out mostly strikeout and ground ball pitchers. Ground ball % became one of the most important stats for prospects. This mostly increased the number of ground ball pitchers, since pitchers only try becoming GB or FB pitchers once they've failed to become strikeout pitchers.

    Thus, ground ball percentage has been going up for years. The higher swing angle is an evolutionary response to that trend.

    And in the endless cycle of pitchers v. hitters, you're now seeing (just this year) some pitchers try to pitch up in the strike zone more, in an attempt to induce the higher angled swings into pop-ups.

    Replies: @Hodag, @Njguy73

    The Dodgers just swept the Cubs by making them hit fly balls. This is a good strategy at Chavez Ravine.

    Trackman launch monitors have really taken over elite golf. The flight of the ball for all these gorillas is similar. The low spin balls just hang in the air forever. Maybe requiring a higher spin ball would keep the bomb and gougers from dominating. The US Open at Erin Hills can stretch their course to 8000 yards. I have turned down two invitations to play because I do not want to walk that much.

    • Replies: @Danindc
    @Hodag

    Humble brag of the century Hodar

    Replies: @Ex-banker

  20. A huge change has been the teaching of swing angle, which is not the same as but is correlated to launch angle. Back in my day (1950s and 60s), the emphasis was on a level swing. Later, some hitting instructors even taught a slightly downward swing.

    Today, most instructors teach having the swing through the hitting zone of about +20 degrees from horizontal because the average pitch is coming into the hitting zone at about -20 degrees. Having the bat on about the same plane as the ball reduces the importance of perfect timing. When combined with trying to hit the lower middle of the ball with the upper middle of the bat, the effect is what we’re seeing today.

    There is a third variable that I haven’t seen mentioned but that should be familiar to a golfer such as you: rotation or spin. Most home runs have backspin, which increases distance. Hitting the lower middle of the ball with the upper middle of the bat produces this backspin while also producing an optimal launch angle. Combine angle and spin with bat/ball speed, and you have today’s revolution in hitting.

    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    @FPD72

    Really interesting comment; thanks.

    One related observation: would this shift to a more upwardly-angled swing, i.e. "trying to hit the lower middle of the ball with the upper middle of the bat", also tend to increase the number of balls fouled back? It seems these days the number of at bats that include anywhere from 5-10 balls fouled off has also increased.

    Foul balls that go out of play really, really slow down the game, because you have the tedious routine of the ump handing the catcher a new ball while the batter wanders off, then the catcher throwing the new ball the pitcher, who must then engage in a lengthy sequence of new ball inspection and massage. Once the pitcher finally gets back on the rubber, the batter needs to be retrieved from his peregrinations and reinstalled in the box, and finally there can be another pitch.

    When this happens multiple times in a single at bat, I find it excruciating to watch.

    Replies: @Chris

  21. Tony Gwynn. How can you leave Tony Gwynn off of that list? Right in your back yard too.

  22. Steve, someone has started putting up a list of your articles:

    https://infogalactic.com/info/List_of_Steve_Sailer%27s_articles_on_the_Web

    The number of articles is daunting when you consider your output here at the Unz Review. Just looking at the author archives at the various sites you have articles posted obscures the scale of your output!

    What drives you to be so prolific?

    • Replies: @Danindc
    @Peripatetic commenter

    If Steve keeps up his current pace for another 15 years it's going to be Edison, Da Vinci and Sailer.

    I'm f'n serious.

    Replies: @Desiderius

  23. Similar data is a significant factor driving golf improvement among the top players. While everybody is focused on improvements in ball and club technology, Trackman has played a bigger role over the past few years. It is now well understood that certain truisms, like “hitting down on the ball to make it go up” and “trapping the ball” to make it draw are false (there may be some validity to the feel of those techniques producing the results, though).

    It used to be all about swing speed, but now players now optimize spin (low) and launch angle (high), largely through hitting up on the ball. That’s how guys like Justin Thomas can among the leaders in driving distance, despite weighing 145 pounds. When guys like Dustin Johnson optimize, this happens:

    4️⃣1️⃣3️⃣ yards. There are tee shots. And then there are Dustin Johnson tee shots. pic.twitter.com/Td12FbXpnl— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 1, 2017

    It’s amazing how much money people have wasted on golf lessons over the years, with nothing to show for it.

  24. It seems all big leaguers can drive the ball over the fence. Bat speed makes up for some of the physical disparities.

    Only Steve could come up with cutting the grass differently to improve game. Gotta like that.

  25. Does anybody still use terms like Texas Leaguer and Baltimore Chops? I have all this Branch Rickey era baseball vocabulary, like Merkle’s Boner, from the used baseball books my mom would bring home from the thrift shop where she worked in 1967

    I know those terms because my Mom got me a subscription to Baseball Digest in the early ’70s and renewed it for several years. Today’s her 80th birthday!

  26. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Sideways
    Texas leaguer is still used. I'm not sure if I've ever heard "Baltimore chop" in my 33 years of watching games.

    Replies: @anonymous, @Forbes

    In the old Polo Grounds of blessed memory, it was 258 feet down the right field line. Homers hit to right field were nicknamed “Chinese home runs”. Where the word “Chinese” came from I have no idea. It was also a paltry 279 to left. Willie Mays no doubt fattened up his home run stats during the five years that he played there)

    • Replies: @Njguy73
    @anonymous

    And when the Giants moved to San Francisco,

    "Willie Mays, who would play most of his career there, tested the wind and measured the prodigious distances down the power alleys—then 397 feet, now only 365 and 375—and muttered, 'Somebody's gonna get some salary cuts around here.' It wouldn't be Willie, though. He learned to go with the wind and became Candlestick's greatest hitter. It is often said that if he and Hank Aaron could have exchanged ballparks, there would be a different alltime home run king."

    https://www.si.com/vault/1986/09/01/113879/gone-with-the-wind-the-giants-want-out-of-blustery-candlestick-park-and-one-of-these-days-they-just-might-get-their-wish

    Aaron got a boost in 1966 when the Braves left pitcher-friendly Milwaukee County Stadium and moved to the Launching Pad in Atlanta (elevation 1,050 ft above sea level.)

