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2018 Baseball Thread (MLB and whatever)

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Spring Training games are going on, and baseball is resuming.  Let the thread start!

 

And on a personal note ... the Seattle Mariners have signed Ichiro Suzuki to a contract.  Again.  While it is the same person as batted leadoff with the Mariners for the 116-win season in 2001, in all honesty, it really is not the same Ichiro as hit .350 in that year.  Most people figure he'll get a week or two of playing opportunities and then will retire in a Mariners uniform.  Being a sentimentalist (and there's a vast amount of sentiment for sports in Seattle, though the moments of sports greatness here have been few and sparsely spread), if that's how it works out, I'm OK with that. 

 

EDIT: Famous Ichiro interview (NSFW!)  (Hermit, don't look at this!)

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I can understand, they are hell bent on making games shorter than an average sitcom episode while simultaneously trying to get the scoring in comparison to an NBA game. 

 

They also have talked about starting with a runner on base for extra innings. I saw 2 games that did that with 2017 World Baseball Classic, and what did I find was the result?  Two games that were thrilling and exciting for most of the 9 innings........that got completely ruined anti-climactically?  If you don't want 18 inning games, go by Japan rules, and call a tie after 12 innings. I crunched the numbers and on average games longer than 12 innings?  On average it happens to a team 3-4 times a year.....in a 162 games schedule.  So, deal with the tie, and figure out how to figure that with how you decide who makes postseason and whatnot.

 

As a long time ago pitcher in high school, I can say I am not crazy about time clock proposals,  at least with men on base.  I don't mind the mound visit limit, thanks to the Red Sox abusing that thing to hell and back the last few years  (one game I watched on TV, with them and Baltimore, and their catcher was going to the mound at least every other batter).  

 

Also, against requiring a certain amount of batters faced for pitchers (despite, I hate frequent pitcher changes).  If they do that, then some limit to allowing pinch hitters I feel would be required (to prevent unfair advantage for the hitting team).  Although, this is a current problem, in the first place because pitching staffs are too big, and the managers have said to hell with having an actual bench.

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As I understand it, the "spot the runner on 2nd in extra innings" rule is in place this year.  Thank Joe Torre, he's coming up with most of these "brilliant" ideas.  

 

Limiting pitching changes would be a big help, that's a good 5 minutes a change at least, I agree.  And as you say, teams are too pitcher-heavy these days because they are getting away from the idea of starters entirely and are just going to 2-3 inning short guys in a row.

 

But what baffles me most was them adding in the instant replay appeal rule when they were saying they wanted to shorten the game.  Great, you added 3-8 minute delays to every game trying to SHORTEN it???

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Actually that runner is for spring training only (unless events have changed in the last day or 2 on that).  Although Manfred is such an idiot, he'll likely think it a good idea for 2019.

 

But, yeah that replay thing, I've come to put up with it, if it doesn't last long.  But, a time limit needs to be put on it.  (after 2 minutes, it is either something conclusive or not, keep the original call, deal with it and move on).  And as I person who loves stolen bases, well EVERY stolen base attempt is going to be reviewed, just assume it.  Almost come to hate one of the things in the game that I love most because of that.  (on another note: those 1980s Cardinals would make the replay interesting.  Would you use that challenge on the 2nd inning steal, when you know you'll probably see another couple of steals that you wont be able to challenge in the next several innings?)

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The Angels thought they would get a two-way threat when the signed Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani. As Spring Training progresses, it looks clear to scouts that he's not currently capable of hitting a major league curveball. What's more, they aren't convinced he'll ever learn to. That leaves his pitching arm, where he's pitched an inning and a third this spring and gave up only one run in his only appearance.

 

The Angels spent a lot of money on Ohtani, so they'll give him every shot at playing for the big club. The plan may be to use him as a starting pitcher and to have him DH every so often on his days off. It could be that he ends up as a full-time pitcher, or that he spends some time in AAA trying to master his batting eye. In any case, it's an open question whether his on-field performance will justify the Angels' substantial investment.

