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From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Revenge of the Baseball Nerds
by Steve Sailer

September 18, 2019

America has numerous problems in education, crime, and housing that might be helped by applying lessons that could be learned from big data analytics. Unfortunately, each of these topics threatens to get an audacious statistical researcher fired because they all involve race.

Similarly, Gallup polls have found that 150 million foreigners would like to migrate to the U.S. You might think that with that many to choose from, we could build statistical models to select the new Enrico Fermis and turn away the next Sirhan Sirhans.

But the inevitable disparate impact would make the Statue of Liberty cry, so few volunteer to figure out how to do it, fun as it would be.

In an era obsessed with how white guys down through the centuries have hurt the feelings of nonwhite guys by inventing so much, male creativity increasingly shrinks back to obscure bailiwicks that nobody else cares much about, such as baseball.

Since the 1970s, smart whites and Asians who like working with data have increasingly turned to their safe space: baseball. So far, at least, you can recognize all the patterns you want in baseball statistics without a Twitter mob canceling your career.

A new book, The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players by Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik, is an important contribution to the debate over nature vs. nurture that has been carried on in Frequent Flyer best-sellers by Michael Lewis (Moneyball), Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), and David Epstein (The Sports Gene).

The MVP Machine comes down on the Gladwell side of optimism about nurture by arguing that when an organization maxes out its ability to select more naturally talented performers, it makes sense to get serious about developing the talent you already have.

The authors celebrate the new breeds of nerdish jocks like pitcher Trevor Bauer and jockish nerds like Kyle Boddy, the founder of the high-tech Driveline training center, who are studying how to play baseball better with the high-speed cameras that have previously revolutionized golf.

Read the whole thing there.

 
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  1. how to play baseball better

    The “three true outcomes” render 7 out 10 players on the field during any at-bat irrelevant. Is that really “better ” baseball?

    • Replies: @Roger Sweeny
    "Three true outcomes" (home run, strikeout, walk) is boring. Baseball's declining attendance and tv ratings show that it is also not popular. Especially to young people.

    Alas, many of the reasons for it go pretty deep. With computer records of who hits where, defensive players position themselves where a ball is most likely to be hit. Combined with modern fielding gloves, trying to "put the ball in play" is getting awful difficult. So instead, batters look for walks or swing for the fences. As far as I'm concerned, the most boring--and disappointing--play in baseball is a fly ball that the outfielder doesn't even have to move to catch.

    Basketball had a similar problem as players got bigger and faster. The area around the basket was just too small and became too crowded for enjoyable play. So the powers that be did something radical. They came up with the "three point shot". You got three points instead of two but it had to be launched from a substantial distance away from the basket. Basketball ratings has been going up ever since.

    Baseball cares about tradition, but this year has kind of crapped on tradition. What used to be Hall of Fame home run and strikeout numbers have become ordinary. The powers that be need to do something radical. My suggestion? One less fielder. Seriously. That would make it much easier to get a ball into play, which would make the game more interesting. There would also be obvious strategy for fans to notice and argue about. "Can you believe he had four infielders on that play?"

    Of course, it probably won't happen and baseball will continue its slow slide to niche status.

  2. “In baseball, nobody likes a nerd”. You don’t need to remind us, Steve.

    • Replies: @Kronos
    What sport is the most “mathematically disinclined?”

    I’d imagine sports that mainly focus with one on one are more simplified like boxing and Sumo wrestling.
  3. “…we could build statistical models to select the new Enrico Fermis and turn away the next Sirhan Sirhans.”

    But, what about Sirhan Fermis?

    • LOL: Abe
    • Replies: @SteveRogers42
    I think I can help them with that pesky conundrum, for only a small consulting fee.

    *Drum roll*

    Let in Europeans. Don't let in Arabs.

    That is all.
  4. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    From the article, buried NYT-style after discussion of “launch angle,” etc.:

    “The MVP Machine briefly mentions another reason home runs are up so much from the first half of this decade. For instance, Giancarlo Stanton led the National League with only 37 homers in 2014 in contrast to his 59 in 2017, because Major League Baseball probably juiced the ball in mid-2015.”

    Probably? Come on, commenter Travis (first) and I have repeatedly brought to your attention a study that showed it, which MLB ignored for years and then tried to obscure with its own “gee, maybe” stuff.

    That New Coke level blunder ruined the game, and overwhelms any of the tactical refinements that boys still want to nerd about.

    Boycott Ba$hball.

    • Replies: @Prester John
    Well, something is juiced! More likely the ball but wouldn't rule out the players. Thus far, however, no actual proof.
    , @Forbes
    My sources--perhaps authoritative, perhaps dubious--tell me the laces on the baseball are flatter, making for less grip by the pitcher and less break/movement of the pitched ball. The change was due to a change in the manufacturing process that sews the baseball.

    Also, a lot of the newer parks have smaller dimensions than the ones replaced, e.g. Philly, Seattle, Houston.

    Weight-lifting in baseball is no longer frowned upon as corrupting one's swing--but encouraged for hitting the ball harder.
  5. Not unknown to Mr Sailer and iSteve readers…
    In the documentary (and book?) Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky relates the anecdote of how he finds himself in a radio station green room shared, with other interviewees who were preparing for their appearance on a sports quiz show (I think).
    He laments how the men had wasted all their grey matter and brain power on the memorisation of sports stats and trivia instead of expending it on politics (etc).
    I take it he assumed these men were potential radicals/anarchists ready to be converted to his worldview/causes if only the fools would listen to him; not the blasted sporting commentators; but would I be off my rocker to believe those men were in fact more likely to be proto-populists/Deplorables-before-their-time? God forbid, perhaps considered it perfectly legitimate to research into racial differences.

    What is Chomsky’s view of such politically-disengaged common men now in the era of Trump/Brexit/revived European popular nationalism?

    • Replies: @njguy73

    In fact, I have the habit when driving of turning on these radio call-in programs, and it's striking when you listen to the one's about sports. They have these groups of sports reporters, or some kind of experts on a panel, and people call in and have discussions with them. First of all, the audience is obviously devoting an enormous amount of time to it all. But the more striking fact is, the callers have a tremendous amount of expertise, they have detailed knowledge of all kinds of things, they carry on these extremely complex discussions. And strikingly, they're not at all in awe of the experts--which is a little unusual. See, in most parts of the society, you're encouraged to defer to experts: we all do it more than we should. But in this area, people don't seem to do it--they're quite happy to have an argument with the coach of the Boston Celtics, and tell him what he should have done, and enter into big debates with him and so on. So the fact is that in this domain, people somehow feel quite confident, and they know a lot--there's obviously a great deal of intelligence going into it.

     

    That's because in sports, unlike politics, results are expected.

    http://dialogic.blogspot.com/2009/11/noam-chomsky-on-basic-role-of-non.html

    , @J.Ross
    This is an application of the "Americans hate intellect itself" propaganda trope. It's nonsense that the nation of Edison and Ford hates intellect. The Marxist lawyering here is that by "intellect" they do not mean intellect, they mean emotional commitment to the CultMarx cult, they mean gladly suffering fools so long as those fools use big words. Rejecting pseudo-intellectuals and sophomoric babblers is part of the highest respect for intellect.
    , @Cortes
    My recollection is that Chomsky used sports stats guys to dismiss suggestions that most US people are dumb. Dumbed down, perhaps, not dumb.
  6. Not unknown to Mr Sailer and iSteve readers…
    In Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky relates the anecdote of how he finds himself in a radio station green room shared with other interviewees who were preparing for their appearance on a sports quiz show (I think).

    He laments how these men had wasted all their grey matter and brain power on the memorisation of obscure sports stats and trivia instead of expending it on politics (etc).

    I take it he assumed these men were potential radicals/anarchists ready to be converted to his worldview/causes if only the fools would listen to him; not the blasted sporting commentators; but would I be naive to believe those men were in fact more likely to be proto-populists/Deplorables-before-their-time?

    God forbid, possibly even considered it perfectly legitimate to research into racial differences.

    What is Chomsky’s view of such politically-disengaged common men now in the era of Trump/Brexit/revived European popular nationalism?

    “Stay in your sports lane, gammon”
    ?

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    Though Chomsky is an idiot, politically speaking, he makes a very good point. If the dozens of millions of conservative American men put the brain effort into politics that they do to their local college football team and the NFL, the whole political scene would be different. It's Bread & Circuses for them, just like last time.
    , @Kronos
    Sports are very much a (visual-spatial) sports activity. Guys love stuff that move. I’ve brought a few chicks to sports games and this happens quite a bit.

    https://youtu.be/ESVjzf4FzyU

    The thing is women, have their own things that are probably as bad if not more.
  7. While a bunch of old crusty sportwriters like Mike Lupica yell about steroids like pensioners telling kids to get off the lawn, they’re missing a much bigger story. Medicine is blurring the line between what is a performance-enhancing substance and what’s typical medical treatment.High school kids are using performance-enhancing drugs, and it’s not some 1980s roided out freak shooting up in the gym bathroom. It’s much more sophisticated. Andy Pettitte was the All American boy, and he fessed up to using. Form there on, all bets were off. He specifically acknowledged using to rehab from an injury. He probably did more that that, but it also probably isn’t unusual. It’s easy to make Clemens or Bonds villains, but if everyone is using something, then what?

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny. Same is true of any other sport. Nutrition and training have improved, but they have not improved that much. Suspect if the NBA did any kind of real testing they’d be playing 2 on 2.

    • Replies: @GW
    Baseball still tests and nabs quite a few guys a year (mainly Latin players, something they don’t what anyone to know). So it’s unlikely many guys are getting away with serious PED use today like they were 15 years ago.

    The difference between legitimate training/nutrition advances and illegitimate PED use relates to the amount of artificial testosterone one receives. There is a clear demarcation that can be made.
    , @ScarletNumber

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny.
     
    What jumps out at me in the pace of play. Back then Mike Hargrove was known as the Human Rain Delay because of the way he would step out, adjust his batting gloves, &c. Now no one would bat an eye at him. Back then games started at 8 because the game would generally be done by 10. Now the Yankees start their games at 6:30 on school nights, just so kids can watch the entire things.

    In a similar vein, football players have gotten so fat that if Refrigerator Perry entered the NFL now, he would have just been called Bill Perry.
    , @Forbes

    What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny.
     
    Every player in every sport--including baseball--is in the gym lifting weights all year-round. At best, they take a month off after the season concludes. The Major League Baseball minimum salary is $555,000.

