San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ten Things I Hate About Baseball

I am a baseball fan so what I am about to write is not based upon a pathological hatred for the second greatest sport in the world.  (The greatest sport in the world is cycling.)  I watch a lot of baseball.  Almost all of the Rockies 162 games are televised and I usually sit down to watch at least the start of each game.  Then, as the innings begin to roll by, I find myself getting more and more angry.  Eventually I am forced to change the channel to Fox News in order to avoid blowing an emotional gasket.  As  you would suspect, switching to Fox News does not make things better. That forces me to shut the television off entirely and go outside for a while.  My wife thinks I should just start the evening off by sitting outside and talking with her but what does she know about my love/hate relationship with the game of baseball?  Today I would like to tell you about the ten things I most hate about baseball.
  1. The pace of play is stultifying.  More than anything else I am forced to change channels when some combination of hitter and pitcher slows the game down to the point that a pitch is only delivered every minute or so.  Pitchers like to play mind games with the hitters by making them wait in the batter's box.  Hitters like to play mind games with the pitchers by making them wait on the mound.  Both of them are behaving like children when they do that.  I just want to yell "Stop It, and respect the game you selfish jerks!" when I see that sort of shenanigans.  In what has proven to be a vain attempt to speed up the pace of play the rules were modified during the off season to require hitters to stay in the box and pitchers to throw a pitch, I believe, at least every 20 seconds.  Those rules were enforced during spring training, talked about the first couple weeks of the season and are now totally ignored by both players and umpires alike.  Baseball has a problem when even a hard core fan like me will stop watching because the game has slowed down to a snail's pace.
  2. Umpires setting up other than directly behind the plate.  An umpire can change the entire complexion of a game.  A strike call here, a ball call there and the entire at bat can change.  One at bat can impact the entire game.  It is vitally important that the umpires call balls and strikes correctly.  So what do most behind the plate umpires do?  They set up to one side or the other of the catcher and call the game from there.  Inevitably the fact that they are not directly behind the plate causes them to call pitches incorrectly.  When their line of eyesight is not directly connected to the pitcher's mound they cannot see if pitches on the corners were truly balls or strikes.  Umpires need to be required to set up immediately behind the plate, regardless of where the catcher positions himself.
  3. The constantly morphing strike zone.  Everyone readily admits that each umpire calls the game with a different strike zone.  Players are then expected to figure out how the umpire calls the game and adjust their own perceptions of the strike zone to accommodate that umpire.    That is utterly ridiculous, stupid and disrespectful of both the players and the game.  The strike zone is narrowly defined and its definition is not hard to comprehend.  If an umpire cannot call balls and strikes within the rules of the game he should replaced by a couple of lasers and a computer.  I am in favor of taking balls and strikes out of the hands of the umpire and putting it into the hands of the computer.  I hate the fact that umpires, who should be unseen, end up having a serious impact upon how the game plays out.
  4. The contact play.  The Rockies have run into more outs utilizing the contact play than any team in the history of the world.  For those of you who are not aware, the contact play says that a runner on third base must immediately break for home plate the moment the hitter makes contact with the ball, regardless of where the ball is hit.  How many times have I witnessed a hapless Rockie jogging homeward to be easily tagged out because the ball was hit sharply to the third baseman!  Get rid of the brainless contact play and let the runners judge for themselves if they believe they can get home safely.
  5. The neighborhood play.  MLB attempted to address this problem earlier this year by modifying the rules about a double play turn at second base.  The neighborhood play is what happens when either the second baseman or shortstop is just in the neighborhood of second base when making the turn and throwing to first in an attempt to complete a double play.  The umpire would call the runner out even though the fielder did not touch second base while holding the ball.  The neighborhood play was allowed because umpires also allowed the runner charging down the base path from first base to slide wildly outside the path, or even over the bag in some cases, in an attempt to take out the fielder making the turn.  The simple solution to the problem, which is being sporadically enforced this year, is to require the base runner to slide into the bag and nothing more.  Any runner that goes outside the base path or over the bag should be immediately ruled out and the player running to first should be called out as well, regardless of whether the ball arrives on time.  At the same time, the fielder should also be required to touch the bag before the out is called at second.
  6. Walks.  Walks are infuriating.  NO pitcher at the major league level should ever issue a walk, unless he is a knuckleball thrower. If a player cannot throw all of his pitches for strikes he should not be in the major leagues.  I understand why pitchers are afraid to throw strikes.  Umpires with absurdly small strike zones make it very difficult for them.  They are afraid that all strikes will turn into hits.  Tough.  That is how the game is played.  To give pitchers an incentive to throw strikes the punishment for a walk should be two bases instead of one.  Putting a hitter into scoring position for a walk should dramatically improve the ability of pitchers to throw strikes. Incidentally, that will also speed up the pace of play.
  7. Hit by a pitch.  Unless a player is standing in the strike zone when he is hit by a pitch, the punishment for hitting a batter with a pitch should be two bases instead of one.  Although I have never been hit by a pitch thrown at 90 mph, I can imagine that it must sting quite a bit.  There is no excuse for ever hitting a batter with a pitch, provided the pitcher is always throwing strikes and the hitter is not diving into the strike zone.  Punishing hitting a batter with a pitch with two bases should dramatically reduce the number of bruises in the league.
  8. Framing a pitch.  Framing a pitch is when the catcher receives a pitch and moves his mitt to make it appear to the umpire as if the ball was actually a strike when it wasn't.  Catchers are rated by their ability to frame a pitch and the allegedly good catchers are praised for their ability to do so.  Framing a pitch is perhaps the most overrated and downright stupid part of the game of baseball.  When a catcher frames a pitch he is admitting to the umpire that he knew it was not a strike and he is somehow convinced that he is able to persuade the umpire that it was a strike by moving his mitt to where a strike would have been thrown.  Do you really believe umpires are that stupid?  I can tell, from my very distorted perspective while watching on television, when a catcher knows that the pitch was a ball because he tries to frame it to appear to be a strike.  Do you honest believe the umpire can't see that?  Go ahead and keep framing pitches but don't expect me to believe that doing so makes a player a good catcher.  In my mind it just makes him stupid.
  9. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire.
  10. Machismo.  MLB players have the emotional constitutions of little children.  They are almost all extremely insecure and in need of constant positive feedback.  How do I know this?  Because of their machismo.  Bench clearing brawls are a part of baseball because the players lack the ability to control their emotions.  I have a simple solution to the problem.  Anyone who is involved in an on field fight should be banned from baseball for life.  Pitchers throw hissy fits when a player hits a homerun against them and then does the dreaded "bat flip."  The next time that player comes up the pitcher tries to bean him to teach him a lesson about "showing him up."  What a bunch of little girls they all are.  Hey, pitchers, guess what?  Even the worst of you get the hitters out the great majority of the time.  So stop you whining and play the game.  Hey, batters, even the best of you are out two thirds of the time.  So stop acting like you just saved the world.  Maybe next time you hit a homerun you should act like you plan on hitting another one some day and just make your way around the bases without announcing to the entire world that you believe the universe revolves around you.  Fellas, please just try to respect the game and each other.  I cringe every time I see machismo on the field.  Each event detracts from what is truly a beautiful game.  If you loved the game as much as some of us who do not play do you would never behave that way.

