Wanna buy B.J. Upton’s house?

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B.J. Upton’s Tampa home is for sale for $1.6 million.  Sounds like a nice joint.  Word is that the ventilation is great, provided by ceiling fans with baseball bats for blades which, in keeping with the owner’s habits, cut swiftly and silently into the humid night air:

Inside, the two-story residence boats a host of luxury appointments, including a wrought-iron staircase in the foyer, vaulted ceilings and wood flooring throughout. An entertainer’s dream, Upton’s home features a host of high-end amenities, including a custom wine cellar, a media room and a gourmet kitchen with top-tier appliances. The all-star pad rounds out with a resort-style pool with a spa, a poolside kitchen and a tiki wet bar.

Pretty nice as far as these things go, though since he’s obviously not lived in the thing for months it has that “real estate agent rented some furniture for showings and now it looks like a model home” feel that so many of these ballplayer houses do. I feel like Upton has a bit more style about him than what is shown here. At any rate, if you hired a decent decorator this could be a pretty happening place.

And note: the fact that Realtor.com puts Upton’s batting line in the listing and notes his season-long struggles is pretty awesome. Baseball fans over there.

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.