    You'd be in the gym getting in shape, year-round, for that kind of money.
    , @Dan Hayes
    Bugg:

    The famous 1930s Empire State Building picture shows 1930s iron-workers to be quite scrawny by current standards!
  8. OT: This is currently the most-viewed opinion piece at the Guardian site:

    Why Ivanka Trump’s new haircut should make us very afraid
    Arwa Mahdawi
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/18/why-ivanka-trumps-new-haircut-should-make-us-very-afraid

    • Replies: @njguy73

    Why Ivanka Trump’s new haircut should make us very afraid

     

    She wants to speak to the manager.
    , @anon
    Subcontinental woman at ancient pro-Communist rag frets about another woman's hair style (no touching involved). Soon to be a series on Netflix.
  9. @Cagey Beast
    OT: This is currently the most-viewed opinion piece at the Guardian site:

    Why Ivanka Trump’s new haircut should make us very afraid
    Arwa Mahdawi
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/18/why-ivanka-trumps-new-haircut-should-make-us-very-afraid

    Why Ivanka Trump’s new haircut should make us very afraid

    She wants to speak to the manager.

  10. @Bugg
    While a bunch of old crusty sportwriters like Mike Lupica yell about steroids like pensioners telling kids to get off the lawn, they're missing a much bigger story. Medicine is blurring the line between what is a performance-enhancing substance and what's typical medical treatment.High school kids are using performance-enhancing drugs, and it's not some 1980s roided out freak shooting up in the gym bathroom. It's much more sophisticated. Andy Pettitte was the All American boy, and he fessed up to using. Form there on, all bets were off. He specifically acknowledged using to rehab from an injury. He probably did more that that, but it also probably isn't unusual. It's easy to make Clemens or Bonds villains, but if everyone is using something, then what?

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny. Same is true of any other sport. Nutrition and training have improved, but they have not improved that much. Suspect if the NBA did any kind of real testing they'd be playing 2 on 2.

    Baseball still tests and nabs quite a few guys a year (mainly Latin players, something they don’t what anyone to know). So it’s unlikely many guys are getting away with serious PED use today like they were 15 years ago.

    The difference between legitimate training/nutrition advances and illegitimate PED use relates to the amount of artificial testosterone one receives. There is a clear demarcation that can be made.

  11. Now that the Braves are winning again, I’ve returned to baseball after a 4 year or so hiatus. And it’s much harder to watch.
    Batters swing for the fences trying to pull the ball and hit into exaggerated shifts on defense, or strike out, rinse and repeat.

    At some point, will someone realize that “better” baseball isn’t good for baseball. We want strategy, hit-n-runs, steals, bunts (my God, can anyone bunt anymore?), squeeze plays, etc.

    And we should be approaching the time when learning to slap the ball the other way will really help deter those defensive shifts.

    Also, a knuckle ball pitcher would be good, too.

  12. Great article, Steve, and I often don’t read your sports stuff. You sucked me in with the baseball, but golf is still a bridge too far. I like that “make the Statue of Liberty cry” line a lot! I may have to use it, with full attribution, of course.

    • Replies: @newrouter
    The golf stuff is the best. Cross the bridge.
  13. @Ano
    Not unknown to Mr Sailer and iSteve readers...
    In Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky relates the anecdote of how he finds himself in a radio station green room shared with other interviewees who were preparing for their appearance on a sports quiz show (I think).

    He laments how these men had wasted all their grey matter and brain power on the memorisation of obscure sports stats and trivia instead of expending it on politics (etc).

    I take it he assumed these men were potential radicals/anarchists ready to be converted to his worldview/causes if only the fools would listen to him; not the blasted sporting commentators; but would I be naive to believe those men were in fact more likely to be proto-populists/Deplorables-before-their-time?

    God forbid, possibly even considered it perfectly legitimate to research into racial differences.

    What is Chomsky's view of such politically-disengaged common men now in the era of Trump/Brexit/revived European popular nationalism?

    "Stay in your sports lane, gammon"
    ?

    Though Chomsky is an idiot, politically speaking, he makes a very good point. If the dozens of millions of conservative American men put the brain effort into politics that they do to their local college football team and the NFL, the whole political scene would be different. It’s Bread & Circuses for them, just like last time.

    • Agree: Forbes, AnotherDad
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "If the dozens of millions of conservative American men put the brain effort into politics..."

    They did so by electing Trump.

  14. @Oleaginous Outrager

    how to play baseball better
     
    The "three true outcomes" render 7 out 10 players on the field during any at-bat irrelevant. Is that really "better " baseball?

    “Three true outcomes” (home run, strikeout, walk) is boring. Baseball’s declining attendance and tv ratings show that it is also not popular. Especially to young people.

    Alas, many of the reasons for it go pretty deep. With computer records of who hits where, defensive players position themselves where a ball is most likely to be hit. Combined with modern fielding gloves, trying to “put the ball in play” is getting awful difficult. So instead, batters look for walks or swing for the fences. As far as I’m concerned, the most boring–and disappointing–play in baseball is a fly ball that the outfielder doesn’t even have to move to catch.

    Basketball had a similar problem as players got bigger and faster. The area around the basket was just too small and became too crowded for enjoyable play. So the powers that be did something radical. They came up with the “three point shot”. You got three points instead of two but it had to be launched from a substantial distance away from the basket. Basketball ratings has been going up ever since.

    Baseball cares about tradition, but this year has kind of crapped on tradition. What used to be Hall of Fame home run and strikeout numbers have become ordinary. The powers that be need to do something radical. My suggestion? One less fielder. Seriously. That would make it much easier to get a ball into play, which would make the game more interesting. There would also be obvious strategy for fans to notice and argue about. “Can you believe he had four infielders on that play?”

    Of course, it probably won’t happen and baseball will continue its slow slide to niche status.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    Nope — just un-alter the ball, which I said repeatedly back in 2017 while others came up with all sorts of other needless suggestions that would in turn screw up the game in their own ways.

    Then commenter Travis on October 26, 2017, shared this:

    “The new flat-seam ball in college baseball is having the desired effect, with teams hitting 40 percent more home runs after they changed the ball. The NCAA introduced the flatter seamed ball with the stated aim of increasing Home runs. The flatter-seamed ball has a seam height of .031 inches compared to .048 inches for a raised-seam ball. The NCAA Committee members made the decision to change to a flat-seamed baseball after research showed that flat-seamed baseballs launched out of a pitching machine at averages of 95 mph traveled 20 feet further. The NCAA’s official supplier of baseballs, Rawlings, also conducted testing of the flat-seam balls in its own research lab. That research was consistent with the findings in the WSU lab, the balls travel 5% further causing routine fly balls to go over the fence.nJust as predicted by physics, the distance the baseball travels is increased due to less drag on the baseball.

    MLB also introduced a new flat-seam ball which had the same effect in the MLB, Home runs increased by 47% after they changed the balls. Two studies confirms that home runs are up due to a change in the baseball. http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/06/29/a-second-study-confirms-that-home-runs-are-up-due-to-a-change-in-the-baseball/

    Now that it is easier for an average hitter to go yard, we will continue to see more strike-outs as most players will be able to hit 20 home-runs each year. Players who hit 20 home runs with the older balls will be expected to hit 30 home runs with the newer balls. Will have less effect on players who were home run hitters, as home run hitters who previously hit 40 home runs will get less benefit, boosting their number s by just 20% while the weaker players will see their home runs increase by 50%.”

    I thanked him at the time, but no one else picked up on it. This is the study I referred to upthread. Now here we go again....

    Don’t overcomplicate this. If the home run isn’t so easy and strikeouts not so important, then the game will realign to what many of us miss: pitching to contact, more defensive plays, team offense, stealing and other aggressive baserunning, etc.

    In the meantime, Boycott Ba$hball.

    , @Anonymous
    Problem with one less fielder is that the games would be longer than they already are. It would be like those cricket matches that last for days.
    , @Polynikes
    There's a simpler solution. Stop making tiny ball parks. Go back to the spacious ballparks of yesteryear. Home runs are harder to hit and hits are easier to get.
    , @anonymous
    My previous reply to this comment, in which I had retrieved the 2017 comment by Travis that I referenced upthread, was in moderation but now is gone. Whimmed? If so, why?

    (If that reply reemerges and is posted, no need for this one.)

    , @MikeatMikedotMike
    How about reduce the size of the infield by 10 feet between bases? That would eliminate quite a few "routine" plays to first.

    One of the reasons I like women's fast pitch softball is that the distance between bases is only 60 feet. It makes almost every ground ball put into play a potential hit, and all the double plays are fairly remarkable because the ball relay has to be perfect.
  15. Speaking of HBD, has any baseball nerd ever added player race/ethnicity to his spreadsheet data to see if any patterns are discernable?

    There may well be nothing of interest. But who knows. Maybe, all else being equal, one ethnicity is more likely to take a base on balls, or to go down swinging. Or whatever. You never know until you look.

    • Replies: @njguy73

    The saying spread among Dominican prospects, "No one walks off the island." It meant that in a land with so much baseball talent you had to hit, and hit aggressively, to impress the American scouts; simply showing a good eye would not be enough.

     

    Just to name three: Damaso Garcia, Alfredo Griffin, Miguel Olivo. All Dominican, all notorious for low walk rates. Check out Griffin in 1984 and Olivo in 2006.

    https://www.pbs.org/baseball-the-tenth-inning/world/no-one-walks-off-the-island/

    , @Known Fact
    Bill James did note once that most players named White seemed to be black, while most players named Black tended to be white
  16. Anonymous[425] • Disclaimer says:

    Stuff about Sirhan Sirhan. Why pander to Jews who are most responsible for the Great Replacement? Besides, Sirhan Sirhan would likely have remained in Palestine and wouldn’t have been so angry IF the US hadn’t enabled Jews to destroy Palestine. US support of Nakba was 1000x worse than Pearl Harbor. Japanese attacked an island to buy time. US aided the total destruction of a people and society that hadn’t done anything to Americans.

    US retaliated Japanese attack by killing 2 million. Sirhan Sirhan killed one guy, but that is a big deal?

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    US aided the total destruction of a people and society...
     
    If the destruction was total, there would be nobody left to complain. Yet we hear a lot of complaints.

    Now if you were talking just about Christians, you'd be closer to the truth.

    , @Anonymous
    I hear Joe D was not too upset by RFK getting cacked.
  17. Golf nerd Bryson DeChambeau played very poorly in the team format during the Ryder Cup last year. He lost in all three matches, although Phil Mickelson played terrible golf when they were paired together. There had to be more players than Brooks Koepka on the American side hoping he wouldn’t automatically qualify for this year’s President’s Cup team.

    • Replies: @William Badwhite
    Pairing DeChambeau with doofus Phil in alternate shot was one of the decisions by Furyk that convinced me was trying to lose. Mickelson is famously a flake who sprays the ball over the course. He's usually pretty good at getting himself out of the trouble he puts himself in, but asking a Ryder Cup rookie to do it was too much. Every time I looked up DeChambeau was standing with one foot in a bush, standing in a pond, trying to climb a tree or whatever to get to the tee shot Mickelson had hit for him.

    Also Tiger Woods is 13-21-3 in the Ryder Cup. Mickelson is 18-20-7. Jim Furyk is 10-20-4. If the US is serious about winning, it will not let any of these codgers anywhere near the team. What is the mindset behind "oh hey Jim Furyk lost 2/3 of his matches when he was a player...lets reward him with the captain's role"? Furyk then of course blew it. In addition to the debacle with Mickelson in alternate shot, he let broken-down elderly Woods play twice on Saturday while fearless Tony Finau sat.

