Changes to my favorite game may be on the way


Let me set the record straight and be very clear from the start.

I am a purist. Pure and simple. The older I get, the more certainI become of that fact. I like the game of baseball as it was intended.

I’ve lived with the designated hitter, I’ve watched the mound go up and down, I’ve even been okay with the new-fangled ball parks. But I prefer the Astrodome, old Comiskey and, yes, there’s something special about Wrigley Field and the original Green Monster. When a city (Arlington) gets three new baseball stadiums in one generation, something’s not quite right. If you’re a Texas Rangers’ fan, you’ll have seen the team in three different stadiums in a few years. Stadiums are becoming like candy wrappers or Eveready batteries. Disposable.

But I digress.

Recently, new commissioner Rob Manfred proposed some rules changes.  Seems baseball fans are getting older and the sport needs to keep up with the NFL and NBA lest it join other second-tier sports. And, with the contract with players nearing an end and the new CBA on the horizon, now is apparently the time for a — ummm — upgrade.

Although Manfred’s team and owners will be reviewing “anything and everything”, the current regeneration focus is on a few specific, speed-up areas such as:

  • Adding a 20-second pitch clock.
  • Limiting pitching changes.
  • Cutting back on defensive shifts.
  • Altering the strike zone.

Why limit shifts? It takes time to check your hitters, communicate to the players on the field and then get them in position. Moreover, it limits — or it is designed to limit — offense. You can even argue that with a regular defensive positioning that many hitters (including Jose Altuve, George Springer and others) would have a higher average without the shift. Fewer holes means fewer hits which means fewer runs and less excitement for fans.

Just five years ago, there were approximately 2,400 shifts by MLB teams. This year, teams are on pace for about 28,000 (Houston is probably responsible for half of those, no?).

Overall, the new rules would target the speed of the game. Apparently games now run about three hours, or 12 minutes longer than just ten years ago. Pitching changes, with specialists being utilized more now than before, and defensive shifts are specifically blamed.

I’m cool with playing the odds and I love the general strategy of baseball’s old-school managers, but I’m not a fan of the specialty stats that lead to crazy shifts, the so-called LOOGY for one batter, speed-up rules that force a pitcher to throw in 20 seconds, etc. Should pitchers — and hitters for that matter — be allowed to stall? No, but if a pitcher doesn’t start his motion in 20 seconds, should an umpire call a ball?

You have to wonder what players like Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb and Ted Williams would think if they saw the game today. Is it really necessary to make changes to America’s Pasttime or is it more important to teach players to play the game better. What about teaching players at a young age how to hit to all fields, how to bunt, how to hit a curve ball, how to pitch inside (without inciting riots).

In other words, why not teach young kids and other how to play the game the right way. Make Casey Stengel proud.

Teach them to hit to all fields, teach them to bunt for heaven’s sake and teach pitchers to pitch like Bob Gibson or Ferguson Jenkins. That is part of the game. That is the way the game was played 40 years ago. Those are the changes that Manfred should be pushing for. Not the rules that will change the game us 50-somethings (and older) have come to love.

Then again, I’m a purist. Part of a dying breed from the old fashioned, old school.

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187 comments on “Changes to my favorite game may be on the way

  1. I guess it’s too early to assume Musgrove for the rotation next year. He’s got movement, but location has not been great and the ML guys are putting the bat on the ball. He might need more time.

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    • He’ll be fine…..Brent Strom will iron out his pitches. Just a matter of getting used to MLB hitters. I’m not worried about him.

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    • A tough outing for Joe, but I think he’ll be ok. I doubt they send him back down, Strom will work with him……I’m not worried about him.

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  2. Well, the lucky penny had a nice run. We’re going to give it another day as we need the series win. Early start tomorrow so get some sleep, folks.

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  3. I on know what to say……do you folks really think Musgrove has been hurt by coming up to the big club??? I’ve never heard that there was a problem with Brent Strom.
    Every pitcher I’ve heard talk about him, praised him.
    Well…..at least we didn’t fall back any further…..the other team lost too.

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    • Can’t win every day but I still like this lineup.

      I’m not knocking Strom but this whole coaching staff and manager can be very predictable at times. Maybe it’s growing pains and they will improve in time.
      Guess we’ll see.

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  4. I noticed that in watching Sipp pitch he was throwing hard but not pitching. Remember there’s a not so subtle difference between a thrower and a pitcher. There’s almost no movement on his pitches at all. Offense looked to have taken the night off.