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Yeah, I was kind of betting against him being a successful hitter.  Just too much investment, to do both at the same time on the MLB level.  Somewhat a miracle he could at the Japan league level

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1 hour ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

The Angels thought they would get a two-way threat when the signed Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani. As Spring Training progresses, it looks clear to scouts that he's not currently capable of hitting a major league curveball. What's more, they aren't convinced he'll ever learn to. That leaves his pitching arm, where he's pitched an inning and a third this spring and gave up only one run in his only appearance.

 

He has a hole in his swing?

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22 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Given that Japanese league pitchers tend to specialize in junk ball pitching, I'm surprised he can't hit an MLB bender

 

You got a point, though they tend to prefer forkball/split-fingers above all else. Curves seem to be more of 3rd/4th pitch.   (or 5th or 6th or 7th, given they do tend to have a crazy large repoitoire)  Note: Daisuke Matsuzaka (whether he really could go throw the gyro or not) and Yu Darvish came here with 7 pitch arsenals

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Of course, if Ohtani can just hit a little he could be of some valuable there, in effect providing an extra bench player bat (given the age of miniscule benches) as an occasional PH.

 

Brooks Kieschnick was used somewhat like that for a year  (used some in relief, while also get an occasional start at DH in interleague or LF if not, and some PH)

 

THough, I think Kieschnick is the only one to really do that since Babe Ruth, I believe (and Ruth only did that for a year or so before becoming a full-time hitter).  Wes Ferrell, known as the greatest HR hitting pitcher of all time (ironically he hit twice as many as brother Rick a HOF catcher) was used some in the OF one year in the 30s,  though I think he had a sore arm near the end of the year, so they tried him in September in the field to see if his bat would play everyday.  I think opinions of his OF defense wasn't too striking.  (If I remember around that time he had a period of 3 years where he hit around .280 with 18 HRs in I believe 380 ABs give or take.)

 

Hypothetically, with strategy, I would not put him in the lineup when he pitches even if he is a good hitter.   Be at a disadvantage in the later innings, when the other teams have a DH, and you're having to find a scrap piece of bad-hitting utility guy to stick in to PH for a pitcher's spot.

 

 

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Limiting pitching changes alters in-game strategy, so:  bad idea.  I hope they never adopt the "runner on 2nd in extras".  How does one even score that?  If that runner crosses the plate, which pitcher is charged with the run?  Nobody actually allowed the guy on base.  It's a stupid idea from jump.

 

I'm a huge minor league fan; they've had a 20-second pitch clock for several years now, to no ill effect.  I believe high-level independent leagues like the Atlantic League use it as well.  I doubt anybody would even notice except those few pitchers who take too long between pitches anyway.

 

But of course, there are two different problems here that people seem to conflate:  length of game and pace of play.  Further, there are two different customer bases involved:  those who attend live games, and the television audience.  I don't know anybody who goes to the ballpark and complains that the game's too long.  That's a TV thing which, ironically, is probably due to TV-mandated commercial breaks more than anything else.

 

Pace of play I believe is the real problem.  Increasingly, the results of an at-bat are three things that don't involve defenders at all:  strikeouts, walks, and home runs.  The "three true outcomes".  So the question becomes how to get more balls actually in play on the diamond, to get fielders involved, to get runners actually running.  I don't have an answer for that.

 

They can nibble around the edges, like requiring batters to stay in the box between pitches; eliminate walk-up music (I'd like to see that one); and for the attention span-deprived TV audience, run some commercials in little boxes during play to shorten breaks between innings.  I think they did some of that during the WS last year.  Somewhat annoying, but I think it would work.

 

I'm an old white guy, so this will sound fuddy-duddy, but baseball is a game that invites reflection and discussion during the game.  It's almost as much about the anticipation and examination of all the various potential outcomes of the next play, as it is about what does happen.  Today's audiences want their brains turned off and their eyes glued to spectacle at all times and those things are fundamentally at odds.   