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  27. Would deadening the ball help? If even huge guys can’t hit homers reliably, maybe we would see more contact hitting. Might even result in less pressure to juice.

  28. @O'Really
    I don't know that batters are just trying to smash it over the shift. Smart batters can just hit inside out or even just bunt a dribbler the other way. Look at Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. They can *crush* homers, but they can also use the whole field. By contrast, the Yankees dumped Brian McCann and ate half his salary because he couldn't learn how to go the other way. Like any technological innovation in battle, the shift is going to diminish in efficacy as offenses develop countermeasures.

    Replies: @josh

    I don’t understand why batters don’t bunt against the shift. I saw Ken Griffey Jr. do this twice in a game and the opposing team stopped shifting. One side or the other is being irrational.

    • Agree: TomSchmidt
    • Replies: @EriK
    @josh

    I know it's not entirely true but it seems that there are no good bunters in the (American) league. It's pathetic.

    , @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    @josh

    The primary intention of modern shifts is to minimize the contributions of good hitters and stymie average-ish hitters who can either only pull the ball with any authority or aren't nimble enough to inside-out the ball and go the other way with any regularity.

    Managers nowadays (probably at the behest of their front office) will take bunts and singles against the shift all day long in 90+% of the scenarios. Those two bunts by Griffey Jr. were two at bats the pitcher/catcher/manager needn't worry about him ripping a double in right center or using that awesome bat speed to drill a line drive homer over the right field wall. At the rate people strike out and with the prevalence of ground ball pitchers, odds are good that a bunt against the shift will not lead to anything like a double&up would.

    Pitchers don't even attempt to induce someone to hit into the shift by pitching inside like they used to do. I remember Griffey Jr., in shift situations, would get busted inside to try to get him to roll over on the ball and hit in weakly to second. Now, they stick to whatever game plan they have or whatever their strength is. If it ends up a seeing eye single the other way, so be it.

    Replies: @Josh

  29. “[S]loping the outfields downward away from home plate…”

    Errrr, no, I think they’re still recovering from the trauma-and-a-half of lowering the mound and the verdammt Designated Hitter rule …

  30. The idea you have for angling the outfield grass towards the wall is a double edged sword , Steve . Doubles might turn into long singles if the ball is getting out there faster .

  31. I just had the pleasure of watching the Astros crush the Twins with an average of 13+ runs per game and plentiful home runs, to an extent confirming the thesis.

    Commentary these days seems to be less about the Baltimore Chop and more about BABIP my wOBA.

  32. Although it occurred before my time, the ancient “hitting them where they ain’t” style of baseball sounds like it would be greatly more fun to watch. Batters would choke up on the bat, take compact swings, rarely strike out. The game would move along much faster, with a lot more action, and far fewer long counts ending in an anticlimactic whiff.

    The solution might be this: balls hit out of the park would count as either outs or foul balls. Or how about counting them as ground-rule singles or doubles to discourage batters from always swinging for the fences.

    • Replies: @whorefinder
    @Mark Caplan


    Although it occurred before my time, the ancient “hitting them where they ain’t” style of baseball sounds like it would be greatly more fun to watch. Batters would choke up on the bat, take compact swings, rarely strike out. The game would move along much faster, with a lot more action, and far fewer long counts ending in an anticlimactic whiff.
     
    People forget baseball was a huge national phenomenon before Babe Ruth--when Ty Cobb and Cy Young were the stars ("Take Me Out to the Ball Game"---about a girl who's a baseball groupie---was penned in 1908, the deadball era).. But Ruth came in right as radio became a middle-class household item, and it rocketed him to stardom.

    The deadball era was famously vicious. Ty Cobb gets all the grief, but the slashing, stealing, bunting style of the deadball era created or drew men who were hard-charging, cutthroat kind of guys.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    , @Danindc
    @Mark Caplan

    Sorry Bryce but that 500 foot home run you just hit is an out

  33. MLB baseball should have encouraged the new ballparks to be larger, to make baseball more interesting instead of allowing the fields to get smaller and smaller as hitters got stronger.

    • Replies: @prole
    @Travis

    Deeper fields and higher fences is a good idea.

  34. @Anonymous

    (Does anybody still use terms like Texas Leaguer and Baltimore Chops? I have all this Branch Rickey era baseball vocabulary, like Merkle’s Boner, from the used baseball books my mom would bring home from the thrift shop where she worked in 1967, but I can’t tell whether anybody knows those terms anymore.)
     
    Cincinnati Bowtie and Cleveland Steamer are still used.

    Replies: @Father O'Hara

    Texas Leaguer? It’s used in Chicago!

  35. @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    I hear Baltimore Chop very infrequently; mostly from older announcers.

    A lot of baseball argot seems to be in disuse. The reasons being a decline in sports-writing and radio broadcasts which require descriptive language and as a run off of the sabermetrics revolution (not necessarily the sabermetrician crowd itself), which discourages any terms of art with any chance of being out of its purview.

    Replies: @riches

    Speaking of baseball and argot–or an anagram of, here’s info on former Pirate/Blue Devil Dick Groat:

    https://baseballpastandpresent.com/2010/11/24/bobby-knight-calls-dick-groat-the-best-basketball-player/

    • Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    @riches

    Interesting blog

    I notice under the recent comments section a discussion about the vexed question of what to do with Barry Bonds and the Chemical Company in regards to the hall of fame.

    For all the whining which is done about the actual hall, all of these guys make that mental category of Hall of Very Good (or its cousin: The Hall of the Unique and Unusual) where they won't be forgotten in the slightest even if they never get actual plaques in Cooperstown. No will forget them, and likely, like Shoeless Joe, there will be an appreciable number of casual fans who will remain aware of who they are fifty, a hundred years from now.

