When I was a boy everyone was a Hall of Famer!


I’m thinking I need to come up with some award to bestow on columnists who play the “when I was a kid things were much better” card.  Maybe it should be the Golden Age Award or the Nostalgia Award or something, but whatever we call it, it should be given to those writers who use their perfect 20/20 hindsight to denigrate today’s game for not matching up to the game of their youth.

The latest recipient of it would be Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune who slams the 2010 All-Star Game this morning because there simply aren’t enough future Hall of Famers in it for his liking:

The games, however, aren’t
what they once were. They have become, rather, a collection of men paid
obscenely well to perform at the highest level. The players in Anaheim
on Tuesday don’t have the abundance of cachet found during the actual
golden age. This might explain the record-low TV ratings . . .
They play a fine game of
baseball, yes, but they are playing not in the golden age but the age of
gold, the era of wealth. Many wouldn’t have come close to an All-Star
game 40 years ago.

His summary of this state of affairs came earlier in the column when he said “to reiterate, less than 10 percent of the players on the combined
All-Star game rosters have proved worthy of the game’s greatest
individual honor,” meaning the Hall of Fame.

I haven’t looked at the numbers myself, but I recall Bill James once wrote that, roughly speaking, a little less than 10% of active players at any given time have gone on to be in the Hall of Fame.  In light of that I’m struggling to see what Poole’s problem — other than a general frustration with modernity — really is.

Poole aside, there have been people saying that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket since approximately five minutes after we first came down from the trees.  Amazing that it never actually gets there.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.