The new ballpark dance is going on in Southern California. I’m guessing no new park is going to be built, but they gotta dance anyway.
- The Angels and Arte Moreno gotta act like they’ll move to Tustin, California (or someplace else) during their opt-out window of 2016-19 if Anaheim doesn’t cut them a break on ballpark improvements and development of nearby land;
- Anaheim has to act like they’ll let the Angels leave with no skin off their nose if they don’t like what they’re being offered;
- Tustin has to act like they won’t give anything of value to the Angels to entice them to move.
All that is happening now, according to the Los Angeles Times. Except of course Moreno probably doesn’t really want to move to Tustin. And Anaheim probably really doesn’t want them to move either. And Tustin probably would give them something of value to come. And everyone’s mind on the matter would change if someone else offered them huge incentives, be they political or financial, to change their minds.
Same old tired story. Eventually someone is going to give the Angels a gift in the form of land or tax breaks because that always happens. And as they do it, they’ll shout increasingly loudly about how it’s not really a handout.
“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.