Watch “Jungle Bird Man” run on the field at Nats park, get roughed up by security

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At the Mets-Nats game on Friday night an environmental activist named Andrew Dudley, who goes by the name Jungle Bird Man, ran onto the field at Nats park, ran the bases, pantomimed a home run and then was promptly taken down and arrested. You can read his about his whole back story and his motivations at the Washington Post today.

None of that interests me all that much. I mean, go environment, but I doubt Jungle Bird Man is going to further the cause all that much by trespassing and videobombing sporting events. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe Jungle Bird Man is the key to a verdant future. I guess we’ll see.

What does interest me is the takedown by security. Come for the fans demanding that he be tased, stay for the crazy-excessive force used by security against a guy who had his hands out in a “cuff me” motion representing complete surrender to authority:

Based on past comment threads around here, I’m sure many of you will cite Tom Gamboa, Monica Seles, 9/11 and the movies “Experiment in Terror” and “The Last Boy Scout” and claim that one can never be too careful. But I’m sorry, if security can’t appreciate that this guy is not a threat and can’t handle that guy without a choke-slam, something is pretty darn wrong.

Can anyone point to a moment where the guy threatened anyone on the field? Any point where he appeared to be dangerous or aggressive? Any point where he appeared to pose a risk to players, fans or security personnel? If you can identify it please let me know. If you can’t, and if you still think it was cool for the guy to be slammed to ground like that, you’re saying that all trespassing incidents justify the use of violent force.

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.