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If you know the game, the pace is usually fine unless the pitcher is a time waster, the batter keeps stepping out, the coaches keep going to the mound, or there are instant replay rulings.  But not many people these days know baseball well enough to understand what is going on out on the field enough to keep interest.

 

The best thing you can do as a parent is take your kids to local minor league games and teach them to keep score.  They learn early to enjoy something longer and more slowly paced than a video game.

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2 hours ago, Armory said:

Limiting pitching changes alters in-game strategy, so:  bad idea.  I hope they never adopt the "runner on 2nd in extras".  How does one even score that?  If that runner crosses the plate, which pitcher is charged with the run?  Nobody actually allowed the guy on base.  It's a stupid idea from jump.

 

I'm a huge minor league fan; they've had a 20-second pitch clock for several years now, to no ill effect.  I believe high-level independent leagues like the Atlantic League use it as well.  I doubt anybody would even notice except those few pitchers who take too long between pitches anyway.

 

But of course, there are two different problems here that people seem to conflate:  length of game and pace of play.  Further, there are two different customer bases involved:  those who attend live games, and the television audience.  I don't know anybody who goes to the ballpark and complains that the game's too long.  That's a TV thing which, ironically, is probably due to TV-mandated commercial breaks more than anything else.

 

Pace of play I believe is the real problem.  Increasingly, the results of an at-bat are three things that don't involve defenders at all:  strikeouts, walks, and home runs.  The "three true outcomes".  So the question becomes how to get more balls actually in play on the diamond, to get fielders involved, to get runners actually running.  I don't have an answer for that.

 

They can nibble around the edges, like requiring batters to stay in the box between pitches; eliminate walk-up music (I'd like to see that one); and for the attention span-deprived TV audience, run some commercials in little boxes during play to shorten breaks between innings.  I think they did some of that during the WS last year.  Somewhat annoying, but I think it would work.

 

I'm an old white guy, so this will sound fuddy-duddy, but baseball is a game that invites reflection and discussion during the game.  It's almost as much about the anticipation and examination of all the various potential outcomes of the next play, as it is about what does happen.  Today's audiences want their brains turned off and their eyes glued to spectacle at all times and those things are fundamentally at odds.   

 

Interestingly, I've discussed with others before,  baseball is trying to attract the young people.  But, in a lot of ways, baseball is a sport that viewed is something that gets more appreciative with age.  Atl least for the "favorite sport".  You want suddenly like it with age, but it might go from 3rd sport to first sport or something.

 

With movies for example, I've become much less interested with less spectacle, and just want to a decent plot nowadays (change that has happened over 20 years or so, though I was still probably more interested in plot, but action could help overlook a below average plot, nowadays not really)

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2 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

If you know the game, the pace is usually fine unless the pitcher is a time waster, the batter keeps stepping out, the coaches keep going to the mound, or there are instant replay rulings.  But not many people these days know baseball well enough to understand what is going on out on the field enough to keep interest.

 

The best thing you can do as a parent is take your kids to local minor league games and teach them to keep score.  They learn early to enjoy something longer and more slowly paced than a video game.

 

I actually largely learned to keep score on my own.  Which led to me adopting a few weird symbols to signify more rare plays.  

 

 

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So I read the story about how the added runner in extra innings will be in place for MiLB this year.  Ugh.  Score-wise, placed there via an error that nobody made.  Nonsensical.

 

A pretty good breakdown of it here:

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/22466504/three-box-answers-baseball-extra-innings-issue

 

 

Quote

"The players and fans hated it," said Theo Fightmaster, GM of the Sonoma Stompers, who went 8-1 in extra innings. "Even with all our success, it was easily the most hated thing we've ever introduced into the league."

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Cross-posted from the soccer thread (of all things). I've read a couple of stories recently suggesting that Major League Baseball may be expanding in the next couple of years, with the most likely candidates being Portland and Montreal.

 

If this were to happen, I expect that they would put Montreal in the National League in Portland in the American, which would give each league 16 teams. This would probably lead to realignment, and if Major League Baseball follows the NFL model, we would have two Leagues with four divisions of four teams each. I've also seen suggestions that each league might go back to two divisions, East and West, with 8 teams in each. And I've seen it suggested that they may just abolish divisions altogether, and each league would just have 16 teams.

