Adam Felder of The Atlantic challenges the longstanding tradition of pitchers throwing at batters as a means of upholding the unwritten rules of baseball and calls on the powers that be to take steps to end the practice. His suggestion? "[A]utomatic ejections of any pitcher who hits a batter above the waist" regardless of whether there is any reason to believe it was done intentionally. It’s a bold strategy, to be sure. It would take the inner portion of the plate away from the pitcher lest they risk accidentally hitting the batter and getting tossed anyway. But as Felder points out, Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated his desire to increase offense in baseball, and this step would certainly swing some of the advantage back to the batters.
Jason Turbow vehemently disagrees with both Felder’s characterization of the practice and his suggested solution. Turbow lays out the reasons why on his blog, The Baseball Codes. Turbow challenges some faulty assumptions that Felder makes, and argues that pitchers occasionally plunking batters serves the valuable purpose of keeping everyone on the same page regarding the unwritten rules, and actually increases player safety. While I don’t share Turbow’s respect of those unwritten rules (if they’re that important, somebody should write them down), Felder’s solution seems extreme to me. Then again, it would almost certainly increase scoring, which many people claim to want, and could even cut down on brawls, which lead to injuries and suspensions that nobody likes. I’d love to hear the rest of the community’s thoughts on the matter.
Michael Maffie of Redleg Nation takes the long view on the career of one Jay Bruce, and concludes that there is no reason to believe that his 2013 is what we can expect from him going forward, and indeed that there is still reason to be optimistic on the slugger's future.
Hey, did you guys know that the Reds’ own Todd Frazier once played in the Little League World Series? Turns out, it’s true. They should talk about that more. Anyway, Frazier graces the cover of this year’s annual Little League Magazine.
Disgraced former Red Pete Rose will make his broadcast debut this Monday, May 11, on Fox Sports One’s pregame show at 5:00 pm Eastern. Rose will also appear on the network’s MLB Whiparound show later that same evening.
MLB’s efforts to increase the pace of play this season have already paid dividends, with the average game time shorter than at this point last year. SI’s Mitch Goldich investigated the impact these new rulings have had on those who arguably are impacted the most: the mascots. Turns out they are hyper aware of the amount of time they have to work with between innings and have adjusted their routines accordingly. It’s good to know the Phillie Phanatic won’t phace any phines for non-compliance.
This oral history of the creation and evolution of Big League Chew is far more interesting than it has any right to be.
Finally, Richard Hersberger has written a fascinating and detailed account of the importance and legacy of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball team for the Ordinary Times blog. Hershberger refutes the oft-repeated claim that they were the first professional baseball team, but describes how vitally important the team was to baseball history in a huge number of ways, including how the game is played on the field, what they players wear while playing it, and how the teams were organized from a business standpoint. It’s a long read, but really interesting to those who have an interest in baseball’s earliest days.