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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Baseball Statisticians Unveil New Analytics Model Measuring Precise Amount Of Joy They Suck From The Game

Saying the breakthrough would change baseball statistics forever, the Society Of American Baseball Research unveiled a new analytics model Friday that measures the precise amount of joy their work sucks from the game.

Master of the Horse Posted: August 25, 2018 at 03:37 PM | 152 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: analytics, bill james, theonion

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   1. McCoy Posted: August 25, 2018 at 06:38 PM (#5733649)
-42
   2. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: August 25, 2018 at 07:50 PM (#5733659)
[1] Primey.
   3. DFA Posted: August 26, 2018 at 02:28 AM (#5733743)
I wish the Onion didn't feel so stale.
   4. Lyford Posted: August 26, 2018 at 06:27 AM (#5733746)
Oh. The Onion. I was expecting a Dan Shaughnessy column. From 1997...
   5. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 06:55 AM (#5733747)
The saber fanatics have indeed turned the game into an aesthetic disaster. I won't even bother to list the ways, as they should be obvious to anyone actually paying attention. As I noted in another thread, if baseball had never been invented and someone pitched the sport as a new entertainment product to a panel of venture capitalists and one of the deck slides included something like Joey Gallo hitting against a shift, they'd be laughed out of the room.
   6. BDC Posted: August 26, 2018 at 08:35 AM (#5733749)
something like Joey Gallo hitting against a shift


Gallo is actually hitting .333 in August (8 HR, 11/25 W/K). He looked miserable in midsummer but has turned it around. It may turn back around, but power hitters can be like that sometimes. Meanwhile, even with that ghastly stretch early in the season, his overall OBP is .323 in a .318 league. Playing the outfield this year … his instincts are bad at times; he turns the wrong way, gets late jumps. I think he's a natural infielder; but he makes up for his shortcomings in the OF by running well and having a very strong arm. Both bWAR and fWAR have Gallo as slightly positive in the OF (mostly LF) this year. The guy's your basic good athlete.

Gallo's not a great ballplayer, but if you think he's an aesthetic affront, you might start thinking about getting another favorite sport. I assure you he is fun to watch on a continuing basis.
   7. . . . . . . Posted: August 26, 2018 at 08:54 AM (#5733754)
That’s the problem, BDC. Most of us who were formerly baseball fans ARE getting other favorite sports and leaving this snooze fest behind.
   8. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: August 26, 2018 at 09:30 AM (#5733757)
That’s the problem, BDC. Most of us who were formerly baseball fans ARE getting other favorite sports and leaving this snooze fest behind.
i'll cosign on this, but with a caveat.

ever since the phillies went in the tank about 5 years ago, my interest in baseball has sunk pretty significantly. that didn't happen because of the losing (i've watched nearly every sixers game and a ton of flyers games, and both of them have also played like #### for most of this decade), but the phillies suckage definitely greased the skids and made it easier to lose interest in the sport as a whole.


before making any changes to the sport itself, i'd like to see MLB get the hot stove back. this offseason was a graveyard (aside from jeter's firesale...and the pirates' selloff) and it seems like the league's been trending in that direction for a while, even if this year was an outlier. 4 full season levels of minor league baseball is too many, and 6+ years of service time before free agency is too long.
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 26, 2018 at 09:47 AM (#5733762)
If you think that baseball has become an aesthetic disaster, the problem isn't the SABR crowd and its shifts, three true outcomes baseball, etc., it's the failure of the people running that game to make tweaks to counter those trends. I compare it to college basketball in the very early 1980s, where the slowdown offense could turn games into snooze fests where nothing happened. Then the NCAA introduced the shot clock and the three point line and things turned around considerably.

The goal of people running teams should be to win as many games as possible. The goal of the people running MLB should be to make sure that the product on the field is as entertaining as possible. If they want more small ball they should be experimenting in the minors and fall and winter ball with thicker bat handles or whatever, until they hit on a combination of things to turn the Joey Gallos of the world into Willie Wilsons.

In the college basketball example, I think of UNC's Dean Smith. He perfected the slowdown offense, and his heavy use of it made the 1982 ACC Championship Game maybe the most boring major game between top teams ever played. After that season he was a huge proponent of the shot clock and three point line. His goal as a coach was to win as much as possible within the rules; his goal as someone with a lot of influence in the game was to change the rules enough to make boring strategies less viable.
   10. McCoy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 09:58 AM (#5733763)
I actually agree in that it is MLB's job to put out a product that brings a return for them. But the problem is that baseball in its current form is extremely lucrative so there is little incentive to make major changes. I think for the most part MLB doesn't want to be like the NFL and they don't want to be perceived as getting in the way of the product. Now funny enough both systems are extremely lucrative and both systems get criticized for the way they go about handling their product.

So is there really a solution that would be free of criticism and produce better results than what they are getting now?
   11. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 26, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5733767)
There is nothing that MLB could possibly do that would be free of criticism.

If they think something needs to be done, they should phase changes in slowly. Bill James suggested thickening the bat handles by a tiny bit every year. Also shrink the size of the fielders' gloves at the same rate. That gives players and teams some time to adjust, and give MLB a chance to pause or reverse course if disaster appears to be looming. If the goal is a more contact-oriented game, then I think those two are the first things to try. (And they should be convincing a winter league somewhere to experiment with them.) They're minor changes to the equipment, and will be invisible to anyone who's not on the field with a ruler in hand.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 26, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5733771)
Also shrink the size of the fielders' gloves at the same rate.
Are people really clamoring for more errors and balls that glance off of fielders’ gloves?
   13. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5733774)
   14. McCoy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5733775)
Cut the amount of games down to 144 games. That would be a nice start.
   15. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:21 AM (#5733783)
Are people really clamoring for more errors and balls that glance off of fielders’ gloves?
The idea is to reward ball in play strategies. The errors and such are just a happy side effect.
   16. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5733784)
Meanwhile, even with that ghastly stretch early in the season, his overall OBP is .323 in a .318 league.


So he draws a decent number of walks.

As Derrick Coleman once said upon being fined for like the 10th time in three months, "Whoop-de-damn-doo."

OBP was kind of the first big saber "insight" and while it's obviously true that OBP is very important, getting from point A to point B can be extremely boring.

Then it was, "Let's take a bunch of pitches just because and run up the starter's pitch count so we can get to the relatively shittier bullpen."