  18. @Ano
    Not unknown to Mr Sailer and iSteve readers...
    In the documentary (and book?) Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky relates the anecdote of how he finds himself in a radio station green room shared, with other interviewees who were preparing for their appearance on a sports quiz show (I think).
    He laments how the men had wasted all their grey matter and brain power on the memorisation of sports stats and trivia instead of expending it on politics (etc).
    I take it he assumed these men were potential radicals/anarchists ready to be converted to his worldview/causes if only the fools would listen to him; not the blasted sporting commentators; but would I be off my rocker to believe those men were in fact more likely to be proto-populists/Deplorables-before-their-time? God forbid, perhaps considered it perfectly legitimate to research into racial differences.

    What is Chomsky's view of such politically-disengaged common men now in the era of Trump/Brexit/revived European popular nationalism?

    In fact, I have the habit when driving of turning on these radio call-in programs, and it’s striking when you listen to the one’s about sports. They have these groups of sports reporters, or some kind of experts on a panel, and people call in and have discussions with them. First of all, the audience is obviously devoting an enormous amount of time to it all. But the more striking fact is, the callers have a tremendous amount of expertise, they have detailed knowledge of all kinds of things, they carry on these extremely complex discussions. And strikingly, they’re not at all in awe of the experts–which is a little unusual. See, in most parts of the society, you’re encouraged to defer to experts: we all do it more than we should. But in this area, people don’t seem to do it–they’re quite happy to have an argument with the coach of the Boston Celtics, and tell him what he should have done, and enter into big debates with him and so on. So the fact is that in this domain, people somehow feel quite confident, and they know a lot–there’s obviously a great deal of intelligence going into it.

    That’s because in sports, unlike politics, results are expected.

    http://dialogic.blogspot.com/2009/11/noam-chomsky-on-basic-role-of-non.html

  19. Steve,

    Though not a great baseball fan (although I find the TV coverage of the koushien, literally ‘child pressing park’, the high school comp.,very interesting, they always interview cheerleaders, the bands, other supporters from the schools). It is probably the biggest thing in Japanese baseball, obviously not in terms of money, or the selection of teams for international matches, but it is the biggest phenomenom.

    I don’t, but real baseball fans watch it obsessively throughout summer. I certainly don’t mind watching it when it is on.

    I found the Takimag article interesting, both w.r.t golf and baseball.

    Anyway, I have a sincere question.

    You refer to a historical American player as being good in five roles, I may have misiterpreted but I think that is what you meant. I can think of four, pitching, fielding, shortstop, and batting.

    What is the fifth?

    BTW, if you write an essay on the death of McCartney or Jagger, when either inevitably occurs, I doubt that many here will care but both have made such jokes of themselves, Ocasek is of much the same generation as them, but made a sound and image (along with the other members, video producers, and Playboy models) that appealed to much younger people.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    You refer to a historical American player as being good in five roles, I may have misiterpreted but I think that is what you meant. I can think of four, pitching, fielding, shortstop, and batting.

    What is the fifth?

    Fifth is hitting for power.
    , @Ian M.
    Someone may have already responded to this by the time mine gets posted, but the five are: hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning (speed), fielding, and throwing (which refers to how strong and accurate your arm is for throwing guys out, not to pitching).
  20. @Hypnotoad666
    Speaking of HBD, has any baseball nerd ever added player race/ethnicity to his spreadsheet data to see if any patterns are discernable?

    There may well be nothing of interest. But who knows. Maybe, all else being equal, one ethnicity is more likely to take a base on balls, or to go down swinging. Or whatever. You never know until you look.

    The saying spread among Dominican prospects, “No one walks off the island.” It meant that in a land with so much baseball talent you had to hit, and hit aggressively, to impress the American scouts; simply showing a good eye would not be enough.

    Just to name three: Damaso Garcia, Alfredo Griffin, Miguel Olivo. All Dominican, all notorious for low walk rates. Check out Griffin in 1984 and Olivo in 2006.

    https://www.pbs.org/baseball-the-tenth-inning/world/no-one-walks-off-the-island/

  21. @anonymous
    From the article, buried NYT-style after discussion of "launch angle," etc.:

    "The MVP Machine briefly mentions another reason home runs are up so much from the first half of this decade. For instance, Giancarlo Stanton led the National League with only 37 homers in 2014 in contrast to his 59 in 2017, because Major League Baseball probably juiced the ball in mid-2015."

    Probably? Come on, commenter Travis (first) and I have repeatedly brought to your attention a study that showed it, which MLB ignored for years and then tried to obscure with its own "gee, maybe" stuff.

    That New Coke level blunder ruined the game, and overwhelms any of the tactical refinements that boys still want to nerd about.

    Boycott Ba$hball.

    Well, something is juiced! More likely the ball but wouldn’t rule out the players. Thus far, however, no actual proof.

  22. @Barnard
    Golf nerd Bryson DeChambeau played very poorly in the team format during the Ryder Cup last year. He lost in all three matches, although Phil Mickelson played terrible golf when they were paired together. There had to be more players than Brooks Koepka on the American side hoping he wouldn't automatically qualify for this year's President's Cup team.

    Pairing DeChambeau with doofus Phil in alternate shot was one of the decisions by Furyk that convinced me was trying to lose. Mickelson is famously a flake who sprays the ball over the course. He’s usually pretty good at getting himself out of the trouble he puts himself in, but asking a Ryder Cup rookie to do it was too much. Every time I looked up DeChambeau was standing with one foot in a bush, standing in a pond, trying to climb a tree or whatever to get to the tee shot Mickelson had hit for him.

    Also Tiger Woods is 13-21-3 in the Ryder Cup. Mickelson is 18-20-7. Jim Furyk is 10-20-4. If the US is serious about winning, it will not let any of these codgers anywhere near the team. What is the mindset behind “oh hey Jim Furyk lost 2/3 of his matches when he was a player…lets reward him with the captain’s role”? Furyk then of course blew it. In addition to the debacle with Mickelson in alternate shot, he let broken-down elderly Woods play twice on Saturday while fearless Tony Finau sat.

    • Replies: @Barnard
    Right, Woods was almost as bad when paired with DeChambeau as Phil. The fawning press tries to blame Tiger's bad record on his playing partners since he has a better record in singles. He rarely plays well in the team formats though.

    Furyk did a poor job as captain and Steve Stricker has the job for next year. According to golf writers, Tiger is expecting to be named captain to the 2022 team and Phil has been all but promised he will be captain when the Ryder Cup is played at Bethpage Black in 2024. He should do better as captain than he has as a player, the young guys like him and he seems to be able to motivate them. Hopefully they can get a win with Stricker next year at least.
  23. Professional and college sports is for imbeciles. It is all fixed and they are all on steroids. I see no mention of steroids in your “article.” Nor fixing.

  24. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @Roger Sweeny
    "Three true outcomes" (home run, strikeout, walk) is boring. Baseball's declining attendance and tv ratings show that it is also not popular. Especially to young people.

    Alas, many of the reasons for it go pretty deep. With computer records of who hits where, defensive players position themselves where a ball is most likely to be hit. Combined with modern fielding gloves, trying to "put the ball in play" is getting awful difficult. So instead, batters look for walks or swing for the fences. As far as I'm concerned, the most boring--and disappointing--play in baseball is a fly ball that the outfielder doesn't even have to move to catch.

    Basketball had a similar problem as players got bigger and faster. The area around the basket was just too small and became too crowded for enjoyable play. So the powers that be did something radical. They came up with the "three point shot". You got three points instead of two but it had to be launched from a substantial distance away from the basket. Basketball ratings has been going up ever since.

    Baseball cares about tradition, but this year has kind of crapped on tradition. What used to be Hall of Fame home run and strikeout numbers have become ordinary. The powers that be need to do something radical. My suggestion? One less fielder. Seriously. That would make it much easier to get a ball into play, which would make the game more interesting. There would also be obvious strategy for fans to notice and argue about. "Can you believe he had four infielders on that play?"

    Of course, it probably won't happen and baseball will continue its slow slide to niche status.

    Nope — just un-alter the ball, which I said repeatedly back in 2017 while others came up with all sorts of other needless suggestions that would in turn screw up the game in their own ways.

    Then commenter Travis on October 26, 2017, shared this:

    “The new flat-seam ball in college baseball is having the desired effect, with teams hitting 40 percent more home runs after they changed the ball. The NCAA introduced the flatter seamed ball with the stated aim of increasing Home runs. The flatter-seamed ball has a seam height of .031 inches compared to .048 inches for a raised-seam ball. The NCAA Committee members made the decision to change to a flat-seamed baseball after research showed that flat-seamed baseballs launched out of a pitching machine at averages of 95 mph traveled 20 feet further. The NCAA’s official supplier of baseballs, Rawlings, also conducted testing of the flat-seam balls in its own research lab. That research was consistent with the findings in the WSU lab, the balls travel 5% further causing routine fly balls to go over the fence.nJust as predicted by physics, the distance the baseball travels is increased due to less drag on the baseball.

    MLB also introduced a new flat-seam ball which had the same effect in the MLB, Home runs increased by 47% after they changed the balls. Two studies confirms that home runs are up due to a change in the baseball. http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/06/29/a-second-study-confirms-that-home-runs-are-up-due-to-a-change-in-the-baseball/

    Now that it is easier for an average hitter to go yard, we will continue to see more strike-outs as most players will be able to hit 20 home-runs each year. Players who hit 20 home runs with the older balls will be expected to hit 30 home runs with the newer balls. Will have less effect on players who were home run hitters, as home run hitters who previously hit 40 home runs will get less benefit, boosting their number s by just 20% while the weaker players will see their home runs increase by 50%.”

    I thanked him at the time, but no one else picked up on it. This is the study I referred to upthread. Now here we go again….

    Don’t overcomplicate this. If the home run isn’t so easy and strikeouts not so important, then the game will realign to what many of us miss: pitching to contact, more defensive plays, team offense, stealing and other aggressive baserunning, etc.

    In the meantime, Boycott Ba$hball.

  25. @Bugg
    While a bunch of old crusty sportwriters like Mike Lupica yell about steroids like pensioners telling kids to get off the lawn, they're missing a much bigger story. Medicine is blurring the line between what is a performance-enhancing substance and what's typical medical treatment.High school kids are using performance-enhancing drugs, and it's not some 1980s roided out freak shooting up in the gym bathroom. It's much more sophisticated. Andy Pettitte was the All American boy, and he fessed up to using. Form there on, all bets were off. He specifically acknowledged using to rehab from an injury. He probably did more that that, but it also probably isn't unusual. It's easy to make Clemens or Bonds villains, but if everyone is using something, then what?

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny. Same is true of any other sport. Nutrition and training have improved, but they have not improved that much. Suspect if the NBA did any kind of real testing they'd be playing 2 on 2.

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny.

