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Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Aesthetic of the Rays

Watching the Rays play I fail to see how the aesthetic they represent is one that is sustainable long term. Sure, it’s sustainable when it comes to them winning, but is it sustainable when it comes to keeping fans engaged, both at a local and global level? The numbers may say that your starter should be pulled after 4 innings, but that doesn’t mean that fans will see a game where 11 pitchers are used and think, “Man, this is the good stuff, this is why I watch baseball.” The way the Rays use their pitchers slows down the game, and it stops fans from forming any sort of attachment with the never-ending cavalcade of pitchers the Rays use on a daily basis. This isn’t a problem for hardcore fans, but it is a major issue for casual fans who want and need recognizable faces to draw them back.

The lack of recognizability goes beyond the pitchers the Rays use and the way they structure their rosters on a yearly basis. They go after the cheapest best players possible, and again, there’s nothing wrong with that approach when it comes to winning. However, what the past 50 or so years have proven is that while a team’s jersey is important, the majority of fans don’t stick around because of a jersey but because of the players they know and want to cheer for. Baseball as a whole is at a point where they are seeing decreased interest in the sport from younger generations. One key reason for that is the way that teams, owners, and Major League Baseball itself have done everything they could to reduce the star power of the players. The Rays are a natural extension of that philosophy, a team where the players are nothing more than prototype player X fitted into his slot this year only to be replaced by a cheaper version of prototype player X in 2021, and on down the line.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:14 AM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DCA Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:53 AM (#5983109)
Fun fact:

The Rays have played 11 postseason games. In 9 of them, the SP went 5+ innings. In one of the two games that they didn't, they used an opener but normal starter Yarborough pitched 5 innings in relief.

The one game they didn't, the loser-goes-home game 5 of the ALDS, Glasnow only pitched 2+ innings, but they still used only 4 pitchers in that game - probably their best SP and three best RP - and each went at least 2 innings.
   2. DCA Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:56 AM (#5983110)
Compare that to the Padres, who in 6 postseason games only had 1 starter finish the 3rd inning (Davies went 5 innings in the NLDS).
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:59 AM (#5983112)
Also, the Rays tried winning in a more conventional fashion earlier in the century. It didn't drive fans to the dump they plan in.

   4. Astroenteritis Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5983120)
As a professional football coach once said, "You play to win the game." Based on the results, I'd say the Rays are doing exactly what they should be doing.
   5. caspian88 Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5983121)
To be fair, planning meetings are pretty boring.
   6. winnipegwhip Posted: October 15, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5983148)
I listened to the SABR podcast earlier this week. At the end SABR CEO Scott Bush presented to Rob Neyer 5 names. Three of those names were Rays relievers on the playoff roster. The other two were names of people who joined SABR in the last week. Neyer was to choose the 3 relievers from the list of 5.

Rob's first choice was wrong. (It was a SABR member). His second and third choices were correct. His fourth choice was incorrect also (the other SABR member.)
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:18 PM (#5983150)
As a professional football coach once said, "You play to win the game." Based on the results, I'd say the Rays are doing exactly what they should be doing.

Except that's not the objective of MLB. You play to attract fans eyeballs and their money. The total number of wins is fixed every year. If the most effective style of play is unattractive to fans, then the game needs to change.

This isn't an issue for the Rays to address, it's an issue for the league to address through rule changes. We've seen all the other major sports do this. The NHL, NFL, and NBA have all changed rules to create a more exciting game.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:27 PM (#5983152)
What is the most starless champion in recent memory? The 2015 Royals? 2005 White Sox?
   9. winnipegwhip Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:33 PM (#5983154)
This isn't an issue for the Rays to address, it's an issue for the league to address through rule changes. We've seen all the other major sports do this. The NHL, NFL, and NBA have all changed rules to create a more exciting game
.

Overall I am against radical rule changes but I agree something needs to be addressed. It dawned on me the other day was the one thing that can be done...and it has precedent....is to lower the mound. This would:

1) Give the batter an advantage and may reduce the number of strikeouts, meaning more baseballs in play;
2) By flattening the angle of the delivery of the pitch somewhat it may reduce the amount of hitters swinging with as radical of uppercuts.
3) It would be less radical than the extension of the 60'6" distance which has been discussed. The lowering of the mound was done previously in 1969.

