BLSays: ..Baseball, Babies & Bathwater

    BaseballBathwater
    BobLee
    February11/ 2019

    BLSays logo

    Baseball, Babies & Bathwater

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    My annual Pitchers & Catchers Report column on Baseball. WAIT! Don’t touch that dial...

    For those of you who Hate Baseball because… DO NOT GO AWAY. There is incredible Life Advice and a whole host of clever bon mots interspersed among the Baseball crap.

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    AMUSING ANECDOTE:
    You all know I love watching MLB on MLB.tv. 2019 will be my 4th season… watching 150 games is my annual goal. It’s the best $120 I spend each year.

    I gave my bro-in-law Hunter The Helpful Hardware Man – a lifelong Cardinals fan – a subscription to 2019 MLB.tv. You know me and unique Christmas gifts.Hadji

    So I called the MLB.tv Help Desk.  Sure ‘nuff, I get Hadji in their Mumbai call center. You all know “Hadji in Mumbai” right?

    Bless Hadji’s heart, we played “2-handed solitaire w/ decks of 51” for three minutes, getting nowhere, as usual.

    “This ain’t working, Hadji.” … “No BobLee, not very well BobLee” … Hadji gets a nickel every time he mentions the caller’s name. “Goodbye Hadji” … “Goodbye BobLee, can we send you a Customer Service evaluation form, BobLee” … “Not a good idea, Hadji”. Hadji made $.20 and I got an Anecdote.

    I called back an hour later… got Rick in Secaucus and we’re all set to go.

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    LIFE LESSON:
    I am a proud member of THE #1 All Time Largest Marketing Demographic in American history – “Baby Boomers”… alas, we are dying off daily if not hourly. Hardly a month goes by that I’m not notified of a classmate or old friend’s passing.

    I keep my “dark blue funeral suit” in a To Go Bag by the back door.

    Most of us/them were avid fans of Mantle, Mays, Gibson, Aaron, Bench, Schmidt, Brett, Ryan etc etc …

    To MLB Marketing Gurus, dead / dying fans’ opinions don’t count …. Hard to argue with that logic.

    I want Baseball to stay relevant and “traditional” where it makes sense to do so. Hence… don’t be throwing babies out with the bathwater.

    The fate of “babies” in our society is in the news a lot lately. I best not go there on this platform.

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    BASEBALL CRAP:
    I’m a Baseball Lifer. As noted, I watch 150+ Cardinals games/yr via MLB.tv but rarely get to an MLB game in-person. I love all the things that I’m supposed to love about The Game of Baseball…. no clock, the geometric perfection of the field, the distinct smell of hot dog mustard and beer, et al.

    Game 7 / 1960 WS (Mazeroski HR) and Game 6 / 2011 WS (Freese HR) are IMO two Bestest ballgames ever… but 2017 WS Astros/LAD was REALLY GREAT too…

    BASEBALL better be looking down the road for upcoming marketing targets… be they Yuppies, Gen-Xers, Millennials (yuck!) or …… Baseball better NOT take a “you kids get off my lawn” attitude.Get Off

    The Get off My Lawn” grumps are a highly vocal bunch. They are pissed off about most of present day Life  including Baseball. They are really pissed off that nobody really cares that they are pissed off. Don’t be one of them.

    That doesn’t mean a Focus Group of Playstation nerds get to rewrite the RuleBook. It also doesn’t mean a Focus Group of grumpy old guys with bad prostates get to either. MLB should keep spitballing ideas and test’em in Winter Ball.

    The former players on MLB Network are REALLY smart guys especially John Smoltz, Ron Darling, Mark Derosa, Dan Plesac (former Wolfpacker, right TBK?), Harold Reynolds et al. Kevin Millar not so much but every Lauren Shehadicircus needs a clown. Their votes should count 5X each. NOTE:  Any DNC staffer can show MLB how to do that.

    Put Joe Torre in charge of Implementing Any Changes.

    Not sure what to do with Lauren Shehadi.  But Lauren sitting on a stool giggling brightens any day.

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    (A Few) PROPOSED RULE CHANGES:

    A Universal DH

    That means allowing a DH in The National League. The NL is, I think, the ONLY Baseball League on Earth without the DH. Even Korea has it!

    No one gets giddy about “a double switch” more than I do but… it’s time NL.