And on and on it went, to shifts and a cavalcade of anonymous middle relievers and routinely oafish swings at pitches two feet outside. No one even runs anymore, except by accident. The top players in power-speed number, a sublime measurement of all-around ability and excitement, now typically have their lowest numbers in decades.(*)

YAWN.

The game has been hacked, and the result is a virtually unwatchable snorefest. Yes, a ballpark is an aesthetically pleasing place to spend time -- the emerald expanse, the sounds, the diamond, the players, but that's a matter of architecture, not sport or entertainment.

The game was better when front offices and managers weren't real swift in the brains department. It's still quite unclear why a dumb move by a GM or a baseball manager -- of all people for God's sake -- became such a personal affront to so many people. That's the real story here.

And then, my God, the personal affront people took at Joe Morgan doing the color at a baseball game. And Murray Chass writing narrative. And narrative in lieu of analytics about baseball generally.

Very strange stuff indeed.

(*) Goldschmidt and Myers tied for the NL lead last year at 24, the second-lowest after 1954. The leaders in the two strike years were well higher.

   17. Colin Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:29 AM (#5733786)
That’s the problem, BDC. Most of us who were formerly baseball fans ARE getting other favorite sports and leaving this snooze fest behind.


I used to be an intense baseball fan, now shifted to tennis and soccer, where the ratio of action to inaction and downtime feels higher. I will watch some baseball playoff games, but several times a game I'll yell at the TV for the pitcher to just throw the damn ball already.

The big problem for MLB, though, isn't that they lost me as a viewing fan. It's that now my two kids are also big fans of soccer and pro tennis instead of baseball. They do enjoy going to games, but they never choose to watch baseball outside of in-person attendance. And the last two years my big sports entertainment spending has been for tennis tournaments, not baseball games. Only baseball game I went to this year was at the lowest level of summer-league ball for college players.
   18. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5733787)
I'm watching Newcastle-Chelsea as I write this. It's night and day better than a typical regular season baseball game. Things actually ... you know ... happen. At an elite level of athleticism and teamwork and aesthetic quality.

And it will take two hours.
   19. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:50 AM (#5733789)
(*) Goldschmidt and Myers tied for the NL lead last year at 24, the second-lowest after 1954. The leaders in the two strike years were well higher.


And this year the NL leader will top 30, and the AL leader has a shot at 40/40.

So he draws a decent number of walks.


And will hit 40 HR. And is a decent fielder. And an above average baserunner. Is every player will a weakness an oaf? You know what would be really boring? If every player were Mike Trout or Mookie Betts. And you know what Gallo's biggest weakness is? Adrian Beltre. If the Rangers didn't have a future HOF 3B still playing well, Gallo could play his natural position and look even better.

routinely oafish swings at pitches two feet outside.


Yep. Vlad Guerrero was a supremely boring ball player. So was Sammy Sosa. So is Javier Baez.
   20. bookbook Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5733792)
Baseball is the only sport where it’s “fans” spend all their time criticizing what they profess to love,
   21. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5733793)
And this year the NL leader will top 30, and the AL leader has a shot at 40/40.


Dead cat bounce. The trend is obvious; the saber sniff fest at running is just as obvious.

And will hit 40 HR.


As would a bunch of guys in baseball history if they'd swung from the heels on every single pitch and struck out 180+ times every year. His 40 HRs don't translate aesthetically or otherwise to 40 HRs in, say, 1988.

And an above average baserunner.


He's got 3 stolen bases, 4 caught stealings, and 1 triple.

If the Rangers didn't have a future HOF 3B still playing well, Gallo could play his natural position and look even better.


A .212 batting average and 169 strikeouts in 489 plate appearances looks utterly ridiculous, so it's hard to imagine him looking any worse.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:07 PM (#5733794)
Are people really clamoring for more errors and balls that glance off of fielders’ gloves?


Shrinking the gloves will allow more babip, that in turn will encourage strategies for teams to implement that increases putting balls in play.
   23. BDC Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5733795)
His 40 HRs don't translate aesthetically or otherwise to 40 HRs in, say, 1988


So instead of boring present-day TTO baseball, you'd prefer the wildly different style of Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, and Jack Clark :)
   24. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5733796)
Dead cat bounce.


That phrase does not mean what you seem to think it means.
   25. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:16 PM (#5733797)

I'm watching Newcastle-Chelsea as I write this. It's night and day better than a typical regular season baseball game. Things actually ... you know ... happen.
Newcastle-Chelsea score: 0-0.
   26. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5733798)
He's got 3 stolen bases, 4 caught stealings, and 1 triple.


Get you head out of spreadsheets and watch a game. There's more to base running than that. Jorge Posada was one of the most famous comically bad baserunners of modern times. In 2006, he had 2 triples, 3 SB, 0 CS, and a well deserved -4 in base running runs.
   27. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:24 PM (#5733801)
Get you head out of spreadsheets and watch a game. There's more to base running than that.


If you're going to insist that a guy who's 3 for 7 in stolen bases and has 1 triple is an "above average baserunner," I'm afraid further discussion on the matter is pointless. Either that, or the "average baserunner" has sunk so low that it proves my point in any event.
   28. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:33 PM (#5733803)
I still love baseball and watch/consume more games than I ever have before at any time in my life. I am 39 years old. Could they make some changes to improve pace? No doubt. But I think that baseball's biggest "problem" is the proliferation of entertainment (including other sports) available to the American consumer in 2018. Color me not worried.
   29. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5733809)
More work can be done on this, but here's a useful back-of-the-envelope Loaf Index:

1982 National League: 2823 doubles, 445 triples
2017 National League: 4203 doubles, 461 triples
   30. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5733812)
More work can be done on this, but here's a useful back-of-the-envelope Loaf Index:

1982 National League: 2823 doubles, 445 triples
2017 National League: 4203 doubles, 461 triples


So you're saying you think that the increase in doubles is problematic? Or that triples didn't increase enough?
   31. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:58 PM (#5733813)
That people aren't running hard, so triples have gone relatively way down. It's just another example of the lack of action -- together with steal attempts, TTO, etc.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5733815)
That people aren't running hard, so triples have gone relatively way down.


That's possibly an explanation for some of the decline. Also, 1982 NL had half of its parks covered in turf with deeper fences, both situations conducive to triples. Also, because half the parks were covered with turfs and had deeper fences, it required speedier outfielders to patrol them, thus leading to more triple-threats at the plate.