This would not be a cure all but it would be a step in the right direction.

Would this have to be agreed upon by the MLBPA? I could see a definite split in the membership vote when it comes to approval.
   10. Ron J Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:36 PM (#5983155)
#7 That might be true but I've never found any evidence that fans care how a team wins (and I've looked) merely that they do.

We'll see. 2021 and beyond is not a time for complacency. Old studies may not be valid in that the habits that had people buying tickets have been broken.

   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5983156)

Overall I am against radical rule changes but I agree something needs to be addressed. It dawned on me the other day was the one thing that can be done...and it has precedent....is to lower the mound.


I think you would need to deaden the ball too, otherwise you'll see silly-ball era stats again. Would flattening the seams have an effect? Can they do that? Could MLB require fences to be pushed back to drop home runs down a bit and expand outfield space, giving more value to putting the ball in paly?
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:43 PM (#5983157)
Would this have to be agreed upon by the MLBPA?
The MLBPA would certainly say so, and unfortunately it's just become an article of faith that all changes have to be negotiated because Manfred and Selig haven't had the cojones to challenge the union. However, the CBA only requires negotiation of rule changes "which significantly affect terms and conditions of employment." I think you could make a pretty convincing argument that lowering the mound a few inches -- and even more so implementing a pitch clock -- doesn't meet that standard. The clause cannot reasonably be construed to require negotiation of virtually any rule change, otherwise it would not have been worded as such.

Even if a change were to be found to require negotiation, it can still be implemented without the players' consent just by providing one year's notice. But that would require Manfred to grow a pair.
   13. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:44 PM (#5983158)
What is the most starless champion in recent memory? The 2015 Royals? 2005 White Sox?


The Royals probably fit the bill, although Gordon was a former highly ranked prospect who was good for that team. Cain and Hosmer have become somewhat famous since, Cain because he was good and Hosmer because he got the huge free agent deal despite being just okay. But neither guy was a big name when the Royals won. Their bullpen was known collectively as being shutdown, but I struggled to think of the names other than Wade Davis.

I feel like Konerko, Jermaine Dye, and Buehrle were stars for that White Sox team, and they technically still employed Frank Thomas, even though he wasn't playing.

I think these Rays would surpass those Royals in anonymity.
   14. Astroenteritis Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:47 PM (#5983159)
Except that's not the objective of MLB. You play to attract fans eyeballs and their money.


No, what I'm saying is that the goal for the Rays is winning, and they do it better than most teams, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference how they go about that. You can turn baseball into a circus show for people with the attention span of Twitter if all you care about is eyeballs and money, but that will end up having diminishing returns in the long run.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:48 PM (#5983160)
I struggled to think of the names other than Wade Davis.
You've made Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera sad.
   16. Astroenteritis Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:52 PM (#5983163)
As for more "exciting", I would argue the NBA and NHL are no more exciting for the rules changes, and the NFL is only perceived as more exciting because they gimmicked the game to favor offense, which dovetailed nicely with modern offensive football theory. I certainly don't find 38-35 games any more exciting than 20-17 games, there's simply more shiny things to look at.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:56 PM (#5983164)
You've made Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera sad.


Holland was hurt the year they won it, making Wade the closer. It was Herrera and someone else who I'm blanking on. I think they also employed Ryan Madsen in the pen.

To BBREf...

And, as always, the answer is simple: 87 feet.

Edit: They didn't really have that single seventh-inning guy the way they did the year before. Madson pitched about as much as anyone.
   18. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:57 PM (#5983165)
#7 That might be true but I've never found any evidence that fans care how a team wins (and I've looked) merely that they do.


It's true that I don't care how MY team wins. I've grown up an Angel fan and I'm going to root for the Angels regardless of whether they win every game 3-2 by hitting three solo homeruns and striking out the rest of the time. But I think it does two other things that are harmful to the game:

1) It means that I'm unlikely to watch two teams that I'm not personally invested in. I've always enjoyed just flipping on a baseball game and watching, regardless of who's playing. I no longer find myself inclined to do so. The Sunday night baseball game is not a draw for me any longer.

