Ken Rosenthal: Myers-Hamels incident blown out of proportion

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Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reported that Cole Hamels and Brett Myers had a “tense confrontation” and “escalating situation” following last night’s game.
According to his account Myers said, “What are you doing here? I thought you quit” in response to Hamels’ previous quotes about wanting the season to be over and then Hamels “responded with an expletive.”
However, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com witnessed the incident from “maybe five feet away” and writes that he “thought Myers was joking” and “did not even consider writing about it.” Here’s more from Rosenthal:

Myers walked by Hamels’ locker as he left the clubhouse. The two are good friends and Myers is bit of a wise guy, the kind who always has something to say. He made his remark in passing, not in an in-your-face way.

Brown’s original report had Hamels being “guided away by a team official” before things got out of hand, but Rosenthal suggests that “Charlie Manuel was waiting to meet with Hamels in his office” and public-relations director Greg Casterioto “walked him there.”

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.