Warming Up With Baseball – A Little Relief From Relief


Baseball is like several sports – a game of inches. Makes all the difference in the world on balls and strikes…the base paths. Often…little or no margin for error.

There was another game of inches a couple of weeks ago with little or no margin for error when the wife and I actually got the tape measure out and evaluated the family truck (our Civic) as to how much ice-packed snow absolutely, positively needed to be plowed to forge a way out of our driveway. We didn’t want to have to move any more of the 25-plus inches of what was now ice pack than necessary. It was a relief we could plow away what we did. Speaking of relief…

I am sure many old-school baseball fans like me favored a guy back in the day that could pitch a complete game or at least go deep into one, only turning the ball over to a reliever in the ninth when he was completely gassed and just couldn’t close the deal.

The World Champion Kansas City Royals, according to a recent column by ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, finished 24th in the major leagues last year in starting-pitcher ERA. They were 26th in innings pitched by starting pitchers.

Get this. The last time a team that won the World Series in the expansion era wound up that close to the bottom in those two pitching categories was the 1976 Cincinnati Reds – the “Big Red Machine.” That would make sense since Manager Sparky Anderson was known in his day as “Captain Hook” and had a true affinity for swapping pitchers out right(y) and left(y).

Baseball analytic folks are starting to pile up solid evidence by the third time your starters face a lineup it just might be time to send them to the showers. And the Managers in the majors are certainly responding to those statistics.

There were 15,095 pitching changes made last season. That is the most ever, over 600 more than in 2014.

About 2,000 more pitching changes than just a decade ago…and about 4,000 more pitching changes than just two decades ago.

This is way more than a trend folks.

It’s an absolute way of life.

So here’s my proposal for major league baseball. Expand the active roster size so Managers can better scheme how best to field a team day-to-day. It would be a fun new strategy for all of us second-guessers as to who suits up, gets called up, etc. for each game. It certainly would help teams if games get out of hand or run into OT when baseball squads almost always have to play…the very next day.

Maybe Managers would load up on relievers, maybe not. That would be part of the intrigue. Give these guys some roster flexibility since the game has absolutely shifted in the direction of “relievers gone wild.”

OK, I lied. I actually have a second proposal. Do not allow Managers to visit the mound to make pitching changes or at least put a very small number on visiting it over the course of a game. Reduce all these unnecessary, traditional huddles on the hill.

Even if you think these two proposals are off-base I just wanted to talk baseball today if only to generate warm thoughts. After all, everyone’s team is undefeated so far in 2016. There’s that.

It’s supposed to be zero this weekend. The air temperature mind you, not the wind chill. Warmer weather…where are you?

Hopefully…about to come in from Mother Nature’s bullpen and provide some much-needed relief.


About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside the City of Brotherly Love. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen of our United States and Canada (twice). Addicted from birth to Television/Movies/Sports. Took three years of French and got credit for two of 'em.
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32 Responses to Warming Up With Baseball – A Little Relief From Relief

  1. garym6059 says:

    I’m guessing the Reds take a run at “most pitching changes in one inning” this year. It won’t be for any right/lefty situations either.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deanne says:

    I don’t know much about baseball but I love that photo … Stay warm🌾🍁🍂🍃☀️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. J-Dub says:

    You know it’s been a rough winter if you’re looking forward to the Phillies..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. George says:

    Some of my favorite words are…”pitchers and catchers report”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Limit mound conferences – anything to speed up the game a bit. Sorry, I nod off.
    But RIce and the other univ/college baseball teams are getting air time already here.
    We walked the beach today – will be in the 70’s a couple of days. Looks like the jet stream has split the country practically in half with the weather. Can’t believe you guys got so much snow!
    Stay warm!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your beach story brought a tear to my eye. So did hearing wind chills here this weekend are to be ten below. I try to keep up with college baseball and usually Rice and Houston do well from what I recall. I suspect some college games will show up on the tube as their seasons get underway. Enjoy that weather and thanks for providing some “relief” with news better weather is out there…somewhere!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the idea, but I doubt baseball will consider it. At least, not in the near future. However, I feel they may eventually get around to considering it. Can’t wait for spring training so we’re off to Giants Fanfest this Saturday.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. spearfruit says:

    Wow Bruce, all that snow! Good workout – thanks for sharing the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laura says:

    I’ve heard people joke about getting rid of the bullpen or starting pitchers, however you want to look at it, and the game will be completed by three pitchers each pitching three innings!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. SportsChump says:

    First of all, what’s all that white stuff on the ground?

    Second of all, like you, I haven’t been a fan of all this relief. As another old school cat, I always felt that starting pitchers, at least the better ones, should get you a fair amount of innings.

    That being said, particularly after watching last year’s KC bullpen, I have a newfound appreciation for pitchers that can come in in either the fifth through ninth innings and shut down a line-up.

    Either way, we’re stuck with it as this appears to be the new or at least newer theme of baseball.

    I don’t know whether expanding the roster to add another middle reliever or two is going to happen but let’s just say it wouldn’t surprise me if it were being discussed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SC, we are indeed stuck with relievers and we’ll certainly pitch on and make the best of it…which is why I think they have to make the best move off the existing roster number and move it up. The white stuff…we got into the high fifties yesterday but it came with an inch or so of rain so now those living near our rivers are looking for some relief. We complain about our weather but we don’t get all those lovely tornados, hurricanes and severe systems you regularly do.


  10. After reading your post am wondering if Greg Holland pitching 67 games in 2012, 68 in 2013 and 65 games in 2014 may have led to him undergoing Tommy John surgery. It is not good that Wade Davis pitched in 71 games in 2014 and 69 in 2015.

    Edinson Volquez is the only Royals starter in 2016 rotation that pitched more than 168 innings in 2015 with 200.1 innings pitched. That does not bode well for the bullpen to have only one innings eater among the starting rotation.

    I saw my first major league game in Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium in August of 1957, which was my only time in 71 years of living to be in Philadelphia. Will never forget the Phillies fans booing their star slugger Del Ennis. Three Hall of Famers played in that game. They were Richie Ashburn, Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I am old enough to have been to Connie Mack but not quite old enough to remember it! I can only imagine how great it would be to see Ashburn, Clemente and Maz all on the same field. Roberto was one of my favorite players as a very young boy and his tragic death cost the world a great humanitarian as well as a great ball player.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for letting me comment on your site. I was 12 years old when I saw the Phillies defeat the Pirates that night.
        I live in Louisiana so it is good to see Aaron Nola listed, as the ace of the Phillies on the CBS Sports Depth Chart. Bad thing he is the only pitcher with a winning record, among the 9 pitchers listed as fighting for rotation spots.
        Phillies have some good young players. Aaron Altherr had 5 HR’s and 22 RBI in only 39 games, which projects to 20 HR’s and 88 RBI over a full season. Maikel Franco hit 14 HR’s and drove in 50 runs in 80 games, which projects to 28 HR’s and 100 RBI over a full season.
        The question is if the offense can outscore the runs given up by the pitching staff. It is difficult to be excited about the Phillies acquiring 9-15 Ian Kennedy. However, the Padres scored only 61 runs in Kennedy’s 30 starts, so he is better than his record shows. In contrast, Mark Buehrle had best run support of 152 runs in 32 starts.
        This CBS Sports Phillies Depth Chart shows some of the strengths and weaknesses of the 2016 Phillies.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Correction: Should have written other 9 pitchers in Phillies rotation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. calmkate says:

    Hi Bruce, appreciate you visiting my blog … although I did play, coach and umpire netball in my earlier years I’m not really into sports – so sadly your posts seem like another language to me ….

    Liked by 1 person

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