Blog Entry

Baseball is Designed Nearly Perfect

Posted on: January 24, 2011 11:06 pm
I'm just being a philosophical jackass, but I've been thinking about just how near perfect the inventors of baseball designed the game.  Ninety feet between the bases is just right.  On most groundouts and infield singles you'll find the batter is just out or safe by a step or two.  How often do you see a baserunner thrown out stealing by more than 5 feet?  Hardly ever.  If the bases were only 80-85 feet apart, there wouldn't be much motivation to hit line drives and fly balls, folks would just get fast slap hitters, scoring would be too high and the game would need to be shortened by a few innings.  The distance between the pitching rubber of 60'6" is ideal as well.  Any closer and it would be too much for a batter to get a swing at a 90 MPH fastball and any further back would create too much of a hitters game.  Having 9 players on defense is ideal as well.  Only 2 outfielders would create too much room for each outfielder to cover and 4 outfielders would take away gaps for the hitters to find.  Three outs per inning is just about perfect.  Any fewer outs and players would get tired from running from the field to the dugout more than playing the game and 5 outs could keep a team out in the field for 30 minute stints in a given inning.  I couldn't see more than 4 balls for a walk and 3 strikes for a strike out, but I don't think it would hurt the game all that much if it were 3 and 2.  Maybe too many walks and strikeouts in that sort of a game though.  The inventors didn't come up with the extra innings idea, that rule was put in place later and was necessary.  Who wants to watch a game for 2-4 hours only to have no decision?  I guess if you were to change any thing about baseball, the only thing worth considering would be the number of innings.  To me, 9 innings is ideal, but it does get a little long when you see alot of middle of the inning pitching changes.  In the early years of baseball, the starter usually finished what he started and the games were averaging just a little over 2 hours.  Modern day games average just a little under 3 hours.  Two to three hours is just about right to me, so I say keep it at 9. 

One thing that makes baseball different than any other professional team sport is the size of the field.  Each stadium has its own distances between home plate and the fence.  If a team wants to they can construct their team to fit their park.  I like it because it gives each park its own charm.  Fortunately the difference between the hitter parks and pitcher parks is rather limited.   What team could land good power hitters if the shortest dimension is 390' or a good pitcher if the longest dimension was only 390' with 280' foul lines? 

The only imperfect thing I can find about the game is not in its design but in the numerous interpretations of the strike zone by the umpires.  The strike zone I learned when I played was the knees to the armpits or knees to the letters.   Its really hard for a human to call balls and strikes with more than 90% effectiveness when pitches are coming in at 90+ MPH with some break on it.  I guess to make the game perfect, you'ld have to let technology to call the balls and strikes.  This isn't my cry out for electronic home plate umpires, but I wouldn't cry out to hold back it from taking place either, because it would make the, well....more perfect!
Category: MLB
Tags: baseball
Since: Apr 30, 2012
Posted on: May 10, 2012 12:30 am
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Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: January 29, 2011 1:36 pm

Baseball is Designed Nearly Perfect

In all honesty Bronco, I certainly don't want a supercomputer or laser system to call balls and strikes, but being a former high school umpire, I can see why its humanly impossible to get more than 90% of the ball/strike calls correct at the major league level.  Major league talented pitchers seldom throw undebatable strikes, they're always trying to paint the boundaries.  Add to that the velocity and break and you'll find that nearly half of the pitches are within 3 inches of being in or out of the strike zone.  Its as challenging to call balls and strikes as it is for a basketball referee to determine whether its a charging foul or a blocking foul in basketball.  You get some right and you miss some. 

Since: Apr 2, 2009
Posted on: January 26, 2011 11:34 pm

Baseball is Designed Nearly Perfect

Me too KD, you've got you're Royals and I've got my Tigers.  But as far as the closest to perfect form of baseball goes, I'd have to give the edge to the NL.  A couple of years ago I wouldn't have felt the same way.  But with every season I like the DH less.  It allows pitchers to do things they'd never think of doing if they had to step in the box, and it drags out the careers of guys who would otherwise be huge liabilities to their teams. (Edgar Martinez, Harold Baines, Ken Griffey Jr., Big Papi, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, soon enough Adam Dunn, same thing for Jorge Posada)  Maybe it's easy for me to say it now, since I was born 7 or 8 years after the DH was institued.  But I don't think the reasons still exist that brought the move on. (I don't know that, but I think so) To me, it brings the game down some.  Not enough to spoil anything, but I'd rather see guys who can play the field and bat, over guys who can hit homers, can't run and don't even need to bring a glove to the game.(very happy to have Damon gone)

