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World Series wrap-up

Wednesday 10/28/20

Dodgers won the World Series. Pretty blah to me. The current game is riddled with problems. Micro-management. Predictability. Game length. Shifts. The effacement of the starting pitcher. The so-called three true outcomes. Being a starting pitcher in baseball had been the most fascinating role in sports, the most important job. You were the decider. The game went one way or the other because of you. It was your game. Your battle to fight through. Your challenge to master. Your onset of problems to figure out. Your physical gifts only went so far--you had to out-think the opponent from at-bat to at-bat. Now pitchers are considered too stupid for this. You barely get to know the starting pitcher. And when one is straight-up dealing, the manager will over-manage and panic nonetheless, and remove that pitcher, as we saw last night, and it cost the Rays the game and the Series.

Why have starters? I recall a few years back when it was considered this feat of glory if a starter went seven innings. That feat is now marked by five full innings. Starting pitchers are characters. They are protagonists. They are the hero of the story--the hero who may prevail, or the hero who succumbs. Now it's like the protagonist is knocked off fifteen minutes into the film. The game is spirit-less and antiseptic right now. There's no romance to it, no creativity, no freedom. No human drama. Half of the plays are strikeouts, walks, or home runs. You are watching two guys playing catch. This may be the best way to win, but it's a dirge, a grind, a joyless spectacle to watch. The best players don't engender feelings of wonder, because they're only considered the best players based on recondite mathematical formulae that won't age well when people look back on Mookie Betts' career, see the WAR, and see his lifetime .819 OPS, which is probably around where that figure will be. (Betts once finished sixth in MVP voting for a season in which he had a .803 OPS at an offense-driven position. To put that in perspective: that's slightly above the career OPS of Carlton Fisk--a catcher, which is, of course, not an offensive position--who played across twenty-four seasons. That means that large amounts of Fisk's career were well past his prime and peak years, and the years of his baseball youth, whereas all of Betts' career has been in his twenties. You can't be a lot more overrated than Mookie Betts as a batter.)

And based on what starters are now asked to do, they are the most overpaid players in all of professional sports. Start paying them like bullpen guys, because they're becoming even less valuable--bullpen guys impact more games each week. As for managers--they do not think. There is no actual thinking in America. There is no critical thinking. There is no looking at a situation, assessing it, understanding it, and making the best decision in following. We need to be told. We are incapable of acting as individuals and of individuality. We need to be told by sardonic, witless, knowledge-less blue check marks on Twitter, we need to be told what is important and worth our time based upon what is trending, we need to be told how to speak based upon the cliches everyone else is using (hey, "checks notes" people--you're not funny, you're not clever, you're obviously not original, and really you're just insipid), and baseball managers are told what to do by analytics. They're not going to think. If I was on the Dodgers last night, I would have been excited when Snell came out of that game. And if you make the other team feel that way, you're doing your own team a disservice in lifting the pitcher.


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