I know we’re on the cusp of a brand new football season and I’m as excited as anyone else for a return to the gridiron.
Actually, I’m more excited at the prospect of the approach of cooler weather but that’s another column entirely.
As we await the opening kick-off of our favorite teams, I’m still locked in on baseball season. There are still a few interesting races to watch. As a Cubs fan, no race is bigger than the National League Central as Chicago tries to win a third consecutive division title while the Milwaukee Brewers are trying to unseat them.
A pennant race is fun. I’ve lived through too many baseball seasons where the pennant race was over in April and the team announced a rebuilding program in June.
Naturally, I would likely be happier if the Cubs held a 34-game lead heading into September but I wouldn’t be as plugged in as I am now with my daily scoreboard watching.
And yet for all of the fun that comes with a tight race there’s always going to be something taking place that draws my ire.
No sport is as statistic-centric as baseball.
Along batting average, home runs, RBI, ERA, wins, losses, and saves, there are statistics such as game winning RBI, batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP), and wins above replacement (WAR).
And the stats keep coming, if they are wanted or not.
Since when does exit velocity matter?
I don’t care how fast a ball leaves the yard. It’s not like a team is awarded an extra run for higher exit speeds.
As long as the pitch clears the fence, it’s a home run.
That’s the way baseball works.
I remember when everyone was agog over tape measure home runs. The same principle applies.
A ball that travels 440 feet is worth as much as one that goes 380 feet, providing it makes it into the cheap seats in fair territory.
Another one that gets me is launch angles. I don’t care if the launch angle was 21 degrees or 46 degrees. My concern is simply this: Was it a hit/home run/fair ball?
Exit velocity and launch angles are made for TV stats, allowing someone — usually a former player serving as a color commentator — to display technology and sound like an astrophysicist.
If you want to impress me, try moving a runner from second to third with less than two out.
Try picking up a two-out hit.
Try shortening up on the bat with two strikes and putting the ball in play.
Try laying down a decent bunt.
Try hitting the cut-off man.
I don’t care if a guy’s second home run of the season went out to left at a speed of 105 mph and his launch angle was 24 degrees.
He’s getting $12 million this year and is batting .221 and has 25 RBI in his 96th game of the season.
The next thing you know, we’ll start timing home run trots and the distance of post-home run bat flips.
I can hear a general manager now: “Sure, he stunk up the joint at the plate last year and will never be able to play defense but his average home run trot was 35.2 seconds and his bat flip for the season was 12.5 feet. Of course he had that one-game run in Kansas City last year where his bat flip was right around 15.3 feet. We’re comfortable offering him $23 million a year. This guy has real potential.”
Even worse, sponsorships of home run trots and bat flips will be sold.
“If you want to trot around the bases like [insert player’s name here] drink X-Brand Beer, it’ll keep you on your toes and out of foul territory. And we remind you, don’t drink and drive unless it’s to the gap in right center.”
“This bat flip brought to you by Generic Fast Food. We’ve got your home plate.”
Just let me know what the final score was. I don’t have the time or energy to wade through everything else.