Hank Aaron on McGwire: "He's done everything he can do"

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Hank Aaron AP.jpgHank Aaron spoke about PEDs, apologies and Mark McGwire today:

“I think baseball is cleaning up its act a little bit, I really do. I’ve said this and I’ll say it
again, over and over again, this is the most forgiving country in the
world. If you come through and tell the truth, then you’re going to be
forgiven.

“The kid with the Yankees, Pettitte,
came out and it was a week of news and after that it was over. We all
make mistakes. If they ever did enhancing drugs, whatever they did,
they should come clean and be able to sleep at night.

“I
would have loved to have seen [McGwire] do it a long time ago, but since he
did it, I think that he himself will tell you right now he’s able to
sleep at night and he’s able to look at his teammates. He’s done everything that he can do.”

The line forms on the left for those wanting to tell Hank Aaron he’s wrong and that McGwire should still be forced to say even more about his PED use.  Anyone want to join it?  Rosenthal? Heyman? Haudricourt? Bryant? Madden?

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.