    What jumps out at me in the pace of play. Back then Mike Hargrove was known as the Human Rain Delay because of the way he would step out, adjust his batting gloves, &c. Now no one would bat an eye at him. Back then games started at 8 because the game would generally be done by 10. Now the Yankees start their games at 6:30 on school nights, just so kids can watch the entire things.

    In a similar vein, football players have gotten so fat that if Refrigerator Perry entered the NFL now, he would have just been called Bill Perry.

    • Replies: @baythoven
    Yes. This dance they do now -- the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. -- is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it's so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don't really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

    Also they have destroyed the feel of the game with all the added pizzazz. They are now stuffing every spare moment with video highlights -- endless replays, what happened when batter last faced pitcher whenever, etc. And the crappy music added to the audio, announcers that talk constantly just for the sake of talking, cuts to the bimbo with mic in the stands for the social tie-in. It's like they think we're all kids and about to switch to a videogame if we're not diverted every moment.

    It's definitely time for me to quit all this. My favored team will be in the post-season, so I'll keep up for a few more weeks, but then I think I'm done for good.
  26. @Roger Sweeny
    "Three true outcomes" (home run, strikeout, walk) is boring. Baseball's declining attendance and tv ratings show that it is also not popular. Especially to young people.

    Alas, many of the reasons for it go pretty deep. With computer records of who hits where, defensive players position themselves where a ball is most likely to be hit. Combined with modern fielding gloves, trying to "put the ball in play" is getting awful difficult. So instead, batters look for walks or swing for the fences. As far as I'm concerned, the most boring--and disappointing--play in baseball is a fly ball that the outfielder doesn't even have to move to catch.

    Basketball had a similar problem as players got bigger and faster. The area around the basket was just too small and became too crowded for enjoyable play. So the powers that be did something radical. They came up with the "three point shot". You got three points instead of two but it had to be launched from a substantial distance away from the basket. Basketball ratings has been going up ever since.

    Baseball cares about tradition, but this year has kind of crapped on tradition. What used to be Hall of Fame home run and strikeout numbers have become ordinary. The powers that be need to do something radical. My suggestion? One less fielder. Seriously. That would make it much easier to get a ball into play, which would make the game more interesting. There would also be obvious strategy for fans to notice and argue about. "Can you believe he had four infielders on that play?"

    Of course, it probably won't happen and baseball will continue its slow slide to niche status.

    Problem with one less fielder is that the games would be longer than they already are. It would be like those cricket matches that last for days.

    • Replies: @MBlanc46
    First-class cricket marches were designed to last for days. It’s a feature. The ebb and flow over time, especially given the changeable English weather, is part of the structure of the game. A baseball game that takes more than two hours is probably a bad game. A first-class cricket match that lasts much less than 18 hours (three six-hour days) is probably a bad match.
  27. @Ano
    Not unknown to Mr Sailer and iSteve readers...
    In the documentary (and book?) Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky relates the anecdote of how he finds himself in a radio station green room shared, with other interviewees who were preparing for their appearance on a sports quiz show (I think).
    He laments how the men had wasted all their grey matter and brain power on the memorisation of sports stats and trivia instead of expending it on politics (etc).
    I take it he assumed these men were potential radicals/anarchists ready to be converted to his worldview/causes if only the fools would listen to him; not the blasted sporting commentators; but would I be off my rocker to believe those men were in fact more likely to be proto-populists/Deplorables-before-their-time? God forbid, perhaps considered it perfectly legitimate to research into racial differences.

    What is Chomsky's view of such politically-disengaged common men now in the era of Trump/Brexit/revived European popular nationalism?

    This is an application of the “Americans hate intellect itself” propaganda trope. It’s nonsense that the nation of Edison and Ford hates intellect. The Marxist lawyering here is that by “intellect” they do not mean intellect, they mean emotional commitment to the CultMarx cult, they mean gladly suffering fools so long as those fools use big words. Rejecting pseudo-intellectuals and sophomoric babblers is part of the highest respect for intellect.

    • Agree: Hypnotoad666
  28. @William Badwhite
    Pairing DeChambeau with doofus Phil in alternate shot was one of the decisions by Furyk that convinced me was trying to lose. Mickelson is famously a flake who sprays the ball over the course. He's usually pretty good at getting himself out of the trouble he puts himself in, but asking a Ryder Cup rookie to do it was too much. Every time I looked up DeChambeau was standing with one foot in a bush, standing in a pond, trying to climb a tree or whatever to get to the tee shot Mickelson had hit for him.

    Also Tiger Woods is 13-21-3 in the Ryder Cup. Mickelson is 18-20-7. Jim Furyk is 10-20-4. If the US is serious about winning, it will not let any of these codgers anywhere near the team. What is the mindset behind "oh hey Jim Furyk lost 2/3 of his matches when he was a player...lets reward him with the captain's role"? Furyk then of course blew it. In addition to the debacle with Mickelson in alternate shot, he let broken-down elderly Woods play twice on Saturday while fearless Tony Finau sat.

    Right, Woods was almost as bad when paired with DeChambeau as Phil. The fawning press tries to blame Tiger’s bad record on his playing partners since he has a better record in singles. He rarely plays well in the team formats though.

    Furyk did a poor job as captain and Steve Stricker has the job for next year. According to golf writers, Tiger is expecting to be named captain to the 2022 team and Phil has been all but promised he will be captain when the Ryder Cup is played at Bethpage Black in 2024. He should do better as captain than he has as a player, the young guys like him and he seems to be able to motivate them. Hopefully they can get a win with Stricker next year at least.

    • Replies: @William Badwhite
    Plus that silly course the French used really penalized guys that missed fairways (e.g. Tiger and Phil). Of course Furyk sat the guys that drive it laser straight (or like Finau that can hit irons a mile and not even bother with woods) and played the spray-and-pray guys.

    I'm convinced that one reason for the American lack of RC success through the 2000's is that Tiger really didn't want to be there and his sullen Urkel act brought down the rest of the team. When he was at his prime and miles better than his next closest competitor, other players were naturally going to be a bit intimidated by him. Its hard to be rah-rah like the Euros when the world's best player is grimacing in the corner and making it clear to everyone he's annoyed by it all.

    Mickelson's poor record (and its not atrocious, just slightly under 500) I attribute to his not being suited for any sort of team play. He can be brilliant on his own but is a weird dude (nickname on tour: FIGJAM for f**k I'm good, just ask me) that not many guys want to play with.

    Furyk I chalk to him being mainly a grinder that isn't going to wow anyone with his game. When he would win on tour it was because he was really focused, minimized mistakes, and putted well. When he's not doing those things, he's just not that good.

    Stricker's RC record is 3-7-1, so naturally he should be a captain. Great tour player but in the RC he should be known as Steve "missed on the low side...again" Stricker.

    I've already told friends that if Urkel, FIGJAM, or Furyk are on the American team in 2020 (as players) I'm rooting for Europe.
  29. @Cagey Beast
    OT: This is currently the most-viewed opinion piece at the Guardian site:

    Why Ivanka Trump’s new haircut should make us very afraid
    Arwa Mahdawi
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/18/why-ivanka-trumps-new-haircut-should-make-us-very-afraid

    Subcontinental woman at ancient pro-Communist rag frets about another woman’s hair style (no touching involved). Soon to be a series on Netflix.

  30. Yes, the same authentic, big-brain nerd who cut up his hand, during the playoffs, fiddling with a drone at home

    http://www.mlb.com/cut4/trevor-bauer-brought-his-drone-to-news-conference/c-206272290

    Also, note his Star Wars prequels praise.

  31. Anonymous[363] • Disclaimer says:

    Yankees (formerly Rockies) reliever Adam Ottavino trains with Driveline. They completely remade his delivery a few offseasons ago. I’ve never seen a right-handed fastball tail away from right-handed hitters as sharply as his does, to say nothing of his slider that goes from behind the hitter’s ass to the other batters’ box. They’re definitely doing something right.

    Pitching is clearly, to me, more nurture than nature driven, with pitchers typically entering their primes later than hitters. With a hitter, a year’s worth of plate appearances will probably tell you roughly what the rest of their career will be like, with a pitcher, it can take several years in the bigs to determine if a guy is an ace, a rotation arm, belongs in the bullpen etc.

  32. “While umpires try to police spitballs, they don’t care about sticky substances, agreeing with the pitchers that pine tar, while technically illegal, makes hurlers less likely to lose control of a pitch and hit a batter in the face.”

    Could it be umpires let it go for less altruistic reasons?
    https://binged.it/32RNzLz

  33. @Hypnotoad666
    Speaking of HBD, has any baseball nerd ever added player race/ethnicity to his spreadsheet data to see if any patterns are discernable?

    There may well be nothing of interest. But who knows. Maybe, all else being equal, one ethnicity is more likely to take a base on balls, or to go down swinging. Or whatever. You never know until you look.

    Bill James did note once that most players named White seemed to be black, while most players named Black tended to be white

  34. @Roger Sweeny
    "Three true outcomes" (home run, strikeout, walk) is boring. Baseball's declining attendance and tv ratings show that it is also not popular. Especially to young people.

    Alas, many of the reasons for it go pretty deep. With computer records of who hits where, defensive players position themselves where a ball is most likely to be hit. Combined with modern fielding gloves, trying to "put the ball in play" is getting awful difficult. So instead, batters look for walks or swing for the fences. As far as I'm concerned, the most boring--and disappointing--play in baseball is a fly ball that the outfielder doesn't even have to move to catch.

    Basketball had a similar problem as players got bigger and faster. The area around the basket was just too small and became too crowded for enjoyable play. So the powers that be did something radical. They came up with the "three point shot". You got three points instead of two but it had to be launched from a substantial distance away from the basket. Basketball ratings has been going up ever since.

    Baseball cares about tradition, but this year has kind of crapped on tradition. What used to be Hall of Fame home run and strikeout numbers have become ordinary. The powers that be need to do something radical. My suggestion? One less fielder. Seriously. That would make it much easier to get a ball into play, which would make the game more interesting. There would also be obvious strategy for fans to notice and argue about. "Can you believe he had four infielders on that play?"

    Of course, it probably won't happen and baseball will continue its slow slide to niche status.

    There’s a simpler solution. Stop making tiny ball parks. Go back to the spacious ballparks of yesteryear. Home runs are harder to hit and hits are easier to get.

  35. The starting pitcher MUST be yanked after 6 no matter how well he’s pitching. The 7th inning relief specialist MUST NOT pitch the 8th inning no matter how well he’s pitching, etc., etc. Awful. Beyond belief awful braindead mechanical managing.

  36. @Che Guava
    Steve,

    Though not a great baseball fan (although I find the TV coverage of the koushien, literally 'child pressing park', the high school comp.,very interesting, they always interview cheerleaders, the bands, other supporters from the schools). It is probably the biggest thing in Japanese baseball, obviously not in terms of money, or the selection of teams for international matches, but it is the biggest phenomenom.

    I don't, but real baseball fans watch it obsessively throughout summer. I certainly don't mind watching it when it is on.

    I found the Takimag article interesting, both w.r.t golf and baseball.

