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Monday, June 11, 2018

Mensa Dork Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball

“For years, batters have sought to work deep counts – and rightly so for a number of reasons. All the while, the length of games has increased and the percentage of balls in play has decreased (due to the associated increase in strikeouts and walks). By introducing the concept of an expanding strike zone – where the strike zone starts small for every at-bat, then expands slightly after Strike 1, then expands slightly again after Strike 2 – batters would change their approach, knowing that the best pitch to hit is likely to come early in the at-bat.”

PreservedFish Posted: June 11, 2018 at 09:22 PM | 79 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rule changes

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   1. Hank G. Posted: June 11, 2018 at 09:33 PM (#5689986)
Why wouldn’t they take the first two or three pitches with the smaller strike zone, hoping to get a favorable count? Even with the current strike zone, once the pitcher gets behind in the count, he often ends up grooving a pitch.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: June 11, 2018 at 09:49 PM (#5690002)
To do something like this, would require an automated strike zone, and just getting that approved, alone would be a big difference in how batters approach an at bat, that there might not need to be any other changes made.
   3. PreservedFish Posted: June 11, 2018 at 09:51 PM (#5690003)
Why wouldn’t they take the first two or three pitches with the smaller strike zone, hoping to get a favorable count? Even with the current strike zone, once the pitcher gets behind in the count, he often ends up grooving a pitch.


I think it's borderline impossible to predict what would happen with this idea, and in fact it would probably take years of play before a strategic consensus emerges. A lot depends on how much bigger the strike zone gets - at 3-2 does the pitcher get to throw a slider 8 inches off the plate and know it's a strike? If so, the hitter is cooked.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: June 11, 2018 at 09:54 PM (#5690004)
Some of these ideas are trivial but fun. I'm particularly taken with the annual "15 Doubleheaders Day," which would be a total blast.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: June 11, 2018 at 09:55 PM (#5690006)
Earlier this week, Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts suggested shortening the distance between bases to 88 feet or whatever number might encourage hitters to prioritize contact skills, speed and other parts of the game growing extinct. It also might add to dinky infield singles or cause infields to play in more, adding to dinky bloop singles.


I believe I've read that somewhere before.

Hey Jon, you're stealing my bit.
   6. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:10 PM (#5690019)
I was a Mensa dork.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:13 PM (#5690024)
All I know about Mensa I learned from The Simpsons. Which one were you?
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:15 PM (#5690027)
whatever number might encourage hitters to prioritize contact skills,


I've argued glove size restrictions as a small step to encouraging contact skills, basically outside of first base/catcher, every other position needs to have a glove equivalent to the traditional second baseman's glove. I don't think it's going to make an immediate impact, but I do think it will eventually allow a few more dropped balls into play per batter and will encourage more contact. This would of course require a few other small changes, none of which change the fundamental game or tactics of the game, which is something I'm vehemently against.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:20 PM (#5690035)
All I know about Mensa I learned from The Simpsons.


"Larry Flynt is right! You guys stink!"
   10. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:50 PM (#5690051)
Some of these ideas are trivial but fun. I'm particularly taken with the annual "15 Doubleheaders Day," which would be a total blast.

In the days of 8 team leagues, 8 Sunday doubleheaders weren't all that uncommon, and on Decoration Day / July 4th / Labor Day they were virtually mandatory.

Of course many of those doubleheaders were over more quickly than a typical Yankees-Red Sox single game, but we won't concern ourselves with details like that.
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:56 PM (#5690053)
imagine how many BBTFers read this article weeks ago - but didn't provide a link because they didn't want to look like a Mensa Dork

#justsayin
   12. PreservedFish Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:56 PM (#5690054)
#10 - Yeah but back then 8 doubleheaders on one day didn't mean anything, you couldn't watch all those games, all it meant was that there were some more box scores in the paper the next morning. Today, it would be glorious baseball overload.
   13. Jon W Posted: June 11, 2018 at 11:10 PM (#5690058)
Hey Jon, you're stealing my bit.


Never saw your post, but happy to know I wasn't alone.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: June 11, 2018 at 11:15 PM (#5690059)
Never saw your post, but happy to know I wasn't alone.


Yeah, I didn't figure you did.
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 11, 2018 at 11:21 PM (#5690060)
#10 - Yeah but back then 8 doubleheaders on one day didn't mean anything, you couldn't watch all those games, all it meant was that there were some more box scores in the paper the next morning. Today, it would be glorious baseball overload.