 

I've been trying to work out the geography in my head, as to which teams would go where, but it's still a little early in the day for that I suppose.

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Here's my big prediction for baseball: The New York Yankees are going to strike out more than any team in the history of baseball in 2018.  And probably, with injuries, they'll be lucky to see 60 home runs between both Judge and Stanton.

 

Quote

 I've read a couple of stories recently suggesting that Major League Baseball may be expanding in the next couple of years, with the most likely candidates being Portland and Montreal.

 

I'd love to see Montreal back in baseball, the Expos were a solid team and the town supported them.  Portland I'm not so certain they have the fan base for MLB.  I'd like to see it, because that's a hell of a lot closer to me than Seattle or San Francisco/Oakland.  But bracketed between two AL teams (but only one NL team), an NL team would be nice.  Plus I hate the designated hitter, Edgar Martinez notwithstanding.

 

Portland is more of a soccer and croissant sort of city than baseball and football though, I don't think attendance would be great.

 

Going back to 2 divisions would be a good plan I think, 8 in each league, but they won't do that because it reduces the rounds of playoffs.  With 16 teams per league they are much more likely to go to 4 divisions each, which only makes sense about 75 years ago when it was harder and slower to travel.

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I'm not so sure Montreal did support that team.  Anecdotal evidence, sure, but I attended a game there back in '96 I think it was.  The place was mostly empty.   On a side note, I got a batting practice ball signed by Henry Rodriguez.  I tried to get Pedro Martinez to sign it also but he was a diva.

 

Non-anecdotal:  I looked it up.  In 2001, average attendance didn't reach 8000 per game.  It was only slightly better in 2002, barely topping 10k.  My Triple-A Indianapolis Indians draw that many (just over 9k per game in 2017). 

 

Portland just lost a Triple-A team, the Beavers, who'd been there since 1903.  The franchise moved to El Paso and became the Chihuahuas.  I don't think Portland would or could support an MLB franchise at all. 

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5 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Here's my big prediction for baseball: The New York Yankees are going to strike out more than any team in the history of baseball in 2018.  And probably, with injuries, they'll be lucky to see 60 home runs between both Judge and Stanton.

 

 

I'd love to see Montreal back in baseball, the Expos were a solid team and the town supported them.  Portland I'm not so certain they have the fan base for MLB.  I'd like to see it, because that's a hell of a lot closer to me than Seattle or San Francisco/Oakland.  But bracketed between two AL teams (but only one NL team), an NL team would be nice.  Plus I hate the designated hitter, Edgar Martinez notwithstanding.

 

Portland is more of a soccer and croissant sort of city than baseball and football though, I don't think attendance would be great.

 

Going back to 2 divisions would be a good plan I think, 8 in each league, but they won't do that because it reduces the rounds of playoffs.  With 16 teams per league they are much more likely to go to 4 divisions each, which only makes sense about 75 years ago when it was harder and slower to travel.

 

Well, the town of Montreal supported them through 1994 anyway.  (who to blame is complicated, and the strike that year, and Jeffrey Loria should get a lot, if not most of the blame, but how things went the last 7-8 years there, makes me leery of the idea of trusting the city with a team once the shiny wears off,  we got enough issues with the Marlins).  

 

Edit:  Portland, don't see that working,  it'd likely leave us with 2 teams splitting the current Mariner fan base.  Don't believe either team could survive off that.

 

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Of course, with the Yankees, my dad is a fan and says that about the Ks.  Interestingly, my dad thinks more of Sanchez than either Judge or Stanton.  Stanton seems likely to DH quite a bit (Gardner-Hicks-Judge is an excellent defensive outfield, so DHing Stanton at least 60 games would only make sense and hopefully reduce his injury chances).  Judge, depends on what version shows up.  First half 2017, or second half/2016 call up.

 

Big thing for the Yankees, is if the duct tape on the starting rotation holds up.

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