Field of Dreams, the fantasy movie, had a mysterious voice saying, “If you build it – he will come.” “Shoeless” Joe Jackson would return with his talented friends to show fans the way his generation played baseball. Sorry, Joe ain’t coming back. Instead, over the past half-century we have been warned by Hall of Fame professionals at every level of the Game, how they feared it was falling into disrepair. Hitter-Ted Williams, Pitcher-Bob Feller, Manager-Earl Weaver, General Manager- Branch Rickey, and Owner-Bill Veeck, along with many others, wrote books, articles, and have been quoted about their concerns. College Baseball Hall of Fame coaches, Skip Bertman – LSU, and Ron Fraser – UofM, the teachers, taught us in print and by photo how to employ the proper techniques. What all these men brought to aspects of the Game they lived and loved, is still relevant today. Their warnings, and instructions, were not heeded. The dumbing-down continues. Like Elvis, common sense has left the building.
The solutions for many current problems, on and off the fields of Major League Baseball have been known for over 100 years. How MLB implements play, promotion, and presentation of our National Pastime is what it is – past time to reconsider and redirect their efforts to benefit, not damage, the Game’s rich history and future progress. There are no unknowns. NONE! Everything has been seen and done before.
As predicted by the professionals, questions have been raised about what is now happening. Find answers, with CHARTS, to indicate where we were YESTERDAY, are TODAY, and should be TOMORROW. Baseball’s numbers are what they are, facts. Facts are stubborn things.
There are a host of things to discuss, including the All-Star Game, Playoffs, World Series, Designated Hitter, and Saves, to name a few. Reviewed are the rules, assumptions, suppositions, and definitions dominating today’s Game. Let us not forget the years spent willfully, painfully, ignoring use of steroids.
What’s going on out there?
· MLB teams are immersed in an epidemic of strikeouts, which have increased for 11 consecutive years. At the current rate, 2017, will be the 12th straight year and the AL average per team will exceed 1300 for the first time.
· Players have forgotten, or never learned, some of the proper techniques of base running and fielding. Most baserunners run hard only when deemed necessary; are constantly looking for the ball as they’re running; take bad leads off the bases, especially 1st base; and repeatedly violate the unwritten Rules that have been accepted forever. Unwritten Rule #1: Don’t assume anything!
The infielders biggest fault is that they are always reaching out to tag runners, instead of taking the glove and ball directly to the base whenever possible and allowing the runners to tag themselves out. Again, 1st base is the biggest problem because of how the first-basemen position themselves when holding runners on, which makes it harder to take their gloves to the base on pick-offs from the pitcher. The main reason they sometimes succeed is that the runner’s leads are so bad.
· Batters evidently don’t practice the skills needed to defeat the drastic defensive infield shifts currently being employed. Managers have let bunting slowly, surely, go the way of the dodo bird, partly because their batters have never learned the how, when, and where, art of the bunt to make it a useful weapon.
· All involved have attached a completely foreign mind-set to all aspects of pitching. The suppositions and definitions that pervade pitching have succeeded in lowering expectations to levels that would never have been accepted by previous generations.
· The 44-year experiment of the Designated Hitter has failed to deliver the expected superior offensive production. Check the Stats. In addition, having half of the teams playing the same game using different Rules is, on its face, non-productive. That’s probably why no other leagues in any sport would ever entertain the idea. The DH should be discarded at the earliest possible moment.
· MLB is constantly complaining about the length of their games and has implemented several Rule changes to speed them up. Unfortunately, they have not allowed their umpires to strictly enforce all Rules currently on the books. Until they do, there can be no appreciable change in the pace of games.
· MLB also needs to take a hard look at how their games are televised. The dominant view is from behind the pitcher showing just the pitcher and catcher on defense, plus the batter and umpire. There are 7 more defensive fielders. How are they positioned to defend the current batter, and if there are runners on base, what are they doing on the pitch? The best view for a baseball game is from behind the plate, that’s why those tickets cost more and the score keeper, broadcast crews, other media, and owners watch from there. The TV viewer should be able to see everything they see – as it happens – not from replays.
The issues concerning those on the field of play can and should be addressed, from youth leagues on up through the Minor Leagues, prior to arriving in the Major Leagues. The evidence is in – they aren’t. The issues concerning those from the front office to the top of the management pyramid also have hard work ahead to restore confidence that the Game is headed in the right direction and present it in a way that attracts, not discourages, future fans.
Many have drawn their own conclusions about what could be described as the Dead Brain Era. Agree, or disagree. Fine! You may have your own questions, or better answers to ones being asked. Great! There’s an oft-repeated observation about baseball these days, “That’s just the way they do things now.” That “now” way is real, is wrong, and no one cares it’s wrong. Worse, no one cares that no one cares. If it matters to you, in these days of social media there are many ways the powers in charge can be influenced to change course. It won’t be easy, but please, let them know your opinions. They count!