The Nationals’ rainout policy is stupid

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The Nats-Tigers game was rained out last night. It’ll be made up on Thursday at 4:05PM. If you held tickets to last night’s game you cannot, as fans of most other teams can and as the Nats used to allow fans to do in the past, use them as a rain checks for any future game. You have to use them on Thursday afternoon or lose ’em. Why? Adam Kilgore tells us:

In the past, the Nationals have allowed fans with individual tickets to rained-out games to exchange them for any future ticket, subject to availability, of equal or lesser price. Tuesday night, the Nationals announced “no exchanges or refunds will be issued” for tickets not included in season plans.

Asked for a response, the Nationals provided little. The Post e-mailed Nationals COO Andrew Feffer. The team replied with a statement from spokesperson reading, “Due to higher demand and less capacity, we’ve had to modify our ticket policy.”

Weak. On Opening Day the Nats drew 45,000+, which for these purposes let’s call a sellout. They’ve had only one home game since then where as many as 40,000 show up. Most home games have tens of thousands of unsold seats.  There is no reason whatsoever why people who held tickets to a Tuesday night game — which was probably gonna draw between 25,000-30,000 shouldn’t be allowed to exchange tickets for a future date.

But hey, the Nats got their money, so I guess it’s all good.

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.