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Friday, December 27, 2013

BtBS: A look back at Bill James’ “Baseball 2015” essay

For Christmas I received the Kindle edition of the New Bill James Historical Abstract, which is still an indispensable resource over 10 years after its publication. I purchased this version for the ease of looking up items I know I’ve seen in my previous four readings, and as I was breezing through it yesterday I ran across an essay titled “Baseball 2015” which is on page 316-17 of the hardcover edition. In a bleak Iowa winter with 8 inches of snow on the ground and no respite in sight, this is as good a time as any to see how well his essay has stood up.

James made four predictions which I quote verbatim:

  1 - That baseball will eventually solve or contain the problem of economics corroding competitive balance.
  2 - That baseball will eventually gain control of the problem of the ever-lengthening games.
  3 - That the hundred-year trend of using more and more pitchers will end, and complete games (for the first time ever) will soon become more common, rather than less.
  4 - That the rend toward more strikeouts and more homers from the top of the order to the bottom will also end soon.

...Like just about everything he researches, Bill James was right on the money in identifying this important issue in the game. Issues come and issues go, with the only constant being they will generally correct themselves if given the chance. In the case of economic disparities, teams found new revenue streams and simply resisted the urge to spend with the big-market teams and found they could still have success, which has led big market teams to the realization that spending efficiently is better than spending big.

Thanks to Bakerpenny.

Repoz Posted: December 27, 2013 at 10:35 AM | 108 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. jdennis Posted: December 27, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4624571)
I've heard about some new training methods that NFL QBs use that have drastically reduced arm injuries from overuse, and a few MLB pitchers have picked them up. Maybe these will contribute to an increase in IP.

I also believe scouts will go after more ground ball pitchers because they are more consistent, and reduce the number of k's and dingers. Also, the amount of k's will reduce slightly on its own as hitters work to strike out at a slightly less embarrassing rate.

As far as the league policy, obviously those will turn toward justice, though the arc may be long. So I basically agree with all of James' predictions, though they will clearly be late.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4624575)
Interesting stuff. It is mystifying how little has been done to combat the deadening pace of the game. I don't even think you need anything draconian, and I don't see who would oppose small incremental measures like requiring hitters to stay in the box, limiting visits to the mound, etc. but Steve Palermo did that Commissioner-appointed study, what, 5-10 years ago? And nothing has been done.
   3. AROM Posted: December 27, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4624581)
I've heard about some new training methods that NFL QBs use that have drastically reduced arm injuries from overuse, and a few MLB pitchers have picked them up. Maybe these will contribute to an increase in IP.


NFL QBs don't hurt their arms from overuse. They get hurt from speedy 250 pound linemen crashing into them. Peyton Manning throws 40-50 passes once per week. Many of these are short passes, he only airs it out a few times per game. For throwing alone, the stress on a QB is equivalent to what Mariano Rivera would experience if the Yankees had him pitch the 9th inning only on Sunday games.
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 27, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4624585)
So I basically agree with all of James' predictions, though they will clearly be late.

In terms of a time frame, when I read "baseball will eventually gain control of the problem of the ever-lengthening games," I couldn't help thinking of Manuel in Fawlty Towers, or George's parking lot attendant in Seinfeld when George asked him how many days it'd take to unblock his car.
   5. BDC Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4624637)
#1 and #2 here are interrelated. TFA shows that there's more and more money in the game (notably, that the poor teams are getting richer). Meanwhile, games are getting longer: (a) more rewards ride on every pitch, so the players are taking their time like Russian chess masters over every move. (b) game length isn't hurting the bottom line – if anything, it's driving the fans out to the concessions to buy more cheese fries – so why take measures to shorten games?

As a general principle, I'm not sure that any big-ticket event, from concerts to operas to NASCAR to megachurch services, has ever drawn bigger crowds by promising a brisker experience. People want volume for their money.
   6. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4624639)
Sometimes immediate gratification is the enemy of long-term welfare. There's a lot of that in baseball. Too much money and success in the immediate is not conducive to fostering wholesale efforts to change. Things have to get worse for that to happen. If it ain't broke, don't fix it resounds and is a time-honored axiom, and too many fear all this that is proposed (especially about speeding up the game) as being too close to "if it ain't broke, break it."

EDIT: Posted before I saw #5.
   7. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4624647)

As a general principle, I'm not sure that any big-ticket event, from concerts to operas to NASCAR to megachurch services, has ever drawn bigger crowds by promising a brisker experience.


I've never been to a megachurch, but from hearing from those that have been, most every megachurch gets through its service in exactly one hour, timed to the minute.
   8. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4624648)
5:

Yes, that's all true, but it's a strategy that has to maintain a utilitarian balance. At some point an ever burgeoning happening seems more like a festival than something with a purpose. I don't think the fans want baseball to reach the point of cricket. And there is a difference between the event getting longer because of the intrinsic conflict and because players engaging in ever-extending rituals that have little point except delay. You have to have a plan based on what you are really after. For a long time, it was assumed baseball wanted to be the national game. That apparently is wrong. They always wanted to just make as much money as possible. Mythic status was just concomitant.
   9. BDC Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4624649)
I've never been to a megachurch, but from hearing from those that have been, most every megachurch gets through its service in exactly one hour, timed to the minute

That's interesting. I have been, and they seemed interminable. But time is subjective :-D

EDIT: And I suspect one dynamic at work is that quite a few church services are tied to broadcast slots. So are NFL games, slow as the action may seem: they are fit into a broadcast day, and save for overtime, predictable in length. Baseball is open-ended, and many games run longer than NFL games. I agree with Morty that there's some breaking point. 3½hours once a week for football is a fun treat; every bloody night for baseball is a slog.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4624654)
(b) game length isn't hurting the bottom line – if anything, it's driving the fans out to the concessions to buy more cheese fries – so why take measures to shorten games?


Just because profits are rising doesn't mean they are as high as they could be if the experience was improved. The parks aren't operating at 100% capacity.

You might as well ask 'why clean the toilets?' or 'why spend money on fancy scoreboards?' because not trying in these areas supposedly isn't hurting the bottom line.
   11. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4624659)
4 - That the trend toward more strikeouts and more homers from the top of the order to the bottom will also end soon.
Oh, how I wish that were true!
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4624661)
I've never been to a megachurch, but from hearing from those that have been, most every megachurch gets through its service in exactly one hour, timed to the minute.

That's because they get their business model from cheesy restaurants that make their money on bad food and quick turnover. Lenny Bruce's classic "Religions, Incorporated" will never go out of date, least of all for its punchline about Walter O'Malley.
   13. fra paolo Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4624662)
Once again, in the article, the Marlins are the butt of stathead ire, despite being run in some respects like the stathead ideal circa 2002-4. (Be conscious of your position within the 'success cycle'; trade expensive players entering their decline years for cheap young talent that is likely to get better)

...no one knows what they're doing, including their ownership....Their issues are not reflective of baseball economic realities but are completely self-induced. They have resources and are choosing not to use them on payroll.
This post on Marlinsbaseball.com, which starts from the 2009 document leaked to Deadspin and tries to bring that information forward to figure out what might have happened in 2012, at least suggests that the Marlins had financial issues at the end of the 2012 season that might justify the third* 'fire sale' in franchise history. (The link to that post has not been stable, and I keep having to find it again. So if you have come to this post late and get a 404 error, that's what has happened.)