  36. I watch the Yankees on TV when I can. Aaron judge is a phenom at 6′-8″ and 280 pounds. Now that he has learned to be a bit more patient at the plate his average, as of yesterday, is .326, with 17 HRs and 38 RBIs. But with all that, I want to see him crush the ball. Truth is my favorite player of the pass decade is Ichiro Suzuki, a HOF lock, who could and can, turn almost anything you throw at him into a hit. He takes a pitch that is low and outside and golfs it over first to shallow right and winds up standing on second. Not to many hitters like him. Baseball on the radio is to me, better than baseball on TV.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    @Buffalo Joe


    Baseball on the radio is to me, better than baseball on TV.
     
    Agree. Baseball on TV focuses on the pitcher batter duel; you rarely get to see how the offense shifts. Football is made for TV.
  37. I see one or two baseball games per year. I am always amazed at how often pro players look like they are swinging a golf club. When I was a kid such a swing would have been followed up with instant yelling from the coach. Also, the positioning of the 2nd basemen is so different from what I did when I was a kid. Next month I will probably get to go see the Rakuten Eagles. I can’t wait.

    • Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    @KunioKun

    Uppercut swings would be laps around the field for the next practice!

    I was just talking to someone about how funny it is that many things little league coaches&up would drill into us were just not all that helpful.

    Looking back, it was just dads or guys trying their best to apply what they knew, and you learn more important lessons playing a team sport than the sport itself; but there must be a lot of talented guys out there who missed out on opportunities or were overlooked because they were given bad advice or had mediocre coaching.

    That being said, the professional amateur training circuit seems like it comes with its own set of nightmares. I'm not sure if that's an improvement for a majority of kids, including socially.

    Replies: @anonymous

    , @Chrisnonymous
    @KunioKun

    Tigers or Giants?

  38. @josh
    @O'Really

    I don't understand why batters don't bunt against the shift. I saw Ken Griffey Jr. do this twice in a game and the opposing team stopped shifting. One side or the other is being irrational.

    Replies: @EriK, @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    I know it’s not entirely true but it seems that there are no good bunters in the (American) league. It’s pathetic.

  39. @slumber_j

    Baseball hierarchs should be thinking about how to reward line drive hitters.
     
    Two words: "Polo Grounds."

    Bigger outfields are the real answer...in theory anyway. The problem is that people--including me--like home runs a lot. So even when teams build ballparks for fewer homers, they end up moving the fences back in after a few years.

    Good point about Lords, among other cricket venues. The ball rolls a lot, so you get tons of boundaries. So maybe you're right that the long-term answer to the line-drive problem lies in groundskeeping.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Kansas City had hard artificial turf so a line drive hitter like George Brett could hit as many as 20 triples in a year. Grass is nicer than astroturf, but steps could be taken to make grass play faster than it does now.

  40. @josh
    @O'Really

    I don't understand why batters don't bunt against the shift. I saw Ken Griffey Jr. do this twice in a game and the opposing team stopped shifting. One side or the other is being irrational.

    Replies: @EriK, @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    The primary intention of modern shifts is to minimize the contributions of good hitters and stymie average-ish hitters who can either only pull the ball with any authority or aren’t nimble enough to inside-out the ball and go the other way with any regularity.

    Managers nowadays (probably at the behest of their front office) will take bunts and singles against the shift all day long in 90+% of the scenarios. Those two bunts by Griffey Jr. were two at bats the pitcher/catcher/manager needn’t worry about him ripping a double in right center or using that awesome bat speed to drill a line drive homer over the right field wall. At the rate people strike out and with the prevalence of ground ball pitchers, odds are good that a bunt against the shift will not lead to anything like a double&up would.

    Pitchers don’t even attempt to induce someone to hit into the shift by pitching inside like they used to do. I remember Griffey Jr., in shift situations, would get busted inside to try to get him to roll over on the ball and hit in weakly to second. Now, they stick to whatever game plan they have or whatever their strength is. If it ends up a seeing eye single the other way, so be it.

    • Replies: @Josh
    @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    But if he had hit a single, everyone would have clapped.

  41. @MC
    Another reason that batters have been raising their launch angle is in response to the increasing preponderance of ground ball pitchers. When I was a kid in the 80's-90's, there were generally three kinds of pitchers: strikeout pitchers, ground ball pitchers, and fly ball pitchers. Two things happened that more or less wiped out fly ball pitchers. One is that steroids turned a lot of routine fly balls into homers, which wrecked the careers of a lot fly ball pitchers in the late 90s.

    The other thing is that Sabermetrics revealed that getting outs as a fly ball pitcher required a fair amount of luck that isn't replicable. A successful ground ball pitcher or strikeout pitcher is more likely to repeat their success in the future.

    So MLB teams started to seek out mostly strikeout and ground ball pitchers. Ground ball % became one of the most important stats for prospects. This mostly increased the number of ground ball pitchers, since pitchers only try becoming GB or FB pitchers once they've failed to become strikeout pitchers.

    Thus, ground ball percentage has been going up for years. The higher swing angle is an evolutionary response to that trend.

    And in the endless cycle of pitchers v. hitters, you're now seeing (just this year) some pitchers try to pitch up in the strike zone more, in an attempt to induce the higher angled swings into pop-ups.

    Replies: @Hodag, @Njguy73

    Two things happened that more or less wiped out fly ball pitchers. One is that steroids turned a lot of routine fly balls into homers, which wrecked the careers of a lot fly ball pitchers in the late 90s.

    The other thing is that Sabermetrics revealed that getting outs as a fly ball pitcher required a fair amount of luck that isn’t replicable. A successful ground ball pitcher or strikeout pitcher is more likely to repeat their success in the future.

    And pitcher friendly venues like Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium and the Astrodome were replaced with hitter-friendly venues like Camden Yards and Minute Maid Park.

    • Replies: @MC
    @Njguy73

    True. Although the Mariners and Padres went from hitter-friendly to pitcher-friendly. I wonder what the net effect was of all the new stadia. I assume a dedicated numbers nerd has figured it out somewhere.

  42. @The Alarmist
    They could always go back to Astroturf ... got good ball-action on that stuff, though it was miserable to play on.

    Replies: @Njguy73

    They could always go back to Astroturf … got good ball-action on that stuff, though it was miserable to play on.

    Yeah, it’s not like ballplayers need their knees later in life.

