Ties in Baseball

By S. Samek

Sunday night I turned on the TV to watch. I turned on the usual late night fair ESPN. To my surprise the Yankees and Cubs were still going at it locked in a draw. Deep into extras the game lasted 18 innings. It took six hours and five minutes to complete.

Now Buster Onlney of ESPN is writing that the end of play till you win games are coming. That extra innings depletes lineups and can cause injury. That players hate playing marathon games at the expense of travel and sleep.

Conversely Onlney and the fans like extra-inning games. A twitter poll conducted by Onlney produced a 75 percent in favor rating for keeping current rules based on about 34,500 responses. Who wouldn’t like the extra play though. It gives fans more bang for your buck on super expensive tickets. It gives the opportunity to experience the dramatic walk off win. It can create memories. Memories like the Braves and Pirates 19 inning affair that was the longest in Pirates history and dubious for the Jerry Meals call. Though it was very memorable. It also lasted longer than the Cubs and Yankees game in question.

Yes, many fans do leave the stadium after it gets too late for obligations, and yes it may be tough to play for a dwindling crowd. Though it is a requirement to play the game to conclusion no matter what the number of fans is. Plus, with replay and television people will see what happened even hours later. I would also say teams should love extra innings as it gives them more time to sell food and merchandise to fans. The longer the game goes the more likely fans will get hungry and need to visit the concession stand. Get too cold for an evening game, grab a sweatshirt or blanket from the team store.

Efforts are being made to shorten games. Pitch clocks namely being used to shorten games. Though the not timed game is part of what makes baseball unique.

Looking at a graph from the Onley article I would say the marathon game isn’t the norm. In 2016 34 percent of 185 extra-inning games went 12 or more innings. Only 185 games out of 4,900 or so contests even made extra innings. That’s only 38 percent. In 2015 only 30 percent of extra-inning games went beyond 12 innings. 2014 and 2013 season numbers also average about 35 percent of games entering extras. So even if extras are being played most are ending after 12 and not extending into marathon territory.

The World Baseball Classic, as well as soft ball have a rule placing a runner in scoring position to begin extra innings. This would create more opportunities to conclude the game by driving home that runner. It is an option to be used if things get too bad, but sometimes one swing and its over in the bottom of inning 13. No guarantees that runner scores and the game ends earlier.

As for depleting lineups and injuries that is a concern. The longer you play the more people you have to use and the more stress on player’s bodies. However, players can get injured at any time during any contest. It’s not just an extra innings thing. Having players play longer can also tire them out. However, there is a bench. How the bench is used is a strategy that can make, or break the game. Though both teams are playing equally long and have the same issues to deal with. If tired players are a concern call players up from the minors and give the starters a rest, or use reserves for a day. Breaks are allowed you don’t have to play all 162 games. Maybe schedule a couple minute break in between innings if games get too late.

Though I would say one of the worst things is the idea that a relief corps of specialists can only pitch in certain points isn’t helping. Go your one inning and your toast. Then possibly have to waste a starter in a situation that counts the same as the next day’s game. The idea of having pitchers and firemen may help with this. View my arguments for it here.

Though I would say the biggest supporting issue with ties is close sure. Fans want to know who won and lost. Wins and losses are the front of the standings. Things need to have an ending to satisfy viewers. Wins excite the viewer, losses sadden and ties are ho hum. If baseball doesn’t want to move even more toward ho hum normal rules for extra innings should apply.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Superhero Athletes

By S. Samek

April 28th has been designated as superhero day. While many athletes display superhuman playing abilities, there are a few that have become the alters of famed superheroes.

Noah Syndergaard the Mets pitcher is known as Thor. The Mets hurler has fifthly stuff in the form of his fastball and curve ball. Giving the notion that his arm is a thunderbolt.  His blonde hair also look very similar to the hammer wielding Norse God. 

