Pirates President Frank Coonelly: "Losing stinks"

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Pirates team President Frank Coonelly sat down for his monthly web chat earlier today, and was asked by a reader how it felt to run “the losingest team in baseball.”  His response:

Given that we have many young readers of this chat, I will keep my
answer G-rated: It stinks. It’s embarrassing, painful and incredibly
aggravating. I never expected us to sit with just 44 wins on Sept. 1,
2010. We have more talent than that, and I expect us to play much better
during this final month.

Nothin’ personal against Coonelly, but I am going to guess that you could count the number of “young readers” surfing over to a Frank Coonelly live chat on one hand and still have enough fingers left over to pick your nose and pound out the opening drum riff to “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris on the desk at the same time.

Well, maybe I’m wrong. I mean, I still remember the days of my youth, when my brother and I used to camp outside of Jim Campbell’s house in Grosse Pointe, hoping to catch a glimpse of him — maybe snag an autograph — and, perchance, to hear him hold forth on what the future held for the Tigers.

Those executives are why we all fell in love with the game, I imagine.

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.