Clearing the Decks: BASEBALL edition!
I see you Tribe. I don’t know what to do with you though. You have a history as a tease.
But I see what you’re doing. Leading MLB in homeruns. Leading the AL in the all important OPS (On-base percentage plus Slugging) number; trailing only the Tigers in the old-fashioned Batting Average stat still favored by Kanick. The strikeouts I was concerned about aren’t a big problem so far, 15th in MLB there.
Mark Reynolds in particular has been a great surprise. The homers are great of course but he projects as 30 HR guy. It’s his work on the strikeouts that’s got my notice. He was a 200 K/yr guy from 2008-2011; a solid 33% SO percentage. So far this year his SO% is 23%. But more than the numbers, you can see that he’s shortening his swing with a two strike count; looking to protect the plate, to make contact. Much like Tristan Thompson and his free throws, the first step improvement is a willingness to change. Reynolds is showing us a lot of that so far.
On the pitching side, the starters began slowly. But they’ve looked better lately. Kazmir’s last performance reminded me of his early years in the Rays when he was a 10+ SO/9 all-star. Bauer, McAllister, Kluber are showing promise.
And then there’s Ubaldo. That’s three wins in three starts after last night. You have to go back to his Colorado days to find another such streak. (Naturally this accomplishment was performed in the same month he was traded to us.) Still, he was hitting 96 mph out of the stretch after 100 pitches thrown last night. You can’t look at that without having some optimism. Added bonus: if he wins five in a row, the whole team will wear stirrup socks for his starts.
I’ll even give Chris Perez an acknowledgement. He looks like he’s lost weight. He’s seems determined to throw first pitch strikes. He’s still and will always be a heart-attack closer, but it’s good to see him tending to his business and keeping his mouth shut.
There’s a lot to like with this Tribe team. I haven’t even mentioned Santana or the bullpen or Raburn. Swisher hasn’t caught fire but he looks to be doing the right things, feels inevitable that he’ll get hot.
You have to give the Indians’ front-office credit. They weren’t afraid to go out and add pieces. And they aren’t even forced to by a salary floor.
- Swisher, 32
- Raburn, 32
- Reynolds, 29
—– Banner/Lombardi would stop here. —–
- Stubbs, 28
- Aviles, 32
- Bourn, 30
- Kazmir, 29
- Myers, 32
- Giambi, 42.
Can you imagine if Shapiro/Antonetti adopted the Banner/Lombardi ‘No Signings over 28’ tack toward free agency? I can. Suffice it to say, Shapiro/Antonetti would not be enjoying the same slack.
What about the word ‘uniform’ is confusing?
Since this is a Clearing the Decks, I wish to voice my long-held pique at the decades-long problem of: why do sports uniforms stop at the knee? I got into this with Dambrot’s Akron Basketball team and their expressions of individuality with their shoe and sock selections. But you see it in pro-hoops, NFL… and it’s really apparent in baseball. (See jpg above.) It looks plain that the apparel makers call the shots.
I’ve got a frosty Bud Light waiting for the first coach who has the balls to say: Your uniform includes proper wearing of socks and shoes.
And dammit: baseball pants are not pajamas.
This all started here in Cleveland with George Hendrick and Ken Aspromonte was the manager who looked the other way. After that, a series of dick-less managers were afraid to enforce a discipline on Hendrick and it went from there.
I was ten years old in the Hendrick era: it was noticed and disliked at the time.
Honestly: Doesn’t this look better? (See jpg at right.)
An easy suggestion to fix baseball’s tedium.
There was a good piece written about the decline of baseball fandom. It’s down. The piece outlines the many reasons why and forecasts problems ahead.
To understand baseball’s decline is to appreciate its awkward relationship with the very thing it sells: competition.
Without digging into that piece of the problem again, I do have a thought that would make the game much more watch-able:
Expand. the. strike. zone.