 

AJ Burnett. Pirates fans remember the pitcher’s help to get us into the playoffs. A resurgent Burnett gave the city something to hope for. This hope earned him the moniker of batman. Well that and the shirt and cleats with the bat symbol on them.

Number three on the list is the Iron man Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken known for playing in over 3000 games during his career.  This giving him robot like powers and matching him with Tony Stark.

Matt Harvey dons a similar nickname to Burnett. Harvey goes with the Dark Knight. Named after the successful Batman film franchise. Harvey pitches in New York, on which the fictional Gotham is based.

Moving to football, but staying in the DC universe is a Superman. This moniker is worn by Cam Newton. Newton rocks a man of steel shirt and touchdown dance. Through Newton shares the name with Dwight Howard and Shaq.

How about a whole team of super heroes? While the Mets have a batman and a Thor and even A Captain American in the form of David Wright.

What if the Marvel avengers franchise was an MLB franchise. The Avengers name was one of the choices for nickname for the Mets, but was beat out. Though if NYC is Gotham, why not the justice league as a nickname?

Calvin Johnson rocks the nickname Megatron. Known for his play making ability at the receiver position, Johnson earned the nickname of the most well know transformer.

 

Save the Save

By S. Samek

The hot button statistical topic of Major League Baseball is the save. Just how important is the save. Is it worth saving your so called top relief pitcher for a situation that may never come.

Be hold a new strategy. Andrew Miller gets acquired by the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline. Miller was acquired to be the Indians shutdown man in the ninth inning closer. When did he enter the game, as early as the fifth inning during the Indians run to the end of October baseball. Then behold the debate on whether or not the closer, or at least the modern one is going to become extinct.

Miller’s role was that of the fireman. The old-school terms for relievers. That came in during a tough situation to put out the fire. Firemen pitched multiple innings with the tightest of leds. The save wasn’t even adopted by the MLB until 1969. The save then gave way to the relief man of the year award solely tabulated on save and win total.

 

Today the best arms are sent into the ninth innings with up to a three-run led for the all-important save. The starters go the six expected or maybe seven innings the turn it over to an 8th inning guy and the closer in the ninth.  It’s a bull pen of specialization rather than get in there and get the guy out no matter what the scenario.

Taking a look at the save requirements. According to the Major league baseball rule book, Saves:
Rule 10.20 in the Official Rule Book states:
Credit a pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions:
(1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and
(2) He is not the winning pitcher; and
(3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions:
– (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or
– (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces; or
– (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings. No more than one save may be credited in each game.

 

Seems too easy right. Three run led saves require everyone due up in the inning to score if tied.  Though under conditions 3 b and c the save is much tougher, but still reasonable.

An alternative was given for the stat called the Goose egg. It is a harder save set up more in the old fireman style. A long explanation can be seen here.

Though the first part of the article is about how too many stats are ruining baseball. So why add another one. Why not just change the save requirements and call it a day? Why not just get rid of the save all together?

I advocate for the latter. It promotes the best pitcher pitching to get the outs rather than waiting and wasting your best pitcher on a chance that may never come.

Two I hate the fact that it is such a situational stat. The number of saves a pitcher gets changes based on the number of three and under run wins a team gets. So why are teams aiming to win by less, just for a stat. Granted the stat is a bit of an equalizer as an 80-win team and 50-win team can both have 30 plus save men in a season if the chips fall right. Though the save is exactly that based on how the chips fall. A hit can be all it takes to create, or bust a save. The situation may come 30 times a year or it may come 15. So is the 30 save man better than the 15 save man because of situations beyond each’s control.

If you want to simplify the game why not eliminate a worthless situational stat from the ranks. If that’s not possible maybe go the goose egg route and toughen up the requirements. Better yet let your starters pitch as much as they can and forget the bullpen. Saves need to die if baseball wants to move forward strategy wise.