    Anyway, I have a sincere question.

    You refer to a historical American player as being good in five roles, I may have misiterpreted but I think that is what you meant. I can think of four, pitching, fielding, shortstop, and batting.

    What is the fifth?

    BTW, if you write an essay on the death of McCartney or Jagger, when either inevitably occurs, I doubt that many here will care but both have made such jokes of themselves, Ocasek is of much the same generation as them, but made a sound and image (along with the other members, video producers, and Playboy models) that appealed to much younger people.

    You refer to a historical American player as being good in five roles, I may have misiterpreted but I think that is what you meant. I can think of four, pitching, fielding, shortstop, and batting.

    What is the fifth?

    Fifth is hitting for power.

  37. @Roger Sweeny
    "Three true outcomes" (home run, strikeout, walk) is boring. Baseball's declining attendance and tv ratings show that it is also not popular. Especially to young people.

    Alas, many of the reasons for it go pretty deep. With computer records of who hits where, defensive players position themselves where a ball is most likely to be hit. Combined with modern fielding gloves, trying to "put the ball in play" is getting awful difficult. So instead, batters look for walks or swing for the fences. As far as I'm concerned, the most boring--and disappointing--play in baseball is a fly ball that the outfielder doesn't even have to move to catch.

    Basketball had a similar problem as players got bigger and faster. The area around the basket was just too small and became too crowded for enjoyable play. So the powers that be did something radical. They came up with the "three point shot". You got three points instead of two but it had to be launched from a substantial distance away from the basket. Basketball ratings has been going up ever since.

    Baseball cares about tradition, but this year has kind of crapped on tradition. What used to be Hall of Fame home run and strikeout numbers have become ordinary. The powers that be need to do something radical. My suggestion? One less fielder. Seriously. That would make it much easier to get a ball into play, which would make the game more interesting. There would also be obvious strategy for fans to notice and argue about. "Can you believe he had four infielders on that play?"

    Of course, it probably won't happen and baseball will continue its slow slide to niche status.

    My previous reply to this comment, in which I had retrieved the 2017 comment by Travis that I referenced upthread, was in moderation but now is gone. Whimmed? If so, why?

    (If that reply reemerges and is posted, no need for this one.)

    • Replies: @anonymous
    Well, that one Sailered right through. Not sure what’s going on here, but those interested in the facts about the mid-2015 alteration of the ball and its adverse, cascading effects on the game can put “commenter Travis” (be sure to use the quotation marks, and to run against comments) into the search tool upper right.

    One manifestation of baseball nerdling is going to the next bad idea instead of unwinding the last one. This is the raised mound of our time, but people refuse to see it.
  38. Analytics cost the Dodgers the World Series against Houston. Any idiot could see Darvish did not deserve the start in the 7th game. Only Roberts was dumber.

  39. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous
    My previous reply to this comment, in which I had retrieved the 2017 comment by Travis that I referenced upthread, was in moderation but now is gone. Whimmed? If so, why?

    (If that reply reemerges and is posted, no need for this one.)

    Well, that one Sailered right through. Not sure what’s going on here, but those interested in the facts about the mid-2015 alteration of the ball and its adverse, cascading effects on the game can put “commenter Travis” (be sure to use the quotation marks, and to run against comments) into the search tool upper right.

    One manifestation of baseball nerdling is going to the next bad idea instead of unwinding the last one. This is the raised mound of our time, but people refuse to see it.

  40. @anonymous
    From the article, buried NYT-style after discussion of "launch angle," etc.:

    "The MVP Machine briefly mentions another reason home runs are up so much from the first half of this decade. For instance, Giancarlo Stanton led the National League with only 37 homers in 2014 in contrast to his 59 in 2017, because Major League Baseball probably juiced the ball in mid-2015."

    Probably? Come on, commenter Travis (first) and I have repeatedly brought to your attention a study that showed it, which MLB ignored for years and then tried to obscure with its own "gee, maybe" stuff.

    That New Coke level blunder ruined the game, and overwhelms any of the tactical refinements that boys still want to nerd about.

    Boycott Ba$hball.

    My sources–perhaps authoritative, perhaps dubious–tell me the laces on the baseball are flatter, making for less grip by the pitcher and less break/movement of the pitched ball. The change was due to a change in the manufacturing process that sews the baseball.

    Also, a lot of the newer parks have smaller dimensions than the ones replaced, e.g. Philly, Seattle, Houston.

    Weight-lifting in baseball is no longer frowned upon as corrupting one’s swing–but encouraged for hitting the ball harder.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    "My sources–perhaps authoritative, perhaps dubious–tell me the laces on the baseball are flatter"

    That's what Justin Verlander says and I assume he's good with his hands.

    , @njguy73
    Safeco Field is actually more pitcher-friendly than the Kingdome was.

    However, both NY teams moved into more hitter-friendly parks in 2009.

  41. @Bugg
    While a bunch of old crusty sportwriters like Mike Lupica yell about steroids like pensioners telling kids to get off the lawn, they're missing a much bigger story. Medicine is blurring the line between what is a performance-enhancing substance and what's typical medical treatment.High school kids are using performance-enhancing drugs, and it's not some 1980s roided out freak shooting up in the gym bathroom. It's much more sophisticated. Andy Pettitte was the All American boy, and he fessed up to using. Form there on, all bets were off. He specifically acknowledged using to rehab from an injury. He probably did more that that, but it also probably isn't unusual. It's easy to make Clemens or Bonds villains, but if everyone is using something, then what?

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny. Same is true of any other sport. Nutrition and training have improved, but they have not improved that much. Suspect if the NBA did any kind of real testing they'd be playing 2 on 2.

    What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny.

    Every player in every sport–including baseball–is in the gym lifting weights all year-round. At best, they take a month off after the season concludes. The Major League Baseball minimum salary is $555,000.

    You’d be in the gym getting in shape, year-round, for that kind of money.

  42. @Forbes
    My sources--perhaps authoritative, perhaps dubious--tell me the laces on the baseball are flatter, making for less grip by the pitcher and less break/movement of the pitched ball. The change was due to a change in the manufacturing process that sews the baseball.

    Also, a lot of the newer parks have smaller dimensions than the ones replaced, e.g. Philly, Seattle, Houston.

    Weight-lifting in baseball is no longer frowned upon as corrupting one's swing--but encouraged for hitting the ball harder.

    “My sources–perhaps authoritative, perhaps dubious–tell me the laces on the baseball are flatter”

    That’s what Justin Verlander says and I assume he’s good with his hands.

    • Replies: @Farenheit
    Also a ball with "flatter" laces will not "bite" the air as hard when pitched. Therefore breaking pitches will be flatter and less curvy, hence easier to hit, as any wiffle ball dad can attest.
  43. @bored identity


    "...we could build statistical models to select the new Enrico Fermis and turn away the next Sirhan Sirhans."

     

    But, what about Sirhan Fermis?

    I think I can help them with that pesky conundrum, for only a small consulting fee.

    *Drum roll*

    Let in Europeans. Don’t let in Arabs.

    That is all.

  44. @Che Guava
    Steve,

    Though not a great baseball fan (although I find the TV coverage of the koushien, literally 'child pressing park', the high school comp.,very interesting, they always interview cheerleaders, the bands, other supporters from the schools). It is probably the biggest thing in Japanese baseball, obviously not in terms of money, or the selection of teams for international matches, but it is the biggest phenomenom.

    I don't, but real baseball fans watch it obsessively throughout summer. I certainly don't mind watching it when it is on.

    I found the Takimag article interesting, both w.r.t golf and baseball.

    Anyway, I have a sincere question.

    You refer to a historical American player as being good in five roles, I may have misiterpreted but I think that is what you meant. I can think of four, pitching, fielding, shortstop, and batting.

    What is the fifth?

    BTW, if you write an essay on the death of McCartney or Jagger, when either inevitably occurs, I doubt that many here will care but both have made such jokes of themselves, Ocasek is of much the same generation as them, but made a sound and image (along with the other members, video producers, and Playboy models) that appealed to much younger people.

    Someone may have already responded to this by the time mine gets posted, but the five are: hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning (speed), fielding, and throwing (which refers to how strong and accurate your arm is for throwing guys out, not to pitching).

  45. @Barnard
    Right, Woods was almost as bad when paired with DeChambeau as Phil. The fawning press tries to blame Tiger's bad record on his playing partners since he has a better record in singles. He rarely plays well in the team formats though.

    Furyk did a poor job as captain and Steve Stricker has the job for next year. According to golf writers, Tiger is expecting to be named captain to the 2022 team and Phil has been all but promised he will be captain when the Ryder Cup is played at Bethpage Black in 2024. He should do better as captain than he has as a player, the young guys like him and he seems to be able to motivate them. Hopefully they can get a win with Stricker next year at least.

    Plus that silly course the French used really penalized guys that missed fairways (e.g. Tiger and Phil). Of course Furyk sat the guys that drive it laser straight (or like Finau that can hit irons a mile and not even bother with woods) and played the spray-and-pray guys.

    I’m convinced that one reason for the American lack of RC success through the 2000’s is that Tiger really didn’t want to be there and his sullen Urkel act brought down the rest of the team. When he was at his prime and miles better than his next closest competitor, other players were naturally going to be a bit intimidated by him. Its hard to be rah-rah like the Euros when the world’s best player is grimacing in the corner and making it clear to everyone he’s annoyed by it all.

    Mickelson’s poor record (and its not atrocious, just slightly under 500) I attribute to his not being suited for any sort of team play. He can be brilliant on his own but is a weird dude (nickname on tour: FIGJAM for f**k I’m good, just ask me) that not many guys want to play with.

    Furyk I chalk to him being mainly a grinder that isn’t going to wow anyone with his game. When he would win on tour it was because he was really focused, minimized mistakes, and putted well. When he’s not doing those things, he’s just not that good.

    Stricker’s RC record is 3-7-1, so naturally he should be a captain. Great tour player but in the RC he should be known as Steve “missed on the low side…again” Stricker.

    I’ve already told friends that if Urkel, FIGJAM, or Furyk are on the American team in 2020 (as players) I’m rooting for Europe.

  46. Nature, Nurture, and Nerds

    Okay, somebody get working on a parody of “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads”.

  47. @ScarletNumber

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny.
     
    What jumps out at me in the pace of play. Back then Mike Hargrove was known as the Human Rain Delay because of the way he would step out, adjust his batting gloves, &c. Now no one would bat an eye at him. Back then games started at 8 because the game would generally be done by 10. Now the Yankees start their games at 6:30 on school nights, just so kids can watch the entire things.

    In a similar vein, football players have gotten so fat that if Refrigerator Perry entered the NFL now, he would have just been called Bill Perry.

    Yes. This dance they do now — the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. — is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it’s so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don’t really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

    Also they have destroyed the feel of the game with all the added pizzazz. They are now stuffing every spare moment with video highlights — endless replays, what happened when batter last faced pitcher whenever, etc. And the crappy music added to the audio, announcers that talk constantly just for the sake of talking, cuts to the bimbo with mic in the stands for the social tie-in. It’s like they think we’re all kids and about to switch to a videogame if we’re not diverted every moment.

