Sunday, October 25, 2015

Play Ball!

Baseball is a funny game.  The just-completed playoffs were wildly entertaining, with day after day of great games.  Lots of close games, lots of lead changes, pitching duels, big ball, small ball, and everything in between.  Lots of triples, a particular favorite of mine.  And that guy Murphy, on the Mets, did he get hit by a cosmic ray or something?  Did he find a magic ring?  The games displayed another aspect of baseball, too, a less well known and less well loved aspect.  That would be the tweeking of the game by the powers that be.

Baseball is a business, and there are people in charge.  Those people have the authority to effect changes to the dimensionality, the physics and the progress of the game.  People like home runs?  Juice the ball so that it travels further when hit.  You can always deaden the ball later on if things get out of hand.  Want to help out the pitchers?  Raise the mound.  There are other things that can be done.

You could play around with the strike zone, for instance.  That seems to be happening in this post season. The umpires are calling the biggest strike zone that I've ever seen.  It's all easy to see these days.  Those who broadcast baseball now include a vast array of graphics on the screen, including a box depicting the strike zone and showing the exact location of the pitches.  In the last two weeks, with disturbing frequency, an umpire has called "strike," followed immediately by the box showing the pitch as outside by one or two times the diameter of a baseball.  The good hitters can see pitches very well, and they know where they were. Players are going crazy, but the umpires just ignore them.  That shit is either unforgivable or orders from management, my friends.  There are too many umpires involved for it to be either coincidental or accidental.

Why would anyone want to call a big strike zone?  It does help the pitchers.  It does speed up the game.  I find it interesting, but I don't find it to be a problem worth solving, even if I had any hope of solving it.  I'm content to wait to see what happens in the World Series next week.

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