Good point, but OTOH when you added in all those twi-night and makeup doubleheaders, a kid like me could actually see two dozen or more games in person a year for a grand total of nine bucks, and from behind home plate, not just in the bleachers.

   16. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 11, 2018 at 11:28 PM (#5690063)
. . . a kid like me could actually see two dozen or more games in person a year for a grand total of nine bucks

That'd be about $230 today.
   17. Bote Man Posted: June 12, 2018 at 01:08 AM (#5690116)
According to almost every article lately, baseball is so hopelessly broken that they all should just pack up their sh|t and go home for good.
   18. Hysterical & Useless Posted: June 12, 2018 at 03:10 AM (#5690123)
I would think that having the strike zone smaller at the beginning of the at-bat would make the "take and rake" approach even more profitable. Hitters don't go up hoping to take a lot of pitches, they're looking for a pitch in a particular spot that they can unload on, and willing to take until they get it. If you make the strike zone smaller, they're less likely to be penalized (by getting a strike called) if that 1st pitch isn't right in their wheelhouse.

If you want to prioritize contact, I think the simplest place to begin is the ball. Baseballs are not identical, they are manufactured to fall within a certain range. The more tightly they're wound, the farther they fly. So make sure that they're being made toward the low end of the range, so they are less resilient. The big boys will still get dingers, but the middle-infielders who are skating through by getting 20 homers to go with their .260 BA will become a new generation of Warning Track Wayne Garretts and have to either re-vamp their approach or get a new job.

I hadn't looked at a diagram of the official field dimensions for a long time, so was surprised to see how far away from the true center of the diamond the pitching rubber is. Moving it back a bit might help in the short term, though it will probably just lead to more pitchers on the roster eventually, as they have to throw even harder, and will thus have to be changed even more often.
   19. Leroy Kincaid Posted: June 12, 2018 at 06:36 AM (#5690135)
By introducing the concept of an expanding strike zone – where the strike zone starts small for every at-bat, then expands slightly after Strike 1, then expands slightly again after Strike 2 – batters would change their approach, knowing that the best pitch to hit is likely to come early in the at-bat.”


This kinda happens already. The zone seems to expand on a 3-0 count. And depending on the ump. Or if he's in a hurry to end the game, trying to show who's boss, etc. Hasn't "framing" expanded the strike zone?

Good point, but OTOH when you added in all those twi-night and makeup doubleheaders, a kid like me could actually see two dozen or more games in person a year for a grand total of nine bucks, and from behind home plate, not just in the bleachers.


Yeah, but you had to walk 5 miles...uphill...in the snow, to get there.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:19 AM (#5690158)
If you want to prioritize contact, I think the simplest place to begin is the ball. Baseballs are not identical, they are manufactured to fall within a certain range. The more tightly they're wound, the farther they fly. So make sure that they're being made toward the low end of the range, so they are less resilient. The big boys will still get dingers, but the middle-infielders who are skating through by getting 20 homers to go with their .260 BA will become a new generation of Warning Track Wayne Garretts and have to either re-vamp their approach or get a new job.

Agree.

I've argued glove size restrictions as a small step to encouraging contact skills, basically outside of first base/catcher, every other position needs to have a glove equivalent to the traditional second baseman's glove

Also, agree. Hell, drive them all the way back to the 1950's size mitts. Let's see who can really play D.
   21. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:22 AM (#5690160)
Good point, but OTOH when you added in all those twi-night and makeup doubleheaders, a kid like me could actually see two dozen or more games in person a year for a grand total of nine bucks, and from behind home plate, not just in the bleachers.

Yeah, but you had to walk 5 miles...uphill...in the snow, to get there.


Nah, but I could just hop on a bus for a dime, and get a free transfer to a trolley that stopped right by the stadium entrance in under half an hour, and not have to worry about getting stranded by the transit system if the second game went into extra innings.

BTW that original comment about nine bucks for 24 games behind home plate was literally true, and in today's dollars it would amount to about $84.00.

As the (true) cliche goes, the past is a foreign country, especially to those who weren't there. Why, we even once had a president who wasn't taking tattooed basketball players to summit meetings to promote his own business.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:28 AM (#5690164)
If you want to prioritize contact, I think the simplest place to begin is the ball. Baseballs are not identical, they are manufactured to fall within a certain range. The more tightly they're wound, the farther they fly. So make sure that they're being made toward the low end of the range, so they are less resilient. The big boys will still get dingers, but the middle-infielders who are skating through by getting 20 homers to go with their .260 BA will become a new generation of Warning Track Wayne Garretts and have to either re-vamp their approach or get a new job.