2) It means that it's harder to get new fans to latch on to baseball as an entertainment option. I watch the Angels because I've decided I like baseball and they're my team. A 6-year-old boy who hasn't decided he likes baseball yet doesn't have the same attachment. He might decide to watch basketball, or tennis, or e-sports, or professional lawn bowling since they are more entertaining options than a four-hour event where very little action takes place.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:58 PM (#5983166)
Is Salvador Perez a star? He's following the Yadi Molina program pretty closely - getting more recognition as he becomes a well-respected veteran leader playing for the same team, some decent offensive seasons, etc.
   20. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 01:58 PM (#5983167)
You've made Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera sad.


I'm sorry, and it's more an indictment of my memory than their quality. But I could not come up with their names before I had to look them up.
   21. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5983170)
The way the Rays use their pitchers slows down the game

Does it?

Their average 2020 game time was pretty slow, something like 24th in the league. In 2019 it was about league average.

In 2018, they had the 6th lowest average game time in baseball. Ryan Stanek had 29 GS and 66 IP that year, so their opener usage was in full swing.

   22. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:03 PM (#5983171)
I feel like Konerko, Jermaine Dye, and Buehrle were stars for that White Sox team, and they technically still employed Frank Thomas, even though he wasn't playing.


Orlando Hernandez, Podsednik and Pierzynski were very well-known players for various reasons. Hernandez especially, being a totally unique figure.

The Royals pitching staff was particularly anonymous for a WS-winning team.
The rotation:
Johnny Cueto - age 29, had been 2nd and 4th in Cy Young voting - Royals acquiring him mid-season in 2015 was very exciting for their fans, but he wasn't exactly Justin Verlander
Yordano Ventura - had been 6th in RoY voting the previous year
Edinson Volquez - age 31, 1 All-Star appearance in 2008
Chris Young - age 36, 1 All-Star appearance in 2007

Meanwhile Hosmer, Gordon, Moustakas, Cain, Perez were all established stars I think.
   23. . Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5983175)
The difference in aesthetic quality between the Royals that were The Best Team in Baseball For About 18 Months There and the 2020 Rays is REM/Nickelback in scope and dimension. This is one of those things that can't really be "explained" to anyone who doesn't see it plainly on first blush, in the same way that you can't really "explain" a joke to someone who didn't get it.(*) That's kind of the thing with aesthetics.

(*) Former Tottenham legend Danny Blanchflower is pretty much the Aristotle of sports aesthetics and you can't really do any better as a school catechism than his classic, "The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."

Any school of aesthetics which holds contrary to this is inescapably inferior.
   24. Ron J Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:14 PM (#5983178)
#18 Everything that you say has been said about baseball basically as long as I've been following it. And more than likely before then.

Never mattered in the past.

But 2021 is different and we just don't know. Hence why I said it's no time for complacency.

But I think the biggest issue isn't style but pace. And I really hope they do something about the endless delays -- both on the mound and in the batter's box.
   25. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:16 PM (#5983180)

The difference in aesthetic quality between the Royals that were the Best Team in Baseball For About 18 Months and the 2020 Rays is REM/Nickelback in scope and dimension.


This may be true, but we're also looking at the Royals after they won it all, and the Rays potentially before. It was the post-season that made the Royals stars. Prior to 2014, Eric Hosmer was just "a guy", their bullpen was just anonymous guys who were pretty good, and Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon were underrated players most fans didn't know much about.

We may be seeing this with Randy Arozarena, but performing in October is what helps makes players famous, and part of why the Rays are so anonymous is they haven't had a run this deep in a decade.
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:23 PM (#5983182)
The difference in aesthetic quality between the Royals that were the Best Team in Baseball For About 18 Months and the 2020 Rays is REM/Nickelback in scope and dimension.
Ooh - so who is Michael Stipe, and who is Chad Kroeger?
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:27 PM (#5983184)
Never mattered in the past.


How on earth could you claim that?
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5983187)
The Rays have players from 8 different countries/territories (counting PR separately) on their 40-man roster. I checked a few other teams, and they were tied for the most. So that's pretty cool, at least.
   29. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:33 PM (#5983188)
#24
But 2021 is different and we just don't know. Hence why I said it's no time for complacency.


