Pete Rose was on 97.5 in Philly yesterday and was asked if he suspects that he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame after he’s dead. His response:
“Well I think that would probably to be honest with you piss a lot of people off if that’s the way it was. I mean it’s just reminds me of this year. Okay all of a sudden Detroit is a retiring Sparky’s [Anderson] number. Well Sparky died several months ago. He was retired for 18 or 19 years. Why don’t you do it while he is around, so he can enjoy it? Those are the kind of things that drive you crazy.”
He mentioned Ron Santo in this regard too. And as far as Anderson and Santo go, he has a great point.
Big difference here, though: everyone loved Sparky Anderson and Ron Santo while most people think Pete Rose is somewhere between an untrustworthy jackwagon and a flaming horse’s arse. So there’s that.
And before you all go crazy on me, allow me to reiterate: I think Pete Rose should be banned from working in baseball, but I do think he should be in the Hall of Fame. Partially because his playing career was extraordinary and the Hall of Fame should honor such accomplishments without reference to moral or ethical considerations and partially because inducting him now would pretty much any need for anyone to interview him about anything ever again.
“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.