To summarise that long post, it seems Mr Loria's minions overestimated the revenue the new ballpark would generate. So Scott Lindholm at BtBS is right to see the low payroll as self-induced, but quite possibly wrong to suggest that the Marlins have resources they are choosing not to spend on payroll.

I would also urge people to ponder the fact that Jonah Keri wrote a chapter of Baseball Between the Numbers entitled 'Is Wayne Huizenga a Genius?' to which the answer was unreservedly 'yes'.

Statheads should be a little less censorious about Mr Loria, because to some extent he is following their recipe of buying-in players when the time is right and trading them away once a window of opportunity seems to close.
______
*The others took place after 1997 and 2005.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4624666)
I just do not get the complaints about length of game. It's such a minor nuisance that I keep imagining people making the complaints are strung out on caffeine or are the same people who get angry when someone in front of them are driving 1 mph below the speed limit.

Yes it can be improved to a slight extent, but in comparison the the last few minutes of a basketball or football game, it's no where nearly as ridiculous. (it takes 15 minutes or so to get through the last two minutes of a football game.... that is like a pitcher in the bottom of the ninth doing 23 consecutive pick off throws)
   15. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4624671)
You might as well ask 'why clean the toilets?'


I do not find your ideas interesting and I do not want your newsletter. :)
   16. Srul Itza Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:01 PM (#4624676)
Peyton Manning throws 40-50 passes once per week



During the game. I assume he throws a hell of a lot more in practice during the full week.

And most QBs don't candy-ass it in practice. They may wear the red jersey so they don't get hit, but they work hard on timing routes with their receivers and they throw it just like during the game, so the receivers will know what to expect. Otherwise, the practice would be worthless.
   17. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4624677)
Baseball, though, compounded its tendency to allow delay with it's aversion and downright antipathy to television. For football and basketball, that's an inherent part of the overall strategy. That may be changing finally with baseball. And it is, then the second part, tailoring the game more toward how it is presenting to the viewer at home than the fan at the park, may follow.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4624678)
I just do not get the complaints about length of game. It's such a minor nuisance that I keep imagining people making the complaints are strung out on caffeine or are the same people who get angry when someone in front of them are driving 1 mph below the speed limit.

Yes it can be improved to a slight extent, but in comparison the the last few minutes of a basketball or football game, it's no where nearly as ridiculous. (it takes 15 minutes or so to get through the last two minutes of a football game.... that is like a pitcher in the bottom of the ninth doing 23 consecutive pick off throws)


Its not the overall length that bothers me, but the pace. A thrilling 9-8 game that takes 3 1/2 hours is exciting. A 3-1 games that takes 3 hours because of pitching changes, batters stepping out, numerous pickoff attempts can be awful to watch.

The last few minutes of a football game can be awful to watch (the end of the first half of the Pats/Ravens was ridiculous). I don't know why that means baseball shouldn't try to improve. Fans also seem to not mind most delays in football because of replays. I think baseball on TV has mitigated some of the pace of the game complaints with FOX TRACK on every pitch, but the fans at the game get pretty much no replay, and thus to them, the game is slow.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4624680)
You might as well ask 'why clean the toilets?'



I do not find your ideas interesting and I do not want your newsletter. :)


Hey! When The Going Gets Trough is a fine publication.
   20. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4624681)
I'm only ever aware of the "slow pace" of baseball games when I'm watching it on TV. When I'm actually at the ballpark, everything seems to fly by!
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4624682)
Outside of enforcing existing rules, I don't see any potential changes that can be made to improve the "pace" that doesn't take away from the game as much as it gives. Patently stupid ideas such as limiting pickoff attempts should be thrown in the garbage, along with anyone making the suggestion. Changing the rules on replacement pitchers is equally as absurd. Or one pitch intentional walks etc.

But yes, I'm all for getting the umps to call the rules as written, to not allow the batter to leave the batters box, to stop the Skip Schumaker's of the world from fidgeting with their batting gloves. But ultimately it's not going to make much difference in the big scheme of things.
   22. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4624684)
20;

How often do you see a game on TV? How often live? How many people see games on TV compared to going out to the park? Is there a market force there that is not being fully utilized? Which may be a big part of baseball's fall in popularity (comparatively, COMPARATIVELY).
   23. PreservedFish Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4624687)
I'm only ever aware of the "slow pace" of baseball games when I'm watching it on TV. When I'm actually at the ballpark, everything seems to fly by!


I don't think time flies by at the ballpark, but when I'm immersed in the sounds of the game and can watch whatever I want to watch - the leftfielder warming up with the bullpen catcher, a seagull circling above a pile of discarded garlic fries, a pretty girl a few rows over - I am happy for the game to last forever.

On television, it can be a slog.
   24. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4624690)
1. Batter stays in box.

2. Pitcher stays on rubber.

3. No one goes onto the field but the players and the officials.

4. Relievers run out to the mound. He gets three or four pitches (it's not to finish your warmup) to get use to the mound. No calling timeout and leisurely strolls to the mound to confab at length every time there is a pitching change (Hey, check out the rack on that broad in the third row).

I re-emphasize--no one goes to the mound. No one can be on the field but the players (except for injuries of course). Pretty soon a change in the baseball Zeitgeist will happen.
   25. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4624694)
The closer the game is contoured to capture the excitement that came with the way it was played when you were a kid, the better.
   26. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4624695)
#5
As a general principle, I'm not sure that any big-ticket event, from concerts to operas to NASCAR to megachurch services, has ever drawn bigger crowds by promising a brisker experience. People want volume for their money.

The best example of this is with Hollywood blockbusters. Just about every big budget summer "tentpole" release is over two hours, with most around two and a half. This is a very recent development.
   27. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 27, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4624711)
Just about every big budget summer "tentpole" release is over two hours


One of the reasons Gravity was so good is how lean it is.
   28. Chone Mueller Posted: December 27, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4624722)
I don't think time flies by at the ballpark, but when I'm immersed in the sounds of the game and can watch whatever I want to watch - the leftfielder warming up with the bullpen catcher, a seagull circling above a pile of discarded garlic fries, a pretty girl a few rows over - I am happy for the game to last forever.


I agree with this. I only wish that we could experience the sounds we used to hear between plays. For many years every moment of a baseball game has been punctuated with music at rock concert volume.
   29. Dan Evensen Posted: December 27, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4624743)
I remember reading this article back when The New Historical Baseball Abstract came out in, what, 2000 or 2001 or something like that. Yes, income disparity was a much bigger problem at the time than it is now. Sometimes we forget that the Expos didn't have a steady radio deal, let alone a television deal, during their final few years in Montreal. Things have improved greatly since for MLB as a whole -- and I tend to think that avoiding major labor conflict in 2003 had quite a bit to do with it.

