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The Evolution of Baseball 0

Posted on August 31, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
Though the game of baseball has evolved quite a bit since its early days, there are still many components that are similar.

Though the game of baseball has evolved quite a bit since its early days, there are still many components that are similar.

With the postseason and World Series creeping toward us, many baseball fans get a little nostalgic about the sport. They reflect on the games they watched in the ’70s and ’80s, and they typically lament the direction the game has gone since then.

They aren’t just talking about the attitudes of players or their astronomical incomes. It also applies to the playing of the game itself. Since its inception, baseball has made a remarkable evolution through technology and adaptation. Here are just a few of the ways that it isn’t your grandfather’s game anymore. Whether you like them, hate them, or don’t even understand them, they’re where we are now.

Instant Replay

We might as well get to this one right away, hadn’t we? Baseball has always had a very low-tech nature. Wrigley Field even shunned lights until 1988. Indeed, much of the game’s appeal has always been that even impoverished kids on a rocky vacant lot can cobble together enough basic gear to play.

So it was a bit blasphemous for some fans when Major League Baseball began doing limited video review of certain types of plays. But the fact is, the founders of baseball might have put the technology to use when they first developed the game, if it had been available. As excruciating as it can be to watch an umpire stand there with headphones on for three or four minutes, it’s tough to deny that the mysterious reviewer in New York City is getting most calls right. Win or lose, you can’t argue with that.

Gear In High Gear

With each passing year, the technology behind and within the game becomes more complex. Catcher’s masks are sleek and made of space-age materials. The cleats used today could get you traction on an iceberg.

In perhaps the most dramatic changes, bats have reached an interplanetary level of evolution. The timber swung by DiMaggio and Maris as kids is nothing like youth baseball bats from HomerunMonkey.com, and even the equipment they later used in their professional careers pales in comparison. Sure, pitching is tougher today, but knowing about the bats of the past makes it all the more impressive what those players were able to do.

Statistical Overload

This is not exactly an on-field factor, but it certainly has an impact in the game. Numbers are being crunched at a greater rate than popcorn and Cracker Jacks in modern ball parks. It isn’t enough just to know a player’s batting average or ERA. He also has a slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and a detailed statistical profile of his hitting proficiency on odd-numbered days when the moon is waxing and the temperature is a multiple of 14.

The thing is, these numbers aren’t just tossed around like a pre-game warm up ball. They are actually used. They drive fielder positioning, pitch selection, and base-running predictions. Read the rest of this entry →

Time to Put Luis Tiant in the Baseball Hall of Fame 1

Posted on July 26, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Luis Tiant won 229 games during his Major League career.

Luis Tiant won 229 games during his Major League career.

With the induction this weekend of John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson to the Baseball Hall of Fame the committee has again sent a mixed message about what constitutes a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Johnson completed his career with 303 wins to rank 22nd all-time, but neither Martinez or Smoltz rank in the top 75 in career pitching victories. With 219 career wins, Martinez is tied for 76th in baseball history. Smoltz completed his career with 213 wins to rank tied for 89th.

Of course, the argument for both Martinez and Smoltz is that at their best, they were elite pitchers and worthy of Hall of Fame recognition.

While that argument can certainly be justified for Martinez, the numbers don’t quite work out that way for Smoltz.

Using the six seasons in which they won the most games as a benchmark, Martinez averaged a 19-6 record with a 2.28 ERA and 270 strikeouts. The average numbers for Smoltz were a 17-9 record with a 3.14 ERA and 221 strikeouts. Just as comparison, Johnson’s six top seasons averaged 20-7 with a 2.72 ERA and 330 strikeouts.

The numbers for Martinez and Johnson are comparable to many Hall of Famers, but the peak year stats for Smoltz appear rather pedestrian and are not especially better than those of several pitchers with comparable career numbers, but no Hall of Fame plaque.

One pitcher who has received increased support for the Hall of Fame in recent years, but has yet to earn his spot in Cooperstown is former Boston Red Sox great Luis Tiant.

During his 19 year major league career, Tiant posted a 229-172 record (.571 winning percentage) with a 3.30 ERA and 2416 strikeouts. His win total is greater than that of 23 Hall of Famers, including not only Martinez and Smoltz, but also Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter, Don Drysdale, Bob Lemon and Sandy Koufax. Read the rest of this entry →

How to Play Baseball Better in 5 (Not So) Easy Steps 3

Posted on June 25, 2015 by John Harris

baseballImproving your fitness in key areas will help you fine tune your baseball skills and give you the edge over your opponents. It takes hard and regular work to start seeing the gains but make no mistake about it: it can be done. Try these exercise ideas and see if your game improves.