I have listened to baseball on the radio as a constant companion for as long as I can remember. I started to recognize issues with pace when I noticed the A's announcers were struggling to fill up the time between pitches. I have found myself subconsciously counting the seconds between pitches, which is made easier now during the Coronatime since with the stadiums quiet one can hear the pitcher catch the ball back from the catcher. A couple things strike me:

1) ANYTIME there is a foul ball, there is an inordinate amount of time wasted between pitches. The pitcher gets a new ball almost immediately, oftentimes its just a foul straight back so the batter hasn't even started to run, but the batter must spend a bunch of time outside the box stretching, practice swinging, adjusting his wristbands, whatever. After every foul ball there is something like 40 seconds minimum. The pitcher is just standing there holding the ball.

2) The catcher doesn't even put down a sign until the batter is completely ready in the box. So there's another 10 seconds wasted after all that ridiculousness. Before that the pitcher is just standing there holding the ball.
   30. caspian88 Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5983189)
Is Blake Snell still a Ray or has he already been traded for some anonymous prospects?
   31. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5983190)
ANYTIME there is a foul ball, there is an inordinate amount of time wasted between pitches.


This kinda goes underreported too, but there is a 11 percent increase in foul balls over the last 20 years too, which causes play to drag.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5983192)
Is Blake Snell still a Ray or has he already been traded for some anonymous prospects?
Slap-dick prospects.
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:41 PM (#5983193)
2) The catcher doesn't even put down a sign until the batter is completely ready in the box. So there's another 10 seconds wasted after all that ridiculousness.
Also, signs take a lot longer to deliver, which leads the batter to call time more often...it's this ridiculous Battle of Who Can Take Longer.
   34. winnipegwhip Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:42 PM (#5983194)
#29

Last night I was flipping between the ALCS game and a recording of game 5 of the 1976 ALCS (it was 44 years ago yesterday). I counted in my head the length of time that it would take between pitches in the Rays/Astros. On a routine pitch it was approximately 20 seconds. So I did the same thing in the Yankees-Royals game from 76. Even with runners on Ed Figueroa and Dennis Leonard were working in pitches about 10 seconds apart. Over the length of a game that certainly adds up.
   35. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:47 PM (#5983197)
I've been watching the Rays games, and the few players I do know (Snell, Glasnow, Meadows, Keirmaier, Lowe) are mainly because of their fantasy value. But the games have been fun! And not just because they've been beating the Yankees and Astros!

The pitching changes mostly come between innings, so don't affect the gameplay.

The Royals and White Sox are good nominees for "starless" teams. The 2002 Angels, too. Casual sports fans wouldn't recognize too many guys from any of those teams.
   36. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 03:10 PM (#5983202)

Last night I was flipping between the ALCS game and a recording of game 5 of the 1976 ALCS (it was 44 years ago yesterday). I counted in my head the length of time that it would take between pitches in the Rays/Astros. On a routine pitch it was approximately 20 seconds. So I did the same thing in the Yankees-Royals game from 76. Even with runners on Ed Figueroa and Dennis Leonard were working in pitches about 10 seconds apart. Over the length of a game that certainly adds up.

It's not even about it adding up. It's just less exciting baseball. More time between pitches, more pitches between actual plays, combined with a fanbase that has shorter attention spans and more distractions is a bad recipe. Even I find myself frequently flipping the channel during games when I have time to watch them.
   37. . Posted: October 15, 2020 at 03:35 PM (#5983207)
This kinda goes underreported too, but there is a 11 percent increase in foul balls over the last 20 years too, which causes play to drag.


Because in the name of "efficiency," players have been trained to "grind out at bats."

Efficiency might have some usefulness at the local widget factory, but we should give zero ##### about players who play our sports "efficiently," and front offices who cream over "efficiency" suck. You know those bumper stickers out there that say, "Mean people suck"? Well, efficiency sucks more.

You know who's "efficient"? James Harden is efficient -- and the mangy-chinned ############ plays one of the ugliest and most tiresome, flailey-assed, brands of basketball you'll ever want to see.

I don't want to sit through some guy ####### "grinding out" an at-bat.
   38. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 03:39 PM (#5983208)


Because in the name of "efficiency," players have been trained to "grind out at bats."


I think foul balls have increased for the same reason that swings-and-misses have increased. It's harder to make good contact today.

   39. . Posted: October 15, 2020 at 03:44 PM (#5983210)
Last night I was flipping between the ALCS game and a recording of game 5 of the 1976 ALCS (it was 44 years ago yesterday). I counted in my head the length of time that it would take between pitches in the Rays/Astros. On a routine pitch it was approximately 20 seconds. So I did the same thing in the Yankees-Royals game from 76. Even with runners on Ed Figueroa and Dennis Leonard were working in pitches about 10 seconds apart. Over the length of a game that certainly adds up.


