Time to Adapt

… Sometimes, it’s the time to adapt to the “times”. The MLB began play in 1876. There aren’t any records for the size of the players at that time. But we know that the size & shape of players has changed. Fields have changed. Playoffs have changed. But as things change is it apples & oranges or a natural progression?
…… The average size of an American male in 1876 was 5 ft 5 in. So, the supposition is that was also the average size of an MLB player at that time. Today, the average MLB player is almost 6’2”. But…what if the natural progression of players getting larger would be applied to the dimensions of the field? What if today’s players, played on a field that was the same ratio as the 5’5 players used in 1876?
…As one looks around the league , as of 2014, the average Left Field wall sits about 331 Feet from Home Plate, while the average Right Field wall sits about 328 Feet from Home Plate. Most center fields are 400ft ish. These distances have been established decades ago. Applying some easy ratios and adjusting the size of the field to the current size of players as compared the size of players in 1876, the field would have a pitching distance of 68.9 ft (827 in). Using that same ratio, the bases would be 102ft (rounded off). The Outfield would be 365 ft down the lines and 456 ft to straight away CF. Clearly, pitchers & batters would have to make adjustments. Is it natural progression to match size of players? If no change is made, how big will the players be in 20 years? Is the time for change now?
…I’m really not proposing that the MLB move RIGHT NOW to these new dimensions. However, maybe in winter ball or minor leagues, it could be an experiment. Take a look at the outcomes. I think the game could be more enjoyable watching runners racing around the bases much more frequently. The lack of “real” action is driving younger folks away from the game. Take a look @ the Cards crowd…. what’s the average age of the fans?
….Over the last 100 years, the “3 true outcomes” have evolved to becoming the dominant feature of the MLB. With the changes proposed above, there would be far less strikeouts. Putting the ball in play for hits should be easier, but remember the infielders would be 10 feet deeper or more so they’d have more range. Far more extra base hits….the exciting triple would reenter the game since its disappearance decades ago. Bunts for hits would come back into play. I believe that they’d be more Stolen bases because the accuracy over that increased throw of 96 feet would be less accurate. Clearly, there’d be much more action on the bases with far fewer home runs. Don’t forget, home plate would be an extra 2 inches wider.
…Home Runs are good & bad! In 1876, Home Runs were rare. George Hall led the NL (there wasn’t any AL yet) with 5 home runs!! Even by 1918, there had only been 6 NL Home run leaders with 20+ HR in a year. The AL, which began in 1900 didn’t have ANY HR Kings with 20 Home Runs. Sooo…when Babe Ruth bombed 29 HR in 1919, it set the Baseball World on Fire! Babe followed it with 54 HR in 1920, 59 HR in 1921. In a 14 year stretch, Babe won (or tied) for the HR lead 12X! Babe brought the HR to the MLB! Babe also brought the strike outs to part of MLB. He led the league 5x in strikeouts but it was a small price to pay for the uncommonly high frequency of HR blasts.
…Somehow, we came to expect that Home Run Hitters would strike out more often than “singles” hitters. The 3 outcome deal (HR, K, walk) was somewhat accepted but now continues even with non-power hitters. Babe Ruth had a 3 outcome rate of 39%. Mark McGwire was at 45.6% while the highest was Adam Dunn 49.5% for his career. That means almost exactly ½ of the plate appearances were a walk, strikeout or HR for Dunn!!
…The size & strength of the pitchers means that their velocity has increased also. Some batters look @ these changes as ALL or NOTHING. Why struggle to make contact with the increased velocity pitch and then get a single? Some feel that you may as well go for the HR & get a bigger reward. Hence, the development of the upward swing. So, when contact is made, it leads to HR. It’s also leads to many more strikeouts. BTW… if the owners REALLY wanted more hits, they’d pay the batters with higher averages at a much high rate. Currently, it seems, the HR hitters are paid more handsomely.
….Everything else in society right now is shorter, quicker, easier than decades ago. In 1876 the games took 2 hours. It took until 1959 for a game to go 2:30 minutes/game. Last year it was 3 hr 10min. This year, its been shaved by 5 min to 3 hr 5 minutes. Not enough change to feel a difference.
….While we’re riding on the “Time to Change” bus, consider a few others. Sure, the time clock for each pitch is coming—no doubt about it. But save a few minutes on each of the following—fewer warm up pitches between innings and for relief pitchers (say 4 or 5). They don’t need 8 pitches each time. Each team should have a set number of times that their batters may step out of the box during a game. Maybe 5 times/game total per team?
… Also, let the reviews be determined by the game umpires! Further, don’t let one of the teams watch the replay, then make their decision. That decision to appeal MUST be immediately. Make them use their eyes (just like the umpire did) to make their decision. Making mistakes is a part of life—it just happens. You’ll never make each call “perfect”. How many “mistakes” does a pitcher make in a game—throwing HR balls or just throwing balls outside the strike zone? How many mistakes does a batter make in a game as he swings & misses? Life is FULL of mistakes….move on and adjust!!! Stay away from running to NY each time as paying customers sit twiddling their thumbs while waiting. If you want a real change, use electronic officials for the strike zone & the bases! Then there would be no appeals!!
….A part of baseball that has not changed is the intimidation by pitchers. Years ago, “messages” were sent to a particular player or team with bean-balls or very tight brushbacks. Currently as many players earn multiple millions of dollars in their careers, players don’t want to jeopardize their lucrative careers by having pitchers throwing at them. But…when it does happen… a retaliation is expected. When Pete Alonso was struck directly in the head by a Cardinal Pitcher, one had to expect the Mets to respond. When Nolan Arenado had a pitch sail in front of his head, he “lost” it. Arenado was NOT hit by the pitch. Somehow, did he expect the Mets to throw at his legs or midsection. Remember, the Mets clean up hitter was ACTUALLY struck in the head by the Cardinals. I’m wondering if Arenado had been hit in the head prior to Alonso, what the Cards reaction would have been? At their legs? No-way!
…I’m anxious to read your thoughts Time for a Change. Put them directly on my Facebook page (or send to me @ rjryansr@charter.net & I’ll post for you). Don’t hesitate because you disagree with me. Differing views stimulate all of us to think. Also catch up on past blogs on http://www.bobryansportsblog.com As Always…Thanks so much for the read!

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