    It’s definitely time for me to quit all this. My favored team will be in the post-season, so I’ll keep up for a few more weeks, but then I think I’m done for good.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    You won’t miss it.

    Plan B: I was a radio fan, which minimized the annoying clutter you describe so well. So if you can’t walk away from Home Run Derby, try that.
    , @The Last Real Calvinist

    Yes. This dance they do now — the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. — is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it’s so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don’t really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

     

    I agree. At this point, it's becoming more likely that the lengthy gaps between pitches are not just tolerated, but encouraged, so that time is kept available for all of the other things you mention: repetitive highlights of routine plays, vapid commentary, excruciating interviews by the mic girl, camera switches into the stands to show off celebrities, as well as players' wives, children, parents, coaches, concubines -- and on and on.
    , @Bugg
    Life has sped up, MLB has slowed to a crawl. Most nine inning games as late as the 1980s, even postseason ones, lasted less than 2 hours 30 minutes. Every game now is at least 3 hours plus, and postseason ones stretch to almost 4. College football games and NFL game sometimes go that long, but there's an 11 on 11 gang fight every play. Isn't fraction of that much time with the baseball in play and running on the basepaths. Watching a pitcher lean in intently for the catcher going through his signs and the batter stepping out almost every pitch is tedious.
  48. @Anonymous
    Stuff about Sirhan Sirhan. Why pander to Jews who are most responsible for the Great Replacement? Besides, Sirhan Sirhan would likely have remained in Palestine and wouldn't have been so angry IF the US hadn't enabled Jews to destroy Palestine. US support of Nakba was 1000x worse than Pearl Harbor. Japanese attacked an island to buy time. US aided the total destruction of a people and society that hadn't done anything to Americans.

    US retaliated Japanese attack by killing 2 million. Sirhan Sirhan killed one guy, but that is a big deal?

    US aided the total destruction of a people and society…

    If the destruction was total, there would be nobody left to complain. Yet we hear a lot of complaints.

    Now if you were talking just about Christians, you’d be closer to the truth.

  49. @Achmed E. Newman
    Though Chomsky is an idiot, politically speaking, he makes a very good point. If the dozens of millions of conservative American men put the brain effort into politics that they do to their local college football team and the NFL, the whole political scene would be different. It's Bread & Circuses for them, just like last time.

    “If the dozens of millions of conservative American men put the brain effort into politics…”

    They did so by electing Trump.

  50. Going out to vote once in 4 years doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid.

  51. @Achmed E. Newman
    Great article, Steve, and I often don't read your sports stuff. You sucked me in with the baseball, but golf is still a bridge too far. I like that "make the Statue of Liberty cry" line a lot! I may have to use it, with full attribution, of course.

    The golf stuff is the best. Cross the bridge.

  52. What would make baseball interesting(not necessarily popular) would be limiting the number of players each time could field per game. The team could have 30 players on its roster but only say 14 would be available per game to play any position. I think the specialization of baseball is what makes so boring. Babe Ruth was once a pitcher.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers so position players have to double up. E.g., slugger Max Muncy of the Dodgers has played 59 games at first base this year and 68 at second base, two positions that were seen as very different until a few years ago.

    The Dodgers have used their strong-armed backup catcher, 36 year old Russell Martin, as a pitcher four times this year. So far he hasn't given up a run in 4 innings pitched. They aren't using him in critical situations, but just to give the real pitchers a rest in blowouts, but he's been pretty good.

    The Angels' Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn't pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.

  53. @Forbes
    My sources--perhaps authoritative, perhaps dubious--tell me the laces on the baseball are flatter, making for less grip by the pitcher and less break/movement of the pitched ball. The change was due to a change in the manufacturing process that sews the baseball.

    Also, a lot of the newer parks have smaller dimensions than the ones replaced, e.g. Philly, Seattle, Houston.

    Weight-lifting in baseball is no longer frowned upon as corrupting one's swing--but encouraged for hitting the ball harder.

    Safeco Field is actually more pitcher-friendly than the Kingdome was.

    However, both NY teams moved into more hitter-friendly parks in 2009.

  54. @Anonymous
    Problem with one less fielder is that the games would be longer than they already are. It would be like those cricket matches that last for days.

    First-class cricket marches were designed to last for days. It’s a feature. The ebb and flow over time, especially given the changeable English weather, is part of the structure of the game. A baseball game that takes more than two hours is probably a bad game. A first-class cricket match that lasts much less than 18 hours (three six-hour days) is probably a bad match.

  55. @Redneck farmer
    "In baseball, nobody likes a nerd". You don't need to remind us, Steve.

    What sport is the most “mathematically disinclined?”

    I’d imagine sports that mainly focus with one on one are more simplified like boxing and Sumo wrestling.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Football has had fewer statistics, perhaps because it's too complex: American football coaches watch an enormous amount of videotape of games and they are expected to observe a lot just from watching.

    Lately they've been doing more stats, but it's not that clear if they have had all that much in the way of breakthroughs.

    , @ScarletNumber
    By far the truest sport is sprinting. I don't know if Usain Bolt has a working brain cell, but he sure is fast. Although he is smart because someone asked him how fast he could run a mile, and he said he had no idea because there was no reason to try it.
  56. @Ano
    Not unknown to Mr Sailer and iSteve readers...
    In Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky relates the anecdote of how he finds himself in a radio station green room shared with other interviewees who were preparing for their appearance on a sports quiz show (I think).

    He laments how these men had wasted all their grey matter and brain power on the memorisation of obscure sports stats and trivia instead of expending it on politics (etc).

    I take it he assumed these men were potential radicals/anarchists ready to be converted to his worldview/causes if only the fools would listen to him; not the blasted sporting commentators; but would I be naive to believe those men were in fact more likely to be proto-populists/Deplorables-before-their-time?

    God forbid, possibly even considered it perfectly legitimate to research into racial differences.

    What is Chomsky's view of such politically-disengaged common men now in the era of Trump/Brexit/revived European popular nationalism?

    "Stay in your sports lane, gammon"
    ?

    Sports are very much a (visual-spatial) sports activity. Guys love stuff that move. I’ve brought a few chicks to sports games and this happens quite a bit.

    The thing is women, have their own things that are probably as bad if not more.

  57. @Kronos
    What sport is the most “mathematically disinclined?”

    I’d imagine sports that mainly focus with one on one are more simplified like boxing and Sumo wrestling.

    Football has had fewer statistics, perhaps because it’s too complex: American football coaches watch an enormous amount of videotape of games and they are expected to observe a lot just from watching.

    Lately they’ve been doing more stats, but it’s not that clear if they have had all that much in the way of breakthroughs.

  58. @newrouter
    What would make baseball interesting(not necessarily popular) would be limiting the number of players each time could field per game. The team could have 30 players on its roster but only say 14 would be available per game to play any position. I think the specialization of baseball is what makes so boring. Babe Ruth was once a pitcher.

    Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers so position players have to double up. E.g., slugger Max Muncy of the Dodgers has played 59 games at first base this year and 68 at second base, two positions that were seen as very different until a few years ago.

    The Dodgers have used their strong-armed backup catcher, 36 year old Russell Martin, as a pitcher four times this year. So far he hasn’t given up a run in 4 innings pitched. They aren’t using him in critical situations, but just to give the real pitchers a rest in blowouts, but he’s been pretty good.

    The Angels’ Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn’t pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.

    • Replies: @newrouter
    >Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers<

    The changing of pitchers imo is what causes a 2 hr game to go 3-4 hrs. Give the managers fewer resources/options - speed up the game.
    , @ScarletNumber

    but is expected to pitch and DH next year
     
    Sadly under the rules of baseball he can't be his own DH. For those who think I am being silly, in college baseball you CAN be your own DH. That way, when you are removed as a pitcher, you can stay in the game as the DH.
    , @Rex Little

    The Angels’ Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn’t pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.
     
    If Ohtani did learn to play a position well enough to get by, imagine how valuable he'd be to a National League team. When pitching, his team would in effect have an extra batter, and if he had to be relieved he could stay in the game at his other position. Between starts he could play the field, and once in awhile move to the mound for an inning of relief.

    Back in 2003-4 there was a guy named Brooks Kieschnick who pitched and played outfield for the Brewers, but he wasn't good enough at either to get off the end of the bench or the back of the bullpen.
  59. @Steve Sailer
    Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers so position players have to double up. E.g., slugger Max Muncy of the Dodgers has played 59 games at first base this year and 68 at second base, two positions that were seen as very different until a few years ago.

    The Dodgers have used their strong-armed backup catcher, 36 year old Russell Martin, as a pitcher four times this year. So far he hasn't given up a run in 4 innings pitched. They aren't using him in critical situations, but just to give the real pitchers a rest in blowouts, but he's been pretty good.

    The Angels' Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn't pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.

    >Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers<

    The changing of pitchers imo is what causes a 2 hr game to go 3-4 hrs. Give the managers fewer resources/options – speed up the game.

    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist

    The changing of pitchers imo is what causes a 2 hr game to go 3-4 hrs. Give the managers fewer resources/options – speed up the game.

     

    I was thinking about just this yesterday after Steve put up the baseball article.

    I'd mentioned in a comment to another thread that yesterday the Red Sox/Giants game went 15 innings, and took just under 6 hours to complete. The Giants used 13 pitchers; the Sox used 11. If I'm reading the box score correctly, at least half a dozen pitching changes must have broken up play during those six extra innings. These delays must have been infuriating to the hardy fans who hung around to watch.

    Actually, who really enjoys very long extra-inning games? They're usually not very entertaning because typically no one scores until one team's bullpen finally has been run through and exhausted.

    So why not restrict the number of pitchers a team can use in extra innings? For example, once a game goes to the 10th inning, stipulate that the pitchers who start that inning must throw at least 3 innings -- or until the game ends, of course. As they tired in the 11th and 12th innings, it would be more and more likely the game would be broken open.

    Alternatively, the pitchers could be required to throw at least, say, 50 pitches before they could be relieved, or be required to face at least 10 batters, etc.

    I suppose if this rule were put in place there might be lots of feigned injuries so that 'emergency' pitching changes could be still be made -- but at least James Harden plays hoops, not baseball.

    The same general principle could of course be applied to the regulation 9 innings, i.e. a pitcher might be required to face a certain number of batters, throw a minimum number of pitches, etc.

    This is increasingly pertinent because more and more teams are now intentionally playing games in which they start games with an 'opener', i.e. a guy who's normally a relief pitcher, but who throws usually just the first inning. Then they just run through a string of relievers for the rest of the game, meaning there are even more pitching changes to be made than in a typical game with a traditional starting pitcher.

    I don't think the rule changes I'm suggesting would undermine the quasi-mystical 'integrity of the game' all that much.

  60. Similarly, Gallup polls have found that 150 million foreigners would like to migrate to the U.S. You might think that with that many to choose from, we could build statistical models to select the new Enrico Fermis and turn away the next Sirhan Sirhans.