At The Batter’s Box

Want to hit the ball harder and faster? Then you are going to need to work on the core and upper body strength. Push-ups will help you develop your chest and shoulders while crunches will increase your core strength. Start slowly and build yourself up – once every other day is more than enough. Once you have developed your strength a little, you can move up to pull-ups. Rest one of your feet on a chair if you are struggling, and it won’t be long until you are pulling yourself up easily.

Sprinting

You are going to need speed if you want to make it around the field, either for your first home run since high school or just to make a catch. Forget about jogging ten miles a day – you need high-intensity interval training to increase your speed over short distances. The best thing about HIIT sprinting is that you can achieve a lot from a single workout, and it only takes up a small amount of your day. Hit up this workout from Shape.com to get started. Read the rest of this entry →

Al Kaline: From Kid Star to Hall of Famer 3

Posted on May 31, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Al Kaline

Al Kaline

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was only 20 years old in 1955 when he collected a league-leading 200 hits and won the American League batting title with a .340 batting title.

Much like the young stars of today, Al Kaline took the baseball world by storm in the 1950s when he made his major league debut at 18 and just two years later finished second in the MVP voting. In making his first All-Star team in 1955, Kaline not only won the only batting title of his career, but he also hit 27 home runs, scored 121 runs and drove home 102 runs. Read the rest of this entry →

Fancy A Flutter? These Baseball Betting Tips Will Help You Cash In! 1

Posted on May 27, 2015 by John Harris
How well a team performs the fundamentals can have a major impact in baseball success.

How well a team performs the fundamentals can have a major impact in baseball success.

There’s no denying that baseball is one of America’s most popular sports. In fact, it’s also a hit in most parts of the world too! As with many other sports, baseball is a hot pick in the world of betting.

The only trouble with betting is that it’s easy to lose big money fast if you don’t know what you’re doing. And it makes no difference whether you bet on baseball or any other sport.

Are you a newbie to the world of baseball betting? If so, today’s handy guide will show you how to bet like a pro. By following the tips on this page, you will stand the best chance of getting a return. Here is what you need to know:

Don’t bet early on during the season

One of the little-known “rules” of baseball is that you should never place bets early on during the season. You might be wondering why that is so. There’s one simple reason: playing conditions.

We all know that baseball is usually an outdoor sport. As such, the conditions on the ground are subject to local weather changes.

When the baseball season starts, the weather in some parts of the country is still bad. And you also have to consider the fact that team managers are changing player lineups.

As you can imagine, baseball betting before July will just deliver unpredictable results. That’s why it’s better just to hold onto your money until then. Read the rest of this entry →

Umpire Big Egos are a Bad Thing for Baseball 0

Posted on April 18, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Jordan Baker added himself to the list of awful ego-driven umpires by ejecting Ubaldo Jimenez during the Orioles-Red Sox game on April 17, 2015

Umpires who think they are bigger than the game has been a thorn in the side of baseball for generations. With Bud Selig, who seemed unwilling or incapable of addressing the problem, now out of the way, it is time for his replacement, Rob Manfred, to address this critical issue.

The problem was amplified last night when umpire Jordan Baker, who first umpired in the majors in 2012, made a ridiculous call that has the potential to impact one of the teams involved for days.

It is one thing when umpires make the wrong call on a close play and hold their ground. While you would hope they would be most concerned about getting plays right, part of being good at your job is feeling you are correct. Fortunately, the addition of replay as an opportunity to correct umpire mistakes has helped this phase of the game.

However, the bigger problem, and the one that Baker exemplified last night is when an umpire makes a horrible judgement call that cannot be altered by replay.

With the Baltimore Orioles clinging to a 1-0 lead with two outs and no one on base in the fourth inning, pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was working on a no-hitter when Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval came to the plate. Considering that Jimenez was horrible in 2014 and fortunate to even make the starting rotation this season, you can guarantee that his focus was to continue the scoreless streak he has had to start the season and to keep getting players out.

So when his first pitch to Sandoval, who as a left-handed hitter with a large figure is known for setting up close to the plate, sailed in and hit Sandoval below the shoulder with a slider, you can bet that he disappointed to have added a base runner, but ready to move on to the next batter, Mike Napoli.

Watching the game live, there seemed to be nothing out of the normal until suddenly Baker came out from behind home plate and immediately threw Jimenez out of the game. There had been no warning or any previous close pitches by either team.

According to crew chief Jerry Meals, who of course is going to defend his fellow umpire, Baker felt that Jimenez was retaliating for a hard slide Sandoval had made into second base earlier in the game.

First, even if the hit-by-pitch was done in retaliation, that is part of the game and has been for generations. However, there is no evidence that the errant pitch was related to any previous action. It was just a bad pitch. Read the rest of this entry →

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