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MLB lifers decry the state of the modern baseball: 'Unwatchable'

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Is this a case of "Old man yells at cloud" syndrome or do they have a point. Since Orioles GM Mike Elias would seem to be the exact guy Goose Gossage seems to be referring to, the question is, is the game changing for the better or worse?

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnist/bob-nightengale/2019/08/19/mlb-baseballs-old-timers-decry-state-modern-game/2047025001/?fbclid=IwAR05qwXPEilnleR1dNZxXflbkCasbZ46DdROG0w42SO3D6HgGb6uUlNVh5g

 

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Baseball is like pizza and sex...even when it's bad, it's good.

There's a place for analytics and I think anyone should want to have a deeper, better understanding of whatever they do no matter what their industry is.  

The part I agree with the old-timers is that it really has become home run derby every night and it's getting a little tiresome.  And I'm not just saying that because our favorite team happens to be on the cusp of obliterating the HR allowed record for a team.  It's not a well rounded game anymore, the speed element is almost all gone.  Hardly any base stealing.  It's home runs and strikeouts.  

And while I still watch as many games as I can, it's just...getting old.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up on watching baseball anytime soon.  But growing up, 20 homers in a season used to mean something and a home run was something kinda special.  I think I saw the other day that full time players now average 22 homers a year.  

In that article, Rose tries to draw a correlation between the new style of the game and attendance being down, I don't think one has to do with the other.  I've said before that the home viewing experience is now surpassing anything you can get at stadiums these days.  NFL attendance is down, too.  

That said, I'm not a huge fan of the home run derby we watch every night. 

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28 minutes ago, Tony-OH said:

Is this a case of "Old man yells at cloud" syndrome or do they have a point. Since Orioles GM Mike Elias would seem to be the exact guy Goose Gossage seems to be referring to, the question is, is the game changing for the better or worse?

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnist/bob-nightengale/2019/08/19/mlb-baseballs-old-timers-decry-state-modern-game/2047025001/?fbclid=IwAR05qwXPEilnleR1dNZxXflbkCasbZ46DdROG0w42SO3D6HgGb6uUlNVh5g

 

A lot of things have changed....this quote may represent the biggest change.  Only been recently in the history that it has been a well paid, full time around the year job. 

But these quotes from Gossage and others were pretty similar to what Ty Cobb and dead ball stars said when Babe Ruth came along...it will change, sure, but it will stay the same too.   Ted Williams too used to talk about how players like Frank Howard, Harmon Killebrew, etc were not real hitters because of their homer happiness. 

“I was the youngest player to ever throw a shutout in a World Series. Next thing I know, I am selling men’s clothes at Hamburgers.”

Jim Palmer

 

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It's a tough game to watch.....don't get me wrong, I'm sure if the O's were within striking distance of a playoff spot I would be glued to the TV every night. But I used to watch games from all over the league, now I can't watch a game unless the Orioles are playing. It really is beer league softball. Bet the guy next to you at the bar that the next better will walk, K or HR and you have a good shot at winning a drink. 

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12 minutes ago, OsFanSinceThe80s said:

I think a lot of the problems would be solved if MLB goes back to a neutral baseball that doesn't turn warning track pop flies into home runs. Home runs are being incentivized and you can't blame teams/players for taking advantage.  

Launch angle isn't going away, but I'm curious to see how Nunez or little Yaz profiles as a hitter if you make them start hitting baseballs from 2014. 

This.

Need to make fences deeper also. 

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17 minutes ago, OsFanSinceThe80s said:

I think a lot of the problems would be solved if MLB goes back to a neutral baseball that doesn't turn warning track pop flies into home runs. Home runs are being incentivized and you can't blame teams/players for taking advantage.  

Launch angle isn't going away, but I'm curious to see how Nunez or little Yaz profiles as a hitter if you make them start hitting baseballs from 2014. 

I agree...They could raise the mounds, they were lowered after 1968.  Or consider much stiffer penalties for hitters charging the mound -over time pitchers seem to have become much too worried about getting inside,...knowing that, hitters just dig in and reach out over the plate and if they then get pitched in or hit, then the hitters just act out. 

