Want World Series Tickets? Just hate on Manny

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Los Angeles Times’ columnist Steve Lopez will have two sweet tickets on the third base line of Dodger Stadium if the boys in blue make it to the World Series. He can’t bear to use them, however, because he really, really hates Manny Ramirez. If you want them for free they’re yours.  At least if you can prove that you hate Manny just as much as Lopez does:

Maybe I’ll be in a more forgiving mood next year and return to the ballpark, I just don’t know. But I’m giving my World Series tickets this year to the person who writes my favorite 50-word sermon to Ramirez.

Go ahead, let him have it. I’m ticked off that I might have to miss the World Series because of him.  I’ll give you the tickets and they’re yours to use.

Based on the comments I’ve received in the past, I know there are a lot of folks around here who aren’t fans of Manny. All of you should enter this contest, because based on how played-out, half-assed and warmed over Lopez’s complaints about Ramirez are, I’m sure you could utterly blow his mind if you really set out to bring the noise.

Entries should be directed to the comments section here.  They must be received by noon Pacific time on Friday.  Good luck!

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.