Who was the dude in the white shirt at the Braves-Nats game?

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The most remarkable thing about he Braves-Nats game last night was not
that Atlanta got to Stephen Strasburg a bit. It was not that the Nats’
defense melted down. It was not even that Tim Hudson quietly shut down
Washington.  It was the tall guy with the white polo shirt.

Anyone who watched the game on TV knows who I’m talking about. It
was a fan sitting in the front row behind home plate, just to the left
of the left-hand batter’s box.  Before most pitches by Strasburg he
would stand up with his arms out, or up or waving or whatever in an
attempt to distract him. After pitches by either pitcher — called
strikes by Strasburg and balls by Tim Hudson, mostly — he would stand
up with his hands on his head or his arms out in a “safe” motion or a
“c’mon, WTF?!” motion or some other random and distracting
gesticulation. He was quite a sight.

I wasn’t alone in noticing this: people all over Twitter were
commenting on it. One Nats fan told me that the Washington announcer
mentionined the guy, saying “You’re in a $300 seat.
Act like a man.”
By the seventh inning he cooled it
a bit as someone apparently complained and an usher warned him, but he
didn’t stop completely.

We all get annoyed at the random cell phone
wavers, but this guy was a different kettle of fish entirely. I went
from annoyed to strangely trasnfixed at his dedication and back to
annoyed. Now I’m mostly just curious. I want to know who this guy is and what motivated him.

My guess is
that, due to where those seats are, he’s someone rich, glamorous and
important like, say, the son of TV weekend weather guy. Maybe a non-equity
partner at mid-range law firm using the managing partner’s tickets.
Possibly a big-wheel latex salesman. As for motivation: I’m guessing he
was either interested in distracting Strasburg, attracting lady-folk or
breaking the record for the most Bud Lights consumed on a Monday night
(Atlanta division).

So, if you have any tips as to White Shirt Guy’s identity, please
pass them along to the HardballTalk i-Team (i.e. me) so I can try and
track him down for an interview or a feature story or something. I
promise I’ll be fair and let him tell his side of the story and
everything.

UPDATEI’m apparently not the only one who noticed.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.