 

Defense of Goofy Monikers

By S. Samek

I have made it a well-established fact that I am pro unique Minor League Baseball nicknames. While I do favor uniqueness, I do have some grounds when it comes to just being too over the top.  I came across an interesting article on the selection of Minor League names  and I took a look. According the article a test exists to see if a name is ridiculous. It’s based on the how it compares with the Toledo Mud Hens.

My take is that the Mud Hens is a middle of the road if not pedestrian nickname now a days. I would think that it’s a conservative logo that has become more commonly known thanks to the hit show Mash. It ranks right up there with the Durham Bulls as far as iconic minor league teams.

Most of the team names in the minors try to tell a story for the local community.  Others just name them after the major-league affiliate. While this was a tradition in the past the trend is dying. Thankfully this is happening. It really does show a lack of creativity if all your teams are named the Braves. Plus, what if you change affiliations after your PDC is up. Most agreements only last up to four years unless extended, or the team is purchased by the parent club. It seems like a lot of work to work on all new uniforms logos and branding if you’re just going to skip town after two years.

By giving each team a unique brand it stays with the town regardless of affiliations. Giving the town a sense of pride and ownership that it’s the communities team and not just a Major-League Clubs team. The unique names also stand out and give that definite sense of identity. It’s the one and only Blue Wahoo’s against how many other Panthers, Lions and other big cats.

Merchandising is the other big reason I support local unique nicknames. Again, I pick on the Braves system. Most of the teams have the same hat logo with just a letter change, so no real point to collecting them all if you’re not a fan of the Braves. Take that up against a team like The San Diego Padres and their cast of teams from Chihuahuas to Tin Caps and more. I want the goofy hats and unique ones more.  Of the top 25 teams in minor league baseball in merchandise sold in 2016 only three shared the name of a club in the majors.

Giving unique names the edge in moving merchandise and making money for the team.

Though yes sometime names go over the top. In my two most recent rebrand posts I crushed the awful change from New Orleans Zephyrs to Baby Cakes.  It was one example of a bad idea. Though this season also saw a well done rebrand in the form of Binghamton becoming the Rumble Ponies from the Mets.

 Of the 30 plus teams that make up Triple A I would say one name maybe two could be considered over the top. In Double A, I can see five teams getting knocked for crazy monikers. Six out of 60, one out of 10. A .100 batting average for off the wall names in the upper levels of the minors. I’m not totally buying into the it’s all over the top theory of the article in question. I think fun unique names not affiliated with the parent clubs when done right is most effective. It’s a trend that will and should continue.

 

 

Glasnow’s Fine

By S. Samek

Tyler Glasnow struggled in his first start of the year against the Reds. He then followed it up with a better start against the Cubs. Though while improvement was seen a lot of fans are calling for his demotion to the minors. According to this article The Pirates are giving Glasnow a chance and you should too here why.

First off is his top prospect status. Glasnow earned this with is dominating play in the minors. Try a 2.03 overall era, including a 1.87 era at Triple A Indianapolis last year. This domination has led him being graded as a 60 on the 20-80 scale. Glasnow’s fast ball is rated at a 70 and his Curveball a 60 giving him two pitches grating above average. http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017?list=pit Glasnow as the stuff he just needs to show it.

Though in his second start against the Cubs he did show glimpses. He racked up seven strikeouts. He touched 95-96 on the radar gun. He got out of a couple jams. This is against a stacked Cubs lineup. Glasnow is capable of getting out major league hitters.

Now If you were going to replace Glasnow who would you do it with. If you’re thinking Drew Hutchinson try again. In two starts Hutchinson is sporting a 7.84 era against Toledo and Colorado Springs. Glasnow just faced the World Series champs.

Steve Brault could make a case to replace Glasnow. In three starts Brault has a 3.66 era and a 2.77 era overall in the minors. Brault is the ninth ranked pitcher in the Pirates system. Brault also has a sub 5.00 era in the majors. Though Brualt’s potential isn’t Glasnow’s. Brault grades out to 50s overall and with his fastball.

