Category Archives: Baseball Blog

The Ups And Downs Of A Basebal Season

In the half century I’ve been following baseball, I’ve never ceased to be amazed by the ups and downs of a l-o-n- g baseball season. Through 81 games in the NBA, 16 in the NFL, nothing compares to the stretch of 162 games played over six months.

Some would say that’s exactly why I don’t follow baseball – the season is too long and the games are even longer. Well to each his own I guess, but let the naysayers be reminded that when you sit down for a 1:00 game in the NFL – that game takes longer to play than the average (under 3 hours now) ballgame.

And don’t even talk to me about about the last two minutes of a NBA game!

But we’re not talking about that. imageWe’re talking about the ups and downs of a baseball season and how that lends itself to continued fan interest over a season. Open a NFL season at 0-5 and you’re done – prepare for the draft and for ESPN solemnly admitting that it made a mistake in scheduling you for the 12th game of the season on Sunday night.

So what are these ups and downs we’ve witnessed so far at the halfway point in the 2016 season and what might be coming in the second half as baseball accelerates to the playoffs and an eventual World Series title……

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While Muhammad Ali’s connections to baseball are minimal, his connection to the world of sports and the world in general are epic.

As one who grew up and was transformed as a teen in the Sixties, news of his passing hits me hard. But finding this video (a clip of him throwing the first pitch) on Utube this morning uplifted my spirits and caused me to remember all of the reasons why he was – truly – The Greatest.




Change is a fact of life. We replace, tweak, amend, and create “new” things. With respect to Major League Baseball, any fan can easily list at least five or even ten ways the game has changed since they began to follow the sport. 

And we know that nearly all of the changes made in baseball have fallen under the heading of being gooimages (55)d “for the fans”. Getting rid of the “deadball”, the creation of the DH, lowering the pitching mound, expansion, the addition of Wild Card teams…….and the list goes on. But here’simages (56) the trouble……..Unlike our culture in general, baseball never looks back to re-analyze and re-consider the possibility that maybe things were better (for the game and fans at well) the way they were.

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In a few days, we’ll know the results of this year’s elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In a post a few weeks ago imageI “elected” Ken “Junior ” Griffey  unanimously and Mike Piazza  (left) to finally creep over the minimum 75% required for election. As with many others, I ignored all of the steroid tainted candidates. You can view all of the candidates on the ballot this year (here) as supplied by Baseball Reference.

Arguments will continue to prevail among baseball affectionados as to who belongs and who doesn’t meritimage membership in this exclusive club……..but honestly I don’t see the need to overthink anything. In fact, if you have to think about it then the player in question doesn’t bear election to the Hall of Fame……….it’s really that simple. So with that in mind, let’s take another look at this year’s ballot…………

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Of all the ingredients that General Managers consider before enacting a free agent signing, the imageafterthought always seems to be the “intangibles” associated with the player. Those little things that mean a lot over the course of a long season……..does he play loud music in the clubhouse…….is he always the last one to board the team bus………..does he have mental lapses in the field…….does he have a stable family life………what kind of car does he drive and how many cars does he own…….all of this comes into play, or should at least when you’re thinking of dropping $100 million on not just a ball player but a person as well. Which brings us to the not so curious case of  Yoenis Cespedes ……

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As the role of relievers continues to grow and gain prominence in team building, it’s only natural that MLBimage is taking a closer look at the sabermetrics of relief pitching. Presently, relievers can be credited with a save or charged with a blown save depending on what happens when they enter a game. Recently, we’ve also become familiar with the “hold” that is credited to a reliever who pitches effectively in the middle innings and holds the opposition at bay giving his team a opportunity to win the game. However, the hold is NOT a official statistic.  Blown saves as the words suggest are missed opportunities to protect a lead. However, the “save ” is a bit more complicated as seen here ………..

Rule 10.20 in the Official Rule Book states:
Credit imagea pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions:
(1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and
(2) He is not the winning pitcher; and
(3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions:
– (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or
– (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces; or
– (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings. No more than one save may be credited in each game.

A closer’s value (i.e. Salary) is currently determined by the number of saves he records weighed against his blown save count. ( Last years saves leaderboard looks like this  while the blown save leaders can be viewed here). But it’s the fact that we’re talking about $$$$ that is causing the problem with regards to revamping stats as they relate to relief pitchers……….

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In 2015, MLB saw the passage of more than 150 men who played the game, including two Hall imageof Famers in  Ernie Banks and Yogi Berra. A complete list  is provided by my go to source for anything baseball – imageBaseball Reference. Your memory will be jogged by some of the names that appear on the list as you recall their careers and contributions to the game. Here are a few that caught my attention…..

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The trade for Ardolis Chapman by the New York Yankees serves as a beacon that imagedemonstrates how teams are building their pitching staffs these days. It goes without saying that the Yankees now have the best backend bullpen in baseball with Chapman, Betances, and Andrew Miller. More than that though, Brian Cashman may silently be  making a statement about his starting staff too…….they suck and he doesn’t trust them at all. In fact. Cashman is not alone when it comes to modern day team building and he’s absolutely correct……..except for the upper crust………starting pitchers are overpaid, overvalued, and underworked……… 

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On the surface, it would appear to be the proverbial chicken and the egg question…….why are there not more women involved in Major League Baseball? download (22)Is it because it’s one of the last bastions of a “Men’s Club” and doors remain closed to women who want to pursue a career in baseball…..or is their lack of presence in the game due to the probability that women never even think of pursuing a career in baseball……..

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Note: Two days after I published this article, the Yankees traded for Ardolis Chapman giving up four inconsequential prospects. Though they are not saying it now, they could very well have a plan to make him a starting pitcher as the following goes on to argue……….

For a variety of reasons, including one of his own recent making, the career of Ardolis Chapman has download (33)been botched up since day one. The San Francisco Giants have a opportunity now to step in and create a win-win for both Chapman and themselves through a pairing of Chapman with one of the best pitching coaches (ever) in baseball – Dave Righetti.

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