Hello! Goodbye!

 As the MLB moves toward the 2020 abbreviated season, there will be plenty of changes. Some changes will wipe out former ways while others will introduce new ideas…..Hello to some!  Goodbye to others!
….Say Goodbye to the bunt! I suspect that there won’t be 20 attempts across the entire league to bunt. With pitchers no longer batting in the MLB, will managers sacrifice bunt often…or at all and only a few batters REALLY try to bunt to get on base.
 …Say Hello to a possible new batting order approach. Why not leave your weakest hitter still @#8 in the order and insert another quick, on-base type batter in the 9 hole?  It’d make your lead-off batter… generally a high average hitter….even more effective. There’s no doubt in my mind that pitchers are better off from the wind-up than off the stretch soooo….get men on base for the good hitters.
…Say Hello to using an approach to reward starting pitchers— since only a few starting pitchers will work 5 full innings to qualify for a win, I think that you’ll see a new approach to assist them in increasing their win total. Use the Tampa Bay approach, start the game with an “opener”. i.e. a relief  pitcher intending to just go 1 inning. After that inning, bring in your starting pitcher. Since the starter won’t qualify for a win(didn’t go 5 innings), the winning pitcher is selected by the official scorekeeper. Often…if not generally…these scorekeepers look to see which pitcher contributed the most to the win (often the most “good” innings). So, with this approach the Usual starter pitcher WON’T have to go 5 innings to notch a win.
….Say HELLO to wider group of 20 games winners! It won’t be recognized but the equivalent to a 20 game winner in this short season will be a pitcher that chalks up 7 wins. If he works each 5 games, a starter would receive 12 starts. From my view, since the pitchers arms are only going to be pushed through 60 games and not the long, arduous 162 game battle, they’ll remain strong & last longer in each outing. Hence, greater chance to record a win.
….Say GOODBYE to the “double switch”. It was used by NL managers when a pitcher was due to bat in the next inning so the manager would double switch with another player so as to eliminate the sure out from the pitcher. No longer necessary!
…Say HELLO to a new set of strategies regarding the use of the relief pitcher. Beginning this year, a pitcher must face 3 batters OR reach the end of the inning. Bringing a top level relief pitcher in to get the final out of the inning will still be there. However, you won’t have that specialist opening the inning to get that 1 key left-handed hitting lead-off batter of the inning any longer.
…Say HELLO to the continuing trend of downgrading starting pitchers. In 2019, starting pitchers seem to be more concerned about getting strikeouts than going deep into a game or actually winning the game. The MLB starting pitchers had a grand total of 45 complete games last year that’s out of 4858 starts—- 0.926%…less than 1% of the games. Starting Pitching, in general, has weakened as the emphasis has shifted to bringing in power-throwing, short term relief hurlers. In 2019, the “average” for MLB pitchers was: 8.7 hits/gm; 3.3 walk/gm; with 8.9 strikeout/gm (many of them in the last few innings when relief hurlers strikeout ratio is much higher. There were 831 pitchers used during the season-that’s 5.1 pitchers/gm. It almost seems that strikeouts are more…much more… important than efficient, 1-2-3 innings. That goal of “blowing the ball” by the batter @ 100mph on every pitch puts extreme pressure on their arms/elbows/ligaments. It might appeal to some but it clearly shortens their careers. It’s really not necessary, there are plenty of examples over the years but currently how about Zach Greinke. In 2019, he pitched 208 inn, was 18-5, gave up 175 hits, 2.93 era & walked 30 batters in 33 starts! He’s 36 years old and throws an 87mph fastball with his curve coming in at 70mph.  It’s more about control than pure speed. Btw..Greinke has won 208 games in his 16 year career but surprisingly not one 20-win season!
….Say HELLO to umpires wearing some type of clear plastic shield over their mouth….especially the home plate umpire.
…Say GOODBYE to the old “appeal” approach in the MLB….let the league determine which plays are close enough to review. It’s their call…..the NFL does it…..the MLB can do it also. I’ll be thrilled not to have to see managers standing on the top step waiting to get the word if they should appeal. If this proposed changed doesn’t occur, I would like the MLB to require only 15 seconds for the appeal….make the manager use HIS eyes like the umpire for the appeal. Hey…nothing in life is perfect….why should the umpires be expected to be perfect? 
….Say GOODBYE to ignoring the clock between innings that is intended to “speed up” the game. When one attends a game, it’s easy to notice that the umpires & players are ignoring that 2:30 between half innings. We know why it can’t be 1 minute any longer (like it was for decades)—MLB owners need those minutes to “sell” commercial time. Make it 1:30 between innings and show commercial spots during the game…..between batters (if no replay). There could be a constant 5-10-15 second spot providing opportunity for sponsor. I actually think that it could provide sponsorships by smaller companies who can’t afford the longer 30-60 second spots. I really think that fans would notice those type of commercials MORE than those done between innings commercials when refreshments are refilled, bathroom breaks, etc. 
….Say Hello to MLB players, who have an off season, claiming that it “REALLY wasn’t a REAL season”.
….Say Hello to a .400 hitter…or one who flirts with .400…for this very short season. The batters, like the pitchers, get worn down over the 6 month ordeal of a complete season. It slows their bat down just a “tic” and that’s all it takes….that split second difference. The last .400 batter was Ted Williams in 1941. Granted WWII had already started in Europe ,but not for the USA, and it was a TOTALLY different world at that time but .400 is still .400.
….Say GOODBYE to frequent trips to the DL by a player. A 15 day DL trip is approximately ¼ of the season. I believe that players will work harder to “heal up” on their own in a matter of a couple, or a few, days rather than the 2 week journey to the DL. 
….speaking of Ted Williams…..Say GOODBYE to my skepticism on the “launch angle”. While reading a book on the 1949 Yankees-Red Sox fight for the pennant (went down to the last head-head series with a 1 game difference), Williams (maybe…probably…the greatest batter and student of hitting in MLB history) said in 1949 that a good hitter “had to be quick with his hands, quick wrist action and DRIVE the ball up in the air using a “slight” upward trajectory”. He felt that since the pitcher was elevated on the mound and pitching with a downward trajectory that swinging level would increase the chances of the ball being hit by the bottom half of the bat on the ground. I was completely surprised…Williams was 65 years ahead of the current corp of batting instructors who advocate a Launch angle. However, Williams launch angle was only a slight upward swing. I do think that many of the current batters “launch angle” is far too severe of an angle.  Thus, we have more swing/miss, popups, home runs by the current batters…not like Ted Williams.
…Say Hello to excitement….since the season is only 2 months long, each game is much more significant. The “newness” of the season lasts about a month….then we’ll go right into the “stretch run” of the final month.
…Say Goodbye to this blog!  YOUR thoughts are always invited…send to me and I’ll post with your initials or post on my Facebook page under the article. Say HELLO to every response being appreciated.

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