I don't understand people who aren't upset about the pace of baseball games. If you're not upset, listen to or watch recordings of regular season games from the 70s and 80s, particularly the 1977-1982 period. The length of game is one problem, but the pace is another -- and my beef is with the pace. Still, my gut feeling tells me that the pace is better than when James wrote TNHBA.

At the very least, better pace would keep me awake during World Series broadcasts here on the east coast. It was a lot easier when I was living in China, with the 12 hour time difference and all.

Also, baseball has always been better on the radio than on television. You really feel the slow pace when FOX feels obligated to show yet another star of an upcoming garbage evening drama who just so happens to be in the stands. Plus, you usually don't have to put up with Joe Buck on the radio.
   30. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 27, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4624749)
I just do not get the complaints about length of game. It's such a minor nuisance that I keep imagining people making the complaints are strung out on caffeine or are the same people who get angry when someone in front of them are driving 1 mph below the speed limit.

Yes it can be improved to a slight extent, but in comparison the the last few minutes of a basketball or football game, it's no where nearly as ridiculous. (it takes 15 minutes or so to get through the last two minutes of a football game.... that is like a pitcher in the bottom of the ninth doing 23 consecutive pick off throws)


Baseball's goal should a wee bit higher than to have a fan experience no worse than the NFLs worst .

60 years ago fans got to see the same amount of actual baseball in 2 hours that takes us 3 hours. It's not this generations mythically short attention span that's the problem, it's that fans who want to see baseball prefer not to spend an extra minute and a half waiting for it to start again 35 times a game.

It's not skip shoemakers fault, though he isn't helping.

Unless Baseball is willing to give up longer commercial timeouts between half innings, the only solution is to remove dead time within the game. And that requires rule changes.

If you think Tony LaRussa had a god given right to bring in 4 relievers an inning to face 3 batters, then enjoy those tiny snippets of actual pitching, hitting and fielding as they are interspersed between armadas of commercials and managerial diddling.
   31. tfbg9 Posted: December 27, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4624750)
The thing about the pace of ballgames to me is, when I have no rooting interest in the game, it'll make me nod off a good portion of the time. But if I have a genuine emotional stake in the game, the slow pace is excruciating, the tension acute. It gets to me either way.

"Yawn, throw a strike maybe? Zzz."

...or...

"Arrghhh! Throw a freakin' STRIKE, dammit!"
   32. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 27, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4624772)
Also, baseball has always been better on the radio than on television. You really feel the slow pace when FOX feels obligated to show yet another star of an upcoming garbage evening drama who just so happens to be in the stands. Plus, you usually don't have to put up with Joe Buck on the radio.


I thought I was the only one who liked baseball more on the radio.
   33. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4624773)
This is an interesting topic for a blog--I can't wait to see his write-up on MLB's failure to address the strikeout problem.
   34. vivaelpujols Posted: December 27, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4624789)
One of the reasons Gravity was so good is how lean it is.


This theory falls apart when you realize that Gravity was crap :)
   35. puck Posted: December 27, 2013 at 03:55 PM (#4624790)

I don't understand people who aren't upset about the pace of baseball games. If you're not upset, listen to or watch recordings of regular season games from the 70s and 80s, particularly the 1977-1982 period.


You could also contrast MLB games with the Little League World Series. Not that I'd ever expect or want all MLB pitchers to work that quickly (every kid is like Mark Buehrle out there), but the effect on the viewer is interesting.
   36. SandyRiver Posted: December 27, 2013 at 04:07 PM (#4624801)
Yes it can be improved to a slight extent, but in comparison the the last few minutes of a basketball or football game, it's no where nearly as ridiculous. (it takes 15 minutes or so to get through the last two minutes of a football game.... that is like a pitcher in the bottom of the ninth doing 23 consecutive pick off throws)


Since I'm not a basketball fan, this is probably biased, but I wouldn't lump it with football for end-of-game drag. In basketball, too many close games finish with a seemingly endless sequence of foul, walk to the other end to shoot, time out, foul, walk to the other end to shoot - seems like I see about 3 fg attempts and 27 from the stripe. In football, the lo-o-oong endings often (not always) are because of a lot of exciting (to FB fans, anyway) plays on the field, one recent example being the Vikes-Ravens game a few weeks back where they scored about 6 TDs on spectacular plays in the final 2 minutes or so. Of course, football can also have the other extreme, where the final 2 minutes takes exactly 120 seconds, for 3 QB kneeldowns. Though I enjoy football (and played it competitively much longer because I couldn't hit the curve), baseball is best because nobody can run out the clock. Even though setup men and closers are the current attempt to (sort of) do so, the other team still gets all its outs - no playing keep-away.

Comments on Morty's 4 suggestions:
1. Might be worthwhile
2. Don't think this one would; for the pitcher, it would be like having your foot nailed to one spot opnce the rubber is touched. However, enforcing the time between pitches rule seems an obvious tactic.
3. We'll never see the manager banned from coming out to talk to a pitcher in trouble.
4. Yes, get the pitcher to the mound quickly, whether on foot or in a cart. However, I think the "warmups" are less about feeling the mound and more about allowing the catcher to see how the pitcher's stuff is moving on this particular day.

   37. Gamingboy Posted: December 27, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4624834)
I heard somewhere that the NCAA is implementing some game-speeding up things. Could these, by osmosis, help speed up games in the big leagues because it could instill certain habits (such as pitching pace, batter's box entrances, etc.) in players who go through college?
   38. pikepredator Posted: December 27, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4624849)
I thought I was the only one who liked baseball more on the radio


Make it three of us! I grew up in the 80's working outside on our family's homestead. I always had a transistor radio with me during the afternoons and whatever I was doing was far less of a chore.

Now that I'm a grown-up I drive quite a bit for work and nothing makes the miles fly by like a game on the radio. God Bless Sirius!! when I watch games on TV (very rare . . . I don't make time to watch much TV) I always wait 1/2 hour or so and fast-forward through commercials.

All that said I would fully support the enforcement of batters in the box and pitcher throws the pitch, also no more infielder-mound conferences. They can work out hand signals for positioning if they want to. However I wouldn't want to limit pitching changes or pick-offs, those are strategic elements of the game. Limiting pick-offs = huge SB increase, right? Hmmm maybe that's not so bad after all!

   39. dr. scott Posted: December 27, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4624852)
I rarely watch baseball on TV at home anymore, so can't really comment on my issue with the pace there, but in the Park I rarely have a problem with two noticeable exceptions. A Yankees Red Sox game I saw in Fenway that seemed to last forever, and a game Matsusaka pitched against the As. It was the longest 4 and 2/3rd innings in my life!
   40. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 27, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4624853)
60 years ago fans got to see the same amount of actual baseball in 2 hours that takes us 3 hours. It's not this generations mythically short attention span that's the problem, it's that fans who want to see baseball prefer not to spend an extra minute and a half waiting for it to start again 35 times a game.