    Betcha don’t know… with current MLB pitching logic, a starting pitcher only goes maybe five innings, or 100 pitches or so. Currently an NL starting pitcher only gets to bat ONCE, TWICE at most on rare occasion.

    A starting pitcher not named Scherzer, Verlander or Kershaw going 7-8-9 innings is rarer than an MLB team without three interpreters.

    Non-starting pitchers NEVER get to bat. The last time that happened, everyone was wearing stirrup socks… and Twitter was something birds did.

    Put the DH in the NL and around the 3rd inning, a real batter comes to the plate instead of a pitcher flailing at three pitches like he is being attacked by wasps. That same “real batter” would also bat instead of the even more hapless relief pitchers. Ergo, NOT requiring a manager to burn a bench player for every pitcher at-bat.

    If you don’t understand the above, trust me. Joe Torre understands it.

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    Changing The Mound:

    Chatter now about either lowering the pitcher’s mound and/or moving it back an undetermined length.

    The last time the mound was tinkered with was 1969 after Bob Gibson had a 1.00 ERA. The physics of pitching from an elevated mound favors the pitcher, especially ones throwing 100 mph.

    A LOT of pitchers can throw around 100 mph now. Tinkering with mound elevation / distance gives a slight edge to batters. MLB has figured out that strike-outs are NOT as exciting as balls put in play… DUH.

    Hitting a 100 mph pitch from 60’6” is really really hard to do. Try counting a hummingbird’s wing flaps.

    I favor lowering the mound 6″ or so, but NOT moving it back YET.

    Pitch Clocks. Launch Angles, Outlaw Shift and other ideas are “Gimmicks”. If Gimmicks worked everyone would own a BowFlex and a ThighMaster.

    FREE AGENTS:
    There comes a point where just hearing the words “Harper” and “Machado” is like putting rocks in a blender and turning it to Puree. I reached that point at least a month ago. Aaarrrgghhh.

    The Big $$$ MLBers – any pro athlete – makes means nothing to me.  It’s all just Monopoly Money.

    Anyone who gets upset about player salaries needs to have Shingles for a month. That focuses one on a real problem.

    MBL is a Billion $$$ Business . The 700 or so MLBers are the best in the world at what they do. What Ty Cobb made is as irrelevant as what a Model T Ford costs in 1910.

    MLB owners ARE Rich Old White Guys. A lot of folks, even those NOT Lib/Dems, HATE Rich Old White Guys because… . I HATE some stuff that might be equally irrational. “Hitting my head on a cabinet door” has always been on my short list.

    If I was a Rich Old White Guy MLB Owner I would never give a contract longer than 5 years… 6 at the very most. Pay a proven Superstar $50M/year but not for longer than 5-6 years.

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    ANOTHER ITEM… re: Free Agents signings… ROWGs have always been owners BUT NOW the GMs are Ivy League MBAs and not “Baseball People”.   All decisions are based on “analytics”.   Think about THAT.

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    Take agents off of a commission basis and pay them a set “salary”. Contract negotiations would be done in time for lunch.

    I realized there IS a difference between $25M and $30M.  $5M… Right?

    But at what level of A LOT OF $$$ is one’s lifestyle different? To quote Ol’ Roy… how many golf balls does a man need?

    If I make $30M and you make $25M does my tacky mega-mansion have two more bathrooms and three more hot tubs than yours. Does my wife constantly remind your wife that we have more hot tubs than you do?

    Do players who grew up in poverty in Latin America measure “Happiness / Success” in hot tubs and gold chains? I didn’t… so I don’t know.
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    That’s enough for now.

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    2,000 MORE BobLeeSays… LINK

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    WARNING: BobLee’s recent SCARY POLITICAL TWEETS – LINK –

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    BobLee
    • Former96Heel Reply
      4 months ago

      I’m taking Game 6 1991 WS, for what it’s worth. Especially with Jack Buck sending everyone off ‘see you tomorrow night’
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      I still haven’t gotten back into following baseball closely, but with the swing to power, power, power, doesn’t it open the gate to a team built on defense, speed, durable pitching, and a shifty bullpen? Just like football having the wildcat trend a while back, the counter-answer is usually found in past history. Even if they could find the hurler who tosses just a bit faster, or the slugger larger than Judge, he’s gone for all but 5 teams as soon as his first opportunity arises.
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      I am curious how the 2 biggest FA’s go unsigned this late. Have there been legitimate offers, or does this stink of collusion again?
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      As always, happy to see CNR, the living Smithsonian.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 months ago

