Los Angeles, California– Spring training is never a good indicator as to how a team and its players will perform over a grueling 162-game regular season schedule. The position players will bat once or twice until the last week and pitchers will not be throwing like they would when the season begins. Sometimes just throwing one type of pitch for a whole inning because the games just don’t mean anything. Spring training is great for people in cold weather places to get some sun and maybe see a few of their favorite players and maybe get some autographs because of the easier access to them.
So let’s just get to the real season. We are beginning to see signs of baseball coming back a bit from the boring analytical thinking that has taken the game in a different direction. You could say it began with the Michael Lewis book, “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” and subsequent movie, in which he investigated the success of Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland Athletics.
Question, how many World Series have the A’s won since 2002? Zero! Jump ahead and we see that the last two were won by “Old School” baseball lifer managers, Brian Snitker and Dusty Baker.
Make note of this: The Mets Buck Showalter, the Phillies Rob Thomson, the Braves Brian Snitker, the Astros Dusty Baker and now Texas with Bruce Bochy all have one thing in common, they are all old school and have really good successful careers as big league managers.
But just remember this, no matter what the system is in this game, the players still need to execute for all of that to work.
One thing that gets the attention of owners and good general managers is winning. When it works for one team, the other smart ones will copy what they did. Yes there have been some heavy analytics teams who have won a World Series but they were playing against another heavy analytics team. There needs to be a soft mix with analytics and experienced managers. With the guy in the dugout ultimately calling the shots. That will bring excitement back into the experience of watching baseball not wacky rule changes and ear bleeding speaker systems in every stadium.
And about all the changes to the rules?
Base size, no shifts in the infield, pitchers disengaging the rubber, the magical intentional walk, starting extra innings with a runner on second and now a pitch clock will never change the fact that a player still has to touch four bases to score a run and pitchers still have three chances to throw the ball over the same 17-inch plate of whitened rubber, that looks like an upside-down house, to strike a batter out.
Like my Roman ancestors would say, “Let the games begin!”
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