My other question to all the Glasnow detractors would be what else does he have to prove in the minors. His every level dominance shows he can pitch to beat the competition. It’s too easy. He’s never going to get any better if he doesn’t face major league caliber hitters. While his two starts weren’t, good there is lots of room for improvement. Plus, its only that two starts. Glasnow should have many more this season. These could very well be outliers statistically. Now I will agree that Glasnow needs work and time. Working with the Major-league staff should help a lot and see if his potential is true. I would say it is. He just needs to stay in the majors and build confidence.

 

Part 2 Top 30 MILB Systems by Nickname

By S. Samek

Part two of this post is here. Featuring ranks 14 -1.

14. Milwaukee Brewers.

One team lets down the whole system. Colorado Spring being the boring Sky Socks. Though strong names like the Shuckers, Mudcats and Timber Rattlers give this an over average set. Maybe trade Arizona for the Hillsboro Hops?

13. Cincinnati Reds.

The Red feature my favorite overall team name in The Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Daytona Tortugas also adds to the plus column. Dragons, Bats and Mustangs are a bit on the common side, but not too bad.

12. Philadelphia Phillies

Ironpigs, with Crosscutters and Threshers form three solid choices for names. The Reading Fighting Phils, or sometimes frightens does not. Though Phily does have a strong brand of teams across all levels.

11. Los Angeles Dodgers.

No I don’t totally agree with naming your top affiliate the Dodgers. Outside of that the system sparks some of the best names. Tulsa boasts the drillers and Great Lakes the Loons. Ogden gets fierce with the Raptors and finally the Quakes from Rancho Cucamonga.

10. Colorado Rockies.

Strong from top to bottom is the system. Isotopes is a cool name as is the silly Yard Goats. Then throw in the Jethawks and Tourists for a great unique system of names.

9. Miami Marlins.

Off-season rebranding helped this ranking. The Jacksonville Suns became the Jumbo Shrimp and the New Orleans Zephyrs picked the Baby Cakes instead. Both are definitely local flare names that are goofy. Hammerheads, Grasshoppers and Muckdogs add more flare to the mix and make for a great mix of names in the organization.

8.Oakland A’s

Strong varity here too. You got the Sounds, Ports, Rockhounds, Snappers and Lake Monsters. Very nautical, but Oakland is by the bay.

7. Seattle Mariners.

Leading off is the majestic sounding Tacoma Rainers. Then you have the double-a Arkansas Travelers as a kind of odd, but intriguing name. Nuts is another goof local name as is, Lumber Kings and Aqua Sox.

6. Tampa Bay Rays.

The super iconic team from the movie Bull Durham starts this list out. Then a goofy food names in the Biscuits adds humor. After that is the Renegades, Hot Rods and Stone Crabs.

5. San Francisco Giants.

Another one of my personal top names in the Richmond Flying Squirrels led this pack. Volcanos, GreenJackets and River Cats provide the local flare and put the Giants in the top five.

4. New York Mets

Vegas has the 51’s named after area 51. Binghamton has an awesome logo named the Rumble Ponies.  Brooklyn has the Cyclones named after the coaster. Then the Fireflies add a bug to the mix. The names are just pure fun end of discussion.

3. Kansas City Royals

More fun names from the Chuckers and Blue Rocks to Storm Chasers and Naturals. Even the Lexington Legends with a sweet mustache log call Kanas City their parent club. Cheek them out for just pure fun.

2. Texas Rangers

The Round Rock Express enter the station first. After them it’s the Fresco RoughRiders and their fierce logo. Then you have the first of a kind Wood Ducks and more nautical theme in the Crawdads. Nice local southern mix of great logos.

1.      San Diego Padres.

The team know for the swinging Friar logo keeps it in the family. Triple a El Paso sports the Chihuahua name. It has been one of the best names sense its announcement. You can see why I like the name here.

