As we speak, it is in the upper 70s in Milwaukee. At game time this afternoon it will be around 76 degrees. The skies are as clear as a bell. It should remain gorgeous throughout the evening. Indeed, the Milwaukee weather is expected to be spectacular though at least next Wednesday.
So naturally baseball has decreed that the retractable roof at Miller Park be closed for this afternoon’s deciding Game 5 between the Brewers and the Dbacks.
According to Tom Haudricourt, baseball says it must be so because they want conditions to be “consistent with the first four games” of the series. Because that’s what baseball is all about. Absolutely no weather, sunshine, breezes or variances of any kind. If God had expected baseball games to be played to the open air He wouldn’t have created domes. And no, those giant motors that retract the roof at Miller Park are not His creations. They were forged in the fires of Hades.
I’m sorry, but can anyone provide me with anything approaching a rational explanation here? MLB? If you have a better statement than “we want the conditions to be the same,” I’ll run it. Preferably one that would hold up if, say, the Brewers had played their road games someplace besides Arizona.
“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.