  43. @anonymous
    @Sideways

    In the old Polo Grounds of blessed memory, it was 258 feet down the right field line. Homers hit to right field were nicknamed "Chinese home runs". Where the word "Chinese" came from I have no idea. It was also a paltry 279 to left. Willie Mays no doubt fattened up his home run stats during the five years that he played there)

    Replies: @Njguy73

    And when the Giants moved to San Francisco,

    “Willie Mays, who would play most of his career there, tested the wind and measured the prodigious distances down the power alleys—then 397 feet, now only 365 and 375—and muttered, ‘Somebody’s gonna get some salary cuts around here.’ It wouldn’t be Willie, though. He learned to go with the wind and became Candlestick’s greatest hitter. It is often said that if he and Hank Aaron could have exchanged ballparks, there would be a different alltime home run king.”

    https://www.si.com/vault/1986/09/01/113879/gone-with-the-wind-the-giants-want-out-of-blustery-candlestick-park-and-one-of-these-days-they-just-might-get-their-wish

    Aaron got a boost in 1966 when the Braves left pitcher-friendly Milwaukee County Stadium and moved to the Launching Pad in Atlanta (elevation 1,050 ft above sea level.)

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Njguy73

    I think if Willie Mays hadn't missed most of his second and third seasons to the military, he would have broken Babe Ruth's 714 homer mark in late 1973, his last season, then Aaron would have broken Mays' record the next year.

    Mays finished 54 short of Ruth, but he missed a 7/8ths of his age 21 and 22 seasons. He hit 20 homers at age 20 and 41 at age 23 and 51 at age 24, so I think without the military service he would have finished around 715 or 720. Aaron finished in 1976 with 755.

    Mays was still quite good through age 41 in 1972 (.400 On Base Average), his first season with the Mets, although his second (and last) season was poor.

  44. @KunioKun
    I see one or two baseball games per year. I am always amazed at how often pro players look like they are swinging a golf club. When I was a kid such a swing would have been followed up with instant yelling from the coach. Also, the positioning of the 2nd basemen is so different from what I did when I was a kid. Next month I will probably get to go see the Rakuten Eagles. I can't wait.

    Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball, @Chrisnonymous

    Uppercut swings would be laps around the field for the next practice!

    I was just talking to someone about how funny it is that many things little league coaches&up would drill into us were just not all that helpful.

    Looking back, it was just dads or guys trying their best to apply what they knew, and you learn more important lessons playing a team sport than the sport itself; but there must be a lot of talented guys out there who missed out on opportunities or were overlooked because they were given bad advice or had mediocre coaching.

    That being said, the professional amateur training circuit seems like it comes with its own set of nightmares. I’m not sure if that’s an improvement for a majority of kids, including socially.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    If you want your young son to have a chance to play (someday) on a decent high school varsity baseball team, then as a father you have to get him out of Parks and Rec league and into Travel Baseball (Club, Fed, etc.) by no later than age 11. Most dads today know the game well at that level, and are reasonably good at teaching it.

    In 2017, there is no way that a decent varsity team is going to keep kids who don't have a long history of travel ball.

    To a lesser extent (for now), the same is true for girls volleyball. If you have a tall, athletic (white) daughter for whom you think volleyball may be a good fit, then you need to have her in travel ball by 7th grade. Parents aren't the coaches - knowledgeable volleyball coaches do the teaching, and in my experience, they know what they're doing.

    Which is another I-Steve variation: do white parents of tall girls deliberately steer their athletic daughters away from basketball and toward (expensive, exclusive, etc.) volleyball instead?

    I'd say yes.

    Today's travel volleyball tournaments are both very well-played and (almost) entirely white.

    Replies: @E. Rekshun

  45. The Washington Post has an article with some interesting graphics about how home run hitting in baseball is up, perhaps attributable to the introduction of technology in 2015 recording the launch angle and exit velocity of batted balls. In 2016 a number of hitters, such as Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals, switched to trying to hit more fly balls than ground balls, with good results. This year the trend toward fly balls and homers seems to be increasing.

    Or, more likely, there’s either (1) a new PED on the market that beats all the current tests in baseball; or (2) they introduced a rabbit ball, like they did in 1987.*

    The idea that players “just” started learning that if they hit more fly balls they’d hit more home runs is laughable. The fact that WaPo would argue this with a straight face shows how piss-poor reporting is these days. It’s patently obvious after Ken Caminiti & Jose Canseco blew the whistle that steroids are the likeliest reason, but still the “reporters” merely repeat the company line.

    *1987 saw a huge one-season increase in homeruns for teams across the majors, only to quickly fall back to norms the following year (1988). The owners introduced a livelier “rabbit” ball in ’87 to help homeruns increase, although it was never conclusively proven that they did so, and no one ever copped to it. They took away the rabbit ball the next year because the increase was too glaringly obvious.

    Wade Boggs hit 24 home runs in 1987, the most of his career for a season, but his highest number after that for a season was 11. Mike Greenwell slugged 19 home runs in only 412 at-bats, while the next year he needed 590 at-bats to hit 22.

  46. @Mark Caplan
    Although it occurred before my time, the ancient "hitting them where they ain't" style of baseball sounds like it would be greatly more fun to watch. Batters would choke up on the bat, take compact swings, rarely strike out. The game would move along much faster, with a lot more action, and far fewer long counts ending in an anticlimactic whiff.

    The solution might be this: balls hit out of the park would count as either outs or foul balls. Or how about counting them as ground-rule singles or doubles to discourage batters from always swinging for the fences.

    Replies: @whorefinder, @Danindc

    Although it occurred before my time, the ancient “hitting them where they ain’t” style of baseball sounds like it would be greatly more fun to watch. Batters would choke up on the bat, take compact swings, rarely strike out. The game would move along much faster, with a lot more action, and far fewer long counts ending in an anticlimactic whiff.

    People forget baseball was a huge national phenomenon before Babe Ruth–when Ty Cobb and Cy Young were the stars (“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”—about a girl who’s a baseball groupie—was penned in 1908, the deadball era).. But Ruth came in right as radio became a middle-class household item, and it rocketed him to stardom.