The game was 90% played/10% thought then. Now it's more like 5% played/95% thought.

Said it before, I'll say it again -- the purpose of these sports was and is not to hack them and figure them out, and then have everyone play the sport the homogenized, figured-out way. If your purpose in sports consumption is to cheer on the figured out version qua figured out version, simply because it's the figured out version, you're doing it all wrong.

   40. winnipegwhip Posted: October 15, 2020 at 03:45 PM (#5983211)
and front offices who cream over "efficiency"


The last offices that were that driven over efficiency at the same level … were forcing Ukrainian farmers to starve to death.
   41. . Posted: October 15, 2020 at 03:50 PM (#5983213)
An initial list of "efficient" things in sports that totally suck, and convince a bunch of efficiency-addled people that they're "skills," but they aren't athletic skills in the least and only seen as skills because in the context of the hacked rules, they're "efficient":

1. Pitch framing.
2. Drawing fouls in basketball.
3. Hitting foul balls so as to grind out at bats.

I'm sure there are more (*), but the drift is clear. These things all suck tailpipe on toast.

(*) Had the shot clock not been put into college basketball in 1987-ish, we can rest assured that there would be "modern analytics" lauding and celebrating a bunch of teams for playing four-corners stall ball in 75%-plus of their possessions because, after all, that would have been "efficient" and "given them the best chance to win." There's no doubt whatsoever that would have happened. Thank God -- or whomever -- they put the shot clock into place before "modern analytics" came to be.
   42. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 03:52 PM (#5983214)
As an aside, I really wish they would ban the use of "grind" and "traffic" (on the bases) from all broadcasts. Those are apparently the buzzwords of the 2020 playoffs - along with "we've never seen this before," which is clearly an MLB directive.
   43. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: October 15, 2020 at 04:02 PM (#5983215)
It's not even about it adding up. It's just less exciting baseball.


I watched a lot of Youtube baseball during the Coronatime. Without men on base, a lot of games in the 70's the time between pitches was more like 6 seconds. It didn't seem to start to "go bad" until maybe the late 1980's, thought I haven't done a complete survey. When you watch some 1990's games the "bad habits" have started to appear. Of course Mike Hargrove, The Human Rain Delay, was around in the early 1980's. Maybe we should blame him.

Because in the name of "efficiency" players have been trained to "grind out at bats."


I actually think it's more complicated than that. It's not efficiency, it's simply that analytics have determined that the greatest offensive output is provided by a player that grinds out at-bats. That's driven by the observation that BABIP is not high enough to offset the advantage that swinging for the fences gives nor the disadvantage that striking out gives. A player grinds out at-bats when the percentages says that the increased likelihood of striking out is worth the extra slugging and likelihood of walking. We can see that analytics have it correct because offense has increased even though pitchers are working (and throwing)very hard, to the point that they cannot on average last more once through the order unless they are Gerrit Cole. When pitchers throw that hard, "take and rake" is probably the best strategy, and vice-versa when "take and rake" is the best strategy, management's response is going to be throw a bunch of guys that can throw 98 mph for maybe an inning, and hope for the best.

And as a possible side-effect, when batters are swinging at max effort and pitchers are pitching at max effort, both of them are going to want to take a lot of time between pitches.
   44. . Posted: October 15, 2020 at 04:11 PM (#5983216)
It's not efficiency, it's simply that analytics have determined that the greatest offensive output is provided by a player that grinds out at-bats.


I didn't really define it well enough, but your second clause is exactly what's meant by "efficiency." Essentially the things which the figuring out of the game has revealed to be the most efficient way to play it if your eye is solely on winning games in the context of the rules. The list in 41 all fall under this rubric.

Efficiency goes hand-in-glove with modern analytics. And then, since modern analytics built up its own faction of devotees and secondarily because teams still like to win, efficiency naturally became an end in itself.

And with that development, now the product completely sucks. Given the history of the game, the cool settings in which it's played, the athletic quality of the players, the now-too-infrequent exciting play (*), the crack of the bat, etc., there's a floor on how low it can sink ... but it's pretty much at that floor right now. It's operating significantly below potential.