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  5. The problem with the Astros batters last night was Ivan Nova.
    The problem with Musgrove is not Strom, It’s Musgrove. Something is wrong. He was throwing 93-94 when he came up and that made his other pitches play better. Now he’s throwing 90. Something’s up.

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    • I just watched the “highlights” from last night. Of the hits in the first inning, five came off breaking pitches. None were sharp. One came off a fastball that didn’t have any zip and was elevated. He wasn’t locating anything. Velocity is largely irrelevant when your pitches are over the middle of the plate and thigh high.

      It could be the innings load is catching up to him and his arm is in a dead period. It’s also possible someone is tweaking. As I said above, and I didn’t mean to sound so critical of Strom, I wouldn’t change anything about Musgrove right now. Help him learn the opponents. Make changes to his delivery, grip, arm slot, etc. in the offseason and spring training.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That is exactly what I told the wife , either something is hurting , or he has dead arm right now. Maybe give him some rest. We need a lot better SP in 2017 to go anywhere. oh and 1B and catcher. Liking Bregman and Teoscar added to Tuve CC and Springer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Two starting pitchers looking to right the ship after a series of bad outings face off today in Pittsburgh. Let’s hope our struggling SP gets his stuff together before their struggling SP.

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  8. Dang auto correct…..Devo….NOT Devon. At any rate…..when this club has a one run lead……it rarely holds up. Look it up!😟😟

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    • So the line-up would be something like:

      Springer
      Bregman
      Altuve
      Correa
      Hernandez
      Gurriel
      Reed/Gonzales
      Castro/Gattis
      Kemp/Marisnick

      That could be good enough to make a run – IF we can get decent starting pitching the rest of the way, and IF we can beat both the Rangers and the Mariners.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Not a perfect day, but a good day for the Astros and a nice 5-2 road trip to wash the taste of that bad home stand out of everyone’s mouths.
    It would be nice if they could consistently put up 5 runs – they sure would win most of the time I think.

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  10. That was a big win that both teams wanted. I think the Bucks used 17 or 18 guys. 20 dingers and 50 RBI’s is going to be worth some money. I think Gattis is back next year and Castro is not. That’s not much of a prediction, but I still worry about the backstop business. We need a solid guy back there and we might end up with Gattis for 100 games.

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    • I’ve noticed over the past 2 weeks that Gattis has gotten much better with blocking balls in the dirt. There were several chances for WPs today and he prevented all of them. I am getting more and more comfortable with Gattis as the primary catcher next year, especially if he can continue to throw out around 50% of base stealers. The starting pitching still worries me this year, especially if LMJ doesn’t return, but I like the way our bullpen shapes up. Having multiple guys that can go 2+ innings at a time really lessens the load on guys like Gregerson and Harris.

      Oh, by the way, the magic penny can’t win every game. It can continue winning series for us so my son will keep it with him, in his sock, hoping this magical run can continue.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The Astros beat Garrett Cole today.
    Anybody notice that Dan Straily was the pitcher that beat the Rangers yesterday for his tenth win. Isn’t baseball a strange game? Dan Straily, 10-6 with a bad Cincy team. Dallas Keuchel, 8-12 with the Astros. And Straily did nothing for us. He was just not very good. It’s nuts, really!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have been blessed to be involved in baseball for over 35 years. From league ball, to travel teams, to high school, to pitching in for the legendary Bragg Stockton at UH, to coaching select travel teams, to owning BCT Baseball LLC with 7 select teams, to giving private lessons on pitching to 13- 17 year olds, to working as a free lance talent evaluator; I have loved every minute of my involvement with this great sport. Baseball is sacred, it is my passion and I love it.

    Take all of that and $3.25 and you get get a vente bold at Starbucks!

    There are three things that I have noticed with Musgrove (each pointed out earlier by a blogger on this sight) 1) fastball velocity is down 2) command is off 3) there is no sharp, late break on his offspeed offerings. In my experience with young pitchers (13-17) it is almost always a case of the pitcher trying to aim the ball vs. just pitching and trusting their arm. It is usually more prevalent as the pressure increases. If I can get them to trust their stuff and let it fly they usually pick up velocity, have better location and get through their offspeed stuff harder causing a later and more biting action. I don’t know if this is the case with Musgrove but it is one possible explanation. I would like to see him in some lower leverage relief appearances. Just let him go chunk the ball without all of the spotlights and pressure and see what happens. His stuff translates to mid- top of rotation. Strom is an awesome coach and will work him through it.

    Liked by 2 people

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