Thursday, January 29, 2015

By Glen McKee and Somebody Else

So, the witch is dead Bud Selig is finally done as commissioner of MLB, having made enough money to make Dick Cheney jealous during his run and doing the same for the team owners.  There’s a new guy as commissioner, and we can’t yet remember his name but we assume this is him:

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What we do know about New Commish is that he’s already putting forth some radical (for baseball) proposals: eliminating “the shift” and creating a pitch clock.  For once, we PCPers wanted to be ahead of or at least equal to the curve and give a definitive take on these two issues.

Keep the shift, go for it with the pitch clock and more – Glen McKee

Let me preface this by saying that I generally don’t like the shift.  It’s shifty (hee hee).  Let me qualify that by saying that I do enjoy seeing the shift when it results in David Ortiz grounding out to SS2B; I never get tired of seeing somebody with that level of sculpted facial hair look like a buffoon.
Seriously, look at his facial hair:

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If Ortiz was white, skinny, and riding a fixed-gear bicycle we’d be calling him a goddamn hipster. But he’s Peruvian or something, so we just call him a douchebag.  Anyway, I enjoy seeing him make outs.  Ortiz outs are the tiny marshmallows in my hot chocolate of Boston hate.
All that said, keep the shift.  I say that while hating it because it’s easy to counter.  All you have to do is bunt against it every time.  I know that douchebags like Ortiz are paid to hit HRs, not bunt, but ya know what?  A bunt single is better than an out, every single time.  Spend a few games bunting and getting on base all the time, and teams might just abandon the shift.  Let the players solve this problem.  Plus, if the league prohibited the shift you know that the hipster manager (Joe Maddon, of course) would get his bloomers in a twist and if that happened, MLB would have to respond since Maddon is so cool and making the Cubs relevant to real baseball fans again (and not just other hipsters).  Maybe I hate hipsters too much, but you get the point.  Keep the shift, let baseball figure out how to invalidate it.

When you talk pitch counts, well…

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Obviously, I love baseball.  I love this game even though I understand that if you don’t love it, it’s incredibly boring.  If you disagree with me, try watching a Padres/Astros game from last September all the way through and tell me you didn’t drift off a few dozen times.  If you don’t have a vested rooting interest, this game will put you to sleep.  Nothing puts you to sleep faster than a pitcher with two different pitches shaking off the catcher six times between every pitch.  It’s like the van full of housewives in front you at the In-N-Out taking five minutes to order.  Their menu isn’t complicated!  

Just order something!  I like the idea of speeding up this aspect of the game and making the pre-Madonna pitchers do their jobs like true Americans, with a minimal amount of laziness. 

I also understand that baseball is a game steeped in tradition and whatever else you might want to say to keep this aspect of the game, no matter how lame your argument is. I would concede that point if we can agree to something else which I think is of equal importance: limiting the throws to 1B or 2B between pitches.  One throw over to keep the runner close is fine.  Two throws: eh, OK, I see what you’re doing there.  Three throws is making me itch.  Four or more tosses and I want to beat that passive-aggressive pitcher with a rosin bag filled with nickels.  Two throws max between pitches.  

That’s it.  One to keep him close, two to keep him guessing, and then you have to throw a pitch.  This also includes the bluff move, but instead of giving the batter a ball if the pitcher bluffs more than twice, the baserunner gets to nut-punch the pitcher and is awarded the next base.  I know, baseball players are supposed to wear cups.  It’s a symbolic gesture.  If no other changes take place, I’d love to see the throws and fake throws to base curtailed.  Do that, new commish guy, and you have my attention and my limited loyalty.

Love the pitch clock; hate the shift – Nate Trop

I have to admit, the commissioner of any sport is not someone I think of all that often unless they are caught in a cover-up (Goodell), blatantly taking advantage of a racist being caught on tape being racist and finally getting rid of him (Silver), being all around very bad at your job (Bettman), or finally denying that you knew steroids were a problem in baseball…  Or being too old to understand how instant replay would positively impact baseball.  

Now that he is finally gone, I keep reading that Selig is the greatest commissioner in the history of American sports and while this isn’t a list that I could really contribute to but I got to thinking about it, he had 20 years of continuous labor peace which is more than most commissioners could say.  He did that by basically giving the players anything they wanted, and also turning his back to the steroid explosion of the 90s.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with this, the players are the stars of the show, and they are who the fans go to see.  The steroids issue is an issue because it does taint the history of “America’s pastime” and it is unfortunate to see guys like Barry Bonds and Arod in the history books ahead of names like Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

On the other hand, while all other sports were embracing technology and using instant replay to help keep the refs out of it (except the NFL… there is another flag on the play!) baseball lagged well behind.  I know all Angels fans lament the infamous AJ Piershi… err the alleged dropped ball call in the 2005 ALCS by Doug Eddings.  Things like that leave fans with the feeling of being screwed with their pants on.  A couple years ago we finally got replay on… only HR boundary calls.  Finally this last season we got a challenge system that brought the game to a total standstill.  Nothing beats watching Scioscia run out to the ump; make sure he is facing the dugout making small talk with the ump.  “Hey blue, how is your day?  I am just standing here for my allotted 30 seconds to see if Dino gives me the choke sign or grabs his junk.”  Seriously the sign for no challenge was the choke sign.

Anyway I may be nitpicking a bit.  I give Selig a pass; the sport is more popular than ever, the teams seem to have very good owners outside of maybe South Florida and previously LA.  With that said, on to the “improvements” that our new Commish is proposing.

I won’t spend much time on the pitch clock, I totally agree with what Glen said.  Games take forever and pitchers who labor and take forever on the mound make the game unwatchable.  Sitting through a ten minute ten pitch ab featuring CJ Wilson and Lefty McSlappyhitter nobody has ever heard of is the baseball equivalent to a root canal.  Anything to keep the game moving would be great.  That includes the stopping batters that step out between pitches, readjust their batting gloves, smell the bat and grab their willy.  I rarely watch a whole game now because of how slow it moves.

Moving on to the shift, I have to disagree.  Baseball is exciting when the defense makes a great play, players get a clutch hit or a pitcher gets a huge strikeout.  It is not exciting when Albert Pujols grounds out to the third infielder on the left side.  In fact the only people that it is exciting for are the stats boffins that get all hot and bothered…  “Ooh a pop up to short right field and the runner on first is doubled up, for those of you keeping track at home that goes as a 6-3 double play.”  Get it ‘because the SS doesn’t normally play in RF.  Come on!  I can totally appreciate the tactics of it and the risk involved but this totally ruins the fan experience of the big ground ball RBI single through the right side.  It isn’t about tradition, it is about excitement.
Love to hear what you think!

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