Honestly, I would have expected a larger decline, but perhaps some of the quirkier dimensions (and some wall surfaces) of today's parks help boost the numbers back up.

   33. BDC Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5733817)
I call Joey Gallo a good runner because I watch the Rangers all the time, and … he's a good runner. On the current club, the only guys definitely faster are Delino DeShields (who can really motor), Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor. Even Odor, I don't know. Odor runs like a madman and wears bright socks; he may just give the impression of spinning at a high RPM.

Gallo is about as fast as Shin-Soo Choo (who has retained a lot of his speed) and Elvis Andrus (who has lost a step). Gallo strikes me as at least as fast as a kid named Carlos Tocci, whose only claim to fame is that he can run. Tocci just doesn't look very fast to me; he's about half Gallo's height and his stride is proportional :)

Gallo is a better runner than some equally young Rangers like Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman, and Willie Calhoun. Gallo gets down the line fast – an infielder cannot mess around when Gallo hits a ground ball – and he gets from first to third very well. As noted above, he can run down a fly ball pretty well if he can spot it.

These are subjective impressions from the stands. But that's the whole point. Aesthetically, there is nothing to complain about watching Joey Gallo run on a baseball field. If your "aesthetic" complaint about Joey Gallo's speed is based entirely on the ratio of his 3B and SB lines to the rest of his stat sheet, that's a little ironic.
   34. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:07 PM (#5733819)
Turf is not conducive to triples, at least not relative to doubles. All else equal, the ball gets to the fence and therefore to the outfielder quicker on turf.

Compare triples at Candlestick post-turf with China Basin and I'd bet anything you'll see the same effect, even though it's hard to imagine a park more conducive to triples than the latter and the former was symmetrical with relatively close-in fences.

Also, because half the parks were covered with turfs and had deeper fences, it required speedier outfielders to patrol them, thus leading to more triple-threats at the plate.


More triple threats at the plate is feature, not bug.
   35. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:07 PM (#5733820)
If you're going to insist that a guy who's 3 for 7 in stolen bases and has 1 triple is an "above average baserunner," I'm afraid further discussion on the matter is pointless. Either that, or the "average baserunner" has sunk so low that it proves my point in any event.


Actually, you have unwittingly proven my point. That you really don't understand base running. Take my two examples from before. how could a guy who is 3 for 7 in SB and with 1 triple score as an above average baserunner, while one who is 3 for 3 with 2 triples score as well below? Because the former advances an extra base on a hit 44% of the time while the latter did so only 19% of the time. Those are far more indicative of base running ability that the tiny sample size of triples.

That people aren't running hard, so triples have gone relatively way down.


Ballparks have changed. Far easier to hit triples on the old NY parks than the new ones, as just one example. Now, if triples going down, for whatever reason, reduces your enjoyment of the game, fair enough. But you seem to want to blame any change that you perceive as for the worse on the stat heads and the oafish ballplayers, an that is simply not the case.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:09 PM (#5733822)
Turf is not conducive to triples, at least not relative to doubles. All else equal, the ball gets to the fence and therefore to the outfielder quicker on turf.


Huh? Balls hit into gaps that would have been cut off would scoot to the fence, and balls hit down the line would do the same.

You know, you're not entirely wrong with some of your complaints. But you go so far down the path of stupid that it invalidates so much of what you say. Why do you do that?

Compare triples at Candlestick post-turf with China Basin and I'd bet anything you'll see the same effect, even though it's hard to imagine a park more conducive to triples than the latter.


How the hell would post-turf Candlestick help answer this question?

More triple threats at the plate is feature, not bug.


No argument there. I miss turf.
   37. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:10 PM (#5733824)
More triple threats at the plate is feature, not bug.


I'd rather watch Joey Gallo than Omar Moreno.
   38. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5733826)
But you go so far down the path of stupid that it invalidates so much of what you say.


Best concise summation of SBB ever.
   39. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:15 PM (#5733827)
Huh? Balls hit into gaps that would have been cut off would scoot to the fence,


A big, massive chunk of the ones cut off wouldn't have been doubles, even on turf. That's why we have to look at doubles vs. triples. Balls that do scoot to the fence get back to the outfielder quicker on turf.
   40. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:23 PM (#5733830)
BDC ... looks like Statcast has Gallo 6th overall on the Rangers in max sprint speed.

[edit] And you're right, DeShields can really motor.
   41. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:25 PM (#5733833)
Balls that do scoot to the fence get back to the outfielder quicker on turf.


Or, maybe, just maybe, they hit the wall with greater speed and take more unpredictable bounces. This isn't difficult.

Adjust to get back to the other point. I wasn't sure before where to find the data, but I just did. Gallo advances an extra base on a hit ( 2 bases on a single, 3 bases on a double) 44% of the time, the league average is 41%. 44 is greater than 41, and thus Gallo is above average in an area that happens far more frequently than triples and SB. And 2006 Posada, he with the superior triples and SB rates, advanced 19% of the time vs a league average of 39%, thus his well below rating.

This isn't hard for those who apply themselves. But I guess it's far easier to just go with "Gallo strikes out a lot. Therefore he is an oafish ballplayer" and call it a day.
   42. BDC Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5733837)
Thanks, CoB, that is a very cool chart. Looks like my subjective impressions are borne out. They rate Choo a little slower than I do. I think that Choo is still pretty fast in a straight line, but not very mobile in the outfield if he ever needs to change directions.

Obviously the middle of the list are all very close. That would be true for any team, I guess. Most of the guys on the Rangers are clearly faster than Beltre and the catchers, and clearly slower than DeShields, but to the naked eye the finer distinctions might depend on how much you got to see a guy in given situations.
   43. McCoy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5733839)
Baseball has been since the creation of TV a horrible sport to display on that medium. Baseball has been and probably always will be a great sport for radio. Basketball, hockey, and football are generally pretty horrible on radio with soccer (the few times I've heard it on the radio) being probably the worst major sport to hear on the radio. Hockey as the unfortunate combination of being lousy to hear on the radio and generally not very good to watch on TV. But I will say since the advent of HD TVs and possibly new arenas with better configurations the product on TV has gotten better so I might just have to upgrade them to being a mediocre product on TV.
   44. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 26, 2018 at 01:48 PM (#5733845)
That people aren't running hard, so triples have gone relatively way down. It's just another example of the lack of action -- together with steal attempts, TTO, etc.
Typical stupid take. Triples on an individual level are primarily a function of speed, of course. But triples on a team/league level are primarily a function of the park. If the park isn't conducive to hitting triples, then it doesn't matter how hard you run.

