A couple of weeks ago it was reported that the Mariners were considering forgoing naming a permanent replacement for the late Dave Niehaus in favor of using a revolving cast of part-time broadcasters to fill the void. Today they announced that they’ll do exactly that:
Randy Adamack, the Mariners’ vice president of communications, confirmed Wednesday that the club will employ at least five announcers with prior experience in the booth on a rotating basis to work primarily with Rick Rizzs on radio broadcasts for the upcoming season.
Rizzs, who worked alongside Niehaus for 25 years, will be the main play-by-play man on radio. His partners will be Ron Fairly, Ken Levine, Ken Wilson, Dave Valle and Dan Wilson, with more names possibly being added to that list, Adamack said.
This is the right move. Like I said before, whoever comes in, no matter how good a job they do, is going to be judged harshly compared to Niehaus. Anyone would. The bond between fans and a good everyday broadcaster is stronger than some might think. Give everyone some time.
“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.