Jorge Posada officially retires

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The Jorge Posada retirement press conference just went down at Yankee Stadium.  It was a packed house. Even more so than Andy Pettitte’s last year. In attendance were Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia and about a zillion others.

It was also pretty emotional, as Diana Munson, the widow of Thurman Munson, was on hand. She said that Posada brought her back to baseball again following the death of her husband and that she admired and loved the way he played the game. Which is, just, wow. Video of her comments can be seen here.

As for Jorge himself, he said “”I could never wear another uniform … I will forever be a Yankee.”  In this he is a True Yankee. Just like others who never wore another uniform. You know, like Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra.

Kidding!  Posada was an astounding player. One who, as Aaron noted, was massively underrated in his career. Guys like him are what made it hard to hate the Yankees even as their dominance taunted you into wanting to hate them. So good. So competitive. Seemed so decent.

Enjoy your retirement, Jorge.

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.