It seems to me that the idea behind a tight strike zone is to promote more offense, more excitement, and thus attract the casual fan. But this strategy is a failure. Shrinking strike zones do not equal excitement. All it yields are more walks which is one of the more boring aspects of baseball and a main contributor to its tediousness.
Smaller strike zone gets bat off the shoulder, especially with two strikes. Bat off shoulder means either ball put into play or strikeouts.
Balls in play are why people watch baseball. Umpires looking at where balls cross the plate are not.
In the worst case, you get a strikeout, the game moves forward in a timely way.
MLB should incent batters to put the ball in play; punish those who ‘work the count.’
And get rid of the umps who think they’re the show. Yes… head’s up Joe West.
Media bitching at fans?
What the what? Withers?? You too?
I don’t get it.
On one hand, my twitter timeline (mainly the blogsters) was consistently bitching when Katie Witham would do in-game promos for the Rally Alley, Family Fun Days, or any overt marketing effort. Apparently the Indians took note because it’s been some time since we’ve seen Katie talking up what’s going on at Ontario and Carnegie. (Frankly, all her air time is down and I wonder if has to do with a vocal twitter-ocracy.) (Same goes for the Underwood pitch-count-mentioning that was so offensive to a couple guys; he doesn’t do it anymore. But yet it never bothered me and in fact is a relevant part of the game’s narrative.)
But so the same types who carp about Witham* trying to get fans to the stadium feel ok scolding the community for not trekking downtown more often?
It’s simply incongruous; would be better left alone,, especially from people who are paid to attend the games.
More odds and ends.
Grossi gets it right.
Tony Grossi came out with a fun, ‘do over draft’ piece a couple days ago and got some crap for it. Second-guessing was the charge leveled and I think Grossi’s perspective on post-draft analyses is more than fair:
I don’t buy the BS that a draft can’t be graded for three years. You can grade the immediate impact of a draft. You can revisit that grade each year, if you’d like. A draft can get better or worse over time. But as an analyst, I don’t have the luxury of time to wait three years. My job is to form an opinion on everything the Browns do. … [A]nybody can assess a draft in three years and state how they did.
DUI not supposed to ruin your life.
Here’s the story of what happened:
Bryant was pulled over because he made a left turn after failing to signal until his vehicle had come to a stop at a stop sign on campus.
I’ve been there. I bet many of you have been there too.
Failing to signal buys you a field sobriety test buys you night in jail and suspended license.
But should it also result in your employment termination, the ruin of your career?
I’m a little surprised that the license suspension in Oklahoma is only 30 days; it’s six months here in New Hampshire. But still, the idea should not be to ruin your life on a first time offense. (And please let’s not pretend that his conviction for distributing $20 of pot in a school zone has anything to do with this DUI.)
Let’s give the guy a chance to compete here for a non-available interior d-line position before losing him when he’s sent to the practice squad after auditioning for the rest of the league in pre-season.
Spare us the sanctimonious ‘example making’ bullshit.
–> Update: Pluto says he should be cut.
Catch the brain trust at Reboot.
I pitched in on Reboot’s Five Questions in Five Minutes piece yesterday. Know that I take the five minute stipulation seriously and you can see what happens when I don’t get to proof my thoughts. Always happy and flattered to be asked to share the platform with these guys:
- JEFF RICH is a writer for The Cleveland Fan, River Burn and can be found on Twitter at@JRichTCF
- TOM MOORE is the writer and editor of Red Right 88, contributing writer at The Cleveland Fan and can be found on Twitter at @Tom_RedRight88
- MIKE KRUPKA is a writer for Dawgs by Nature and contributes college scouting pieces to The OBR. He can be found on Twitter at @MikeKrupka
- BARRY MCBRIDE is the founder of The OBR and Digital Content Manager for Fox Sports Ohio. He can be found on Twitter @BarryMcBride
- CHRIS POKORNY is the executive editor and writer of Dawgs by Nature and can be found on Twitter at @DawgsByNature
And last, Rich Passan is out with a good take on the Browns QB non-competition.
* No, Withers has never bitched about Witham.