The average time of a baseball game hasn't been 2 hours since the 1930's. Not that that detracts from your overall point that games are too long, which I agree with completely. The idea that glove adjustments after every pitch and endless fidgeting on the mound add to the drama of the game is just crazy, unless you're a woman who's fantasizing that Derek Jeter's glove adjustments are a form of sexual foreplay.

From 1903 up through 2008, here was the average time for World Series games. Many of the Baseball Guides have numbers for regular season games, but only on a year to year basis, and many years don't have that information. It's a fair assumption to say that World Series games have always run longer than those in the regular season, and I think it's also fair to say that the time gap has grown bigger since more and more commercials began to be added to World Series telecasts in between innings. Before the advent of TV, the between inning breaks weren't much different between April and October, but you still had a bit more game delaying strategy during the World Series.

1900's - 1:53
1910's - 2:06
1920's - 2:07
1930's - 2:07
1940's - 2:19
1950's - 2:40
1960's - 2:25
1970's - 2:39
1980's - 2:54
1990's - 3:15
2000's - 3:22
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: December 27, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4624854)
Since I'm not a basketball fan, this is probably biased, but I wouldn't lump it with football for end-of-game drag. In basketball, too many close games finish with a seemingly endless sequence of foul, walk to the other end to shoot, time out, foul, walk to the other end to shoot - seems like I see about 3 fg attempts and 27 from the stripe. In football, the lo-o-oong endings often (not always) are because of a lot of exciting (to FB fans, anyway) plays on the field, one recent example being the Vikes-Ravens game a few weeks back where they scored about 6 TDs on spectacular plays in the final 2 minutes or so. Of course, football can also have the other extreme, where the final 2 minutes takes exactly 120 seconds, for 3 QB kneeldowns. Though I enjoy football (and played it competitively much longer because I couldn't hit the curve), baseball is best because nobody can run out the clock. Even though setup men and closers are the current attempt to (sort of) do so, the other team still gets all its outs - no playing keep-away.


As you pointed out the long endings is the four timeouts used at the two minute warning. The constant knee downs, the waiting around for the play clock to run down... it's not basketball bad, but it is worse than baseball. Of course I think football is a crappy sport to watch, as it's so ####### slow......I mean in baseball, people complain about it taking up to 15 seconds between plays.... outside of two minute drills, football takes about 20-30 seconds between plays. Add in that a 3 hour broadcast of a football game averages 11 minutes of action in comparison to baseball, which isn't an "action" sport for the most part,(it's a "Suspense" sport) yet still gives you 15 minutes of action.

Knee downs go against everything that a sport is about. Someone mentioned before that the best style of game is the game you played as a kid, and I fully believe both basketball and football would be better sports if they played to a set score(at least basketball for sure) this eliminates the boringness of these sports, where the goal of the team is no longer to score, but to wait out the clock. I just don't get how anyone can enjoy it, when it's late in the third quarter, and the better team , with a 14 point lead, on the field is no longer playing to win, but instead playing to "not lose." (basketball is worse, as if there is a discrepency in quality of teams, the inferior team instead of playing to win, plays "keep the score close and low." ughh... boring. Great defense is fine in a sport, the other team not trying to pressure the defense is not fine.
   42. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4624866)
Baseball is better in person than on TV; football is better on TV than in person. IMHO, of course.
   43. cardsfanboy Posted: December 27, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4624871)
Baseball is better in person than on TV; football is better on TV than in person. IMHO, of course.


That is it for me. Contrary to how I am on this board, I don't hate football, I just find baseball to be significantly more pleasurable experience in every format.

Baseball is a good steak... Football is a cheap steak. Basketball is a McDonald's hamburger....and soccer is like eating grass..after you finished watching it grow.. (Hockey is like eating a good restaurant hamburger)
   44. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4624877)
How about bowling?
   45. puck Posted: December 27, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4624884)
Shouldn't football be like veal or foie gras?
   46. BDC Posted: December 27, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4624885)
I just don't get how anyone can enjoy it, when it's late in the third quarter, and the better team , with a 14 point lead, on the field is no longer playing to win, but instead playing to "not lose."

Anymore, though, 14 points with 20 minutes left to play is not at all a safe lead. The leading team must still try to score, though perhaps not too quickly.

But your point is well taken. Football has a weird relation to its own clock. In most clock sports, the action is continuous: you can slow play down via various methods, but generally, it keeps moving and you must expend a time out (not even possible in all such sports) if you want to stand around and rest or deliberate. In American football, most of the time that ticks off the clock happens during the standing around and deliberating. The actual play may happen in split seconds between stoppages of the clock. I've been struck, watching a lot of football in recent years after growing up with it in the 60s and 70s, even as late as the early 90s, and then spending some intervening years not watching it, at how teams now stop the clock most when ahead and anticipating a score by the other team: so that they can receive the kickoff with enough time to answer the score. The principle nowadays is that there is always time to score, and a lead is rarely safe on the clock until it reaches absurd proportions. There's something theatrical about that and "unnatural" in a clock sport, but it has its own appeal.

To me, the lack of a clock in baseball is all the more reason to pick up the pace. I sat at some games in 2013 in 90+ heat, where the Rangers or their opponents had 3 or 4-run leads in the eighth, a man on first, and the pitcher would take 30-40 seconds between pitches as if each one were the difference between him making $5M next year and getting a NRI instead. Which, for some of these dogs of relievers, is not far from the truth.

   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 27, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4624886)
Baseball is better in person than on TV; football is better on TV than in person. IMHO, of course.

With today's ticket prices, traffic tie-ups, and extraneous amplified noise, all Big Time sports are now better on TV. OTOH if you're rich and deaf, and you live on a subway line or within walking distance of a stadium, you might be able to approximate the same quality level of ballpark experience you could get for about two or three bucks BITD.

Of course back then there were disadvantages: You couldn't watch the game in the restrooms, and you couldn't get 50 varieties of overpriced food and beer after waiting up to half an hour in line underneath the stands. Stupid us, we didn't know what we were missing.
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 27, 2013 at 06:47 PM (#4624887)
Shouldn't football be like veal or foie gras?

You mean from the POV of the calf or the goose? Sounds about right, although if you don't think about it too much it's still delicious.
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4624894)
How about bowling?


I'm a bowler and love it, but I'm also one of those weird people who insist it's not a sport. (but I would rate it as Bbq ribs...better than a bad steak, worse than a good steak. although stadium bowling is a travesty)
   50. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4624895)
To me, the lack of a clock in baseball is all the more reason to pick up the pace. I sat at some games in 2013 in 90+ heat, where the Rangers or their opponents had 3 or 4-run leads in the eighth, a man on first, and the pitcher would take 30-40 seconds between pitches as if each one were the difference between him making $5M next year and getting a NRI instead. Which, for some of these dogs of relievers, is not far from the truth.

