Getting past the vast…some good Ralph Kiner-speak.
Kiner also loves to shoot holes in perceived baseball wisdom. “These stolen base hot shots,” he remarked, referring to the fastest runners on both the Braves and Mets. “If they’re so good at stealing bases, just let them steal. I never figured out why it was considered smart for a batter to swing at a pitch he didn’t like in order to ‘protect’ the runner? If the runner is good enough to steal, why does he have to be ‘protected’? They always talk about how many bases so-and-so steals, but they never tell you how many outs the batters had to sacrifice to help them get those stolen bases.” Point taken.
And here’s another: “One of the worst things they ever did to relief pitching was invent the ‘save’ category. If they hadn’t done that, managers would bring in their best relief pitchers at the point in the game where he could do his team the most good. Casey Stengel used to do that, and so, a lot of times, did Leo Durocher. Now you’re paying the relief aces for saves, and you can only bring them in in save situations where your team is already ahead. They show you how many games a relief pitcher saves, but they never tell you how many games a team loses because a manager didn’t use his best reliever in the toughest situation.”
And so ancient wisdom meets Bill James-type modern analysis. We could use more of that, and frankly, we could use a lot more Ralph Kiner, who’s 88.
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