So what sort of ball do you want? The dead ball era variety or the balata ball?
   23. McCoy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:48 AM (#5690172)
120 game seasons. Solved.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: June 12, 2018 at 09:04 AM (#5690189)
BTW that original comment about nine bucks for 24 games behind home plate was literally true, and in today's dollars it would amount to about $84.00.


Yeah but you couldn't buy sushi, good beer, or pink team apparel.
   25. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 09:27 AM (#5690213)
Bring back soaking on the basepaths.
   26. Tim M Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5690272)
That basketball rule, which would fix the unwatchable last minute or 2 of those games, NEEDS TO HAPPEN.
   27. zack Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5690283)
I've argued glove size restrictions as a small step to encouraging contact skills

I've been arguing for awhile that if you want balls in play, you should take gloves away from everybody but catchers and pitchers. Maybe give first basemen those cricket wicket keeper gloves so there'd be a throwing trade-off for being able to receive all those throws easier. The problem of course is the game would be a shitshow if you just took everyone's gloves away suddenly, or it'll be 20 years for any change if you start in little league.

Even then it's a temporary solution, because strikeouts are driven by the pitcher's incentives, so anything you do for batters will lower strikeouts for now but they'll always be trending back up. If pitchers were machines you could force them to pitch longer or more and therefore incentivize short at-bats, but with the attrition rate where it is, I have no idea.
   28. McCoy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5690289)
In terms of gloves they should only be allowed to use a glove that extends passed the fingers by an inch to an inch and a half with webbing between the thumb and first finger.
   29. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5690295)
BTW that original comment about nine bucks for 24 games behind home plate was literally true, and in today's dollars it would amount to about $84.00.

Yeah but you couldn't buy sushi, good beer, or pink team apparel.


Not to mention we didn't get to hear the SSB butchered every night by one Grammy Award winner after another. We now live in the best of all possible worlds.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5690297)
If pitchers were machines you could force them to pitch longer or more and therefore incentivize short at-bats, but with the attrition rate where it is, I have no idea.

Why can't you make changes requiring pitchers to pitch longer? If they break, you get new ones.

Also, if you deaden the ball, pitchers will be less afraid to allow contact.
   31. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5690303)
If pitchers were machines you could force them to pitch longer or more and therefore incentivize short at-bats, but with the attrition rate where it is, I have no idea.

If you really wanted to reduce strikeouts, simply require pitchers to work complete games. No more girly men who punk out by the 6th inning and have to be rescued by mommy.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 11:07 AM (#5690308)
If you really wanted to reduce strikeouts, simply require pitchers to work complete games. No more girly men who punk out by the 6th inning and have to be rescued by mommy.

To be serious, I think you could take steps to move in that direction. Limit pitching staff to 10. No more than 2 pitching changes in a 9-inning game.

The 70's and 80's formula of starter for 6-8 (CG if cruising) followed by one, or at most two RPs was fine. If the RPs are forced to throw multiple innings, they won't perform better than SPs.
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 12, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5690352)
That basketball rule, which would fix the unwatchable last minute or 2 of those games, NEEDS TO HAPPEN.
Or they could just enforce an intentional foul rule and ban or severely limit timeouts in the last two minutes, which would be a hell of a lot less gimmicky.
   34. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: June 12, 2018 at 02:00 PM (#5690514)
To be serious, I think you could take steps to move in that direction. Limit pitching staff to 10. No more than 2 pitching changes in a 9-inning game.
I think if you limit the staff size then you don't need to limit the number of pitching changes, so long as you also place some sort of reasonable limits on the AAA shuttle. If a manager wants to burn out his bullpen before the All Star break then we should let him.

I guess the danger then would be that every team treats relievers as even more disposable than they are now. Then we get the same bullpen usage that we have today, along with lots of guys breaking after pitching 25 times in a span of 30 games. But I just hate the idea of limiting changes based on anything but the size of the roster.
   35. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 02:15 PM (#5690525)
Or we could just make people get in the damn box and hit, and make pitchers pitch.
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 12, 2018 at 03:18 PM (#5690565)
Or we could just make people get in the damn box and hit, and make pitchers pitch.
Has anyone ever told you you should join Mensa?
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 03:24 PM (#5690573)
Or we could just make people get in the damn box and hit, and make pitchers pitch.