    The deadball era was famously vicious. Ty Cobb gets all the grief, but the slashing, stealing, bunting style of the deadball era created or drew men who were hard-charging, cutthroat kind of guys.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @whorefinder

    The meanest era in baseball was the 1890s National League when baseball was dominated by the Irish. The American League was formed in 1901 in part to provide a more genteel style of play for respectable family entertainment. It was a big success almost immediately and has been the ascendant league most of the time ever since.

  47. @riches
    @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    Speaking of baseball and argot--or an anagram of, here's info on former Pirate/Blue Devil Dick Groat:

    https://baseballpastandpresent.com/2010/11/24/bobby-knight-calls-dick-groat-the-best-basketball-player/

    Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    Interesting blog

    I notice under the recent comments section a discussion about the vexed question of what to do with Barry Bonds and the Chemical Company in regards to the hall of fame.

    For all the whining which is done about the actual hall, all of these guys make that mental category of Hall of Very Good (or its cousin: The Hall of the Unique and Unusual) where they won’t be forgotten in the slightest even if they never get actual plaques in Cooperstown. No will forget them, and likely, like Shoeless Joe, there will be an appreciable number of casual fans who will remain aware of who they are fifty, a hundred years from now.

  48. @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    @josh

    The primary intention of modern shifts is to minimize the contributions of good hitters and stymie average-ish hitters who can either only pull the ball with any authority or aren't nimble enough to inside-out the ball and go the other way with any regularity.

    Managers nowadays (probably at the behest of their front office) will take bunts and singles against the shift all day long in 90+% of the scenarios. Those two bunts by Griffey Jr. were two at bats the pitcher/catcher/manager needn't worry about him ripping a double in right center or using that awesome bat speed to drill a line drive homer over the right field wall. At the rate people strike out and with the prevalence of ground ball pitchers, odds are good that a bunt against the shift will not lead to anything like a double&up would.

    Pitchers don't even attempt to induce someone to hit into the shift by pitching inside like they used to do. I remember Griffey Jr., in shift situations, would get busted inside to try to get him to roll over on the ball and hit in weakly to second. Now, they stick to whatever game plan they have or whatever their strength is. If it ends up a seeing eye single the other way, so be it.

    Replies: @Josh

    But if he had hit a single, everyone would have clapped.

  49. @Njguy73
    @MC


    Two things happened that more or less wiped out fly ball pitchers. One is that steroids turned a lot of routine fly balls into homers, which wrecked the careers of a lot fly ball pitchers in the late 90s.

    The other thing is that Sabermetrics revealed that getting outs as a fly ball pitcher required a fair amount of luck that isn’t replicable. A successful ground ball pitcher or strikeout pitcher is more likely to repeat their success in the future.
     
    And pitcher friendly venues like Baltimore's Memorial Stadium and the Astrodome were replaced with hitter-friendly venues like Camden Yards and Minute Maid Park.

    Replies: @MC

    True. Although the Mariners and Padres went from hitter-friendly to pitcher-friendly. I wonder what the net effect was of all the new stadia. I assume a dedicated numbers nerd has figured it out somewhere.

  50. @Travis
    MLB baseball should have encouraged the new ballparks to be larger, to make baseball more interesting instead of allowing the fields to get smaller and smaller as hitters got stronger.

    Replies: @prole

    Deeper fields and higher fences is a good idea.

  51. @Buffalo Joe
    I watch the Yankees on TV when I can. Aaron judge is a phenom at 6'-8" and 280 pounds. Now that he has learned to be a bit more patient at the plate his average, as of yesterday, is .326, with 17 HRs and 38 RBIs. But with all that, I want to see him crush the ball. Truth is my favorite player of the pass decade is Ichiro Suzuki, a HOF lock, who could and can, turn almost anything you throw at him into a hit. He takes a pitch that is low and outside and golfs it over first to shallow right and winds up standing on second. Not to many hitters like him. Baseball on the radio is to me, better than baseball on TV.

    Replies: @Jim Don Bob

    Baseball on the radio is to me, better than baseball on TV.

    Agree. Baseball on TV focuses on the pitcher batter duel; you rarely get to see how the offense shifts. Football is made for TV.

  52. @MC
    I heard "Texas Leaguer" on my local MLB team's radio broadcast the other day. I've noticed folksy old terms with historical resonance like "Baltimore Chop" are more common on local broadcast than on national TV.

    Replies: @Forbes

    Well that’s because your local broadcasters are actually interested in the game.

    National broadcasters are interested in everything but the game: how they look, in-game interviews, trivia-filled graphics, personal anecdotes regarding who they spoke to before the game or at dinner last night, crowd shots, dugout shots, and on and on…

    Buy no worry, the local broadcasters will catch on, an soon their broadcasts will be just as bad. Though, radio is hard to screw up, inasmuch as it can be done badly.

  53. @Buzz Mohawk
    How to Have a Hit?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv1BoCn4-5c

    Replies: @Forbes

    When I was in college, we made a bong out of the bowl from a corncob pipe, a Coke can, the sleeve from a Bic pen, and some Scotch tape. Necessity is the mother of invention.

    Amazingly, we didn’t need an instructional video on how to use it from a chick who’s already high…

  54. @Sideways
    Texas leaguer is still used. I'm not sure if I've ever heard "Baltimore chop" in my 33 years of watching games.

    Replies: @anonymous, @Forbes

    “Baltimore chop” heard this week–of course it was a game played in Baltimore–discussed among broadcasters that included former Oriole Ken Singleton.

  55. @KunioKun
    I see one or two baseball games per year. I am always amazed at how often pro players look like they are swinging a golf club. When I was a kid such a swing would have been followed up with instant yelling from the coach. Also, the positioning of the 2nd basemen is so different from what I did when I was a kid. Next month I will probably get to go see the Rakuten Eagles. I can't wait.

    Replies: @justwonderingaboutbaseball, @Chrisnonymous

    Tigers or Giants?

  56. anon • Disclaimer says:

    The awfulness of white man’s money sports is they take forever. The fundamentally unsportsmanlike like stalling.

