Friday, April 16, 2021

The problem with the Yankees is simple: They are not striking out enough

Fun fact: Over their last four outings, the mighty Yankees have hit into nine double plays. Nine. 

Fun reference: This season - over 11 games - the Royals have hit into two. Two. The miserable Rockies - (3-10 in the NL West) - have grounded into three. Three. 

Nine in four games. As Auric Goldfinger would say, Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me nine times, Jesus Christ, Mr. Bond, WTF? 

Nine times. We are a team of Tammy Duckworths.

(Note: Before you scream, God bless Tammy Duckworth. I only hope this team shows the fortitude worthy of her. But... admit it... she's slow to first.)  

Case in point: Giancarlo Stand-down. He has become a human infield practice. This year, seven out of his every ten batted balls - 65 percent - skip along the grass, usually into the glove of a well-placed infielder. 

Meanwhile, the Yankees have fanned 113 times this season, tied for the seventh in MLB. Frankly, considering the free swingers on this Titanic disappointment, we should be No. 1. Hey batting coaches, if you can turn, say, half those GIDPs into Ks, our offense could explode.  

So, next time Gary  takes a bases-loaded, called third strike, right down the cabbage patch, show him some love. No GIDP! 

So... deep breath - WTF is happening? Yesterday, barely three weeks into the firepit, the Yankees faced universal scorn from the NYC media - from Joel Sherman to Ken Davidoff? I half-expect Andrew Yang to start mocking them. Meanwhile, Boston is in first. 

Okay, let's accept the YES Network explanation: This is just April. Great teams often flounder in April. It's too early to use the Knick lens, or start thinking this is another 2016: An old, sloggy team collapses - to be sold off at the all-star break. 

WTF is happening?

Well, YES is probably right. Win three from Tampa this weekend, and all will be forgotten. 

But but BUT... there is a worst-case scenario, a humdinger - and it should terrify us.

What if it's the ball?

Last winter, MLB announced that it was changing the fundamental structure of its baseball, de-juicing it slightly, so it won't carry quite as far. The poohbahs pooh-poohed concerns from know-nothing, stupid fans - (and some scouts) - that this was foolhardy - tampering with the game at its molecular level. The owners assured us that the game won't change, just slightly improve. 

And listen: In the eyes of MLB, more ground balls ARE an improvement over strikeouts and walks, am I right? 

But could that micro-change affect the Yankees more than other teams? What if a slightly deader ball causes more hits into the ground? 

It's a question we will ask all season - and in ensuing ones, as MLB now uses the minor leagues to test rule changes. 

For example, the new extra innings rule, which puts a runner on second. Does it hurt the Yankees? I'd say, yeah. They field a power lineup, which doesn't bunt, and players who pull muscles when they sprint, and - yeah - I'd say in the 10th, a runner on second helps a team with faster players. 

This year, the minors are testing larger bases, which shorten the distance on the paths. Advantage: faster teams, which the Yankees probably will not be.  

If the ball has been deadened by - to use scientific terms -an eeny-meany smidgen speck - could it mean more DPs? Dunno. But when you tamper with the game, people will ask those questions. Nine DPs in four games. Come on, Yankees! Wise up and start striking out!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the dimwits @ MLB won't stop fucking up our game. I've heard talk about the distance from the pitching rubber to home plate being changed. They're going to change everything every year until the game resembles a back yard weekend afternoon affair for grade schoolers. And when they change the pitching rubber distance and the basepaths, I think it'll be high time for me to stop watching this nonsense.

A lineup full of right handed sluggers, who can't slug unless they get a lousy 90 mph fastball straight down the middle? Who knew that such a team would strike out and hit into a ton of double plays and be at the bottom of the league in hitting with runners in scoring position and runs scored?

Hey, let's look at the bright side. We've had some base runners. Obviously, you can't hit into a lot double plays unless there are base runners. The Brain has outdone himself this year.

The Hammer of God

DickAllen1964 said...

I think MLB has overlooked the most obvious improvement they could make to change the entertainment quality of the game: The Keg.

Put a keg in every dugout. Have a designated Kegboy. Bottomless cups. Think of how much that would be! It might even become as entertaining as hockey! Think of the fights! Putting a keg in every dugout would turn America’s stadiums into coliseums where teams could literally bash each other to death! Ticket prices would soar as fans would flock to see brains beaten in! Think how it would help the economy as Uber drivers would flock to ballparks to take besotted ball players home after every game! Players would make extra dough doing PSAs (Drink Responsibly). We might even stick around for post-game interviews!

Owners would rake in the money and no one would care about who won or silly things like ERA and OBP! Players careers wouldn’t end at 30! It would be a win-win all around!

The Keg. Better than moving the mound back a foot!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Amen, Hammer! All the changes have me on the brink. When does this stop being baseball? Pretty soon.

As for the Yanks...

I hate to be the voice of optimism, but I suspect the hitting will soon improve. All the double-plays, even the wretched clutch hitting—they are signs that guy are at least getting on base. Some key hits will (eventually) follow.

