Woke up this morning the best way that a man can
— Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones on Twitter a few minutes ago.
As a man who has been married for more than 15 years, I’m assuming that “the best way a man can” wake up is by being allowed to sleep until 8AM — which is late these days, pal — and by being allowed to drink a cup of coffee and read the paper without having anyone ask him to fix or clean anything up or, for God’s sake, be asked if “you’re going to spend all damn day in front of the computer again.”
On the off chance that he meant something, um, different, I have to ask: Ms. Andrea Bradley — Adam Jones’ mother: are you still out there reading the blogs for comments about your son? If so, do you approve of him making such lurid suggestions? I KNOW you raised him better than that . . .
“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.