Criticism of Joe Girardi has reached PalinFey levels of ridiculousness

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Don’t know what “PalinFey” is?  Read on, my friends, read on.

It’s always been strange to see the New York media go after Joe Girardi for use of actual information to inform his decisions. Things like scouting reports, statistics and stuff. You know, the things smart managers have always done. Except Girardi dared organize his information into a binder, so that apparently makes him weird.  Never mind that he has a World Series ring and has won the manager of the year award. He’s a crazy, pencil neck geek! Binderboy!

That line has now gone beyond self-parody thanks to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, who just loved the fact that Girardi got angry and argued a call yesterday, leading to his ejection.  Here’s Matthews’ lead-in:

For once, he wasn’t “G.I. Joe” or “Joey Looseleafs” or “Binder Boy,” the guy who is on autopilot in front of a reporter, and at the mercy of his splits, his spray charts and his heat maps in the privacy of the manager’s office.

For the five minutes or so that he shouted at, gestured at and lectured the umpires on the field at Comerica Park, culminated by a stage exit complete with waving arms and rolling eyeballs, he was a living, passionate, fire-breathing human being.

King Kaufman has coined a term called “PalinFey.” It refers to Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin, and it describes a parody that is essentially indistinguishable from the real thing. It sort of renders the parody superfluous, because you really can’t outdo the reality for pure silliness.

When it comes to Boston reporters describing the Red Sox disarray and New York reporters going after Girardi’s binder, I think we’ve reached a perfect state of PalinFey.

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.