Pace can definitely by solved this way. But the high-K, low contact style requires other fixes.
   38. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 03:24 PM (#5690575)
Has anyone ever told you you should join Mensa?


I think you just did!
   39. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 12, 2018 at 03:26 PM (#5690577)
But the high-K, low contact style requires other fixes.


Not necessarily. If pitchers have less time to recharge to full strength between pitches, it is possible that velocity would drop and hitters could thereby make more contact. But I see your point and don't object to monkeying with the ball or some other solution.
   40. Cris E Posted: June 12, 2018 at 04:20 PM (#5690657)
Aluminum bats would get everyone excited about swinging. No way you'd take a walk when you have the chance to hit a ball 600' or even kill a man on the mound!
   41. BrianBrianson Posted: June 12, 2018 at 04:32 PM (#5690666)
Or we could just make people get in the damn box and hit, and make pitchers pitch.


Exactly. Giant magnets under the batter's box, that're turned off when the ball is released. Mandatory iron cleats.
   42. PreservedFish Posted: June 12, 2018 at 05:28 PM (#5690713)
Nobody wants to take on the expanding strikezone? I was hoping this wouldn't turn into people just listing their same old ideas which we've all seen a million times.
   43. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 12, 2018 at 05:55 PM (#5690734)
Nobody wants to take on the expanding strikezone?

Roboumps for balls and strikes are getting more and more appealing with every passing day. Every game you see strike after strike called outside the zone, often completely changing the complexion of both the at bat and the inning.
   44. cardsfanboy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 06:23 PM (#5690751)
Nobody wants to take on the expanding strikezone? I was hoping this wouldn't turn into people just listing their same old ideas which we've all seen a million times.


I think it's interesting, but again, for it to work, it would require a computerized strikezone, if not, then you are still going to be subjected to umps personal strike zone and that isn't going to be consistent enough to change peoples batting habits, other than pissing them off.


The reason for listing the same old ideas, is that the same old ideas make sense to some people who would be willing to participate in these discussions. Extreme ideas are usually uttered by people who don't like baseball at all, and are trying to make it more like their preferred sport.


I've participated in many of these conversations, and my preferred result is going to be changes that are made that don't limit tactical options in between the lines. Whether we are talking about pace of play or putting the ball in play, any option being offered that limit tactical advantages won't get me on board. Limit roster size(number of pitchers vs batters)... I'm there. Limit equipment(bat, ball, glove) and you will pique my interest. Even the strikezone thing has something going for it, but I just can't see how it can happen with human umps.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: June 12, 2018 at 06:34 PM (#5690757)
Whether we are talking about pace of play or putting the ball in play, any option being offered that limit tactical advantages won't get me on board. Limit roster size(number of pitchers vs batters)... I'm there.


To me, the second sentence invalidates the first.

I'm open to a lot of these ideas, even if I'm skeptical how much they will really move the needle. I really don't know how the expanding strike zone would play out, which means it would be a fascinating experiment. Though as CFB says, it probably requires the move to the automated strike zone, which I'm not a fan of for a few reasons.

What I'd like to see is MLB start getting creative and using spring training as a testing ground for some of the concepts we kick around.
   46. cardsfanboy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 07:35 PM (#5690795)
To me, the second sentence invalidates the first.


I think of it as an inner constraint vs an outer constraint.. To me tactical options is limited to the field manager, and it's about his ability to act based upon the roster and normal rules imposed on him. (inner constraints) vs outer constraints (which is limiting a gm option on roster construction) I am not a huge fan of limiting rosters, but given the choice of an idiotic rule "a pitcher must pitch to two batters" vs a roster rule "10 pitchers on the roster per series".... I'm going to go with the latter every time, and hate the former massively every time.

Same with outlawing the shift or other idiotic concepts designed to take the controls out of the field managers hand.
   47. cardsfanboy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 07:41 PM (#5690802)

What I'd like to see is MLB start getting creative and using spring training as a testing ground for some of the concepts we kick around.