(*) There are few things in sports more sublime, especially in person with a seat on the infield, than a major league shortstop half-charging, half-circling a ball and then doing the running, across-the-body throw to first -- even if at the end of the day he gets the runner by a step or otherwise with plenty to spare. But now a lot of the efficiency fanatics have even relegated that to just a "boring" play.

   45. person man Posted: October 15, 2020 at 04:20 PM (#5983219)
The Human Rain Delay, for all his machinations, took less time in his average at-bat than most batters do nowadays.

At least, that's how it seemed to me the last time I watched old footage; I didn't pull out a stopwatch or anything.
   46. winnipegwhip Posted: October 15, 2020 at 04:21 PM (#5983220)
Those are apparently the buzzwords of the 2020 playoffs - along with "we've never seen this before," which is clearly an MLB directive.


Next year "SABR-splaining" will be the term when speaking to any scouts and non-Ivy League front office individual.
   47. Perry Posted: October 15, 2020 at 05:44 PM (#5983228)
Said it before, I'll say it again -- the purpose of these sports was and is not to hack them and figure them out, and then have everyone play the sport the homogenized, figured-out way.


This seems to me to be true not only of strategy, but physical actions within the game. Thirty or 40 years ago there was a LOT more variation in pitcher windups and batting stances than there is now.

Disagree about framing, though. That's a skill and one I enjoy seeing.
   48. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 15, 2020 at 05:51 PM (#5983230)
This seems to me to be true not only of strategy, but physical actions within the game. Thirty or 40 years ago there was a LOT more variation in pitcher windups and batting stances than there is now.
True - and so many of them looked so unathletic. A lot of herky-jerky, wasted motion, poor weight distribution, etc. Of course, in addition to learning more about optimal mechanics, players have gotten a lot more muscular. Back then the mechanics looked like many of them were trying to generate power (the ones that wanted power, anyway - back then that wasn't everyone) through pure physical leverage and torque rather than efficient motion with powerful muscles.
   49. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 06:05 PM (#5983234)
Disagree about framing, though. That's a skill and one I enjoy seeing.

Ugh. Totally disagree. It's a modern version of the Giants hiding extra balls in the OF. Fooling the official shouldn't be a means of success.
   50. Walt Davis Posted: October 15, 2020 at 06:07 PM (#5983235)
There are separate issues:

Rays, and other limited payroll teams, have high roster turnover, don't retain any star players, even trade them away, can't generate off-season publicity through FA signings. This may reduce fan loyalty, commitment through down seasons, limit season ticket and advance sales. The Rays also have an ugly stadium.

The Tampa market may simply not be able to support a team or at least not have enough potential to build a large, loyal customer base to turn out in droves when good and turn out sufficiently when not.

Baseball-wide issues around pace of play, TTO, anonymous relievers, bullpen games, etc. Other than the first, it's hard to say which of these are actual problems from a fan perspecitve but they aren't unique to the Rays. They are one of the more innovative teams so I suppose you're more likely to encounter some non-traditional element at a Rays game.

The market issue is almost certainly the major issue. But Oakland also having poor attendance, etc. despite general success and being in a large-ish market lends some credence to the turnover/no-stars argument. The baseball-wide issues are of course not in Tampa's control.
   51. . Posted: October 15, 2020 at 06:52 PM (#5983240)
Full disclosure: In the spirit of baseball's inherent floor, Randy Arozarena has a cool name, a cool vibe, and he's raking in big game after big game. And plus, of course, he helped send the ####### Yankees home. I'm digging the run he's on. I don't have a clue who any of these pitchers are, and it's the fifth game of the ALCS, and the starters went like an inning each, and the game's being heinously over-managed, but there are still some gems to be found.
   52. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 07:03 PM (#5983242)
Disagree about framing, though. That's a skill and one I enjoy seeing.


I agree completely with this. Baseball is more interesting with pitch framing as a skill.
   53. Perry Posted: October 15, 2020 at 07:08 PM (#5983245)
Fooling the official shouldn't be a means of success.


It's not about fooling the official. It's about getting the borderline, 50-50 call to go your way.
   54. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 07:43 PM (#5983256)
I agree with Walt in #50. People are conflating different issues. We talked in this thread about the 2015 Royals being starless, but their style of play was fun and lauded by many fans of old-school baseball.

