Just the other day, during lunch at a barbecue joint, with a Cleveland Guardians-Chicago White Sox game playing on a 100-inch television behind the bar, my attorney admitted he didn’t cotton the black Chicago jersey.
“I loved when the Socks had the red element, Like in the ’30s and ’50s,” he said,
I said, “You mean like ‘Go-Go Socks’?”
Yes. The 1959 Go-Go Sox didn’t hit a ton, but they were just as timid and fearless as their short shortstop Luis Aparicio, who tore down the basepath.
I said, “When was the last time a team was told ‘go-go’?”
He said, “A long time.”
In 1988, Ricky Henderson and Vince Coleman stole more than 80 bases. He was the last person to reach such heights.
The go-go is long, long is gone.
In 2013, there were eight players who stole more than 40 bases. In 2016, there were five. There were three in 2019.
This year, a friend has a shot: John Bertie—a 32-year-old, part-time utility player for the Miami Marlins who played college ball at Bowling Green and once had a cup of coffee with the Clippers—leads the major leagues. Stole 34 hideouts.
In the age of modern analysis, Bertie’s skill is simply a bad metric: there are only so many outs in a game and the calculus says that the base of stealing is a huge risk; And there’s a lot of value in swinging for the fence and living with the strikeout.
Baseball is attempting to address this problem (stop-stops) and others (disappointingly long games, offense-suppressing changes, general lack of action, payroll cutting/tanking) with some new rules.
Exactly a week ago, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced changes to take effect next year: defensive innings would be banned; The pitchers would be mounted on a clock – they would have 15 seconds between pitches when the bases were empty and with 20 runners; And the bases will be enlarged by 15 to 18 inches square, reducing the distance between bases by 4.5 inches.
We’ll kick them one by one in a minute.
This year, the National League adopted the designated hitter and I, as a longtime NL fan, didn’t like it. I have to overcome this. The game I grew up with in the 1970s no longer exists.
Beginning in 1968, baseball responded to pitching dominance, a lack of scoring, and an increasingly indifferent fan base by implementing new rules: the pitching mound was lowered (1968), the strike zone shrank (1969) and the AL designated started using. Hitter (1973). These rocket-fueled changes from the establishment of free agency eventually made the game more appealing. And attendance began to climb.
In this century, with the advent of modern media and the consumption of entertainment in a radically different way, especially by young people, the problem of baseball’s relevance is pointed even more than it was 54 years ago.
Speeding up the pace of play, cutting strike outs and shortening the length of games will not solve the problem. But it is a start.
I like the pitch clock, which should reduce strikeouts, increase the number of balls in play, and cut down on play time. What not to like?
Last year the average length of a game was 3 hours 11 minutes. In 1942, the Ford Motor Company made three B-24 Liberator bombers every 3 hours, 11 minutes. I would love to see the bomber building.
Watching a pitcher stand behind a rubber for two minutes while a team of analysts calculates whether to fastball up or come back with a slide grind down is beyond ridiculous. You are a major league pitcher throwing to a major league catcher. Pretend you know your business. Give it a go, already.
I like the big grounds, which, like the pitch clock, have produced encouraging results in minor league tests. Will larger bases increase the number of stolen bases? I’m not too sure about it, but just seeing a guy take a big lead and even think about stealing would be a huge leap forward.
I have mixed feelings about banning shifts. The new rule states that two infielders must be positioned on either side of the second base and all four infielders must be within the outer limits of the infield (sort of).
There is a traditional aesthetic to it, as stated by Commissioner Rob Manfred.
My lawyer said, “It’s an odd rule to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”
But I hate shift. I think eliminating it will make shortstops great again. I think eliminating it would reduce the number of 200-pound second basemen with cast-iron gloves.
The change has been around since Cleveland’s Lou Boudreau cracked down on Ted Williams in 1946. Now the problem is that the team of analysts is calculating the new innings on every bat. These analysts know that anyone who isn’t walking, hitting a home run, or striking out is hitting the ball exactly where they, the analysts think, is going to hit it. Used to be.
Does it anyone love analysts?
Forget about the launch angle, if just for a second, and read the position, and handle the bat.
Crazy, I know. And get off my lawn.