Nolan Ryan was terrible about this. To begin with, he'd throw a million pitches a game, and he'd go through a carload of balls during a game. I can still see him circling that mound like a caged animal, massaging the #### out of the ball so vigourously you wouldn't have been surprised if the cover came off. Then finally ascending the mound, toeing the rubber, he throw the pitch (or maybe throw throw it into right field in a cringeworthy pickoff attempt). Then he get a new ball, and start the whole damn thing over again . His pre-pitch ritual was the equivalent of some Broadway or Hollywood prima donna who won't leave the dressing room without the most obsequious coaxing.
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:16 PM (#4624902)
I'm a bowler and love it, but I'm also one of those weird people who insist it's not a sport.

How on Earth can bowling not be a sport? Does a sport have to put your life in jeopardy in order to qualify? If it's a competition that involves physical motion involving either skilled hand/eye or hand/foot coordination, it's a sport. Trying to define "sport" any more restrictively is little more than a form of one-upmanship.
   52. cardsfanboy Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:20 PM (#4624904)
How on Earth can bowling not be a sport? Does a sport have to put your life in jeopardy in order to qualify? If it's a competition that involves physical motion involving either skilled hand/eye or hand/foot coordination, it's a sport. Trying to define "sport" any more restrictively is little more than a form of one-upmanship.


(again personal opinion....but one aspect for me to consider something a sport requires that at some point during the event, you are expected to put out maximum physical effort for a period of time over more than a couple of seconds...Bowling, golf, pool, nascar etc... don't meet this requirement) Obviously dictionary definition all of those probably qualify.
   53. Srul Itza Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:31 PM (#4624911)
How on Earth can bowling not be a sport?


Oh goody, can we have this argument again?

Bowling
Golf
Horse Racing
NASCAR
Chess
Billiards
Curling
Bocce
Horse Shoes

Choose which ones are or are not sports, and explain why. TangoTiger will decide which ballots are perfect. All others will be sent to North Korea wearing a sign that says "I love Uncle Jang"
   54. Morty Causa Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:35 PM (#4624914)
Of course, unless someone is trying to simultaneously challenge you as you perform (and I don't mean a John Goodman with a .45 automatic), you're more Fred Astaire than John Kruk, But, then, there are those who would say that's confounding game with sport. I can see the point there.
   55. Chone Mueller Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4624921)
I am also a bowler who doesn't regard it as a sport. I consider it a contest of skill. I put darts, archery, horse shoes, billiards, and other target shooting games with little to no physical exertion in that category. I consider golf a sport if you walk the course and carry your clubs. If you use a cart or a caddy, not a sport.
   56. Graham Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4624925)
Someone once told me (tongue-in-cheek, of course) that the test of a sport is whether or not you can drink a beer and smoke a cigarette while you play the game. You can smoke a cigarette and drink a beer while you bowl, so it's not a sport. You can smoke a cigarette and drink a beer while you drive, and though you would drive very poorly that's not enough to make NASCAR a sport.
   57. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4624933)
I thought I was the only one who liked baseball more on the radio.

this is the most outlandish post in the history of bbtf (only minor hyperbole)

it has long been established that with even a mediocre radio person baseball is better on radio. always has been.

television producers do not understand baseball. they have had 50 years to be even decent and save for a brief lapses into competence scr8w it up.

classic example. the fisk reaction to his game six homer is caught on tv because the camera guy was staring at a rat who he thought would bite him. so he didn't move

   58. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM (#4624938)
You can smoke a cigarette and drink a beer while you drive, and though you would drive very poorly that's not enough to make NASCAR a sport.


You can smoke and drink while walking, but that doesn't make the 400-yard dash not a sport.
   59. Bhaakon Posted: December 27, 2013 at 08:19 PM (#4624949)
You can smoke and drink while walking, but that doesn't make the 400-yard dash not a sport.


No, just boring. We need to add more shots to track events.
   60. BDC Posted: December 27, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4624957)
We need to add more shots to track events

In the original screenplay for Chariots of Fire, they had to drink the champagne after clearing each hurdle.
   61. Jay Z Posted: December 27, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4625015)
Yes, get the pitcher to the mound quickly, whether on foot or in a cart.


Suggestions for this:

Pitchers ride motorcycles to the mound, and leap off with the cycles still going
Human cannonball
Breeches buoy
Pneumatic tube
Built a tiltable field and let gravity be your friend
   62. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 28, 2013 at 12:37 AM (#4625034)
The most frustrating time wasting in all of sports happens multiple times per game, in every NFL game: a team scores touchdown, kicks extra point, 2-3 minute commercial break, kick off through the end zone, 2-3 minute commercial break. Exactly 0 seconds have gone off the clock from the moment the touchdown was scored, but as much as 8 minutes of time have gone by.

Nothing annoys me more while watching a game on TV when that happens.

The baseball equivalent is the sequence of: new batter, pitching change, 2-minute commercial break while he comes in and warms up, a pinch hitter, a catcher/pitcher conference, an intentional walk, another pitching change, 2-minute commercial break, next batter.

In basketball, it's the timeout/foul-fest of the final minute or two of a game where the score difference is 8 points or less.

In soccer, it's when a team with the lead in the last 10 minutes makes no effort to push the play, and will often pass the ball ALL THE WAY BACK TO THEIR KEEPER if there is any pressure by the opposing defenders.

I can't think of a time-wasting option available in hockey. If you ice the puck, you put yourself in grave danger of being scored on (fresh opposition line vs your tired line that isn't allowed to leave the ice).
   63. PreservedFish Posted: December 28, 2013 at 01:31 AM (#4625044)
I consider golf a sport if you walk the course and carry your clubs. If you use a cart or a caddy, not a sport.


So home run derby may or may not be a sport, depending on the length of the walk from the batter's box to the dugout.
   64. Esoteric Posted: December 28, 2013 at 01:59 AM (#4625051)
this is the most outlandish post in the history of bbtf (only minor hyperbole)

it has long been established that with even a mediocre radio person baseball is better on radio. always has been.
This is, of course, exactly the right answer. I will always listen to baseball on the radio, and then click on the "highlights" as they come up on MLB Gameday if I want to see a particularly noteworthy play.

It doesn't hurt that the Nats have one of the better radio teams out there. And so did the Mariners until Dave Niehaus passed away.
   65. TerpNats Posted: December 28, 2013 at 02:25 AM (#4625054)
it has long been established that with even a mediocre radio person baseball is better on radio. always has been.
Now you have me trying to imagine how even more godawful John Sterling would be if he did TV.
   66. alilisd Posted: December 28, 2013 at 02:53 AM (#4625061)
16: Exactly. And during the off-season as well as the preseason. Footballs are also heavier though I don't know if that would play into it as throwing off a mound might offset the weight difference. That is while it's more stressful throwing a heavier object, it's also more stressful throwing off a raised mound than flat ground.
   67. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: December 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4625132)
Unless Baseball is willing to give up longer commercial timeouts between half innings, the only solution is to remove dead time within the game. And that requires rule changes.