Also, is the Rays pitching staff really more anonymous than most, or are they just anonymous because they play for the Rays? They have a recent Cy Young Award winner and an ace who got the win in Game 7 of the World series three years ago in their rotation.
   55. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: October 15, 2020 at 09:24 PM (#5983276)
There's no pleasing you people. You complain when front offices don't try to field a competitive team, and you complain when they try to field the most competitive team that they can (consistent with payroll limitations: Mookie Betts ain't walkin through that door).
   56. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: October 15, 2020 at 09:37 PM (#5983279)
Personally, I am excited for the Rays. I think they have a lot of interesting players. They play defense (Margot) well, they actually have some good starting pitchers (Charlie Morton, Snell, Glasnow, Yarborough, they have some exciting players like Arozarena, they have a smart manager like Kevin Cash who knows how to get the best out of his players (and doesn't in comparison over-do the changing of pitchers mid-inning). They even play in a weird park that I'd like to visit some day for the novelty of it, at least. What's not to like?

I'm rooting for a Rays-Dodgers World Series. That would be a fun World Series, all things considered. East Coast/West Coast, veteran team versus a bunch of young guys. Only shame is one couldn't have some games played in Dodger Stadium and some in the Tampa Dome.

It's just that the Rays operate in the same environment as everybody else, and so their "product" suffers in the same way that all teams, pretty much without exception, do in today's game.

   57. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: October 16, 2020 at 12:03 AM (#5983296)
It's also the top two seeds. I'll second the LAD/TB idea.
   58. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: October 16, 2020 at 09:12 PM (#5983429)
Check out this game. Seaver was struggling with his control, so he was doing a lot of standing around thinking, but still was averaging around 12 seconds between pitches, even with men on base. Carlton was around SIX SECONDS even WITH men on base, and he had 2 hits against Seaver to boot.

1978 Reds versus Phllies, Seaver versus Carlton
   59. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 17, 2020 at 09:22 AM (#5983487)
If you want to see a classic “grind it out” at-bat, watch Gibson’s HR against Eck in the 1988 World Series. A bunch of foul balls, a full count, pick-off attempts...it had it all. And they took their time between pitches. Of course, it was bottom of the 9th, 2 outs in the World Series with a man on base and an injured batter at the plate. Today, every at-bat has that kind of pacing, without all of the dramatic context.
   60. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: October 17, 2020 at 12:28 PM (#5983514)
I was listening yesterday to the Rays/Astros game on the radio, and in the 8th inning Dan Schulman and Ken Singleton were forced to remark that the pace of that particular game at that particular time had slowed to a complete standstill, for no particular reason.

Rob Manfred - are you listening? Even your star announcers in a playoff game cannot at times abide by the pace.
   61. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 17, 2020 at 01:36 PM (#5983516)
I really really wish the TV announcers would do that, but they’re total apologists. They just say the pitcher is being “deliberate” and make excuses.
   62. TJ Posted: October 18, 2020 at 10:46 AM (#5983691)
I remember when the Rays acquired Arozarena from the Cardinals in the Matthew Liberatore trade. The consensus seemed to be “Why would Tampa give up a promising pitching prospect like Liberatore in a trade for Jose Martinez?” Hypothesizing that both Liberatore and Arozarena become the players that the scouting consensus had them to be coming into 2020- Liberatore a good starting pitcher, Arozarena a borderline starter/ fourth outfielder, which side of the trade would you rather have- a good starting pitcher on a team that doesn’t win a pennant or a borderline starting outfielder whose performance was vital for a team that did win one?
   63. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 18, 2020 at 01:28 PM (#5983703)

Efficiency goes hand-in-glove with modern analytics. And then, since modern analytics built up its own faction of devotees and secondarily because teams still like to win, efficiency naturally became an end in itself.


The idea that 'doing what it takes to win' is some sort of hypermodern mindset is invalid. In the 1890s Baltimore took advantage of the single umpire, holding runners by the belt, interfering on the base paths, etc. because it worked and it led to wins. Managers and GMs have always been judged on whether their teams win or not. No owner ever retained a manager whose team regularly lost because their team was 'aesthetically appealing'.

If you think that the rules need to be changed to improve the game, I'm on board. But blaming 'analytics'? Might as well blame Henry Chadwick.

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