    People tend to distrust complex models.

    Why not make it easy?
    – no cousin marriers (below)
    – immigration is open to anyone from the first world who can pass an English exam, anyone with a degree and English skills from the developing world, and anyone with exceptional talent by vote of a panel of citizens for the third world
    – all immigrants are required to buy immigration insurance to cover any social welfare use, crime, terrorism, or any other harm they may cause

    https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/163017/1/874241464.pdf

    countries with strong extended families as characterized by a high level of cousin marriages exhibit a weak rule of law and are more likely autocratic. To assess causality, I exploit a quasi-natural experiment. In the early medieval ages the Church started to prohibit kin-marriages. Using the variation in the duration and extent of the Eastern and Western Churches’ bans on consanguineous marriages as instrumental variables, reveals highly significant point estimates of the percentage of cousin marriage on an index of democracy. An additional novel instrument, cousin-terms, strengthens this point: the estimates are very similar and do not rest on the European experience alone. Exploiting within country variation of cousin marriages in Italy, as well as within variation of a ‘societal marriage pressure’ indicator for a larger set of countries support these results. These findings point to a causal effect of marriage patterns on the proper functioning of formal institutions and democracy. The study further suggests that the Churches’ marriage rules – by destroying extended kin-groups – led Europe on its special path of institutional and democratic development

  61. @Anonymous
    Stuff about Sirhan Sirhan. Why pander to Jews who are most responsible for the Great Replacement? Besides, Sirhan Sirhan would likely have remained in Palestine and wouldn't have been so angry IF the US hadn't enabled Jews to destroy Palestine. US support of Nakba was 1000x worse than Pearl Harbor. Japanese attacked an island to buy time. US aided the total destruction of a people and society that hadn't done anything to Americans.

    US retaliated Japanese attack by killing 2 million. Sirhan Sirhan killed one guy, but that is a big deal?

    I hear Joe D was not too upset by RFK getting cacked.

  62. @Ano
    Not unknown to Mr Sailer and iSteve readers...
    In the documentary (and book?) Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky relates the anecdote of how he finds himself in a radio station green room shared, with other interviewees who were preparing for their appearance on a sports quiz show (I think).
    He laments how the men had wasted all their grey matter and brain power on the memorisation of sports stats and trivia instead of expending it on politics (etc).
    I take it he assumed these men were potential radicals/anarchists ready to be converted to his worldview/causes if only the fools would listen to him; not the blasted sporting commentators; but would I be off my rocker to believe those men were in fact more likely to be proto-populists/Deplorables-before-their-time? God forbid, perhaps considered it perfectly legitimate to research into racial differences.

    What is Chomsky's view of such politically-disengaged common men now in the era of Trump/Brexit/revived European popular nationalism?

    My recollection is that Chomsky used sports stats guys to dismiss suggestions that most US people are dumb. Dumbed down, perhaps, not dumb.

  63. baseball nerds are the only people who are going to care about Mike Trout at this rate.

    Mike Trout will never make it thru a full season again, and will probably never make it to the playoffs. so basically, the best player statistically, is irrelevant.

    he’s also unknown, which is what ESPN and other sports media outlets want, but that’s his own fault now, because he signed with the Angels again, the biggest mistake of his career. that ensures nobody will ever know who he is.

  64. @baythoven
    Yes. This dance they do now -- the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. -- is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it's so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don't really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

    Also they have destroyed the feel of the game with all the added pizzazz. They are now stuffing every spare moment with video highlights -- endless replays, what happened when batter last faced pitcher whenever, etc. And the crappy music added to the audio, announcers that talk constantly just for the sake of talking, cuts to the bimbo with mic in the stands for the social tie-in. It's like they think we're all kids and about to switch to a videogame if we're not diverted every moment.

    It's definitely time for me to quit all this. My favored team will be in the post-season, so I'll keep up for a few more weeks, but then I think I'm done for good.

    You won’t miss it.

    Plan B: I was a radio fan, which minimized the annoying clutter you describe so well. So if you can’t walk away from Home Run Derby, try that.

  65. @newrouter
    >Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers<

    The changing of pitchers imo is what causes a 2 hr game to go 3-4 hrs. Give the managers fewer resources/options - speed up the game.

    The changing of pitchers imo is what causes a 2 hr game to go 3-4 hrs. Give the managers fewer resources/options – speed up the game.

    I was thinking about just this yesterday after Steve put up the baseball article.

    I’d mentioned in a comment to another thread that yesterday the Red Sox/Giants game went 15 innings, and took just under 6 hours to complete. The Giants used 13 pitchers; the Sox used 11. If I’m reading the box score correctly, at least half a dozen pitching changes must have broken up play during those six extra innings. These delays must have been infuriating to the hardy fans who hung around to watch.

    Actually, who really enjoys very long extra-inning games? They’re usually not very entertaning because typically no one scores until one team’s bullpen finally has been run through and exhausted.

    So why not restrict the number of pitchers a team can use in extra innings? For example, once a game goes to the 10th inning, stipulate that the pitchers who start that inning must throw at least 3 innings — or until the game ends, of course. As they tired in the 11th and 12th innings, it would be more and more likely the game would be broken open.

    Alternatively, the pitchers could be required to throw at least, say, 50 pitches before they could be relieved, or be required to face at least 10 batters, etc.

    I suppose if this rule were put in place there might be lots of feigned injuries so that ’emergency’ pitching changes could be still be made — but at least James Harden plays hoops, not baseball.

    The same general principle could of course be applied to the regulation 9 innings, i.e. a pitcher might be required to face a certain number of batters, throw a minimum number of pitches, etc.

    This is increasingly pertinent because more and more teams are now intentionally playing games in which they start games with an ‘opener’, i.e. a guy who’s normally a relief pitcher, but who throws usually just the first inning. Then they just run through a string of relievers for the rest of the game, meaning there are even more pitching changes to be made than in a typical game with a traditional starting pitcher.

    I don’t think the rule changes I’m suggesting would undermine the quasi-mystical ‘integrity of the game’ all that much.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber

    These delays must have been infuriating to the hardy fans who hung around to watch.
     
    These were few and far between due to the vagaries of the Boston mass transit system.

    In contrast, in NYC the subway and PATH run 24/7, so you are good to go.
  66. @baythoven
    Yes. This dance they do now -- the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. -- is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it's so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don't really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

    Also they have destroyed the feel of the game with all the added pizzazz. They are now stuffing every spare moment with video highlights -- endless replays, what happened when batter last faced pitcher whenever, etc. And the crappy music added to the audio, announcers that talk constantly just for the sake of talking, cuts to the bimbo with mic in the stands for the social tie-in. It's like they think we're all kids and about to switch to a videogame if we're not diverted every moment.

    It's definitely time for me to quit all this. My favored team will be in the post-season, so I'll keep up for a few more weeks, but then I think I'm done for good.

    Yes. This dance they do now — the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. — is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it’s so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don’t really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

    I agree. At this point, it’s becoming more likely that the lengthy gaps between pitches are not just tolerated, but encouraged, so that time is kept available for all of the other things you mention: repetitive highlights of routine plays, vapid commentary, excruciating interviews by the mic girl, camera switches into the stands to show off celebrities, as well as players’ wives, children, parents, coaches, concubines — and on and on.

    • Replies: @Cortes
    Snooker matches televised in the UK tend to stretch out miraculously to occupy fully the slots broadcasters have scheduled. This is most visible in tournament finals when one player is being crushed by the other. Almost like magic the plucky underdog will rally and the tournament is decided by the sinking of one of the higher value balls at the end of a “nailbiting” final frame. Leaving ten minutes programme time for trophy award and concluding remarks by pundits.

    Baseball sounds similar.

    Chop back TV coverage and play will speed up dramatically.

    FIFA floats the division of football (soccer) matches into quarters occasionally. Fan resistance has been too strong.

  67. @Roger Sweeny
    "Three true outcomes" (home run, strikeout, walk) is boring. Baseball's declining attendance and tv ratings show that it is also not popular. Especially to young people.

    Alas, many of the reasons for it go pretty deep. With computer records of who hits where, defensive players position themselves where a ball is most likely to be hit. Combined with modern fielding gloves, trying to "put the ball in play" is getting awful difficult. So instead, batters look for walks or swing for the fences. As far as I'm concerned, the most boring--and disappointing--play in baseball is a fly ball that the outfielder doesn't even have to move to catch.

    Basketball had a similar problem as players got bigger and faster. The area around the basket was just too small and became too crowded for enjoyable play. So the powers that be did something radical. They came up with the "three point shot". You got three points instead of two but it had to be launched from a substantial distance away from the basket. Basketball ratings has been going up ever since.

    Baseball cares about tradition, but this year has kind of crapped on tradition. What used to be Hall of Fame home run and strikeout numbers have become ordinary. The powers that be need to do something radical. My suggestion? One less fielder. Seriously. That would make it much easier to get a ball into play, which would make the game more interesting. There would also be obvious strategy for fans to notice and argue about. "Can you believe he had four infielders on that play?"

    Of course, it probably won't happen and baseball will continue its slow slide to niche status.

    How about reduce the size of the infield by 10 feet between bases? That would eliminate quite a few “routine” plays to first.

    One of the reasons I like women’s fast pitch softball is that the distance between bases is only 60 feet. It makes almost every ground ball put into play a potential hit, and all the double plays are fairly remarkable because the ball relay has to be perfect.

  68. George Will is a baseball nerd and neocon.

  69. @Steve Sailer
    "My sources–perhaps authoritative, perhaps dubious–tell me the laces on the baseball are flatter"

    That's what Justin Verlander says and I assume he's good with his hands.

    Also a ball with “flatter” laces will not “bite” the air as hard when pitched. Therefore breaking pitches will be flatter and less curvy, hence easier to hit, as any wiffle ball dad can attest.

  70. @Kronos
    What sport is the most “mathematically disinclined?”

    I’d imagine sports that mainly focus with one on one are more simplified like boxing and Sumo wrestling.

    By far the truest sport is sprinting. I don’t know if Usain Bolt has a working brain cell, but he sure is fast. Although he is smart because someone asked him how fast he could run a mile, and he said he had no idea because there was no reason to try it.

  71. @Steve Sailer
    Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers so position players have to double up. E.g., slugger Max Muncy of the Dodgers has played 59 games at first base this year and 68 at second base, two positions that were seen as very different until a few years ago.

    The Dodgers have used their strong-armed backup catcher, 36 year old Russell Martin, as a pitcher four times this year. So far he hasn't given up a run in 4 innings pitched. They aren't using him in critical situations, but just to give the real pitchers a rest in blowouts, but he's been pretty good.

    The Angels' Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn't pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.

    but is expected to pitch and DH next year

    Sadly under the rules of baseball he can’t be his own DH. For those who think I am being silly, in college baseball you CAN be your own DH. That way, when you are removed as a pitcher, you can stay in the game as the DH.