    And the solution isn’t a simple shot clock, but some sort of cumulative time over pitches. Don’t simply penalize the slow, incentives for speed.

    Golf has failed and this has been an observe and discussed problem for decades.

    There is a a huge monetary payoff as well. The only compelling live television is sports. But the slower the action, the less it is watched live.

  57. Someone said if he had his way a home run would just count as another foul. As a fan I agree, they’re the least interesting kind of extra base hit, they have fewer variables and take defense and baserunning out of the play which is why the corporate accountants running the game today love them.

    Don’t be too quick to write off bloop hits as flukes. They’re what lineups with less power sometimes rely on and they take skill – simply making contact is a skill. They seem to work better too against pitchers who are “on” on a given night. Smart teams get those types of hits rather than swinging hard and going down in order by strikeout. The Cardinals bloop-hit Clayton Kershaw to death in the playoffs in 2013-14. It was death by a thousand flared singles.

  58. This site has it all:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com

    Warning: You will spend hours page-hopping.

  59. @jim jones
    We need more articles about cricket, no one cares about Yankee sports.

    Replies: @MBlanc46

    I’m impressed that Steve has ever heard about Lord’s. I’m all for more cricket talk on iSteve.

  60. @whorefinder
    @Mark Caplan


    Although it occurred before my time, the ancient “hitting them where they ain’t” style of baseball sounds like it would be greatly more fun to watch. Batters would choke up on the bat, take compact swings, rarely strike out. The game would move along much faster, with a lot more action, and far fewer long counts ending in an anticlimactic whiff.
     
    People forget baseball was a huge national phenomenon before Babe Ruth--when Ty Cobb and Cy Young were the stars ("Take Me Out to the Ball Game"---about a girl who's a baseball groupie---was penned in 1908, the deadball era).. But Ruth came in right as radio became a middle-class household item, and it rocketed him to stardom.

    The deadball era was famously vicious. Ty Cobb gets all the grief, but the slashing, stealing, bunting style of the deadball era created or drew men who were hard-charging, cutthroat kind of guys.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    The meanest era in baseball was the 1890s National League when baseball was dominated by the Irish. The American League was formed in 1901 in part to provide a more genteel style of play for respectable family entertainment. It was a big success almost immediately and has been the ascendant league most of the time ever since.

  61. @Njguy73
    @anonymous

    And when the Giants moved to San Francisco,

    "Willie Mays, who would play most of his career there, tested the wind and measured the prodigious distances down the power alleys—then 397 feet, now only 365 and 375—and muttered, 'Somebody's gonna get some salary cuts around here.' It wouldn't be Willie, though. He learned to go with the wind and became Candlestick's greatest hitter. It is often said that if he and Hank Aaron could have exchanged ballparks, there would be a different alltime home run king."

    https://www.si.com/vault/1986/09/01/113879/gone-with-the-wind-the-giants-want-out-of-blustery-candlestick-park-and-one-of-these-days-they-just-might-get-their-wish

    Aaron got a boost in 1966 when the Braves left pitcher-friendly Milwaukee County Stadium and moved to the Launching Pad in Atlanta (elevation 1,050 ft above sea level.)

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    I think if Willie Mays hadn’t missed most of his second and third seasons to the military, he would have broken Babe Ruth’s 714 homer mark in late 1973, his last season, then Aaron would have broken Mays’ record the next year.

    Mays finished 54 short of Ruth, but he missed a 7/8ths of his age 21 and 22 seasons. He hit 20 homers at age 20 and 41 at age 23 and 51 at age 24, so I think without the military service he would have finished around 715 or 720. Aaron finished in 1976 with 755.

    Mays was still quite good through age 41 in 1972 (.400 On Base Average), his first season with the Mets, although his second (and last) season was poor.

  62. “The most radical change would be to dig up the outfield and resod them, sloping the outfields downward away from home plate, kind of like at the Lord’s Cricket Club in London.”

    I’ll go one better than that. Pave the outfield, make the outfielders play barefoot and let the fans throw beer bottles on the outfield.

    Readers please advise if you want to hear my proposal for a new NASCAR event.

  63. @FPD72
    A huge change has been the teaching of swing angle, which is not the same as but is correlated to launch angle. Back in my day (1950s and 60s), the emphasis was on a level swing. Later, some hitting instructors even taught a slightly downward swing.

    Today, most instructors teach having the swing through the hitting zone of about +20 degrees from horizontal because the average pitch is coming into the hitting zone at about -20 degrees. Having the bat on about the same plane as the ball reduces the importance of perfect timing. When combined with trying to hit the lower middle of the ball with the upper middle of the bat, the effect is what we're seeing today.

    There is a third variable that I haven't seen mentioned but that should be familiar to a golfer such as you: rotation or spin. Most home runs have backspin, which increases distance. Hitting the lower middle of the ball with the upper middle of the bat produces this backspin while also producing an optimal launch angle. Combine angle and spin with bat/ball speed, and you have today's revolution in hitting.

    Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist

    Really interesting comment; thanks.

    One related observation: would this shift to a more upwardly-angled swing, i.e. “trying to hit the lower middle of the ball with the upper middle of the bat”, also tend to increase the number of balls fouled back? It seems these days the number of at bats that include anywhere from 5-10 balls fouled off has also increased.

    Foul balls that go out of play really, really slow down the game, because you have the tedious routine of the ump handing the catcher a new ball while the batter wanders off, then the catcher throwing the new ball the pitcher, who must then engage in a lengthy sequence of new ball inspection and massage. Once the pitcher finally gets back on the rubber, the batter needs to be retrieved from his peregrinations and reinstalled in the box, and finally there can be another pitch.

    When this happens multiple times in a single at bat, I find it excruciating to watch.

    • Replies: @Chris
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    That's often done purposely to wear out a pitcher and drive up his pitch count. It's also psychological warfare, the batter saying "you can't get one past me."

    Those long at-bats with runners on base are often a prelude to a big bust-the-game-open hit; in a big situation it's baseball at its most riveting.

    Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist

  64. I wrote a post in 2014 about how they could greenskeep the outfields so that the ball would roll faster on the grass so that line drives would be more likely to roll between the outfielders to the fence for a triple, the most entertaining kind of hit (other than the rare inside-the-park homer).

    Fans love hearing the crack of the bat and watching to see whether the ball clears the fence. However, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be even more excited to watch a long ball that could be a home run but is not as quickly recognized as such.

    If I designed a ballpark, I’d include an inside-the-park-home-run alley in left- or right-center, or maybe dead center.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @ben tillman

    I could see having a regular depth fence, except with a Polo Ground deep dead center at, say, 475 feet. Run it slightly downhill from 400 feet onward so the centerfielder speeds up as he attempts a Willie May-type catch.

  65. As long as you’re on a baseball kick of late, Mr. Sailer, when may we expect a review of “Brockmire” on IFC … ?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @The Only Catholic Unionist

    What's Brockmire?

    Replies: @The Only Catholic Unionist

  66. @ben tillman

    I wrote a post in 2014 about how they could greenskeep the outfields so that the ball would roll faster on the grass so that line drives would be more likely to roll between the outfielders to the fence for a triple, the most entertaining kind of hit (other than the rare inside-the-park homer).
     
    Fans love hearing the crack of the bat and watching to see whether the ball clears the fence. However, that doesn't mean that they wouldn't be even more excited to watch a long ball that could be a home run but is not as quickly recognized as such.

    If I designed a ballpark, I'd include an inside-the-park-home-run alley in left- or right-center, or maybe dead center.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    I could see having a regular depth fence, except with a Polo Ground deep dead center at, say, 475 feet. Run it slightly downhill from 400 feet onward so the centerfielder speeds up as he attempts a Willie May-type catch.

  67. @The Last Real Calvinist
    @FPD72

    Really interesting comment; thanks.

    One related observation: would this shift to a more upwardly-angled swing, i.e. "trying to hit the lower middle of the ball with the upper middle of the bat", also tend to increase the number of balls fouled back? It seems these days the number of at bats that include anywhere from 5-10 balls fouled off has also increased.

    Foul balls that go out of play really, really slow down the game, because you have the tedious routine of the ump handing the catcher a new ball while the batter wanders off, then the catcher throwing the new ball the pitcher, who must then engage in a lengthy sequence of new ball inspection and massage. Once the pitcher finally gets back on the rubber, the batter needs to be retrieved from his peregrinations and reinstalled in the box, and finally there can be another pitch.

    When this happens multiple times in a single at bat, I find it excruciating to watch.

    Replies: @Chris

    That’s often done purposely to wear out a pitcher and drive up his pitch count. It’s also psychological warfare, the batter saying “you can’t get one past me.”

    Those long at-bats with runners on base are often a prelude to a big bust-the-game-open hit; in a big situation it’s baseball at its most riveting.

    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    @Chris


    Those long at-bats with runners on base are often a prelude to a big bust-the-game-open hit; in a big situation it’s baseball at its most riveting.

     

    Yes, exactly: in a big situation, i.e. in the late innings, and in the LCS or the World Series. Not in ordinary regular-season games.

    I understand why teams pursue this pitcher attrition strategy. It works. I wish there were better ways to disincentivize it without altering something fundamental in the structure of the game.
  68. @The Only Catholic Unionist
    As long as you're on a baseball kick of late, Mr. Sailer, when may we expect a review of "Brockmire" on IFC ... ?

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    What’s Brockmire?

    • Replies: @The Only Catholic Unionist
    @Steve Sailer

    Hank Azaria is an old-school baseball broadcaster who has a melt-down during a game after discovering his wife has been swinging. He left his job in ignominy, wandering the earth broadcasting whatever he could wherever he could, figuring that after a decade things would have blown over and been forgotten.

    He is unaware that his meltdown was the first "viral video" and the show begins when he takes a gig at a Podunk independent minor league team as the first step of "working his way back to the Show". He has to deal with being an internet celebrity on top of everything else going on in his life (scrappy, promotion-oriented team owner, oddball locals, retread players, etc.).

    It has its moments. Azaria as Brockmire calling games, especially homers, is pretty funny ("Well, that ball won't get buried in a Jewish cemetery ... it just got TATOOED!!")

    Interested in your take, check it out...

  69. @Chris
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    That's often done purposely to wear out a pitcher and drive up his pitch count. It's also psychological warfare, the batter saying "you can't get one past me."

    Those long at-bats with runners on base are often a prelude to a big bust-the-game-open hit; in a big situation it's baseball at its most riveting.

    Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist

    Those long at-bats with runners on base are often a prelude to a big bust-the-game-open hit; in a big situation it’s baseball at its most riveting.

    Yes, exactly: in a big situation, i.e. in the late innings, and in the LCS or the World Series. Not in ordinary regular-season games.

    I understand why teams pursue this pitcher attrition strategy. It works. I wish there were better ways to disincentivize it without altering something fundamental in the structure of the game.

  70. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @justwonderingaboutbaseball
    @KunioKun

    Uppercut swings would be laps around the field for the next practice!

    I was just talking to someone about how funny it is that many things little league coaches&up would drill into us were just not all that helpful.

    Looking back, it was just dads or guys trying their best to apply what they knew, and you learn more important lessons playing a team sport than the sport itself; but there must be a lot of talented guys out there who missed out on opportunities or were overlooked because they were given bad advice or had mediocre coaching.

    That being said, the professional amateur training circuit seems like it comes with its own set of nightmares. I'm not sure if that's an improvement for a majority of kids, including socially.

    Replies: @anonymous

    If you want your young son to have a chance to play (someday) on a decent high school varsity baseball team, then as a father you have to get him out of Parks and Rec league and into Travel Baseball (Club, Fed, etc.) by no later than age 11. Most dads today know the game well at that level, and are reasonably good at teaching it.

    In 2017, there is no way that a decent varsity team is going to keep kids who don’t have a long history of travel ball.