And I agree, but sadly, as MLB has shown, even when a concept works in spring training, they don't have the guts to keep it going in the regular season. Look at how they abandoned the pitch clock within a month of the regular season last year, even though it worked in spring training and has worked for a couple of years in the minors.
   48. KronicFatigue Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:01 PM (#5690813)
Anything that decreases the frequency of TTO will speed up the game. Doesn't even have to be all 3. Deaden the ball, lower the mound, increase the strikezone, raise the walls or push them back, ANYTHING. All of them. We're at a place where pitchers are afraid to pitch to contact. Managers using too many relievers is secondary to that.
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5690821)
It's not that they are afraid to pitch to contact, it's that they are encouraged to not pitch to contact... Fip pretty much states that the goal of a pitcher is to strikeout the batter.
   50. McCoy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:22 PM (#5690823)
No, FIP pretty much states don't walk hitters, strike them out, and don't let them hit the ball hard. So don't get into hitter's counts.
   51. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:23 PM (#5690825)
Has anyone studied how much velocity would decrease from a 61' or 61' 6" mound distance?
   52. cardsfanboy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:42 PM (#5690848)

No, FIP pretty much states don't walk hitters, strike them out, and don't let them hit the ball hard. So don't get into hitter's counts.


I think that is a stretch, from a pitchers point of view, these are guys who think they are pretty good at their job, and they think they can stop homeruns and walks, and that they just need to strike people out to be successful. Or to be more accurate, that they have no control over what happens when the ball is put in play, so you need to avoid that as much as possible.

I don't think anyone thinks of "counts" when talking about fip. It's about avoiding letting the batter put the ball in play. And from the ego of a pitcher, that means striking the guy out as much as possible. None of that resembles pitching from fear.
   53. McCoy Posted: June 12, 2018 at 08:47 PM (#5690852)
Or to be more accurate, that they have no control over what happens when the ball is put in play, so you need to avoid that as much as possible.

Well, that is not true. They have little control over what happens to balls that are not hit hard but they are coached and prepped most of their life to avoid letting batters hit the ball hard.
   54. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 12, 2018 at 09:15 PM (#5690869)
Nobody wants to take on the expanding strikezone? I was hoping this wouldn't turn into people just listing their same old ideas which we've all seen a million times.

I think it's interesting, but again, for it to work, it would require a computerized strikezone,

The ONLY legitimate argument against the RoboUmp with a computerized strike zone is that the technology hasn't yet reached the necessary standard of accuracy.** But once that's achieved, it's just ridiculous to have over 100 different strike zones for over 100 different umpires, which is pretty much what we've got today, not to mention that some batters are getting royally ###### by all that subjectivity.

** If you want to fetishize human fallibility, then at least be consistent and do away with every form of replay.
   55. SoSH U at work Posted: June 12, 2018 at 09:40 PM (#5690891)
The ONLY legitimate argument against the RoboUmp with a computerized strike zone is that the technology hasn't yet reached the necessary standard of accuracy.**


What unmitigated bullshit. Roboumps would only exist at the major league level. Which means that players would grow up playing the game a certain way, only to have it changed completely when they reached the highest level. The further the game moves away at MLB from the levels under it is not a good thing, and should be avoided where possible. That some fans don't care about anything other than that which is played in MLB is a flaw of theirs, not the sport's.

** If you want to fetishize human fallibility, then at least be consistent and do away with every form of replay.


It's not about fetishisizing it, but accepting its existence (and replay demonstrates daily that replay doesn't eliminate fallibility). Then again, I'm OK with doing away with every form of replay, because replay sucks.

   56. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 12, 2018 at 09:54 PM (#5690908)
Roboumps would only exist at the major league level. Which means that players would grow up playing the game a certain way, only to have it changed completely when they reached the highest level.


I don't know that this is necessarily true depending on the price of a robot umpire. I could see a Little League or a School District deciding to just invest in a couple of "robo-umps" instead of having to pay human umpires. The cheap version of the "robo-ump" would likely be less accurate than the major-league version. But that's true of human umpires too, so that wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker at lower levels. It's just a matter of finding a price point that works. I guess you'd still need to pay somebody to umpire the bases, but I assume by high school at least, leagues are employing at least two umpires per game already, so you can still replace one with the robo-ump.

As for the changing strike zone over the course of a plate appearance, I think the key points have already been made. I agree with cardsfanboy that the only way for this to really work is with robot umpires. And I agree with several people upthread that having the strike zone expand through the at bat is, I think, exactly opposite of what you would want to encourage batters to swing at borderline pitches. If you want batters to expand their zones and sacrifice power for putting the ball in play, you need to put them into pitchers' counts early in the count more often.
   57. Panic Posted: June 12, 2018 at 09:55 PM (#5690911)
Has anyone studied how much velocity would decrease from a 61' or 61' 6" mound distance?