EDIT: Cokes to everyone, though I don't know how much credit one really deserves for debunking SBB.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 26, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5733851)
Baseball has been since the creation of TV a horrible sport to display on that medium. Baseball has been and probably always will be a great sport for radio.
Why do you say this?
   46. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 03:47 PM (#5733879)
But triples on a team/league level are primarily a function of the park. If the park isn't conducive to hitting triples, then it doesn't matter how hard you run.


Yes, how right you are. Which is why, for example, the ratio in Fenway Park in 1982 was 332/33 and in 2017 was 288/18. Or why in Oakland, the ratio was 198/28 in 1982 and 293/26 in 2017. Or why in Wrigley Field in 1982 it was 287/42 and in 2017 was 255/24. Or why in Dodger Stadium in 1982 it was 172/20 and in 2017 it was 254/14.

Or why in 1990, the first full year of SkyDome, the ratio was 261/46 and in 2017 it was 285/13. The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays hit 3 triples at home all season. And attempted to steal 32 times.

Loaf Index: Sky High.
   47. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 03:51 PM (#5733881)
As to SoSH's grass/turf issue, Candlestick changed from turf to grass for the 1979 season:

1978: 226/41
1979: 205/36.

Not going to do the actual math, but looks like an approximate wash.
   48. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5733895)
Gallo is 204th out of 517 in Sprint Speed.

Players near him include Josh Reddick, Jason Heyward, and Carlos Correa.

   49. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 04:12 PM (#5733896)
In his two big years, Jim ####### Rice had 15 triples in each year. In 1978, he only had 25 doubles and still had 15 triples.

Jim. #######. Rice.

Just a completely different style of baseball, by any serious measurement.
   50. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 04:18 PM (#5733900)
Compare and contrast something like Albert Pujols's 2009. Albert was fast enough to steal 16 out of 20 bases (*), yet had a doubles/triples ratio of 45/1. The picture there is self-evidently one of a guy who posed several times, didn't run hard out of the box virtually every time, and coasted into second base on a number of hits that if he'd run hard could have been triples.

Saber-friendly 21st century baseball to be sure, but not exactly what you'd call scintillating entertainment.

(*) Rice 1977, 5/9 SBs; Rice 1978, 7/12.
   51. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5733915)
49. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 04:12 PM (#5733896)
In his two big years, Jim ####### Rice had 15 triples in each year. In 1978, he only had 25 doubles and still had 15 triples.

Jim. #######. Rice.

Just a completely different style of baseball, by any serious measurement.
   50. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 04:18 PM (#5733900)
Compare and contrast something like Albert Pujols's 2009. Albert was fast enough to steal 16 out of 20 bases (*), yet had a doubles/triples ratio of 45/1. The picture there is self-evidently one of a guy who posed several times, didn't run hard out of the box virtually every time, and coasted into second base on a number of hits that if he'd run hard could have been triples.

Saber-friendly 21st century baseball to be sure, but not exactly what you'd call scintillating entertainment.

(*) Rice 1977, 5/9 SBs; Rice 1978, 7/12.


You wouldn't be cherry picking there, would you? Rice's teammates in 1978:

Lynn - 33 doubles/3 triples
Evans - 24/2
Fisk - 39/5
Hobson - 26/2

So, was it a different game, or was it just Rice playing a different game, or was it a fluke? In 1979, Rice was 39/6, and in 1983 he was 34/1 and in 1986 he was 39/2.

there is no doubt there are fewer triples and stolen base attempts today than in the 70's and 80. That it is because today's players are lazy is far from certain.
   52. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5733916)
You wouldn't be cherry picking there, would you?


No, I wouldn't be. I just happened to browse for a BITD big guy in Fenway and saw Rice.

That it is because today's players are lazy is far from certain.


They might not be lazy, but they play very lazy. In large measure, because of saber fanaticism -- in other words, the topic of the thread. The numbers are indisputable, as is the eye test.

But we can all rest assured Joey (Dreamboat) Gallo looks very athletic in his laziness!! And those bat flips!!!!
   53. cardsfanboy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:10 PM (#5733921)
and you sound like an old man relieving the glory days of something by looking at it through diseased cloudy eyes.... There is a reason that Pete Rose was known as Mr Hustle, because he ran hard all the time, and that was unusual enough to warrant a nickname. If everyone was hustling then it wouldn't have been notable.
   54. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:18 PM (#5733925)
I just happened to browse for a BITD big guy in Fenway and saw Rice.


And were silent on his CF teammate from those years who went 75/4 in 1978-79.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:29 PM (#5733931)
(oops---Charlie Hustle I meant to say)
   56. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:49 PM (#5733935)
Joey Gallo's up!!
   57. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5733936)
Took a first pitch hanging curve he should have creamed.

As if on cue.
   58. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5733937)
Base hit!

And quite an athletic one at that.
   59. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:52 PM (#5733939)
Next guy up gets base hit to right, should have gone 1st to 3rd -- but the Rangers are down 3-1 so we'll give him a pass.
   60. Walt Davis Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:53 PM (#5733940)
In 1977, there were .28 triples per team-game. This was the highest since the 50s. This has now fallen as low as .16 per team game last year. That's the most extreme difference of the last 60 years.

That's a loss of one triple per every 8 team games between the highest and lowest seasons. The aesthetic impact is OFF THE CHARTS. Why would little children ever watch a game where their hometown faves are hitting up to 1 less triple per week than their parents' heroes?

They might not be lazy, but they play very lazy. In large measure, because of saber fanaticism

This is hilaripus. The first "big" drop in triples came in 1988 when it shifted from (give or take) .23 to .25 per team-game to about .20. It stayed there until about 2012 when it dropped to about .17 to .18.
   61. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:54 PM (#5733941)
Although I have to say:

Massive, massive thumbs up for "Pico De Gallo."

OK, I'm sold.
   62. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 05:58 PM (#5733942)
That's a loss of one triple per every 8 team games between the highest and lowest seasons.


Walt, you commit the fallacy of small numbers every single time these numbers are brought up.

