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.