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For context this is what Gossage said

Quote

“I can’t watch these games anymore,’’ Gossage said. “It’s not baseball. It’s unwatchable. A lot of the strategy of the game, the beauty of the game, it’s all gone.

“It’s like a video game now. It’s home run derby with their (expletive) launch angle every night.’’

 

Quote

“They got it so an [expletive] coming off the street who doesn’t even know what a damn baseball is can manage our sport. It’s like rotisserie baseball. These [expletives] won their rotisserie leagues at Harvard and all of those [expletive] schools and now they’re general [expletive] managers.”

Billy Beane's "Moneyball" was published in 2003.  That was when the "spreadsheet guys" vs. the "experience guys" came into focus...16 years ago.   

As to the "strategy" of the game, there seems to be a lot more of it, one example being all the shifts Piniella is angry about.

Quote

“I managed 3,400 games in the big leagues, and never once did I put on a full shift on anybody. Not once. And I think I won a few games without having to shift.’’

 Then there's Pete Rose

Quote

Said Rose, who produced 4,256 hits and struck out 100 times only once in 24 seasons: “It’s home run derby every night, and if that’s what they want, that’s what they’re going to get. But they have to understand something ... Home runs are up. Strikeouts are up. But attendance is down. I didn’t go to Harvard or one of those Ivy League schools, but that’s not a good thing.’’

I didn't go to Harvard either, proud Terp instead.  That being said, if i were to list reasons why attendance is up, more HRs and Ks would be closer to the bottom than the top.   People seemed to enjoy the HR chase in 1998.

They do add a lot more statistics to the telecasts than before, such as launch angle.  Sitting in the ballpark, they post the speed gun for each pitch.  To me, it doesn't make the games unwatchable, but I wouldn't miss that if they were gone either.   
 

giphy.gif

 

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Craig Calcaterra sums up my opinion pretty well on the matter. In general, I agree that there are things that need to change, but Goose Gossage is a crank who has been giving these quotes for years.

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Home runs aren’t the root problem - strikeouts are.    Pitchers throw harder, so it’s harder to make contact.    So, they juice the baseball to avoid having teams averaging 3 runs a game.   That encourages players to swing for the fences, which leads to even more strikeouts.   

Until they figure out a way to reduce the average velocity of pitches and then start deadening the ball, baseball will continue trending this way.    

So yes, part of these guys’ complaints reeks of Grandpa yelling at a cloud.    They misunderstand why the game has changed.   But they’re not wrong about it being less appealing to watch.  

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6 minutes ago, TonySoprano said:

For context this is what Gossage said

 

Billy Beane's "Moneyball" was published in 2003.  That was when the "spreadsheet guys" vs. the "experience guys" came into focus...16 years ago.   

As to the "strategy" of the game, there seems to be a lot more of it, one example being all the shifts Piniella is angry about.

 Then there's Pete Rose

I didn't go to Harvard either, proud Terp instead.  That being said, if i were to list reasons why attendance is up, more HRs and Ks would be closer to the bottom than the top.   People seemed to enjoy the HR chase in 1998.

They do add a lot more statistics to the telecasts than before, such as launch angle.  Sitting in the ballpark, they post the speed gun for each pitch.  To me, it doesn't make the games unwatchable, but I wouldn't miss that if they were gone either.   
 

giphy.gif

 

"The way those clubs shift against Ted Williams, I can't understand how he can be so stupid not to accept the challenge to him and hit to left field." Source: The Sporting News (08/04/1948)

Ty Cobb

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3 minutes ago, MurphDogg said:

Craig Calcaterra sums up my opinion pretty we;ll on the matter. In general I agree that there are things that need to change, but Goose Gossage is a crank who has been giving these quotes for years.

Exactly. The fact Gossage is saying this makes me deeply want to go watch six hours of home run derby.  He's long been a parody of a crazy old man, shaking his fist at anyone under 65 and their newfangled ways, and wildly over-romanticizing everything from 50 years ago.