If NBA scoring drops from 105 to 90 points per game, that's fewer than four points per quarter, and roughly .075 points per possession. It's two extra missed field goals per team per quarter.

Who could possibly notice? Other than, well, everybody.

It's not just the lost triples, though those are bad enough; it's everything that goes into making the game the type that leads to the lost triples. And the lost stolen bases. And the way higher strikeouts. Etc., etc.
   63. SoSH U at work Posted: August 26, 2018 at 06:31 PM (#5733946)
As to SoSH's grass/turf issue, Candlestick changed from turf to grass for the 1979 season:


I just went through the NL batting statistics from 1980-1989. In every season, the top half of the team triples leaderboard featured more of the turf teams than teams whose home games were on grass. In 1986, the Top 6 in team triples were Montreal, St. Louis, Philly, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Houston.

   64. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 06:42 PM (#5733949)
What about doubles/triples ratio? The high triples number just could be a function of just hitting it up the gap more, though I agree that a triple is fine in its own right. I agree that it's also hard to tease out cause and effect because the turf teams tended to favor "turf players," i.e., the type of guys who were fast enough to hit a bunch of triples if things went well.

The Indians' 45 triples in 1986 would have blown away the league in 2017; the MLB leading D-Backs had 39.

To me, the best set of numbers is probably the 1990 vs. 2017 SkyDome. Three triples, 32 attempted steals for the season at home by the local nine. On turf. The Greater Toronto insomnia rate had to have materially declined.
   65. SoSH U at work Posted: August 26, 2018 at 06:48 PM (#5733950)
Expanding on that: Here are where the turf teams ranked each year:

1980 - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9
1981 – 1, 2T, 5, 7, 8, 9
1982 - 1T, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11
1983 - 1, 2, 3T, 6, 7, 11
1984 - 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8
1985 - 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, T10
1986 – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
1987 - 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9
1988 – 1, 3, 6, T7, T7, 10
1989 – 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9

Not proof, but it looks like turf parks were more conducive to doubles than grass ones.
   66. SoSH U at work Posted: August 26, 2018 at 06:49 PM (#5733951)
What about doubles/triples ratio?


I didn't look because I wasn't interested. I posited that turf parks were more conducive to hitting triples than grass ones. You disputed that. You were wrong. My work is done.


   67. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 06:57 PM (#5733954)
I posited that turf parks were more conducive to hitting triples than grass ones. You disputed that.


I did no such thing. I said I wasn't sure it was more conducive to hitting triples relative to doubles. (*) Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Like I said, it doesn't really matter because (a) a triple is a good thing no matter how obtained; and (b) teams on turf BITD thought they should "build around speed." My main argument, really, is that I don't really care whether that was "right" or "wrong" and I can't begin to understand why people would take personal affront to it even if it was "wrong."(**) See? It's right there in 16.

You're inventing a disagreement when there really isn't one.

(*) See first sentence of 34.

(**) As demonstrated by, among other things, the fact that the 2017 Blue Jays were a turf team that I'm sure were built the "right" way, upon perfectly accurate algorithmic principles, and it's hard to imagine anything more boring.
   68. SoSH U at work Posted: August 26, 2018 at 07:04 PM (#5733957)

I did no such thing. I said I wasn't sure it was more conducive to hitting triples relative to doubles. (*) Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Like I said, it doesn't really matter because (a) a triple is a good thing no matter how obtained; and (b) teams on turf BITD thought they should "build around speed." My main argument, really, is that I don't really care whether that was "right" or "wrong" and I can't begin to understand why people would take personal affront to it even if it was "wrong."(**) See? It's right there in 16.

You're inventing a disagreement when there really isn't one.


Oh, bullshit. You said triples were declining because players weren't running hard. I offered other explanations why triples would decline. If I were inventing a disagreement when there really wasn't one, the conversation would have ended there.
   69. cardsfanboy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 07:17 PM (#5733961)
Aren't parks significantly smaller on average today than they were in the 1980's?

Which seems more likely... players are playing less harder than they did in the past or size of the park is probably the number one factor for producing triples? (with astroturf also being a factor) but what used to be a triple 20 years ago is probably being turned into a homerun, automatic double or a relatively easily bounced ball that is relayed to the infield to keep the runner at second.

And I'm not arguing at all against the premise that players are thinking two out of the box(which seems to be your point mostly) but am arguing that they are thinking two out of the box because triples are harder to come by than they were in the day, and have become conditioned by repetition that certain hits are almost always going to be doubles and it's not really worth the effort to push the boundaries on the routine. Players in the past did the same thing, watch any game from the seventies, and a two bouncer to the second baseman by an average speed runner is going to have the batter not running his hardest.(with Pete Rose as an exception of course) It's the repetition of the routine, not players being lazy.


Of course you are right that this game could be more aesthetically pleasing, but your argument for the reason is off.
   70. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 07:18 PM (#5733962)
You said triples were declining because players weren't running hard.


Declining relative to doubles. I mean, they're declining in aggregate but it looks even worse relative to doubles.

The only actual disagreement was whether a ball up the gap was more likely to be a triple rather than a double on turf, as opposed to grass. And even that wasn't really a disagreement, as much as it was an, "I wonder."

Other than that, I don't think I disagreed with anything you said. And still don't.
   71. BDC Posted: August 26, 2018 at 07:26 PM (#5733966)
The more general point (on which of course I disagree with SBB, that's a given) is whether baseball has changed any huge amount, in terms of how an inning plays out on the field, over – let's say 35-40 years, because Fernigal (#9) brought up college basketball before the shot clock and the 3-point line. I would argue that most other sports have changed more than baseball, whether it's in terms of rules (basketball), technology (driving distance in golf, e.g.) or styles of play (Joe Montana won his first Super Bowl, 36 years ago, while attempting 22 passes, what was the guy thinking? :)

Perceptions of change can be subjective, but also fractal. If you are really paying furious attention to something, as SBB apparently does to triples, then small changes can register greatly. If you aren't … well, the 2018 Tour de France probably looked essentially like the 1908 Tour, in that they were on ####### bicycles, right?