        One of MLB special gifts is there are SOOOO Many “Best Evers”.
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        IMO, and I defer to CNR, is that “trends” tend to be “coyotes & rabbits”. The solutions usually bring different sets of problems. Right now, salaries are based on “analytics” and favor POWER so learning “bat control” and “put ball in play” is not a valued skill worthy of Big $$$.
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        Re: FAs… as I note in my column… the ISSUE is 10-year deals. NONE of those have proven “the way too go”… Pujols, Cabrera, Cano, et al. Harper & Machado are getting Big $$$ annual salary offers ($30M+) but NOT for 8-10 years. I see both signing for 5-7 year deals at $35M per… THAT buys a lotta Hot Tubs and Rolexes.

    • Fayettewuf Reply
      4 months ago

      Yes, change in baseball bothers some people. But baseball has done nothing but change over history from the tighter wound balls, outlawing the spitter and the shineball, the distance to home plate to the rubber, the length of the season to name a few. Personally, I would prefer a shorter season so that the world series is actually played in warm weather. I think most people think things should not change from the way it was when they were about 18 years old.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 months ago

        The most common sense “changes” are the less likely to happen as they affect player $$$ and owner profits.

    • Fayettewuf Reply
      4 months ago

      I have mixed feelings about the DH. I kinda like the fact that NL ball is different from AL ball and that makes World Series more interesting; sort of like watching a stylish boxer versus a slugger. As for swinging for the fence every at bat, I don’t like that trend. I was pleasantly surprised and pulled harder for JD Martinez after hearing he flattened his swing. Maybe a new trend. Don’t like so much inter-league play. As for more fundamental and stronger defense, yes. But still remember the story of the damning scouting report by telegram long ago, Good field, No hit.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 months ago

        Changes in Baseball are “personal” to a lot of people. Alas, most of us for whom they ARE personal are in the “fading away” generation. I still grimace at “long pants”. A bit like playing the Old Hymns in church versus “a spirit band”. Which segment of the congregation do you / should you appeal to?

    • CNR Reply
      4 months ago

      “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.” Sage advice from the Sage of Elizabeth Avenue and St. Ambrose Parish, Lawdie Berra. St. Ambrose was an offshoot of St. James the Greater Parish. St. James was located across Manchester Avenue from St. Ambrose Parish lines.
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      The pastor of St. James, Rev. Patrick Joseph O’ Connor, was my Spiritual Director and Confessor from birth to twenty. He was a favorite of Yogi, Joe, and the other Italian kids from St. Ambrose.
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      Garo, Garo, Garo. BL, that was the fall I met Dan Devine at Tulane Stadium when he coached the Packers. “Who in the Hades are you!?” That was after you were with him and before ND. George Allen led the Redskins to the Super Bowl in LA. My friends at the game were former players or friends of Allen in Whittier, California during the early fifties. We were with the Bengals contingent on the fifty in perfect seats. Shula! Shula! Shula!
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      Coaching with the Redskins was my best buddy during the UK years, Ralph Hawkins from St. John’s Prep. Bobby Lewis broke Ralph’s scoring record.
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      The pass? Let’s say that Garo didn’t yell out, “I keek a touchdown.” Happened right in front of us and not funny at the time. Story in here about Bob Griese of Rex Mundi High in Evansville.
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      Baseball? All I care about is Japanese high school baseball. No DH. No pitch counts. Give me Spring Koshien and Summer Koshien and that is all I need. Little League rules the majors. Rally caps, pitch counts, right fielders who can’t hit the cut-off man or the plate. Hitters who swing at the old nickel curve in their attempt for glory with their uppercut strikeouts.
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      Players were not sent home because they couldn’t hit Bob Feller’s or Sandy Koufax’s or Warren Spahn’s fastball, it was because they couldn’t hit their breaking pitch whether slider or screwball.
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      Fear is the greatest detriment to a hitter. All have it at different levels. Fear came in with LL.
      Biggest kid on a team pitched and pitched hard. You hit the bullseye again with your description of the suits in the game. “But he has so much potential.”
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      We used to sit around and play around with the game. Baseball is the only team game of which the defense cannot score. Solution is not the DH. Solution is to have great defensive players at each defensive position and great hitters (not HR/strikeout guys) but hitters meaning they HIT the ball which sometimes cleared the fence. DH and DF is the answer. Strikeouts are the bane of the game.
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      An old friend of mine from St. Louis and always debated sac bunts vs strikeouts. At least the strikeout moved people up. He loved the HR. I believe it was because he couldn’t reach the center field bleachers 425 ft. at old Sportsman Park if he hit three fungoes proceeding fro

