CHIPALATTA

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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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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO, and wakes up each morning to the tallest spot in the region, Pikes Peak. He is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 50 years. A native of another picturesque city, Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. Pastor Bosman came up with Chipalatta, and it has stuck.

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

  1. daveb7
    August 23, 2016

    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.

    Like

    • Becky⚾
      August 23, 2016

      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.

      Like

  2. vewill1
    August 23, 2016

    If Musgrove can battle through this and give 6 or 7 it will be a huge corner turned on maturity and progression.

    Like

    • Becky⚾
      August 23, 2016

      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.

      Like

      • Devin
        August 23, 2016

        I don’t want Strom to do anything to him. How does a guy with exceptional ability to locate suddenly lose that after working with a new coach a few weeks?

        Like

      • sandy
        August 23, 2016

        That’s a good question Devin. I noticed he’s lost velocity and his pitches are up.
        I’d rather send him back to Fresno and let their coach get him back on track.

        Like

      • daveb7
        August 23, 2016

        I’ve often wondered if the gun in Houston is a bit fast.

        Like

  3. Billy Castillo
    August 23, 2016

    Sipp gave up a run? Perish the though!

    Like

    • Kevin
      August 23, 2016

      And Peacock still looks like Um peacock.

      Like

  4. Tim
    August 23, 2016

    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.

    Like

  5. Becky⚾
    August 23, 2016

    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.

    Like

    • sandy
      August 23, 2016

      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.

      Like

  6. Becky⚾
    August 24, 2016

    It’s been waaay too quiet about McCullers arm…..

    Like

  7. Zanuda
    August 24, 2016

    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.

    Like

  8. 1oldpro
    August 24, 2016

    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.

    Like

    • Devin_
      August 24, 2016

      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

  9. Kevin
    August 24, 2016

    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

  10. Mr. Bill
    August 24, 2016

    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.

    Like

  11. Becky⚾
    August 24, 2016

    If Gattis is catching……he hits homeruns!! Good way to start the game fellas!!

    Like

  12. Kevin
    August 24, 2016

    We need a good nick name for Teoscar – Mr Bill!

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      August 24, 2016

      How about Te Dulce [i.e. sweet tea]?

      Like

      • Becky⚾
        August 24, 2016

        I like it!!!

        Like

    • Kevin
      August 24, 2016

      Nice like it

      Like

  13. Becky⚾
    August 24, 2016

    Welp…..time to go back to drawing board, if this is gonna be a winning Wednesday.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      August 24, 2016

      Are you saying this looks like a Devo Day?

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        August 24, 2016

        When a fastball comes along, you must whip it…

        whip it, whip it good!

        Like

    • Mr. Bill
      August 24, 2016

      And we pitch to Polanco why?

      Like

  14. Becky⚾
    August 24, 2016

    Uh oh…….Devon is having a not so Devon day.

    Like

  15. Becky⚾
    August 24, 2016

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

    Like

    • sandy
      August 24, 2016

      I believe you

      Like

    • Dan P
      August 24, 2016

      So is this a Devo day or a Levon day – I am getting my Elton John confused with my band with the weird hats…..

      Like

  16. Becky⚾
    August 24, 2016

    I’m holding my breath…..here comes Giles….. ((( G U L P ))) !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Billy Castillo
      August 24, 2016

      I dunno…I don’t get nervous with a guy who has a 0.50 ERA with 34 strikeouts in his last 18 innings.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        August 24, 2016

        Make that 36 in his last 19!

        Like

    • Mr. Bill
      August 24, 2016

      Kenny G. plays the sweetest melody! CHIN music!

      Liked by 2 people

  17. sandy
    August 24, 2016

    Done!

    Like

    • Becky⚾
      August 24, 2016

      Lord have mercy…..that was too close for me!!

      Like

  18. Becky⚾
    August 24, 2016

    *** W H E W ***!!!!!

    Like

  19. sandy
    August 24, 2016

    Wish they would move Hernandez up behind Correa in the lineup.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      August 24, 2016

      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

      • sandy
        August 24, 2016

        Looks good to me. The pitching though???

        Like

  20. Dan P
    August 24, 2016

    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.

    Like

  21. Kevin
    August 24, 2016

    Nice road trip, now go home , get some rest, eat a ton of Tex/ Mex, and get mean and nasty and sweep the Rays

    Liked by 1 person

  22. daveb7
    August 24, 2016

    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.

    Like

    • Tim
      August 24, 2016

      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

  23. 1oldpro
    August 24, 2016

    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

  24. vewill1
    August 24, 2016

    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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This entry was posted on August 22, 2016 by in Astros.
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