  72. @The Last Real Calvinist

    The changing of pitchers imo is what causes a 2 hr game to go 3-4 hrs. Give the managers fewer resources/options – speed up the game.

     

    I was thinking about just this yesterday after Steve put up the baseball article.

    I'd mentioned in a comment to another thread that yesterday the Red Sox/Giants game went 15 innings, and took just under 6 hours to complete. The Giants used 13 pitchers; the Sox used 11. If I'm reading the box score correctly, at least half a dozen pitching changes must have broken up play during those six extra innings. These delays must have been infuriating to the hardy fans who hung around to watch.

    Actually, who really enjoys very long extra-inning games? They're usually not very entertaning because typically no one scores until one team's bullpen finally has been run through and exhausted.

    So why not restrict the number of pitchers a team can use in extra innings? For example, once a game goes to the 10th inning, stipulate that the pitchers who start that inning must throw at least 3 innings -- or until the game ends, of course. As they tired in the 11th and 12th innings, it would be more and more likely the game would be broken open.

    Alternatively, the pitchers could be required to throw at least, say, 50 pitches before they could be relieved, or be required to face at least 10 batters, etc.

    I suppose if this rule were put in place there might be lots of feigned injuries so that 'emergency' pitching changes could be still be made -- but at least James Harden plays hoops, not baseball.

    The same general principle could of course be applied to the regulation 9 innings, i.e. a pitcher might be required to face a certain number of batters, throw a minimum number of pitches, etc.

    This is increasingly pertinent because more and more teams are now intentionally playing games in which they start games with an 'opener', i.e. a guy who's normally a relief pitcher, but who throws usually just the first inning. Then they just run through a string of relievers for the rest of the game, meaning there are even more pitching changes to be made than in a typical game with a traditional starting pitcher.

    I don't think the rule changes I'm suggesting would undermine the quasi-mystical 'integrity of the game' all that much.

    These delays must have been infuriating to the hardy fans who hung around to watch.

    These were few and far between due to the vagaries of the Boston mass transit system.

    In contrast, in NYC the subway and PATH run 24/7, so you are good to go.

  73. @The Last Real Calvinist

    Yes. This dance they do now — the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. — is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it’s so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don’t really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

     

    I agree. At this point, it's becoming more likely that the lengthy gaps between pitches are not just tolerated, but encouraged, so that time is kept available for all of the other things you mention: repetitive highlights of routine plays, vapid commentary, excruciating interviews by the mic girl, camera switches into the stands to show off celebrities, as well as players' wives, children, parents, coaches, concubines -- and on and on.

    Snooker matches televised in the UK tend to stretch out miraculously to occupy fully the slots broadcasters have scheduled. This is most visible in tournament finals when one player is being crushed by the other. Almost like magic the plucky underdog will rally and the tournament is decided by the sinking of one of the higher value balls at the end of a “nailbiting” final frame. Leaving ten minutes programme time for trophy award and concluding remarks by pundits.

    Baseball sounds similar.

    Chop back TV coverage and play will speed up dramatically.

    FIFA floats the division of football (soccer) matches into quarters occasionally. Fan resistance has been too strong.

  74. @baythoven
    Yes. This dance they do now -- the pitcher stalls, the batter calls time and steps out, the pitcher stalls, turns to stare at the baserunner, etc. -- is the main reason why the game is too slow. And of course, it's so easily fixable: Put the pitcher on a seconds clock, and refuse time-out requests from the batter excepting some unusual circumstance. Obviously, they don't really care about speeding up the game, despite what they may say.

    Also they have destroyed the feel of the game with all the added pizzazz. They are now stuffing every spare moment with video highlights -- endless replays, what happened when batter last faced pitcher whenever, etc. And the crappy music added to the audio, announcers that talk constantly just for the sake of talking, cuts to the bimbo with mic in the stands for the social tie-in. It's like they think we're all kids and about to switch to a videogame if we're not diverted every moment.

    It's definitely time for me to quit all this. My favored team will be in the post-season, so I'll keep up for a few more weeks, but then I think I'm done for good.

    Life has sped up, MLB has slowed to a crawl. Most nine inning games as late as the 1980s, even postseason ones, lasted less than 2 hours 30 minutes. Every game now is at least 3 hours plus, and postseason ones stretch to almost 4. College football games and NFL game sometimes go that long, but there’s an 11 on 11 gang fight every play. Isn’t fraction of that much time with the baseball in play and running on the basepaths. Watching a pitcher lean in intently for the catcher going through his signs and the batter stepping out almost every pitch is tedious.

  75. @Bugg
    While a bunch of old crusty sportwriters like Mike Lupica yell about steroids like pensioners telling kids to get off the lawn, they're missing a much bigger story. Medicine is blurring the line between what is a performance-enhancing substance and what's typical medical treatment.High school kids are using performance-enhancing drugs, and it's not some 1980s roided out freak shooting up in the gym bathroom. It's much more sophisticated. Andy Pettitte was the All American boy, and he fessed up to using. Form there on, all bets were off. He specifically acknowledged using to rehab from an injury. He probably did more that that, but it also probably isn't unusual. It's easy to make Clemens or Bonds villains, but if everyone is using something, then what?

    YES and SNY in NY show old time games from time to time. What jumps out is every player spare a few fat guys looks scrawny. Same is true of any other sport. Nutrition and training have improved, but they have not improved that much. Suspect if the NBA did any kind of real testing they'd be playing 2 on 2.

    Bugg:

    The famous 1930s Empire State Building picture shows 1930s iron-workers to be quite scrawny by current standards!

  76. @Steve Sailer
    Players are getting less specialized defensively as teams carry more pitchers so position players have to double up. E.g., slugger Max Muncy of the Dodgers has played 59 games at first base this year and 68 at second base, two positions that were seen as very different until a few years ago.

    The Dodgers have used their strong-armed backup catcher, 36 year old Russell Martin, as a pitcher four times this year. So far he hasn't given up a run in 4 innings pitched. They aren't using him in critical situations, but just to give the real pitchers a rest in blowouts, but he's been pretty good.

    The Angels' Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn't pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.

    The Angels’ Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn’t pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.

    If Ohtani did learn to play a position well enough to get by, imagine how valuable he’d be to a National League team. When pitching, his team would in effect have an extra batter, and if he had to be relieved he could stay in the game at his other position. Between starts he could play the field, and once in awhile move to the mound for an inning of relief.

    Back in 2003-4 there was a guy named Brooks Kieschnick who pitched and played outfield for the Brewers, but he wasn’t good enough at either to get off the end of the bench or the back of the bullpen.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    The problem is that Ohtani feels he'd be best starting pitching one day a week, having an off-day before and after his his start, then DHing 3 or 4 games per week. He's young and fast so presumably he could play right field fine, but he doesn't want to do that. You saw that with Babe Ruth too: he didn't like pitching and playing outfield.

    Does he worry that if he played the outfield he'd blow out his arm on a throw to the plate?

    Maybe he should play first base after Pujols retires?

  77. @Rex Little

    The Angels’ Japanese prodigy Ohtani pitched and played DH last year. He didn’t pitch this year due to arm surgery but is expected to pitch and DH next year, and probably would do fine in rightfield as well.
     
    If Ohtani did learn to play a position well enough to get by, imagine how valuable he'd be to a National League team. When pitching, his team would in effect have an extra batter, and if he had to be relieved he could stay in the game at his other position. Between starts he could play the field, and once in awhile move to the mound for an inning of relief.

    Back in 2003-4 there was a guy named Brooks Kieschnick who pitched and played outfield for the Brewers, but he wasn't good enough at either to get off the end of the bench or the back of the bullpen.

    The problem is that Ohtani feels he’d be best starting pitching one day a week, having an off-day before and after his his start, then DHing 3 or 4 games per week. He’s young and fast so presumably he could play right field fine, but he doesn’t want to do that. You saw that with Babe Ruth too: he didn’t like pitching and playing outfield.

    Does he worry that if he played the outfield he’d blow out his arm on a throw to the plate?

    Maybe he should play first base after Pujols retires?

    • Replies: @Rex Little

    The problem is that Ohtani feels he’d be best starting pitching one day a week, having an off-day before and after his his start, then DHing 3 or 4 games per week.
     
    Well, if he doesn't want to do it, that's a dealbreaker right there. Ain't gonna happen.

    You saw that with Babe Ruth too: he didn’t like pitching and playing outfield.
     
    I always wondered why Ruth didn't do both in the same season (well, he did some, but not much). Thanks for the info that he didn't like it; I learned something.

    Does he worry that if he played the outfield he’d blow out his arm on a throw to the plate?
     
    That may well be; the mechanics are different from pitching, and if his arm is geared toward one kind of throw it might not react well to the other. But I think that the reason is, it's hard enough to split his focus between hitting and pitching. Trying to learn a position on top of that is probably just too much to ask.

    Maybe he should play first base after Pujols retires?
     
    No point to that, as long as he stays in the AL. The rules don't allow him to move between the mound and the field in the same game, and the DH allows him to bat when he isn't pitching.

    Maybe if Pujols couldn't play in the field anymore, but could still hit, it would make sense to put Ohtani at 1B to keep both their bats in the lineup. But Pujols hasn't hit well enough to DH in years. (Or play 1B, really. The Angels would have been better off to eat Pujols' contract a couple years ago and keep C.J. Cron.)
  78. @Steve Sailer
    The problem is that Ohtani feels he'd be best starting pitching one day a week, having an off-day before and after his his start, then DHing 3 or 4 games per week. He's young and fast so presumably he could play right field fine, but he doesn't want to do that. You saw that with Babe Ruth too: he didn't like pitching and playing outfield.

    Does he worry that if he played the outfield he'd blow out his arm on a throw to the plate?

    Maybe he should play first base after Pujols retires?

    The problem is that Ohtani feels he’d be best starting pitching one day a week, having an off-day before and after his his start, then DHing 3 or 4 games per week.

    Well, if he doesn’t want to do it, that’s a dealbreaker right there. Ain’t gonna happen.

    You saw that with Babe Ruth too: he didn’t like pitching and playing outfield.

    I always wondered why Ruth didn’t do both in the same season (well, he did some, but not much). Thanks for the info that he didn’t like it; I learned something.

    Does he worry that if he played the outfield he’d blow out his arm on a throw to the plate?

    That may well be; the mechanics are different from pitching, and if his arm is geared toward one kind of throw it might not react well to the other. But I think that the reason is, it’s hard enough to split his focus between hitting and pitching. Trying to learn a position on top of that is probably just too much to ask.

    Maybe he should play first base after Pujols retires?

    No point to that, as long as he stays in the AL. The rules don’t allow him to move between the mound and the field in the same game, and the DH allows him to bat when he isn’t pitching.

    Maybe if Pujols couldn’t play in the field anymore, but could still hit, it would make sense to put Ohtani at 1B to keep both their bats in the lineup. But Pujols hasn’t hit well enough to DH in years. (Or play 1B, really. The Angels would have been better off to eat Pujols’ contract a couple years ago and keep C.J. Cron.)

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