I would venture, though, that if an intent sports fan in 1978 got in a time machine and watched sports nowadays, they would find baseball to be by far the most conservative of the major sports, which indeed has long been the case. Perhaps at some point in the interim the relatively minor changes in baseball reached a tipping point for some serious fans where they said "Enough of this ########." But for the most part, in the big picture, the elements of baseball tradition are very much still there.
   72. Eric L Posted: August 26, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5733967)
Once again, people are interacting with SBB's garbage. At least Jim gets the clicks.
   73. -- Posted: August 26, 2018 at 07:38 PM (#5733968)
The four majors have all changed pretty dramatically since 1978:

1. Basketball -- far more three pointers, which leads to an entirely different deployment of players around the three-point arc and an erosion in the effort to make a great pass that leads to a simple two-point shot. Even until like the 1990s, kicking the ball out to the three-point line on a fast break, in lieu of a guy open from eight feet away, was unheard of. Verdict: Mixed. College has seen, as Fernigal noted, the onset of the shot clock.

2. Hockey -- massively increased puck pursuit, and massive increase in fighting for every inch of time and space on the ice. Huge increase in speed and athleticism, much shorter shifts as guys go balls out every second. Much bigger goalie equipment, no more stand-up goalies -- who look utterly ridiculous in BITD YouTubes -- massive increase in goalie athleticism. Players come from all over the world, and it's a far superior product to the days where it was almost all Canadian farm boys. It was a great game then, it's an absurdly great game now -- though it could still use a bit of a nudge in the direction of making a goal easier to score. The end-of-playoff-series handshake line is the same pure awesome as it ever was, as is the presentation and celebration of the Stanley Cup -- the greatest trophy in sports.

3. Football -- huge change in run/pass ratio as BDC noted, big change in 2000s in running back usage. Putting aside the culture and the brain damage, it's a better product than in 1978, by quite a bit.
   74. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 26, 2018 at 07:40 PM (#5733969)
Boxing: 12 round fights instead of 15 leading to a generation of oversized heavyweights with mediocre stamina.

Also more referee stoppages after Duk Koo Kim was killed in the ring.
   75. McCoy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 08:10 PM (#5733979)
Why do you say this?

Baseball is a great background game and a great game for narration. It is not really a visual game. You've got a ton of standing around, you eye is focused on one area for most of the game with the same thing happening over and over and over.


Others have noted that with smartphones and wifi devices being ubiquitous virtually no one watches a game of baseball at home without playing around with some gizmo doing other things. That is actually a good thing for the game it takes the game back to when it was at its height.
   76. bobm Posted: August 26, 2018 at 08:27 PM (#5733987)
Posnanski: Triples are vanishing, but still a beloved play (2017)

[...] "Teams just don't use speed like they used to," said former shortstop Ozzie Smith, who hit 69 triples and 28 home runs in his Hall of Fame career. "With the Cardinals, we were going to beat you with our speed. Teams don't really do it that way now."

Teams don't use their speed like they did when home runs were rarer. Players are still very fast, perhaps faster than ever, but teams do not take the same chances on the basepaths that they once did. Outs are too precious to give up. The next guy might hit a home run.

"I think there's the same amount of speed in the game," said former outfielder Willie Wilson, who had 147 triples in his 19-year career, the most of anybody since expansion in 1961. "But I just think there's more emphasis on power."

[...] When players hit for a higher average -- chopping, bunting, blooping and doing whatever else for a hit -- and runs were at a premium, there was a distinct advantage to being on third rather than second.

But now? Consider Washington's Trea Turner, one of the fastest players in baseball and someone who seems to have the makeup of a triples machine. He has 10 triples in his first 142 career games, but he admits that he advances with extreme caution.

"Being at second," Turner said, "a hit, I'll probably score anyway. So I try to just make sure I'm safe. That's why I always keep my eyes up, and if I don't think I can get it, it's no big deal, because I feel like I can score anyway."

That's the mindset part of hitting a triple: It takes commitment. Pete Rose couldn't really run, but he hit 135 career triples because he just kept going. Roberto Clemente hit an astonishing 166 career triples, the most since integration, because he just would not stop.

[...]

"You've got to be real aggressive from the get-go" said Colorado's Charlie Blackmon, who has an MLB-high eight triples this year. "You have to be thinking triple from home to first, or you're not going to have a chance to get there."

Blackmon's triple barrage early this year shows another reason triples are down -- modern ballparks, for the most part, aren't built for triples. In the 1970s, Kansas City's Royals Stadium was a triples paradise, with its huge outfield and springy AstroTurf that made hits bounce absurdly high, or skip like rocks on the water. From the early '70s to the late '80s, the triple was hot, and the teams that tended to hit the most triples -- Kansas City, Houston, St. Louis, Toronto, Montreal, Cincinnati -- all played on AstroTurf.

Now, there is no AstroTurf, and there are only a handful of ballparks -- like Coors Field, Chase Field and AT&T Park -- that are really ripe for triples. All eight of Blackmon's triples this year have been at Coors Field.

"You have to luck out, and have the right stadium," said Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson, who is the last player to hit 20 triples in a season, when he hit 23 for the Tigers in 2007. "I went from Comerica Park to Yankee Stadium. Everyone said, 'Oh, what happened to your triples?' I have no foul space down the right-field line anymore. And the balls that go to right-center at Comerica now go out of the ballpark at Yankee Stadium."

Granderson went from leading the American League in triples in back-to-back years to hitting 40 home runs in back-to-back years while playing his home games at Yankee Stadium. Since coming to the Mets in 2014, he has only once managed to have more than two triples in a season.

"Here at Citi Field … once it gets past them, it starts bouncing off the wall and coming back in," Granderson said. "You may barely get to second. A lot of times, those turn into just singles. Those little things are things I noticed were taken away going from Comerica."

[...]

There is a constant conflict in all sports, the conflict between entertainment and winning. The two don't always go together. It may be exciting to watch players go crazy trying to stretch doubles into triples, but the way the game is played today -- the way teams play defense, the way outs have become so precious, the way players are built -- points in the other direction.

"People don't want to get hurt," Turner said. "I think a lot of older guys will take the doubles. … If you're any sort of power hitter, you hit it in the gap, you're probably coasting into second. You don't want to try something that will get you hurt. I would imagine that's probably the No. 1 reason." [...]
   77. bobm Posted: August 26, 2018 at 08:50 PM (#5733995)
Instead of looking at the 3B/2B ratio, this author looked at the 3B/HR ratio.