I don't think there's much to shave when it comes to commercial time between innings. I just went back and watched a between inning break in the Cubs/Reds came from 1965 on YouTube - the Hamms commercial with Brickhouse was one minute, but when they came back, they still had a minute to kill waiting for Jim Maloney to finish his warm ups. It's pretty rare at this point when you come back from a between inning break and the pitcher isn't on the mound ready to go. Now of course I'd rather have an announcer talking about the game than watch another commercial, but I don't think it affects actual game time as much as it might seem.

Of course the LaRussa-izing of the game is another story...as is all the time between pitches. That's what strikes me most watching that game.
   68. puck Posted: December 28, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4625172)
In soccer, it's when a team with the lead in the last 10 minutes makes no effort to push the play, and will often pass the ball ALL THE WAY BACK TO THEIR KEEPER if there is any pressure by the opposing defenders.


Of course soccer teams do this in all sorts of situations. The annoying time wasting tactic is faking injuries.
   69. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: December 28, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4625269)
Yes, get the pitcher to the mound quickly, whether on foot or in a cart.

Suggestions for this:

Pitchers ride motorcycles to the mound, and leap off with the cycles still going
Human cannonball


It would be tough to beat the excitement of Mariano Rivera, entering the game by base jumping to the mound from the rim of the stadium.

A more practical method might be a retractable zip line from the bullpen...
   70. Chone Mueller Posted: December 28, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4625385)
So home run derby may or may not be a sport, depending on the length of the walk from the batter's box to the dugout.


If each batter had to walk five-to-six miles between eighteen different diamonds carrying a heavy bag of bats, yes.
   71. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:07 AM (#4625470)
I've been tinkering around for a while with an idea for how to design a basketball league that could financially survive in an NBA-dominated world. The central ideas for it are (1) height limit of 6'5"; (2) smaller courts and 3-on-3; (3) Continuous clock; (4) no free throws, the penalty for all fouls is one point and the ball; (5) only the trailing team may be awarded three points on a shot. As Morty said about baseball way back up there in the thread, the notion would be to capture what makes playing pickup basketball at the gym fun.

Back to baseball:

Patently stupid ideas such as limiting pickoff attempts should be thrown in the garbage, along with anyone making the suggestion. Changing the rules on replacement pitchers is equally as absurd. Or one pitch intentional walks etc.


I'm very late to this party but I'm curious: In your mind, what makes limiting unsuccessful pitches an acceptable part of the game but limiting unsuccessful throws to bases patently stupid?
   72. PreservedFish Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:57 AM (#4625486)
My feeling on limiting pickoff throws is that all it would do would create immense incentive for the runner to draw pickoff throws, and the first games on April 1 would all set new records for the pitcher stare-and-step-off move. The cat and mouse game between pitcher and runner would become more important and more time would be devoted to it. Potential disaster. (Or maybe it would be fun?)

More importantly, you just blew my mind by raising the possibility of baseball without the base on balls.
   73. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:46 AM (#4625497)
1) You can easily make stepping off the rubber once you're on it and the batter is in the box illegal.

2) Runners taking longer leads to dare the pitcher to try to pick them off would be more fun to watch, not less, I think. And if only unsuccessful pickoff attempts count against the pitcher he can still try to pick the runner off if, after he's used up his freebies, the runner wanders too far. (An unsuccessful pickoff after the freebies are used up would count as a ball for the batter, so occasionally the pitcher would be willing to risk it.)

3) Stolen bases would significantly increase if this rule was instituted, but like Bill James I would have no problem with that.

As the rules exist pitchers routinely throw repeatedly over to first just to slow down the at-bat and stall having to pitch. They should not be allowed to do this. Pitchers also will throw repeatedly to first when a fast runner is on, to keep him close; I see no reason they should be allowed to do this six times in an at-bat, either.
   74. PreservedFish Posted: December 29, 2013 at 03:06 AM (#4625502)
As the rules exist pitchers routinely throw repeatedly over to first just to slow down the at-bat and stall having to pitch. They should not be allowed to do this. Pitchers also will throw repeatedly to first when a fast runner is on, to keep him close; I see no reason they should be allowed to do this six times in an at-bat, either.


Neither of these things really happen that often.

I'm willing to imagine that the game with this rule change would be more fun - but it would undoubtedly slow the pace down considerably.
   75. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 03:10 AM (#4625503)
Huh? It would pick up the pace considerably; that's the whole point. Stolen base attempts will go up, but they're exciting; I don't think anyone will complain that there are too many of those and it's boring to watch. Pickoff attempts, which ARE boring to watch, will go way down, which will more than compensate.
   76. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 03:12 AM (#4625504)
That unsuccessful pickoff attempts should count as a ball is so obvious it should have been instituted yesterday. That one change would basically solve all of MLB's problems overnight.
   77. PreservedFish Posted: December 29, 2013 at 03:47 AM (#4625505)
Pickoff attempts, which ARE boring to watch, will go way down, which will more than compensate.


I'm not sure they would. Yes, you would eliminate those lazy plate appearances where there is a seemingly endless number of pickoff throws. But now drawing pickoff throws is a goal in and of itself. If you get the pitcher up to his limit you can suddenly take an unfettered lead, which would allow every fast runner to steal second base at will, and would make stealing a more viable strategy for a huge class of slower runners too. You'll have many runners trying to tease out pickoff throws. And as I said you'll have frequent endless staring contests between runner and pitcher. You would need to make another rule to deal with that.

If you make that new rule to eliminate the staring contests and the step offs, I'm wondering how the mechanics of this would actually work. You're the pitcher and you have made your three pickoff throws and you are not allowed to make any others. So ... does the runner just get to start running the moment your toe hits the rubber, or the moment you come set, and you have absolutely no recourse? Or is the penalty applied some other way, like awarding the runner the base if you hit the limit?

That unsuccessful pickoff attempts should count as a ball is so obvious it should have been instituted yesterday. That one change would basically solve all of MLB's problems overnight.


I think this would be the most drastic rule change in many decades, right? It might take a decade or more for teams to really adjust to the new rule. I'd like to see what would happen but I'd be worried about unintended consequences.
   78. Sunday silence Posted: December 29, 2013 at 06:30 AM (#4625512)
So ... does the runner just get to start running the moment your toe hits the rubber, or the moment you come set, and you have absolutely no recourse? Or is the penalty applied some other way, like awarding the runner the base if you hit the limit?


This would be great; can we find a way to combine it with that basketball league that only lets one side make 3 pt shots?
   79. Richard Gadsden Posted: December 29, 2013 at 08:24 AM (#4625513)
That unsuccessful pickoff attempts should count as a ball is so obvious it should have been instituted yesterday. That one change would basically solve all of MLB's problems overnight.