Question is, will they be enough to overcome all the wasted at-bats to be given to The Bruce, Ragnar, Gardy, and now Hicksie?

And what's worse is that what I thought the weak spot of this team was to start with—its jerryrigged pitching staff—is proving to be just that. The back 3 of our starting staff is not only awful but wheezing. It will burn out the bullpen in no time, and then we're in big trouble.

Phew, glad to get past that optimism stuff!

Anonymous said...


Several thoughts on the proposed changes...

1) Bigger Bases

I'm for it. Bigger players = bigger feet.

Give them a place to land. Not that it really matters but it helps slower players ore because the speed of the ball and the throw remain the same and the slower player is X amount closer to the next base.

They made the paint bigger in the NBA. It's just smart.


2) Moving The Pitcher's Mound Back.

Long term I don't think it matters.

Short term it will DESTROY the arms of pretty much every pitcher in baseball.

Imagine that you've been throwing a certain way to get a certain break on the ball at a certain spot and now that spot is a foot away from where it was.

The adjustment has failure and injury written all over it.

3) The Guy On Second To Start The 10th.

I actually like this. Throws to the plate, bunting. It's exciting.
They just need to move it to the 11th or 12th.

Hockey and soccer play a period of overtime before going to a shootout. MLB should play a couple of real extra innings before "wrapping it up".

On another subject...

Adam Ottovino imbedded Yankee.

From the NYP

"Ottavino, whose Yankees tenure ended on a sour note, already has allowed four earned runs and seven hits in 3²/₃ innings. In five appearances, Ottavino (1-1, 9.82 ERA) has allowed runs in three of those outings and has walked five and struck out three."

They traded him for cash. At the time I went, "Cash?" but now I see there was a greater plan at work.

Doug K.

el duque said...

Ottavino seemed to hit the wall two Septembers ago.

Feel sorry for the guy. When he was good, he was great. But agreed... good to see him with Boston.

Anonymous said...

Duque,

I feel sorry for him as well. I always liked the storefront pitching lab story. Devoted to his craft.

Doug K.

Carl J. Weitz said...

MLB is turning baseball from what was a great time-tested game with relatively few rule changes (DH) into a beer league softball enterprise. I don't think there was any groundswell by the public to make these ridiculous changes. Just an effort to make it more like a fast-paced arena football league sport to cater to a Ritalin addicted demographic. And to quicken the time of the game in order to fit in more commercials in a 2.5-3 hour time block.

Seven inning double-headers?
Man on second in extra innings?
Minimum 3 batters for pitchers?
Bigger bases?
Why?

Ok, here are a couple of more changes I hear are coming soon to be tested first in AAA games:

Large circular pizza-shaped bases instead of square so no corners to grab while trying to steal a base.

To inhibit teams from trying to defy the over shift by bunting, gravel will replace dirt on the first base line making reaching first base slower.

Someone replaced Ernie Banks' tombstone with another the reads "Let's play between 1 and 2"

JM said...

I've said it before, but MLB is creeping its way toward the insane, fan-chasing changes to the game you can see on Hank Azaria's "Brockmire" show. It's exaggerated for humor, sure, but even when I was watching it I was thinking it wasn't too far wrong in how the game would be completely fucked up in vain attempts to recapture a lost fan base.

I still love that show, and if you haven't seen it, you can find it on demand (maybe) or at Amazon Prime. The baseball future occurs in the last season, if you don't want to laugh your way through the first two.

Retired Stratman said...

I like the way you think, DickAllen.

Anonymous said...

JM,

Hulu has them. Also there's a Jim Brockmire Podcast that just launched. It's Azaria doing Brockmire and interviewing guests.

Carl,

We can agree to disagree on the other stuff but bigger bases is a good idea. When they initially set the size of the base a six foot tall person was considered large. Nothing wrong with giving the first baseman and the runner more room to put their foot down I really don't see how it "radically" changes the game.

The 7 inning double header, the guy on second, the three batter rule. Those change the nature of the game. But a bigger base? Nah.

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

I'm neutral on the bigger bases—though you watch, they're really doing it because it will make the ads they put on them more visible.

As for the other changes...NO. NONONONONONONO. And NO.

The biggest problem with the game today is that it's too slow. Besides the added commercials, the main reasons it is too slow are the interminable time it takes today's pitchers to pitch, combined with all the walks batters take between pitches. Speed that up, and the game will go much quicker.

The second biggest problem with the game today is that it's too dull. To deal with that, get back to basics. Teach batters to bunt and hit to the opposite field—again. Teach pitchers to pitch to contact—again. Shut down the weight rooms, and put in SERIOUS penalties for juicing.

You would have yourself a game again.

Yes, American life has changed. But it hasn't changed THAT much from the America of the 1970s and the 1990s that embraced the game as never before.

Time for another revival. And all it takes is common sense. (Aw, hell, we're fucked!)

el duque said...

To increase fan involvement:

Whenever a batter reaches a base, in order to stay there, he must fight the corresponding baseman.