SABR.ORG: "Demise Of The Triple” by THOMAS COLLELO (c. 1989)


WITH THE EXCEPTION OF the almost extinct inside-the-park home run, the triple is rarest of hits. This was not always So. For more than fifty years after the founding of the major leagues, the home run was the rarest hit, followed by the triple, double, and single. The logic behind this was obvious: The farther a batter struck the ball, the more bases he could reach.

Even such changes as overhand pitching and enclosed ballparks did nothing to affect the natural order of hits. From 1901 to 1929 the average distribution was: 76.9 percent for singles, 15.2 percent for doubles, 5.3 percent for triples, and 2.7 percent for homers. In the pre-Ruthian years, there were roughly three to four times as many triples as homers.

[...]

The heyday of the three-base hit was the nineteen-teens. The newly built concrete-and-steel parks had huge outfields and distant fences, with foul lines often in the 370-foot range and with center-field fences more than 450 feet away. Although a new ball was used after 1910, it was dead by modern standards and often doctored by the pitchers, so outfielders played shallow. Balls hit over their heads or line drives in the gaps (especially in the early innings before the ball got soft) could roll to the deepest part of the park. With pitching dominant and low scores common, the strategy of the times was that it was often worth the risk of stretching a double in order to get one base closer to home.

[...]

The baseball establishment assisted the triples-to-homer shift in two significant ways. First, the architecture of the ballparks was changed. The outfield fences were moved in, shortening the distance for a home run and reducing the length of outfielders' throws to third. The second alteration was the ball. In the 1920s it was given a more resilient center and many more new balls were used per game. When the "rabbit ball" was introduced in 1930, batting averages and home runs skyrocketed.

By 1920 the ratio of triples to home runs had dropped from three or four to one to only two to one. By the late 1920s triples and home runs were virtually even. In 1929 home runs surpassed triples for the first time. Over the years the gap has widened. In the late 1940s there were about 2.5 home runs for every triple. A decade later that ratio was more than three to one, and by 1988 there were almost four round trippers for every three-base hit – a level of domination the triple never enjoyed over the homer.

A review of the career leaders for the four types of hits reveals that none is more biased by era than that for triples. The singles, doubles, and home run leader lists all show "ancients" interspersed with "moderns." Of the top fifty players on the triples list, however, only Stan Musial (twentieth place) and Roberto Clemente (twenty-eighth) played after World War II. Until 1945 it was fairly common for the triples leader to have 20 or more in a season. But since then, only Dale Mitchell, Willie Mays, George Brett, and Willie Wilson have reached that figure (and the latter two did it on artificial turf   but more on that later). At the other extreme, Del Unser won the 1969 American League triples crown with eight, and in four other years (excluding the 1981 strike season) players with nine triples have taken the top spot in the AL. In the National League the low points were 1962 and 1982. In 1962 Johnny Callison and Willie Davis tied for the triples lead with 1-0, and in 1982 Dickie Thon won the triples leadership with the same number. To put this kind of hitting into context, consider that the notoriously torpid Ernie Lombardi had nine triples in 1932.

[...]

Other factors, including the building of uniform ballparks and the trend toward faster outfielders, probably have increased the decline of the triple. On the other hand, one development that has had a positive statistical effect has been the proliferation of ballparks with artificial turf. Because the ball moves faster on turf and can get through the outfielders more easily, the number of triples hit on turf from 1985 to 1988 exceeded the number hit on grass by an average of 2.6 per 1,000 at bats. Over the long run, however, this development has not stopped the triple from dropping further; it has merely cushioned its fall.

[...]

BY AND LARGE, CATCHERS form the bulk of bad triples hitters. Of those players with at least 1,000 at bats and a triples-per-1,000 ratio of less than 2.0, almost two-thirds have been catchers. Recently, however, the number of non-catchers on the list has been growing. To put the 2.0 ratio into perspective, again consider that Ernie Lombardi registered a career ratio of 4.6 triples per 1,000 AB. In contrast, Jose Canseco, the modern-day personification of speed and power, had a triples per 1,000 at bat ratio of 2.07 after three full seasons. [...]
   78. bobm Posted: August 26, 2018 at 09:04 PM (#5733999)
   79. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 26, 2018 at 09:46 PM (#5734018)
If NBA scoring drops from 105 to 90 points per game, that's fewer than four points per quarter, and roughly .075 points per possession.
You divided a single team's points per game by both teams possessions. NBA teams average ~100 possessions per game, so 15 points/game is .15 points/possession, or a 2 point basket every 13.3 possessions.
   80. DJS, the Digital Dandy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 10:44 PM (#5734035)
Triples have declined relative to doubles. But singles have also declined relative to doubles. Are batters just lazy from home-to-first and second-to-third, but historically great (seven of the top ten seasons are since 2000) at effort between first-and-second?
   81. McCoy Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:01 PM (#5734038)
Had the Orioles-Yankees game on in the background tonight while I was making french fries and I found the broadcast enjoyable. Couldn't tell you the score or the flow of the game but with the game on in the background I was able to see the homers, some good plays, and hear some occasionally interesting commentary. I'm pretty sure if I had actually sat down to watch the game that I would have lasted past the first inning.


On a sidenote I'm convinced that ex-players have a broadcast shelf life of about 5 years-possibly less. I always find myself enjoying ex ballplayers in the booth when they're new at it and tedious when they become veteran broadcasters. Their whole value depends on them knowing the current game and the current and recently retired players and as the years go on they get farther and farther from the current players and locker rooms. Plus they've told all of their interesting and not interesting baseball anecdotes.
   82. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:26 PM (#5734041)
/To me, the best set of numbers is probably the 1990 vs. 2017 SkyDome. Three triples, 32 attempted steals for the season at home by the local nine. On turf. The Greater Toronto insomnia rate had to have materially declined.

1990 Jays played on AstroTurf. 2017 played on a much different turf which is pretty much like grass.
   83. Perry Posted: August 26, 2018 at 11:56 PM (#5734050)
There is a reason that Pete Rose was known as Mr Hustle, because he ran hard all the time, and that was unusual enough to warrant a nickname.


Nah, plenty of guys hustled then. But Pete was the only one who ran out walks.
   84. DJS, the Digital Dandy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:43 AM (#5734059)
There is a reason that Pete Rose was known as Mr Hustle

Charlie Hustle was given sarcastically, by Whitey Ford.
   85. flournoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 05:27 AM (#5734067)
Baseball is the only sport where it’s “fans” spend all their time criticizing what they profess to love


I doubt that. My favorite sport is Track & Field, which is the subject of constant criticism by those who are the most invested in it. Go look at any discussion board for a TV show, movie, video game, etc. Take stock in the positivity-to-negativity ratio.

