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Must-click link: “The Unfair One” — tracking the demise of the Big Overhand Curve


Pat Jordan wrote something fantastic. I know, shocking. I mean, he only writes something fantastic every single time he writes something and if you don’t read Pat Jordan stuff you’re basically living your life improperly. But know that he wrote something fantastic again.

It’s about the Big Overhand Curve. Or “The Unfair One,” as his minor league manager called way back in the late 50s. The crazy, nearly-unhittable pitch that made Sandy Koufax Sandy Koufax and which, for some reason, hardly anyone throws anymore. Adam Wainwright does. Clayton Kershaw does. Some others do. But it’s just not in most pitchers’ repertoire these days.

Jordan wanted to know why, so he talked to several pitching coaches, scouts, etc., down in spring training this year, asking them why no one throws it. The answers varied — it’s to hard to teach, the small strike zones make it hard to get over, the mound got lowered making the windup for it harder, the harder breaking things like sliders are preferred now — but the answers don’t matter nearly as much as the telling of the story. It’s fantastic prose but it’s even better education about pitching. How the pitch is thrown compared to sliders and cutters. Why it’s better, but why it can be worse if you do it wrong. He also add in several fantastic war stories. But they’re not the run-of-the-mill war stories. They are colorful and illustrative at the same time.

Just amazing baseball writing. I could read and re-read this article all day. Do yourself a favor and at least read it once.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

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I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.