I think this would be the most drastic rule change in many decades, right? It might take a decade or more for teams to really adjust to the new rule. I'd like to see what would happen but I'd be worried about unintended consequences.


Institute it in AA for a few years and see how the tactics develop. Or talk the NCAA into trying it - college baseball is competitive enough to see the effects, and is different enough from Organized Baseball that another change wouldn't screw up player development as much as putting it in the minors.
   80. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4625518)
But now drawing pickoff throws is a goal in and of itself. If you get the pitcher up to his limit you can suddenly take an unfettered lead, which would allow every fast runner to steal second base at will, and would make stealing a more viable strategy for a huge class of slower runners too. You'll have many runners trying to tease out pickoff throws. And as I said you'll have frequent endless staring contests between runner and pitcher. You would need to make another rule to deal with that.


1) The pitcher is at no point disallowed from making pickoff throws. You give him two or three free unsuccessful attempts per inning, and after that, he's still allowed to try to pick the runner off; it's just that the batter gets a ball if the pitcher tries to pick the runner off and fails.

2) Runners who are serious about stealing the base in front of them if the pitcher and catcher don't pay close attention to them--which in the major leagues is most runners--already take as long a lead as they think they safely can. Limiting unsuccessful pickoff attempts will not enable them to lengthen their lead much beyond what they already take, because doing so will frequently result in a successful pickoff attempt, which is a catastrophe for the batting team and would never cause any penalty to the fielding team.

Most major league pitchers are very good at holding runners. Trying to "tease out pickoff throws" is going to get you picked off a lot.
   81. Jay Z Posted: December 29, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4625547)
1) The pitcher is at no point disallowed from making pickoff throws. You give him two or three free unsuccessful attempts per inning, and after that, he's still allowed to try to pick the runner off; it's just that the batter gets a ball if the pitcher tries to pick the runner off and fails.


So when the two or three pickoff moves are used, and there are three balls and no strikes on the batter, the runner's lead is going to be two inches from second base. The pitcher can't throw over to first because it's ball four. He can throw to the plate, and maybe get a strike, but cede the steal of second.

So the defensive response to the rule will be:
The last pickoff will never be used, or
The defense will employ some legal strategy like endless stepping off instead, or
The defense will change pitchers when one uses all of his pickoffs.
   82. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4625654)
I can't understand why you have such trouble grasping this. If the pitcher has used his freebies and there are three balls to the batter, and the runner goes way off first base, the pitcher can and will pick him off. He is not penalized if the pickoff attempt succeeds, in the same way the pitcher isn't penalized if his pitch is in the strike zone.
   83. cardsfanboy Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4625668)
I'm very late to this party but I'm curious: In your mind, what makes limiting unsuccessful pitches an acceptable part of the game but limiting unsuccessful throws to bases patently stupid?


I didn't say any such thing. I think both are patently stupid. Limiting pickoffs is stupid, and one pitch intentional walks is stupid, any suggestion of that sort I find to be ridiculous.

Limiting pickoffs seems like a rule created by a committee of lawyers to try and create a loophole league. A sport shouldn't be about loopholes. Yes once every 100 games(once a week...maybe) or so, there is a game in which a pitcher does the annoying thing of wasting time by trying to pick off a guy non-stop etc. Ultimately it has no bearing on the overall pace of the games for a season and it would do nothing to speed up the overall pace of the game, except to say "see we did something."

   84. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4625673)
So when the two or three pickoff moves are used, and there are three balls and no strikes on the batter, the runner's lead is going to be two inches from second base. The pitcher can't throw over to first because it's ball four. He can throw to the plate, and maybe get a strike, but cede the steal of second.

Only unsuccessful pickoff attempts would count as "Ball Four"--the pitcher would never get penalized for successfully picking a baserunner off.

On a 3-ball count, the baserunner will presumably get an enormously bigger lead, since the pitcher will only attempt a pick-off if he's certain he'll get him.
   85. Graham Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4625688)
I like the idea of having an unsuccessful pickoff attempt count as ball. However, I think one unintended consequence on a 3-0 count would be an increased number of pickoff attempts or short leads from runners. Hitters scald the ball on 3-0 and 3-1 counts, and many batters eventually walk in this situation anyway. The runner would have little incentive to take a big lead unless there are two outs since the batter has a good chance of walking regardless. The pitcher might not mind "walking" the batter on a pickoff attempt if it's a good hitter or the runner is taking a lead that allows for a decent chance of a successful pickoff.
   86. cardsfanboy Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4625693)
It's a rule change for the sake of making a rule change. I'll never be a fan of that thinking. It's not necessary, it fundamentally changes the game in regards to men on base, and I'm not in favor of making fundamental rule changes for a problem that doesn't exist except to those who are bigger fans of football than baseball.

Outside of Justin Verlander(with 204) the most pickoff attempts in a season is roughly 150 by a pitcher....that boils down to roughly 5 a game. This is not an issue that needs to be fixed.

And I just cannot fathom any rule that awards a batter a victory for not doing anything.
   87. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4625697)
I think of it the opposite way, as penalizing the pitcher for wasting time. I don't think it's an undue awarding of anything to anyone any more than you could suppose the pitcher isn't allowed to pitch outside the strike zone and is penalized if he does, and the batter isn't allowed to decline to swing at a pitch inside the strike zone and is penalized if he does. Small penalties to nudge the players away from wasting time and toward action, that's what balls and strikes are. I don't think it outlandish to apply similar logic to pitchers and runners.

It definitely ranks well below "stop the ####### mid-inning pitching changes" and "make the batters stay in the ####### box" on any list of ways to curtail time-wasting during baseball games.
   88. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:15 PM (#4625702)
On a 3-ball count, the baserunner will presumably get an enormously bigger lead, since the pitcher will only attempt a pick-off if he's certain he'll get him.

In fact, he'll get such a big lead that he will in fact steal the base, I would assume.
   89. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4625705)
It's a rule change for the sake of making a rule change. I'll never be a fan of that thinking. It's not necessary, it fundamentally changes the game in regards to men on base, and I'm not in favor of making fundamental rule changes for a problem that doesn't exist except to those who are bigger fans of football than baseball.


It's a valid opinion; mine is that penalizing pitchers for throwing unnecessarily to bases doesn't approach being a fundamental change to how the game is played.

This excerpt from a James article immediately following the one the TFA references is salient and interesting:

An idea has taken root among baseball fans in the last thirty to forty years that baseball is a kind of perfect machine, which maintains its form and proportion through its own internal system of checks and balances. [...] It is my argument that this prejudice against deliberate change, this belief in baseball's intrinsic purity and perfectness on the field, has become a burden to the game of baseball, and has become the enemy of needed reforms.

[...]