I think it was mentioned on the Effectively Wild podcast today - I thought they said it was a 1.5 MPH per foot moved back, but I'm not sure.

The article below is a bit older, but talks about it. In a hypothetical, they show moving the mound back 5 feet would change a 95 MPH fastball to an 87 MPH fastball (which may have been where that equation came from). They go on to note 5 feet is too far to move it.

https://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/move-mound-back-to-cut-down-strikeouts-061214

   58. SoSH U at work Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:12 PM (#5690924)
I guess you'd still need to pay somebody to umpire the bases, but I assume by high school at least, leagues are employing at least two umpires per game already, so you can still replace one with the robo-ump.


I hope there aren't any plays at the plate.
   59. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 12, 2018 at 10:14 PM (#5690926)
The ONLY legitimate argument against the RoboUmp with a computerized strike zone is that the technology hasn't yet reached the necessary standard of accuracy.**

What unmitigated bullshit. Roboumps would only exist at the major league level. Which means that players would grow up playing the game a certain way, only to have it changed completely when they reached the highest level. The further the game moves away at MLB from the levels under it is not a good thing, and should be avoided where possible. That some fans don't care about anything other than that which is played in MLB is a flaw of theirs, not the sport's.


That's a good emotional argument, but it doesn't make much sense, as all that would be involved would be a transition from relatively poorly called games to relatively better called games. Presumably we already have that now, as (at least we'd like to think that) Major League umps are the best in the business. RoboUmps for balls and strikes would merely eliminate the subjectivity, and in the bargain make for a more level playing field among batters. Or haven't you heard?

** If you want to fetishize human fallibility, then at least be consistent and do away with every form of replay.

It's not about fetishisizing it, but accepting its existence (and replay demonstrates daily that replay doesn't eliminate fallibility). Then again, I'm OK with doing away with every form of replay, because replay sucks.


In general I don't like replay because (1) it slows down the game, and (2) on the whole, bad calls on the bases affect all teams roughly equally.

But as the above link shows, that's not true for bad calls on balls and strikes. Some players consistently benefit from bad calls, and some players consistently suffer. Which is why I'd much rather MLB concentrate on establishing a fair and consistent strike zone, as opposed to worrying about whether a base stealer lifted his toe off the base for 1/100th of a second after he's beaten the throw by a foot.
   60. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: June 13, 2018 at 05:27 AM (#5691008)
BTW that original comment about nine bucks for 24 games behind home plate was literally true, and in today's dollars it would amount to about $84.00.


Maybe you got a great deal, but even in 1920 average ticket prices were $1.00.
   61. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 13, 2018 at 10:05 AM (#5691078)
BTW that original comment about nine bucks for 24 games behind home plate was literally true, and in today's dollars it would amount to about $84.00.

Maybe you got a great deal, but even in 1920 average ticket prices were $1.00.


If you look back at #15, you'll see that the deal was for "a kid like me", and what I meant by that was that a $1.50 general admission ticket was always available for half price for anyone 16 or under. And 12 doubleheaders x 75 cents = $9.00. FTR box seats back then were $2.50 and reserved seats were $2.00, but the key difference between then and now was that only the first 8 rows of the grandstand were reserved, and any seat above that was general admission / first come, first served.

And FTR, a comparable seat** for next week's Yankees doubleheader at Nats Park is being offered on StubHub for $360.00 on up. I can get nearly 2 entire seasons of Extra Innings for that.

** In terms of distance from home plate
   62. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 13, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5691115)
Nobody wants to take on the expanding strikezone? I was hoping this wouldn't turn into people just listing their same old ideas which we've all seen a million times.


I'm not a fan of the expanding strike zone either...I'd be cool with robot umps for balls and strikes, especially if it meant that the high strike will get called in addition to the strike 3 inches off the plate being eliminated.

   63. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: June 13, 2018 at 11:22 AM (#5691178)

And FTR, a comparable seat** for next week's Yankees doubleheader at Nats Park is being offered on StubHub for $360.00 on up. I can get nearly 2 entire seasons of Extra Innings for that.


Indeed, Americans are richer and baseball is more popular than back in the day.
   64. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 13, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5691210)
And FTR, a comparable seat** for next week's Yankees doubleheader at Nats Park is being offered on StubHub for $360.00 on up. I can get nearly 2 entire seasons of Extra Innings for that.