I don't know how much the high school DH rules affect player development.  It was used while I was in high school.  But I can't think of a time when the pitcher was DH'd for.  Usually they're top or middle of the order guys, as they're usually more developed kids, usually anyway.  It was used to get more kids involved. Michigan also has a Courtesy Runner, which can be used for the catcher and/or the pitcher, but not players outside the battery, this was used sometimes, but not always, and for the same reason, for kids participating. Instead of having 9 kids in the game, you could have 10, 11 or 12 kids actually in the starting lineup.

Since nobody cares about guys getting to participate at the Major League level,(they get paid, sitting or playing, so they're good) I don't see a need there.  Attendance isn't down, so that factor has faded away since the DH came into play.  But there are some hefty salaries around the AL at DH.  Nobody is going to be willing to give that up. Especially the union.  So I don't think there's a snowballs chance this will happen.  But I'd still like to see it someday.

I know what you mean about the lousy hitting/effort some pitchers bring at the plate.  If only more of 'em could do both like Mike Hampton or the D-train then my pet peeve might actually have a chance.

I really hate the stupid box they always use on T.V. to show balls and strikes.  They never plot out every pitch to show consistancy.  Sometimes you'll get an entire at bat's worth of pitches shown at one time.(not very often)  But never an inning or an entire games worth.  To me, that would give it some credibility.  Or atleast show an umpires tendancies.  You could see how often the home plate ump gives a pitcher the outside corner, or if he doesn't.  But the way its used, one standard box for every single guy (like Will Rhymes and Jayson Werth have the same sized zone), doesn't really have any merit to me.

The idea of a TV camera instead of a guy you can BOOOH, that scares me!

Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: January 26, 2011 4:14 pm

Baseball is Designed Nearly Perfect

I'm more of an AL fan than an NL fan, Bronco, but I really wish that more pitchers weren't the liability at the plate than they are.  I guess the reason there aren't more good hitting pitchers these days is because the DH is being used in most high school ball now, which is when most talented players choose between focusing their energy on being a pitcher or a player.  I could happily go back to no DH, but I can't deal with having a .100 hitter at the bottom of the line-up. 

Since: May 14, 2008
Posted on: January 26, 2011 1:14 pm

Baseball is Designed Nearly Perfect

     Hmmm.  I just spent 5 minutes typing a message, and what shows up?  The title.  Laughing

     I can see the day where there is a camera behind home plate instead of an ump.

Since: May 14, 2008
Posted on: January 26, 2011 1:11 pm

Baseball is Designed Nearly Perfect

Since: Apr 2, 2009
Posted on: January 25, 2011 9:35 pm

Baseball is Designed Nearly Perfect

As the first of your soon to be large fanbase to comment on this one Dude.... I'm with you, right up till the very end.

Baseball is about as close to perfect as it can get.  I'm with you there man.  And to me, it's probably the League both of us don't follow as intently that's the closest.  Or maybe it's that baseball as a whole was closer to perfection about 40 years ago, than it is now. (So I've been told, and grown to agree with) I'm not ever going to scream about it, but the DH could go away and the game would probably be better for it.  And to me, and this is just my opinion (my dissenting opinion), before any more instant replay or video review of any kind is put into play, baseball should think about the lack of needing any change.  We all grew up playing the game with no umpires probably about as often as we had two, never mind reviewable video evidence.  Selling a call, arguing a call, or just pleading your case for the sake of arguing, are big and great parts of the game. (Earl Weaver would never had put together such a great highlight reel if they weren't) I'd be just fine with going back to no review.  Won't happen, the genie has been out of the bottle too long now, but I'd take that imperfect part back and be fine with it.

Hard not to love the differences between different fields.  The crazy ground rules that are out there (there were a lot more just a few years ago), all the serious homefield advantages. (nothing like a fast club with mounded up chalk lines!)

I'm ready for some baseball, and its coming soon!

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