“Guys don’t want to come over here and people wonder why,” Indians closer Chris Perez told the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram after Saturday’s defeat of the Marlins, attended by just over 29,000 fans.
“Why doesn’t Carlos Beltran want to come over here? Well, because of that. That’s part of it. It doesn’t go unnoticed—trust us. That’s definitely a huge reason. … You had a choice of playing in St. Louis where you get 40,000 (fans) like Beltran chose to do, or you can come to Cleveland. … That’s just how it is.”
The first-place Tribe rank dead last in attendance in the major leagues, averaging only 15,518 per game. Things seem to be getting a little better, but not at as quickly as one would expect in a big sports town.
Perez’s comments were brash and he didn’t apologize for them Sunday, but he is attempting to atone for the harshness with a system on Twitter that will put a small dent in the club’s poor gate draw:
He asked a little personal trivia for the tickets to Sunday’s game: “What is my favorite movie?”
The answer: “Back To The Future.” The first three people to reply correctly got two tickets.
“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.