    To a lesser extent (for now), the same is true for girls volleyball. If you have a tall, athletic (white) daughter for whom you think volleyball may be a good fit, then you need to have her in travel ball by 7th grade. Parents aren’t the coaches – knowledgeable volleyball coaches do the teaching, and in my experience, they know what they’re doing.

    Which is another I-Steve variation: do white parents of tall girls deliberately steer their athletic daughters away from basketball and toward (expensive, exclusive, etc.) volleyball instead?

    I’d say yes.

    Today’s travel volleyball tournaments are both very well-played and (almost) entirely white.

    • Replies: @E. Rekshun
    @anonymous

    do white parents of tall girls deliberately steer their athletic daughters away from basketball and toward (expensive, exclusive, etc.) volleyball instead?

    A black female coworker recently lamented to me that her 13 y/o biracial daughter (private school, academically-oriented, feminine, and pleasant) loves basketball and isn't half bad at the fundamentals and the jump shot, but the mom is worried that the more aggressive, public school, black girls are too big and rough for her baby. Volleyball will be a likely alternative.

  71. @Hodag
    @MC

    The Dodgers just swept the Cubs by making them hit fly balls. This is a good strategy at Chavez Ravine.

    Trackman launch monitors have really taken over elite golf. The flight of the ball for all these gorillas is similar. The low spin balls just hang in the air forever. Maybe requiring a higher spin ball would keep the bomb and gougers from dominating. The US Open at Erin Hills can stretch their course to 8000 yards. I have turned down two invitations to play because I do not want to walk that much.

    Replies: @Danindc

    Humble brag of the century Hodar

    • Replies: @Ex-banker
    @Danindc

    It's a daily fee course. Not much to brag about.

  72. @Peripatetic commenter
    Steve, someone has started putting up a list of your articles:

    https://infogalactic.com/info/List_of_Steve_Sailer%27s_articles_on_the_Web

    The number of articles is daunting when you consider your output here at the Unz Review. Just looking at the author archives at the various sites you have articles posted obscures the scale of your output!

    What drives you to be so prolific?

    Replies: @Danindc

    If Steve keeps up his current pace for another 15 years it’s going to be Edison, Da Vinci and Sailer.

    I’m f’n serious.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Danindc

    More like Montaigne, Addison, Mencken, and Sailer.

  73. @Mark Caplan
    Although it occurred before my time, the ancient "hitting them where they ain't" style of baseball sounds like it would be greatly more fun to watch. Batters would choke up on the bat, take compact swings, rarely strike out. The game would move along much faster, with a lot more action, and far fewer long counts ending in an anticlimactic whiff.

    The solution might be this: balls hit out of the park would count as either outs or foul balls. Or how about counting them as ground-rule singles or doubles to discourage batters from always swinging for the fences.

    Replies: @whorefinder, @Danindc

    Sorry Bryce but that 500 foot home run you just hit is an out

  74. @Steve Sailer
    @The Only Catholic Unionist

    What's Brockmire?

    Replies: @The Only Catholic Unionist

    Hank Azaria is an old-school baseball broadcaster who has a melt-down during a game after discovering his wife has been swinging. He left his job in ignominy, wandering the earth broadcasting whatever he could wherever he could, figuring that after a decade things would have blown over and been forgotten.

    He is unaware that his meltdown was the first “viral video” and the show begins when he takes a gig at a Podunk independent minor league team as the first step of “working his way back to the Show”. He has to deal with being an internet celebrity on top of everything else going on in his life (scrappy, promotion-oriented team owner, oddball locals, retread players, etc.).

    It has its moments. Azaria as Brockmire calling games, especially homers, is pretty funny (“Well, that ball won’t get buried in a Jewish cemetery … it just got TATOOED!!”)

    Interested in your take, check it out…

  75. The swing angle story is interesting but there could be more to it. Maybe players are better at increasing testosterone legally now?

  76. @Danindc
    @Peripatetic commenter

    If Steve keeps up his current pace for another 15 years it's going to be Edison, Da Vinci and Sailer.

    I'm f'n serious.

    Replies: @Desiderius

    More like Montaigne, Addison, Mencken, and Sailer.

  77. @Danindc
    @Hodag

    Humble brag of the century Hodar

    Replies: @Ex-banker

    It’s a daily fee course. Not much to brag about.

  78. @anonymous
    @justwonderingaboutbaseball

    If you want your young son to have a chance to play (someday) on a decent high school varsity baseball team, then as a father you have to get him out of Parks and Rec league and into Travel Baseball (Club, Fed, etc.) by no later than age 11. Most dads today know the game well at that level, and are reasonably good at teaching it.

    In 2017, there is no way that a decent varsity team is going to keep kids who don't have a long history of travel ball.

    To a lesser extent (for now), the same is true for girls volleyball. If you have a tall, athletic (white) daughter for whom you think volleyball may be a good fit, then you need to have her in travel ball by 7th grade. Parents aren't the coaches - knowledgeable volleyball coaches do the teaching, and in my experience, they know what they're doing.

    Which is another I-Steve variation: do white parents of tall girls deliberately steer their athletic daughters away from basketball and toward (expensive, exclusive, etc.) volleyball instead?

    I'd say yes.

    Today's travel volleyball tournaments are both very well-played and (almost) entirely white.

    Replies: @E. Rekshun

    do white parents of tall girls deliberately steer their athletic daughters away from basketball and toward (expensive, exclusive, etc.) volleyball instead?

    A black female coworker recently lamented to me that her 13 y/o biracial daughter (private school, academically-oriented, feminine, and pleasant) loves basketball and isn’t half bad at the fundamentals and the jump shot, but the mom is worried that the more aggressive, public school, black girls are too big and rough for her baby. Volleyball will be a likely alternative.

  79. The most radical change would be to dig up the outfield and resod them, sloping the outfields downward away from home plate, kind of like at the Lord’s Cricket Club in London.

    Dunno about that being The Most Radical Change.

    Howbout playing only night games with no illumination other than that provided by the claymores buried in the outfield at locations marked by the pooping of a duckling following a cat wearing a shark suit riding a Roomba.

    The M18, not the sword. I imagine it something like this:

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