Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More top 25

As we wait for pitchers and catchers to start reporting, we move on to the rest of the top 25 list.

I passed on voting for Tommy John surgery, because, as JP said - it ain't exactly a magic recovery pill. If a procedure can elicit a profanity when you read that a pitcher on your team is getting it, it's not not a miracle cure yet. Yes, it's made possible many careers that would have come to a screeching halt 30 years ago. I don't dispute that it's been important. But it's hyperbole to claim that "everybody" gets it, it adds 10 mph to everybody's fastball, and it's no big deal.

I voted for the bullpen specialization because that has totally changed the way the game is played on and off the field. On the field is obvious - everybody needs his role explained to him, starters don't complete games anymore, a manager expects to have a specialist to pitch against left handed right fielders with a 3 in their uniform numbers, etc. Off the field, it's escalated the demand for and the salaries of all those types of players. $3 or $4 mil a year is nearly the norm for a 7th inning pitcher.

I decided not to vote for steroids because of the way ESPN phrased it, which essentially boiled down to "the use of x led to testing for the use of x." Eh. Obviously the offensive explosion has changed statistics and records. A whole generation of players needs to be evaluated under the cloud of steroids...I don't know, maybe it is a top ten.

The influx of Latin American players has been huge. As it says, 25% of players are Latino including some of the most marketable superstars. That percentage is only going up. Latino players don't necessarily change how the game is played between the foul lines, but they've given us many more great players to spread around. I didn't vote for the Asian influx because that really hasn't had the same impact yet. Would the Mariners have found a player like Ichiro if he had stayed in Japan? Maybe not. But as long as you feel comfortable trying to list all the impact players from a region (which you do with the Far East and you certainly don't with Latin America), it hasn't made enough of a dent to be a top development. But check back in 25 years, I think we'll be talking about the Asian players as we now do the Latin players. Hell, Bobby Valentine beleives the Majors and the Japanese Leagues will practically be integrated by then. I do remind you, however, that this is a man who once got ejected from a game and then returned to the dugout with funny glasses and a Groucho Marx mustache.

I voted for the explosion of retro ballparks because there's no denying the impact it's had. Home run totals have gone up in part because of the bandboxes built across baseball. Teams saw what Baltimore did and in turn threatened their own cities for a park just like Camden Yards. The ballpark became a more intimate setting (ostensibly) and a better baseball experience (ostensibly).

Ok, I've actually grown a bit disillusioned with all this retro park stuff. A few reasons:

1. These parks are built with these huge concourses packed with "family friendly" entertainment and lots of food options. This is great if you want to come to the park, watch a few innings of a baseball game and then have something else to do when the game gets boring. Hey, I have an idea - why don't we cut the game to 7 innings and provide 2 outs per half inning? And let's give the baserunners jet packs! That'll make things really zippy and exciting!!!
It's a ballpark. It's designed for viewing a baseball game, all 9 innings of it, with extra innings if you're lucky. Some of these additions are great (like clean bathrooms), but some are demeaning to the real baseball fan who doesn't need 32 game centers and 64 types of food stations to enjoy a day at the park.

2. Have you sat in the upper deck at Citizens Bank Ballpark? It feels like you're watching the game from the damn Poconos. Not exactly close to the action. In fact, if memory serves, I think it might be worse than the worst seats at the Vet. Maybe they're comparable. Either way, some of these teams are building stadiums nearly as cavernous as the old parks and claiming that the new ones offer great sightlines and a better setting. Tsk tsk.

3. How many "cookie cutter" stadia existed? Cincy, Philly, Pitt, St. Louis, and Atlanta. That's five. And all we heard was there was a proliferation of these horrible parks that all looked exactly alike. Cities were deprived of a charm unique to their own park. Well, how many "retro parks" exist now? Baltimore, Texas, Denver, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philly, St. Louis, Cincy, Detroit, San Francisco, San Diego. That's 11, with one on the way in Washington. 12. If you want to include Houston, Milwaukee, Seattle, and Arizona, which I excluded because of the retractable rooves, that makes 16. And you know what? These parks all look the same too! Don't tell me you aren't a little bored of a team touting its new stadium that looks just like six others. "Hey look - a red brick facade, haven't seen that before!" Now, I recognize there are some differences among these stadiums (it's too pretentious to use 'stadia' again). And I don't dispute that if you're going to mass produce a look, the "retro" look is superior to the cookie cutter look. But these parks have all grown stale, and the minute a team finds a new model that works don't think that Cleveland won't be lamenting that they need a new park to replace that old, silly looking, outdated retro park Jacobs Field.

That about does it for my thoughts on the top 25. Pretty soon we're going to have real baseball reports to discuss. Think warm thoughts everybody, spring training is about to knock on the door.

6 Comments:

Blogger Adam said...

I think that bullpen specialization is overblown. Maybe there wasn't one specific closer per team in '81, but the general idea was the same. Teams already had bullpen specialists.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

I'm surprised that the splitter got so many votes. While it has certainly been a devastating pitch for some pitchers, it hasn't nearly had the same impact that the advent of the slider had on the game (I believe in the late '50's or 60's)

1:49 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Has interleague play really had that big an impact?

2:15 AM  
Blogger Avo said...

Nothing more disappointing than expecting 3 comments and seeing that they are all from Adam. Bad job.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

hahaha - good line.

at least i commented on three different things

2:44 PM  
Blogger The Fades said...

The "gadlus" of this blog is that it started during the offseason! Or is it off-season? Whatever, that is not the point. The major league idiot is going to have 10 times the amount of things to discuss once spring training rolls around. It is a good thing he doesn't have a wedding to prepare for or anything...
Btw, the word verification this time is "niiygz", and I find that to be offensive.

6:01 PM  

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