Indeed, Americans are richer


No question about that, but not that much richer. The more relevant difference is the eagerness of sports teams to use dynamic pricing and charge what the market will bear.

and baseball is more popular than back in the day.

That totally depends on how you're measuring it. Relative to what? Attendance compared to the total population? Attendance compared to the population of the cities with baseball teams? The number of minor league teams? TV ratings? The number of adults who actually play baseball? There are way too many variables** to make any kind of definitive answer to a question like that. It's a bit like the story about the group of blind men who try to describe an elephant when one of them is feeling his leg, one is feeling his trunk, another is feeling his tusks, and so on.

** Among them: Back in the time frame I was talking about, many of the more popular teams (the Yankees and the Red Sox, just to name 2 of them) had but 14 night games on their home schedules. And the marketing of tax deductible box seats to corporations was an idea that was at best in its infancy in some cities, and nonexistent in others.
   65. Jose Canusee Posted: June 13, 2018 at 09:21 PM (#5691752)
I am in favor of two pitching rubbers, one for Jordan Walden and Carter Capps in the middle of the diamond and one for everyone else.
   66. manchestermets Posted: June 14, 2018 at 08:34 AM (#5691892)
It also might add to dinky infield singles or cause infields to play in more, adding to dinky bloop singles.


Is a lack of dinky bloop singles really one of the major problems facing baseball today?


Incorporate public-address announcers more into each game


Dear lord no. I went to a game in Germany last week, the Stuttgart Reds vs the Mainz Athletics, and the announcer there was telling us the pitch count after every strike. It was unbearable.
   67. SoSH U at work Posted: June 14, 2018 at 08:42 AM (#5691895)
Is a lack of dinky bloop singles really one of the major problems facing baseball today?


The lack of balls in play is, absolutely.
   68. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 14, 2018 at 09:09 AM (#5691908)
Incorporate public-address announcers more into each game


Dear lord no.
Seconded. A sure sign you're watching a bad baseball movie is if they have the stadium PA announcer narrating the action like a radio broadcaster. Let's not make that real.
   69. PreservedFish Posted: June 14, 2018 at 09:19 AM (#5691915)
In the future we'll be able to turn on and off various levels of commentary with our iBrain iMplants.
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 14, 2018 at 09:48 AM (#5691936)
No question about that, but not that much richer. The more relevant difference is the eagerness of sports teams to use dynamic pricing and charge what the market will bear.

Oh they were charging every penny they could BITD. In terms of disposable income, America is massively richer than it was in the 50's and 60's. Middle class families routinely spend $500 a month on smart phones/high speed internet/cable.
   71. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 14, 2018 at 01:48 PM (#5692190)
No question about that, but not that much richer. The more relevant difference is the eagerness of sports teams to use dynamic pricing and charge what the market will bear.

Oh they were charging every penny they could BITD. In terms of disposable income, America is massively richer than it was in the 50's and 60's. Middle class families routinely spend $500 a month on smart phones/high speed internet/cable.


The greatest jump in middle class income we've ever seen came in the aftermath of World War II, and yet if you look at ticket stubs from the 1941 and 1952 World Series---both played in the same ballparks---you'll see that the prices barely budged. In fact the Yankee Stadium bleacher ticket actually went down from $1.10 to $1.00, even though the overall CPI had gone up by 75%.

No, the main reason that prices didn't spike back then was much more due to the fact that---get this---the public hadn't yet been conditioned to accept the auction mentality when it came to sporting events. If that weren't the case, then why wouldn't teams have charged more for doubleheaders against the Yankees or Dodgers than they did for a midweek day game against the Browns or Pirates? For better or for worse, back then the unadulterated market mentality that's permeated every facet of our life today didn't control every single transaction. It's the same reason that CEO salaries back then weren't as obscenely high as they are today: The public simply wouldn't have accepted it, as evidenced in part by the marginal rates on the highest income tax brackets.
   72. PreservedFish Posted: June 14, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5692194)
Attendance was pretty low back then - why?
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 14, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5692210)
Attendance was pretty low back then - why?

The game wasn't very popular. The same teams won every year, and the same teams were awful. Between 1949 and 1956, only two of the 16 World Series participants weren't from NY.

There was also the impact of TV. The Yankees attendance went down every year from 1949 to 1954, despite (or perhaps because of) 5 World Series wins in a row. Movie attendance was also plummeting in this era.

   74. McCoy Posted: June 14, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5692234)
Attendance was pretty low back then - why?