If the people who wrote baseball's rule book, most of which was basically drawn into its current form in the 1880s and 1890s--if those people had ever thought that some bastard was going to stand on the mound and throw repeatedly to first base, there is absolutely no question but that they would have immediately prohibited it. After all, they did limit the number of times that a pitcher can throw home without getting something accomplished. What kind of sense would it make to say that if you can't get the batter out within four throws you have to concede, but if you want to make 35 pointless throws to first base, I guess that's OK. The battle between pitcher and batter, after all, was supposed to be the main object.

But the people who wrote the rule book didn't prohibit this, because it simply ever occurred to them that it was going to become a problem. It never was a problem, until about 1970.
   90. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4625709)

In fact, he'll get such a big lead that he will in fact steal the base, I would assume.


Can't disagree more. Runners already take as long a lead as they dare, if they have any interest in attempting to steal the base in front of them. The extent to which a runner can lengthen his lead on account of the pitcher not wanting to try to pick him off and fail is nil or nearly nil. Even a half-step longer lead than what runners with larceny in their hearts already take and the pitcher is going to pick the runner off.
   91. cardsfanboy Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4625718)
If the people who wrote baseball's rule book, most of which was basically drawn into its current form in the 1880s and 1890s--if those people had ever thought that some bastard was going to stand on the mound and throw repeatedly to first base, there is absolutely no question but that they would have immediately prohibited it. After all, they did limit the number of times that a pitcher can throw home without getting something accomplished. What kind of sense would it make to say that if you can't get the batter out within four throws you have to concede, but if you want to make 35 pointless throws to first base, I guess that's OK. The battle between pitcher and batter, after all, was supposed to be the main object.


And it's an exaggeration... I always find it funny when people propose these things they imagine scenarios that don't actually happen in baseball. The biggest opposition towards instant replay was because "what happens if a guy traps a ball" scenario..... Really? A play that happens once a month in the entire baseball and is called wrong maybe once every three months, is the reason to oppose instant replay? Same with this silliness. Nobody ever throws that much to first base. Verlander is the single biggest culprit and he averaged 6 pickoff attempts a game. Majority of baseball sees less than 5 pickoff attempts a game. (and to be honest, pickoff attempts aren't that boring anyway, at least something is going on, and the frequency they result in an error is enough of a deterrant... I imagine that it has the highest advanced on error percentage of any play in baseball.)


I'm fine with other proposals as mentioned before, but this pickoff silliness is a Bill James bugaboo, and just like Whiney Herzog, his proposed rule changes are relatively nuts as a general rule. Call the rule book as written. Don't step out of the box once in, if nobody is on base, enforce the pitcher time limit, no screwing with your batting gloves etc.. and of course I also think a lot of the perceived problems with the pace of the game, is that TV does a crappy job of actually showing the pace of the game. In the NFL, they cover dead time with tons of instant replay, they show defensive lineups etc. In baseball they fill dead time by close up of a bench player spitting out seeds, confirming the viewing audience that the game is "slow" paced. Heck baseball is the only sport that has an interview with a player while the game is going on, again "confirming" that the action on the field isn't that important.

TV broadcasts should consistently show a view of the defensive alignment and talk about how they are playing the batter. Factor in intelligent discussion about the pitch selection relative to the alignment etc and a lot of dead time is easily filled up...instead we get charity of the week discussions where a person is in the booth for half an inning talking about their inane charity, only to be periodically interrupted with "base hit to left by Sosa....now go on for another 3 minutes talking about whatever."

The only reason that the pace of the game is seen as a problem, imho, is that baseball does such a poor job of broadcasting it.
   92. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4625720)
If you want pitchers to pitch more speedily, institute a 20-second (or whatever) pitch clock. Place it behind the plate, where the pitcher can see it. If the batter steps out, the pitch clock is reset. Simple.
   93. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4625721)
If you want pitchers to pitch more speedily,


Call more strikes.
   94. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4625725)
Outside of Justin Verlander(with 204) the most pickoff attempts in a season is roughly 150 by a pitcher....that boils down to roughly 5 a game. This is not an issue that needs to be fixed.

If it's really that low, this is an incredibly small problem compared with the several seconds per pitch of batter and pitcher wandering around and muttering before getting back into their designated areas for the next pitch.
   95. cardsfanboy Posted: December 29, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4625726)
If you want pitchers to pitch more speedily, institute a 20-second (or whatever) pitch clock. Place it behind the plate, where the pitcher can see it. If the batter steps out, the pitch clock is reset. Simple.


There is a pitch clock already. About the only person I've heard of that has gotten in trouble for it is Papelbon. Of course it only applies if there is no runner on base.
   96. BDC Posted: December 29, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4625745)
Of course it only applies if there is no runner on base

Which is naturally when they need it to apply. "Yes, there is a runner on first base. This occasionally happens in ball games. It is not cause to turn yourself into Prince Hamlet for the duration of the inning. Deliver the ####### ball to the ####### plate." :)
   97. cardsfanboy Posted: December 29, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4625794)
And I would be fine with them applying the pitch clock with runners on base (it of course gets reset with every pick off attempt) but getting rid of the pitcher staring into the plate, and acting like an NFL team trying to draw an offsides penalty, is something that I would be more than willing to eliminate. Either pitch or pickoff, but doing nothing is something that needs to go.

I would fully support a more organized type of pitch clock, like the NCAA is trying to institute. Even there, they go 20 seconds and that seems like an absurdly long time. Drop it down to 12 seconds with nobody on base(which is the MLB current rule), 15 seconds with someone on base.
   98. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 04:27 PM (#4625806)
I wouldn't reset the pitch clock after a pickoff attempt. If the pitcher doesn't want the runner to know exactly when the pitch will be delivered, it's up to him to pitch to the plate with enough time left on the clock that he could be making a pickoff attempt instead. 20 seconds is enough for two pickoff attempts plus a pitch to plate if nobody dawdles.
   99. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 29, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4625808)
Actually enforcing the pitch clock with runners on would definitely motivate to pitchers to throw over and over to first base. It's just like how batters step out all the time just as the pitcher gets set. The pitcher will see the clock down to 1, won't feel ready to throw a pitch and will step off and/or throw to first to reset the clock.
   100. cardsfanboy Posted: December 29, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4625816)
Actually enforcing the pitch clock with runners on would definitely motivate to pitchers to throw over and over to first base. It's just like how batters step out all the time just as the pitcher gets set. The pitcher will see the clock down to 1, won't feel ready to throw a pitch and will step off and/or throw to first to reset the clock.

Small concession.

I do not have a problem with pick off attempts, at least something is happening. I think pace of game issues is more about dead time, than actual events happening.(which is why I partially blame the broadcasts, as they seem to think that there is more dead time than is really there. by having the camera go away from the game frequently)

And as I mentioned, the number of pickoff attempts is being massively exaggerated by those trying to stump for a pickoff limit. It's a non-factor in the average time of game over the course of a season. And again, at least something is happening.

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