Let’s face it! The game of baseball has changed over the years. And, dramatically, since the Astros last played in a World Series.
Most of us have watched baseball for a long time and there are several students of the game among us.
How many starters have been pulled before their time? Would Dierker or Anderson have pulled Rich Hill after four? Charlie Morton in the seventh? Would George Springer have been the leadoff hitter in Game 1 of the World Series?
Let’s be frank here. The game has changed. In-game calls are no longer just the call of one man. Now, there is a bevy (sometimes a clipboard) with all the latest stats of how a hitter hits when a specific pitcher throws a specific pitch under a specific moon with less than 30,000 people in the stands when the roof is open (or closed) and the temperature is over 61.7*. There are bench coaches with advice, special advisers to the GM with recommendations and a bastion of media demanding silliness of teams and managers.
This is not a defense or an apology for A.J. Hinch. Nor is it intended as a bashing for the Astros’ manager or even the stats or analytics. It is more a recognition of the state of the game today. In many respects, it’s a snapshot of our nation today where everyone has an opinion, doesn’t mind sharing it and expects you to heed it.
Today more than ever, general managers (and owners) are involved in those in-game decisions. Perhaps there’s not a phone line to the dugout, but it’s clear there are often directives or strong input a la the old days of George Steinbrenner. A manager can be fired today (and has been) for not following the analytics as much as he can for losing the clubhouse.
And, lest we believe analytics hasn’t changed the game, just direct your attention to Game 7 of the ALCS. The rimmed glass nerds had been giving coaches their insights on the Yankees for some time and it quite possibly not only affected the game, but changed the team appearing in the 2017 World Series.
No, the game has changed. It’s no longer a gut or a hunch. It’s a convoluted concoction of data, statistics, shifts, and lines and numbers. Every pitch. Every hitter. Every situation.
I’m not sure that Dierker, Anderson and Virdon could manage in today’s game.
The game is different. It has changed. It is no longer the game of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. This isn’t to harp on the game or lament the change.
It’s merely a recognition that A.J. Hinch and Dave Roberts are managing under different rules with different expectations. It’s no longer about just winning and losing. It’s about how you get there, the road map.
Game 5 will bring more pit stops, more detours, more mouth-to-the-floor decisions. Unfortunately — and fortunately — it’s 2017, not 1977. It’s not the game of our fathers, it’s the game of our children, a generation and era that functions in spans of 15 minutes and not hours.
Here are the questions for your Sunday starter…
- In your mind, how many of the decisions by Hinch are completely, totally Hinch decisions?
- What is the single, most egregious decision Hinch has made during the playoffs? During the World Series?
- Which pitchers should not see the field during the rest of the World Series?
- Other than pitchers, what change would you make for the next three games?
- Is Hinch still the guy in your mind going forward for the Astros?
- What would Larry Dierker do the rest of the way?
See ya tonight on the Game 5 Live Blog.