2 comments:

  1. Welshy,

    Let me offer some solutions to the problems, beyond what you have provided.

    Your suggestion of computerizing the home plate umpire can be expanded. Place a weight sensor in the batter's box; the ump triggers a timer when a batter steps out of the box. If the batter does not return to the box within 10 seconds he is out. A count-down timer is placed behind home plate which the pitcher can see; if the batter is slow getting into the box, the pitcher can start their delivery so as to time the ball to arrive right at 10 seconds in hopes that the batter is not set yet. Once a batter is in the box the pitcher has an additional 10 seconds to release the ball (15 seconds if there is a runner on base). If they do not release the ball within that time, the batter is awarded first base. As you suggested, balls and strikes are computerized, which addresses problems 2, 3 and 8.

    For problem 4, as long as there are stupid managers managing stupid players there is no solution.

    Problem 6: I would partially disagree with you here. If stupid managers want to stick with a pitcher who is constantly throwing the ball over the backstop, that is penalty enough. What I would suggest is awarding bases based on the number of strikes on the batter. If a batter is walked without a strike they are awarded three bases, if they have one strike they are awarded two bases, and if they have two strikes they are awarded one base. This rule would fairly well eliminate the idiotic "intentional walk".

    Problem 7: The easy solution to this problem could be rather entertaining. I agree that if a pitcher hits a batter, the batter should be awarded two bases. Additionally, the pitcher should immediately be placed in the batter's box and the "enforcer" for the team batting takes the mound and tries to hit the pitcher (now the batter). Since the pitcher has the advantage of knowing he is going to be thrown at, he is not allowed to move his feet; if he does he is ejected from the game. The enforcer is not counted against roster slots and is used only when a batter on his team is hit. A good enforcer should throw 100+ mph and be accurate enough hit the batter's front ankle >75% of the time. If a pitcher hits additional batters during the game, the enforcer gets additional throws each time. If the pitcher being thrown at must leave the game because of being injured by the enforcer, his team forfeits the game.

    Problem 10 can be solved by allowing an all-out brawl whenever a player is "dissed" by another player. After the fight finishes and the injured are carted off the field, video is reviewed by an impartial jury and the team of whoever is deemed at fault for causing the ruckus forfeits the game. If both teams are judged to be equally guilty, both are assigned a loss for the game.

    I would like to add one more thing I hate to your list: stupid fans. The last time I went to a game, some teenagers (with a parent) seated behind Mata (my hairy little wife) and me were throwing sunflower seeds at our heads. They continued until I decided to go ape and act like a rabid orangutan to scare them. It got them to stop but still sullied the experience considerably.

    Lancelot Link

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  2. Mr. Link:
    As usual you have come up with a fine list of superior recommendations on how to make baseball a more enjoyable sport to watch. I especially appreciate the "one base per ball" rule for how many bases are awarded for a walk. It would eliminate the cowardly and ridiculous intentional walk and definitely improve the game.
    I recall the game you referred to that you attended several years ago. If my memory serves me correctly it was "Rockies Cap" day and the first 10,000 fans received a free Rockies baseball cap. I remember that I could not find one large enough to cover the massive amount of grey matter in my noggin. I suspect you had the opposite problem....you could not find one small enough to cover your simian cranium.
    MW

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