Quarterly Queries

Clearly, this first real episode of It’s All Just One League Now has some of us confused, even a bit dizzy. For instance, just yesterday Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais looked a bit like Charley Brown while attempting to make a pitching change. Some prominent batters have yet to locate their heretofore effective stroke. Several well to do performers have strained this or that muscle or tendon, perhaps due to the shortened training period this Spring while accountants, agents, owners and their management drones and a committee of players dickered and bickered over spreading the wealth. Even seasoned television and other media pundits seem a little off in their games. Everybody seems to still be trying to warm up. The fans, especially, have been rattled. Consequently, our mail bin has been overstuffed by anxious baseball fans wanting to obtain answers. Well, we here at Baseball Anarchy remain fearless. Let’s take a few moments as the 2022 season completes its first quarter of the schedule, what the corporate types refer to as Q1, to try to get to the bottom of things, just like the Cincinnati Reds.

Our first query comes from Carrie Oakey of Milpitas, California . Why can’t they start using the robot umpires to call balls and strikes right away? More and more every day I see men in blue blowing calls. One hundred miles per hour may not beat every hitter but these aging umps can’t seem to handle it. Robots would at least be consistent. Carrie, we here at B.A. have always been skeptical of technology and we don’t like seeing human beings being replaced by artificial intelligence , unless perhaps there were some A.I. assistance in opening our prescription containers. But there may be a way here to keep the human element alive while simultaneously eliminating most of the time spent grousing over balls and strikes . The Pacific Coast League, a venerable AAA minor league, used the robot behind the plate in a real game and a human ump was back there at the same time. So there was no loss of a job and the robot ball and strike caller didn’t need a whisk broom or a bag of fresh baseballs. With the ensuing lack of argumentation, the time saved could free up another six or eight quick advertisements so the owners and TV people don’t have to go on welfare.]

Next up is William Keeler of Brooklyn, New York, who asks. “what do you think about this talk of eliminating defensive shifts starting next year?” Mr. Keeler, there is only one word for that sort of talk and that word is balderdash. Ted Williams, among others, said that hitting a pitched baseball is the most difficult task in sports, and right now I believe that Max Muncy and Joey Bart probably agree. After well over a hundred years the astute minds that run our favorite game began to catch on that reaching base was getting a little too easy and , slowly but surely, they figured out that if they figured out where batters were apt to send the ball and then placed a person with a glove in those spots, they could make it even more difficult to reach base. Having observed some cricket matches in our day, we were not perplexed. The next adjustment, as coaches are fond of saying, would be for batters to find new places to send the ball. That hasn’t caught on much yet, but we hope it will. It’s right in the Constitution that all defensive coaches have an inherent right to place their defenders wherever they want to.

Reginald Mariposa of Wittmann, Arizona had a thought provoking question: ” The point has been made that there are just not as many young people playing baseball these days. As much as I appreciate the recent infusion of players in the major leagues from all over the world, I’m worried that right here at home in the U.S.A. we are not attracting young players like we once did. What can be done?” Well, Reginald, there is probably no going back. It seems like every activity that used to belong to kids is now organized, funded, and hovered over by every kid’s nemesis: adults. It’s hard for old farts like myself to imagine video games or any other activity that doesn’t involve running, jumping, and throwing being any kind of competition at all for something like baseball but there it is. Without getting all sociologist, it’s just a different world, affluent in some ways and culturally deprived at the same time. There are warm spots of hope, though. Like Kelsie Whitmore. Kelsie Whitmore is the first woman to join a professional league that is affiliated with Major League Baseball. She plays with the Staten Island Ferry Hawks in the Atlantic League. She plays left field and pitches, so far as a reliever. At 5 feet and 7 inches tall and weighing 140 pounds she is no Shohei Ohtani but she is pretty good. Women have mostly been softball players but Kelsie has mostly played hardball. Fast pitch softball is plenty tough and Whitmore won a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton’s good program, but she prefers baseball. She made Team USA (women’s baseball) at age 14 and compiled a 1.35 earned run average in five seasons. Former major leaguer Nelson Figueroa is her pitching coach at Staten Island and he says that she is really good and Edgardo Alfonzo, another former MLB star who manages the Ferry Hawks, agrees. The San Diego native may not make it to MLB soon, but she is inspiring others of her gender to give it a try. That’s encouraging.

Lester Ostrowski of Salem, Oregon is also worried. “Home run totals are down. Why do they keep messing with things like that? Players say the balls are different and don’t carry as well.I wanted to see Pete Alonso hit 60, maybe Aaron Judge hit 80. Now what?” Lester, there are still impressive records out there waiting to be tallied. relax. Most hard hit balls off change ups, best launch angles by a backup infielder, most pitches seen by a rookie third baseman who bats left handed. Just get a better computer and pay more attention.

Let’s all hope Q2 makes more sense.

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