    • robedixon Reply
      4 months ago

      I can not remember the last time I was invited to a wedding, but of course as you note the funerals come faster by the day so who would have time for a wedding now anyway. They have become the social occasion of choice for us baby boomers. The problem with funerals is that they are unplanned and of course mess with any schedule you already have at the moment. So plans get moved or cancelled to make way for the funeral. Such is the way of getting older and cheating death another day. I got a couple of funeral outfits to fit the occasion and weather if outside which could mean coat or tie or just very well dressed without tie, always coat.
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      Funerals do have their pluses in that you get to see old friends again and sometimes laugh about looking forward to seeing you at the next one which means you are still alive of course. I have noted to many of us who see each other at funerals to please note I do attend now and to please attend mine when the time comes in numbers enough to make it respectable. I flat out refuse to do that funeral pre-planning beyond already having a hole to put me in since they have become harder to find and lots more expensive. I have asked those who are still alive and attend my funeral to poke me really hard with a sharp object to make sure I am dead, do not want to wake up 6 feet down you know.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 months ago

        Yogi said (or was it George Carlin?) – “If you don’t attend your friends’ funerals, don’t expect them to attend yours.”
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        The number of people attending your funeral will be determined by …… The Weather. … Think about that as you contemplate all manner of “good works”.
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        I am averaging 2-4 funerals/year back in Kinston. I try to make them all. If I lived in Greensboro / Charlotte, I likely would not. Ergo, add “how far” to “weather” as determining factors.
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        I attended a VERY nice funeral in Fayetteville last month. About 45 minutes and “just right” in every way… eulogies, hymns, etc. A fellow attendee that day informed me his was already scripted and would run 1:45. I asked if he was scheduling an Intermission and, if so, which half would he prefer I attend.
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        “Funeral Humor” is a delicate tightrope to walk. – 🙂

    • TarSpartan Reply
      4 months ago

      I’ll give you the DH in the NL when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Or something like that. 😉
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      In all seriousness, talking about relief pitchers batting brings to mind Rick Camp on July 4/5, 1985. Die hard Braves fans will get the reference.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 months ago

        With due respect to the excitement of a “double switch”… NOT having a DH is also a NL handicap in signing “sluggers” to long term contracts. Knowing they can transition into DH as they age is an advantage to ALers. Watching pitchers NOT named MadBum try to hit… is like watching Garo Yepremian throw a pass…. ONLY CNR will get that one!

    • Doug Reply
      4 months ago

      Sports franchise owners and corporate titans often announce they are reorganizing by streamlining operations and the workforce and taking the business in a new exciting direction because the old direction is in decline or not meeting expectations. Almost always the ones put in charge of reinventing the business with a new, fresh approach are the very same people who got them in trouble in the first place. Job #1 for the new management is to protect and preserve their own asses first and foremost. Longterm thinking for them is how do I stretch this out to retirement age so I can get the hell outta here with my pension and benefits intact.
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      The newest popular “flavor of the month” business mantra is “disrupt or die.” Even thriving businesses are tearing down what works. Baseball’s wealthy OWG fat cats ain’t about to make that move. You have little to worry about with MLB fiddling around too much with your game. Sleep well and enjoy the Brunswick Stew.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 months ago

        Baseball’s situation is a bit different. Yes, OWGs have always been the owners, but the GMs and other “suits” were “former players”. NOW all the FO suits are Ivy League MBAs who make decisions based on “metrics” rather than “eyeball optics”. That transition is not without its potholes. Not sure there is even one MLB GM these days who has ever “slud into 2nd with a stand-up double” or could “execute a drag bunt”.

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