Lawyer says that Jim Crane is no war profiteer. Not that it really helps.

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Look, I have no idea why Major League Baseball is dragging its feet on approving Jim Crane as the next owner of the Astros. Maybe it’s that “I don’t want to move to the American League” thing. Maybe it’s because of the long and rich history between Crane’s company and the EEOC. Maybe it’s because of problems with the deal’s financing.

And then, of course, there are those charges out there that Crane’s company engaged in war profiteering.  That one sounds pretty ugly. The optics, as they say, of that sort of thing are just horrible, what with baseball being the number one consumer of military aircraft flybys, patriotic songs and red, white and blue bunting and all of that.

But at least one person says that baseball should put its mind to rest on the matter:

A Beaumont attorney, who was involved in the war profiteering civil lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice against Houston businessman Jim Crane’s former company, Eagle Global Logistics, said Crane was not the target of the lawsuit … The lead attorney for the two whistleblowers involved in the case, Greg M. Dykeman, sent a letter to Crane Wednsday stating that Crane was not the target of the lawsuit.

“The purpose of my writing is to provide the following representation for the possible purpose of facilitating the sale of the Astros: at no time during this lawsuit and investigation was there ever any belief or evidence that you personally had any involvement with or were even aware of the scheme by the responsible employees. All indications were that this was an isolated incident and you had no knowledge of their actions,” Dykeman wrote in his letter … In an interview with FOX 26 Sports Dykeman said he wrote the letter because he is a fan of the Astros and owner Drayton McLane, wanted to help out with the sale of the franchise and that he believed he is in a position to state that Crane was not involved in war profiteering.

Look, that’s nice and all, but if you ever find yourself in a position where a lawyer has to make it clear in a letter that the really nasty stuff that went on at your company had nothing to do with you personally, you may have already lost the p.r. battle. It’s akin to having witness provide you with an alibi at your murder trial. Sure, it may get you off the hook, but it’s not gonna get you invited to any of the parties you used to attend back before you were charged.

Baseball likely doesn’t care about what happens officially. They just don’t want the general stink that accompanies the charges regardless of who is specifically to blame.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“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.