People just like to complain.
   86. Leroy Kincaid Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:04 AM (#5734068)
Charlie Hustle was given sarcastically, by Whitey Ford.


Maybe because Whitey was a lazy turd.
   87. bobm Posted: August 27, 2018 at 07:23 AM (#5734069)
[81] I always find myself enjoying ex ballplayers in the booth when they're new at it and tedious when they become veteran broadcasters.

A-Rod on ESPN Sunday night is unwatchable IMO.

Keith Hernandez, doing the Mets and teamed along with long-ago ex-player Ron Darling and broadcaster Gary Cohen, is still great to listen to. Darling on national TV is less tedious than he used to be.
   88. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 07:45 AM (#5734071)
For some reason I recall another guy who was pretty old by the mid 80's who would run everything out as well, even sprinting out when getting announced to start the game. I can't remember who he was though
   89. -- Posted: August 27, 2018 at 07:57 AM (#5734075)
Kuiper and Krukow are both ex-players and are still one of the best, if not the best, booths in baseball.
   90. . . . . . . Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:02 AM (#5734077)
Baseball sucks - and make no mistakes, it sucks and is basically a failed game now - not because it lacks triples or whatever, but because it’s just a bad game with bad rules at the highest level, with a governance structure and cultural conservatism that prevents the rules from being changed to make the game work.

We didn’t know this when we became fans. It only became clear with analysis. But while other sports have maintained their depth as they’ve been subject to scrutiny, baseball has been revealed as tic-tac-toe.

WE THOUGHT baseball was a team game. WE LEARNED baseball involves almost no team interaction whatsoever and can be modeled most accurately as a set of independent individuals, both on offense and defense. There’s no strategic depth regarding team synergies.

WE THOUGHT pitching involved lost of game theory, and that there was no one optimal way to pitch. Million dollar arms could have ten cent heads. Mathewson. Pitching was the thinking mans game. WE LEARNED that velocity is so much more important than everything else that basically anyone who throws fast strikes will be a successful pitcher. WE ALSO LEARNED that it’s better to have a hard throwing hack in the game than a starter using the depths of his aresenal of pitches later in the game. So long, Eddie Lopat.

WE THOUGHT there were many flavors of successful hitter. WE LEARNED that for nearly all hitters, upper cutting, swing hard, miss lots — a single style - was the optimal approach.

WE THOUGHT optimizing winning involved lots of strategic decisions; platooning, sacrificing, situational hitting, stealing. We learned that for the most part, none of that matters, and to he extent it matters, the effect is dwarfed by how many guys you have that swing hard and throw hard.

those are the big ones, but you could keep going. All the strategic subtlety we thought was in the game really isn’t in the game. It is like watching Team Bowling. I don’t like the culture around football, but I have trouble understanding how any thinking fan wouldn’t prefer it to baseball. It resists easy analysis, involves tons of intra-team interaction, really depends on matchups, and has tons and tons of game theory and other strategic depth. Or maybe basketball - which probably could become baseball bc the 3 point line makes one style of play too strong, but has been constantly tweaked to optimize the entertainment value of the game and would be tweaked again long before it reached baseball’s current optimio ad absurdam state.

Baseball sucks. I picked the wrong sport to obsess over as a kid because it had this literary / intellectual culture but that doesn’t mean that with a grown-up’s eye I can’t recognize a flawed game. It sounds nice in the background, though, and little boys enjoy it. It’s sort of like a Disney movie in that way. Let it go.
   91. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:22 AM (#5734084)
Keith Hernandez, doing the Mets and teamed along with long-ago ex-player Ron Darling and broadcaster Gary Cohen, is still great to listen to.
So you support throwing at a player for the offense of hitting too many homers as a rookie?
   92. The Duke Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:25 AM (#5734085)
#9 has it right. Not sure exactly what they should do. Some ideas:

1. Make it easier to steal in some way
2. Cut back materially on replay - every exciting play now has a pause after it to see if it will be challenged. Terrible
3. Don’t let batters step out and don’t let pitchers delay - allow umps to assess balls and strikes for slowing down play
4. Go to 3 balls and 3 strikes.
5. Limit relief pitcher moves

   93. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:35 AM (#5734088)
All that "THOUGHT.....LEARNED" stuff is what certain people at this particular point in time THINK they've learned. But just as history didn't end with the fall of Communism, baseball hasn't stopped evolving because of bullpens full of flamehrowers and hitters doing imitations of Dave Kingman. Baseball's obituary has been written many times over the past 65 years, beginning when the minor leagues shrunk by about 70% after 1949, nine cities** lost teams in 20 years (one city lost 2), and TV was said to be killing the game. Much of what you write above I agree with in spirit, but the final chapter of baseball has hardly been written.

** Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, Brooklyn, Washington, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Seattle, and Washington again.
   94. Lassus Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:38 AM (#5734091)
   95. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:40 AM (#5734092)
10 years ago after every play there was a pause. 30 years ago as well. That hasn't changed. And really we want a pause after a great play. We want to see the replay, the different angles, the analysis. People like that. Nothing infuriated me more during the world cup than seeing a great play in real time and maybe or maybe not getting a replay for it and when you get it it usually is on for 5 seconds and then gone forever.
   96. . . . . . . Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:43 AM (#5734093)
But baseball has been consistently shrinking in relative popularity over the past 65 years. People have said baseball is becoming less popular and important because it is. Maybe it would’ve served baseball well to look up and wonder why football and basketball passed it by.
   97. Greg K Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:49 AM (#5734094)
Maybe it would’ve served baseball well to look up and wonder why football and basketball passed it by.

I think it's down to the vagaries of the production parameters of the fragmenting of the audience due to cable television, carnivals, water parks, etc.
   98. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:51 AM (#5734095)
Nobody besides old baseball farts actually care about "relative popularity". That's just laundry cheering. Baseball was and is booming and doing very well. The league, the owners, the players are doing very well and the fans have a variety of great mediums and ways to watch baseball and see great players, games, and plays being made.
   99. . . . . . . Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:54 AM (#5734099)
Fragmenting of the audience would affect all sports equally. Baseball is now the third or fourth sport, other than with old white farts. Horse racing was once a major sport too.
   100. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5734100)
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