Crumbling urban neighborhoods, TV, and a plethora of other things to do. The minor leagues collapsed in the 50's, MLB teams started the process of running away from the East coast downtrodden cities, and the fans were living in these new fangled things called the suburbs which were far away from not so easy to get to stadiums.
   75. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 14, 2018 at 03:28 PM (#5692299)
Crumbling urban neighborhoods

I don't know about this one. The South Bronx was a lot scarier in 1979 (shout out to Sugar Bear) than in 1959, but the Yankees drew an extra million fans. Crime didn't spike until the mid-1960s, baseball's attendance problems started more than a decade earlier. The 1968 Tigers drew 2 million people in a city that was a literal war zone. The Yankees struggled to draw 1.5 million in the mid-50s (vs. 2 million plus in 1946-50) despite NYC being exceptionally safe.

TV,

I think this is 90% of the explanation.
   76. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 14, 2018 at 03:52 PM (#5692320)
Attendance was pretty low back then - why?

The game wasn't very popular. The same teams won every year, and the same teams were awful. Between 1949 and 1956, only two of the 16 World Series participants weren't from NY.

But then that would've been the perfect time for teams to use dynamic pricing, since in some of those years the Yankees' 60 to 70** road dates routinely accounted for 25% or more of the other 7 teams' total home attendance---more than twice what the other 7 teams' road attendance averaged. And yet those greedy owners still charged no more for a Yankees' doubleheader than they did for a Wednesday afternoon single game against the lowly Nats. Why was that? Why didn't they take advantage of the sacred imperative of supply and demand to charge what the market would bear?

** Accounting for doubleheaders and non-made up rainouts
   77. PreservedFish Posted: June 14, 2018 at 04:19 PM (#5692339)
Dynamic pricing doesn't really have much to do with it, from what I can tell. MLB attendance was way way up in the 90s, before that particular innovation was foisted upon an unwitting public. Prices must have been low in Andy's childhood simply because most people didn't really want to watch a baseball game very much. The question to me is why? That was the "golden age."
   78. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 14, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5692373)
Dynamic pricing doesn't really have much to do with it, from what I can tell. MLB attendance was way way up in the 90s, before that particular innovation was foisted upon an unwitting public. Prices must have been low in Andy's childhood simply because most people didn't really want to watch a baseball game very much. The question to me is why? That was the "golden age."

Well, the postwar decade was a "golden age" only if you lived in New York. Other cities, not so much.

As for the whys: Many reasons, some already mentioned. TV, and for two distinct reasons: Competition for the entertainment dollar in general; and in many cities, the practice of televising home games only---the exact opposite of the NFL's post-1951 mandate of road games only. Obviously the NFL had the better idea, as road games on TV whetted the appetite for going out to watch home games in person.

Other reasons.

----Stadiums by then were run down, and for the most part located in decaying inner cities, farther away from the increasingly suburban fan base.

----Pennant races decided early, along with the fact that bad teams then not only were really bad,** but the lack of a draft meant that the big money teams (the Yankees and the Dodgers) were operating at an enormous advantage. And the lingering racism of many owners (Hello, Tom Yawkey; hey there, Spike Briggs) meant that they deliberately cut themselves off from some of the best new talent.

About dynamic pricing, my only real point is that the lack of it made it much more affordable for fans to see the best teams play, often getting 2 games for the price of 1. Doubleheaders mostly faded from the scene by the 70's, but fixed and uniform prices for all games didn't begin to disappear until about 15 or 20 years ago IIRC. Of course all that dynamic pricing BS got balanced out by the arrival of Extra Innings, which IMO is the greatest bargain in sports history. I feel sorry for those who have to pay 10 or more times (in constant dollars) for a premium ticket today than I would've had to pay 50 or 60 years ago, but I wouldn't trade that $199 Extra Innings package for all the cheap seats in the world.

** This hit its lowest point in 1954, when the 4th place Red Sox finished 17 games behind the 3rd place White Sox and 42 games behind the 1st place Indians. The Indians record that year against the bottom 5 teams was 89-21, while including the World Series their record against winning teams was 22-26.
   79. BDC Posted: June 14, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5692395)
Incorporate public-address announcers more into each game

This happens already, if indirectly. It's more and more common to broadcast a play-by-play feed of the game into non-seating areas of parks: concourses, ramps, etc. And if you are sitting in the rear of some sections, you can often hear the play-by-play at a low level. Just part of the "We can never allow there to be a moment of silence" trend in American sports.

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