Kobe Bryant does study and research for A-Rod

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It was mentioned in that story about A-Rod’s knee procedure the other day that Kobe Bryant recommended the German doctor and the procedure to Rodriguez. Now there’s a bigger story about it, talking to Bryant:

“You can’t just try something just to try it,” Bryant said. “It has to make sense. It has to be something that you can back with research and study and things like that.”

And how did Bryant get information about the therapy — called Orthokine — being done in Duesseldorf?

“It’s my job to know these things,” Bryant said with a grin.

I don’t know why I find that so hilarious, but I do. I get this image of A-Rod at Bryant’s house, drinking a soda and watching MMA or something, while Bryant is in his study with a stack of medical books. Bryant comes out and lectures Rodriguez about taking care of himself and then hands him a plane ticket and the card of the doctor. Rodriguez says something like “uh, what?”  Bryant breathes deeply and firmly tells Rodriguez to go.  A-Rod says something like “Hey, U mad, bro?”  And he says it in such a way that you know he’d spell it like that if he were writing it.

OK, baseball really needs to start now.

UPDATE: If empty dumb humor about this is not good enough for you, go read Anna McDonald’s excellent report about the procedure A-Rod received over at IIATMS.

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.