 Then you have the historical local flare in both the San Antonio Missions and Fort Wayne Tincaps. Storm and Dust Devils are good names too and add some more of a varity. Making San Diego the best named affiliate system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 30 part 1 MILB Systems by Nicknames

By S/ Samek

No doubting the some of the best team names come from Minor League baseball. Team names reflect everything from the ridiculous to the historical to the affiliation agreement. The results can be mixed and not all minor-league systems rank the same. This post shows one such ranking

I love the idea of ranking the whole systems and not just the names individually, though that may come later.  Sit back relax and enjoy the rankings for major league team with the best affiliate names. Note part one is 30-15 and 14-1 will come in part two.

30. Atlanta Braves. While the newest team in the organization has a sick name in the Florida Fire Frogs, the rest just aren’t creative. Try the tune of Braves times six. It’s just too boring and needs to change Obvious pick for the worst system for creative names.

29. Boston Redsox. While a bit better than Atlanta not by much. The triple a and high-a team sport Redsox monikers as to three lower level teams. Despite the triple-a team going by the other nickname Paw socks it’s just too close to the original. Two clubs in the Lowell Spinners and Greenville Drive add some spice, but aren’t great.

28. St. Louis Cardinals.  St. Louis is very similar to Boston. Five teams rock Cardinals names while a sixth rocks a Redbirds name. Spikes and Chiefs prevent a total bird theme, but it’s still a boring system of names.

27. Baltimore Orioles. Birds galore make up the system for Baltimore. Throw in a sox name and the combo of the unoriginal is complete. The Norfolk Tides and their unique sea horse is the best of the bunch, but it’s still lackluster.

26. Anaheim Angels.

Multiple Angels and Bees team say boring. Though the unique 66ers name helps out just a boring set of logos.

25. Chicago Cubs. Bears are a theme there. Pelicans and Emeralds complement them, but the defending series winners didn’t win here.

24. New York Yankees

Two team twin with the big club here. Then next come the Thunder, River dogs and Railriders Not too good, but not too bad a bit underwhelming is why they rank so low.

23. Chicago White Socks. While only two lower level teams rock the same name as their parent, this is a list loaded with ho-hum names. Knights, Barons and Dash are nothing special. Voyagers and Intimidators are the best of the bunch, but may rank near the middle as far as unique individual names.

22. Cleveland Indians

The highlight of this group is the Akron rubber ducks. The Scrappers and Captains are better than an Indians name, but the Clippers and Hillcats leave much to be desired.

21. Washington Nationals.

This name set is filled with patriotic luster with another Nationals, Senators and Chiefs. The Suns is a ho-hum name and seems odd for Hagerstown. The Auburn Doubleday’s gives a tip of the cap to the invention of the game of baseball and the myth behind it. Making it the best in a middle of the road set.

20. Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona is a solid, but unspectacular set of names. Aces is classic, but boring, as is Generals and Cougars. Hops and Rawhide are in a league of their own, but again nothing so funny, or memorable.

19. Houston Astros.

It didn’t help the Astros ranking to add a new team called the Astros. This gives them five squads with that name. Grizzles is another ho-hum name not helping much. Hooks and River Bandits try and redeem the organization it’s not a super strong try.

18. Detroit Tigers

Flying Tigers and four more Tiger cub teams make up the organization. Though positive points for the Western Michigan Whitecaps and Toledo Mud Hens.

17. Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Altoona Curve are the stand out name in a series with Indians, Blackbears, Power and Marauders. Though the organization is a bit lower than average on exciting names.

16. Toronto Blue Jays.

Fisher Cats are funny and the Vancouver Canadians is a local flare team name. Though A Jays clone and Bison add an underwhelming element to the puzzle.

15. Minnesota Twins

The Twins are another middle of the pack set of names. The Fort Myers Miracle and Chattanooga Lookouts are the standouts here. Red Wings and Kernels are a bit of a step down, but not enough to move the Twins too far up, or down on the list.

View Part two here.