Baseball doesn't have a problem that they've changed too much - they've changed too little and let the game naturally run away to places that logically make sense but are not fun to watch.  Or at least relatively no fun to watch.  Baseball is best, maybe all sports are best, when there are stark differences in philosophy warring it out in different ways for supremacy.  Baseball was great when you had the Brewers hitting 200 homers and the Cardinals stealing 300 bases.  Today's MLB has reached a point where everyone agrees with the optimal strategies, and everyone is trying to do exactly the same thing: and it's almost all homers and strikeouts.  Athleticism and defense and baserunning probably mean less today than at any point in the sport's history.  And superballs have made stadium architecture, at least in the context of historical norms, obsolete.

Baseball needs to incentivize a diversity of strategies, which means doing what they hate: actively taking steps to fix things instead of letting everything run its course.

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12 minutes ago, Frobby said:

Home runs aren’t the root problem - strikeouts are.    Pitchers throw harder, so it’s harder to make contact.    So, they juice the baseball to avoid having teams averaging 3 runs a game.   That encourages players to swing for the fences, which leads to even more strikeouts.   

Until they figure out a way to reduce the average velocity of pitches and then start deadening the ball, baseball will continue trending this way.    

So yes, part of these guys’ complaints reeks of Grandpa yelling at a cloud.    They misunderstand why the game has changed.   But they’re not wrong about it being less appealing to watch.  

They could move the mound back, which they're apparently experimenting with in the Atlantic League (any early returns?  I've heard nothing).  Or they could make the bats bigger and heavier.  Bigger would lead to more contact, heavier would disincentivize maximum bat speed all the time and force many players into a more contact-oriented approach.

I'd do both, a little bit per season for a few years until the desired outcomes happen.  Baseball will probably do neither.

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47 minutes ago, Moose Milligan said:

Baseball is like pizza and sex...even when it's bad, it's good.

There's a place for analytics and I think anyone should want to have a deeper, better understanding of whatever they do no matter what their industry is.  

The part I agree with the old-timers is that it really has become home run derby every night and it's getting a little tiresome.  And I'm not just saying that because our favorite team happens to be on the cusp of obliterating the HR allowed record for a team.  It's not a well rounded game anymore, the speed element is almost all gone.  Hardly any base stealing.  It's home runs and strikeouts.  

And while I still watch as many games as I can, it's just...getting old.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up on watching baseball anytime soon.  But growing up, 20 homers in a season used to mean something and a home run was something kinda special.  I think I saw the other day that full time players now average 22 homers a year.  

In that article, Rose tries to draw a correlation between the new style of the game and attendance being down, I don't think one has to do with the other.  I've said before that the home viewing experience is now surpassing anything you can get at stadiums these days.  NFL attendance is down, too.  

That said, I'm not a huge fan of the home run derby we watch every night

I think the stats suggest that powerless players have basically disappeared from the game. It's different than the home run derby of the steroid era. The AB/HR of the league leaders are pretty much on par with the past, maybe a little better. This year that's 10.1 to 10.3. Mark McGuire's career AB/HR was 10.61. Bonds' AB/HR during his steroid-fueled binge ranged from 6.5 to 8.8. McGuire had one year at 8 and one below 8. To me, that home derby was more sickening than the current variety...which is good because the current variety is probably not going to go away.   

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22 minutes ago, Frobby said:

Home runs aren’t the root problem - strikeouts are.    Pitchers throw harder, so it’s harder to make contact.    So, they juice the baseball to avoid having teams averaging 3 runs a game.   That encourages players to swing for the fences, which leads to even more strikeouts.   

Until they figure out a way to reduce the average velocity of pitches and then start deadening the ball, baseball will continue trending this way.    

So yes, part of these guys’ complaints reeks of Grandpa yelling at a cloud.    They misunderstand why the game has changed.   But they’re not wrong about it being less appealing to watch.  

I would love to see a few years of three runs per game. That would definitely speed the game up. 

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