As hip as finding crocheted slouchy berets on the Cake Shop hat rack.
In the past half decade, MLB hurlers have regained their Mojo, throwing us back to the pitching-rich seasons of Bullet Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax. The elimination of rampant steroid use is the biggest reason. Harsher penalties and public humiliation have been a major deterrent to PED use in baseball. In 2006, suspensions for a positive drug test, was increased from 10 to 50 games. The Bud Selig-commissioned Mitchell Report in ’07 exposed the epidemic, and damaged the reputations of baseball’s biggest stars. Some were even dragged in front of Congress and exposed as liars.
In the early 1990’s the effects of steroids and performance enhancers hit baseball like a tsunami. Like when crack hit the streets of Oaktown in the 80s. Player usage exploded after the MLB strike of 1994. Homeruns swelled to an average of 177 per game by 1996. That number dwarfed the 126 per game average during the last clean era of baseball—from 1978 to about 1990, when Hall of Famers like Dave Winfield, George Brett, Eddie Murray and Mike Schmidt put up “official” power numbers.
The days of Klitschko brothers-looking, 60-homer–hitting droids are over. Just peep how the numbers have flipped since 2000, when nobody threw a no-hitter. This season pitchers were “making it rain” like Lil’ Wayne, racking up seven no-hitters and three perfect games. Cain, the starter in San Francisco’s Game 7 shutout, tossed one of those gems. Other dope pitching accomplishments included knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s Mets- record 44 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run; and Tampa Rays closer Fernando Rodney setting the Major League record for the lowest ERA with at least 50 appearances (0.60). Rodney broke the record of 0.61 that was set by Dennis Eckersley in 1990.
...The “Pitcher’s Paradise” era is dominated by information and mathematical formulas designed to give managers, pitchers and catchers, an edge on every pitch. Old-school managers like Detroit’s Jim Leyland tend to go with their gut, and rely less on sabermetrics and dizzying numbers. The use of tracked information and studying statistical trends has also played a vital role in the rise of the pitcher. New-age managers like Joe Girardi, are constantly scouring their notes for a strategic advantage. Girardi’s binder holds info on a hitter’s strength and weaknesses and offers a script on how to get players out.
The future of baseball is a bright mix of skilled hitters and pitchers playing a high-stakes game of 60-feet 6 inch-chess. When a hitter is at his best, he’ll get his base knocks, but the pitcher remains the most influential position in a baseball game. If you love the science of pitching and softball scores just don’t sit right, flip on the TV tonight. Baseball’s “Pitcher’s Paradise”era will be on full display.