Jose Valverde beat teammate Ramon Santiago in a local version of “Dancing with the Stars” up in Detroit. His secret: he’s kinda fat:
Although Valverde won, Santiago refused to accept that the Tigers closer was the better dancer. Santiago said Valverde’s secret weapon — the prancing paunch on his 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame — was the key.
“Valverde, when he got on stage everybody went crazy,” Santiago said. “When he moved his belly, it was a typical Valverde dance, so it’s why he win.”
Below is exclusive video of Valverde’s portion of the competition:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
In other news, Spring Training can’t get here a moment too soon, because one or two more of these kinds of posts and I’m just going to end up spending six hours a day watching old “What’s Happening!” episodes on You Tube all day. Not that that’s a bad thing.
“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.