MLB loaded with questions without good answers

MLB loaded with questions without good answers

04/23/2021

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Tuesday night on YES, David Cone was on a roll.

In the fourth inning against the Braves — in another game that challenged the better senses to find something, anything, more sensible — Cone spoke of how he was inspired as a kid by watching Luis Tiant manipulate batters and “improvise” throughout a game.

“I think that’s part of the lost art in pitching, nowadays. You see maximum effort, maximum velocity, starters going fewer innings, and that ‘improv’ allowed you to pitch more innings, give different looks.

“I don’t blame the pitchers, nowadays, they’re just not allowed to go as far as we were allowed to go. If I had 100 pitches after five innings, I had two or three more innings left. I wasn’t done after five; I finished with 130 pitches.”

OK, got it. Good stuff, too. But one question: Why? Why has that changed? That’s the part no one who gets it gets.

It’s not as if such management has reduced injuries. Seems every team’s IL is packed with pitchers far more than ever. So again, why, and to what good end?

But “modern” baseball is loaded with good questions in search of good answers.

Simultaneously on SNY, Cubs “star” Javier Baez, batting .200 and infamous for his failures to run reasonably hard to first base even during postseason games, was busy striking out four times in his four at-bats, swinging as hard as he could, trying to hit home runs even on pitches well outside.

Gary Cohen noted that Baez has thus far struck out in half his at-bats. He’d finish the night having struck out 31 times in 60 at-bats. Hideous.

Yet as a free agent after this season, bidding for Baez is expected to reach a total of roughly $200 million.

Again, why? But in this case, why should he bother to run to first base?

History being retrofitted with ‘walk-off’ labels

If only sports telecasts were subjected to quality-of-of-life graffiti/vandalism laws.

As if there isn’t enough screen clutter on YES’ Yankees games, they now include a large “THE YES APP” graphic in the upper right, not to mention the live-play distraction that has the YES app sell superimposed on the back of the mound plus another pitch appearing in crawls along the bottom of the screen.

Thus YES App promos during live play occasionally appear in triplicate. But it’s the perfect gift for those who want instant word of DH Giancarlo Stanton’s $29 million per season whiffs and return-to-dugout-exit velocities.

SNY’s Cubs-Mets went into ESPN-like graphics mode Tuesday, informing us that this is the 105th anniversary of the first game played at Wrigley.

That should’ve been enough, but added to the text was that the first game in 1916 was won by the Cubs, “in the 11th on a ‘walk-off’ run.”

But beside the fact that the foolish, one-phrase-fits-all expression didn’t make the scene for about 95 more years, all games won by “walk-offs” — whether in the ninth inning, in extra innings and now, as per MLB’s sorry doubleheader sorcery, occasionally the seventh inning — are won on “walk-offs.”

This brought to mind two ESPN graphics written in fluent sports stupid: 1) All four of the walk-off home runs allowed by Mariano Rivera “came on the road.” 2) Bobby Thomson’s 1951 “Shot Heard ’Round the World” was a “walk-off home run” that won for the Giants “the 1951 NLCS.”

There was no NLCS until 1969, but how could America’s all-sports network possibly know that?

In what became a 16-4 Mets loss to the Cubs on Wednesday, attention-thirsty Pete Alonso — a conspicuous, check-me-out presence despite a conspicuously poor second season — hit a two-run homer to make it 7-4, then did an exaggerated, rehearsed home run skit with star newcomer Francisco Lindor, who entered hitting .171. They acted as if Alonso’s had just won the game.

Though hard to miss, neither Gary Cohen nor Ron Darling said anything about this, but I would’ve liked to hear what they thought — what they honestly thought. Why would Alonso be so eager to appear so foolish?

The common thread among all these sports gambling operations is shamelessness.

Allen Iverson — afflicted by bad cards, bad bets, bad losses and bad scenes in casinos (he was banned from an Atlantic City casino for urinating into a trash can, tossed from two Detroit casinos for rotten behavior) — is now the TV advertising star for the entrée of an Australian-based sports book.

Makes you wonder whom Iverson beat out for the gig.

Torres not alone in discontent

When/if it ends for Aaron Boone, it should be for no other reason than he got what he expected: the least his players could do.

Wednesday, he passed on another opportunity to show he’s the no-foolin’ boss, this time by not pulling Gleyber Torres after he jogged to first in a close game and another loss, making an easy out of what could have been a base hit on a swinging tapper in front of the plate.

But Torres, batting .186, was indulged by Boone, then excused/explained by David Cone as “frustrated.”

He is frustrated? How about the thousands of Yankees fans paying to watch this top-tier junk on YES, not to mention those who bought tickets to watch in winter weather?

Even the wisest, most wary horseplayers bow before what they can’t resist. They’re often called hunch bets, based on nothing more than the imagined wink in their direction by a four-legged, or, in the case of Mike Soper, a call from above.

Soper, a longtime pen pal, is a Georgetown, D.C., chef (try his mushroom barley soup), mixologist and author. He was also friends with the three Walsh Brothers from Albany, N.Y. Last week, the eldest, Richard, a prominent Albany attorney and Saratoga horseman, passed at 77. The viewing was Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Soper perused the racing entries and stumbled upon “Mr. Walsh,” a winless entry in the eighth at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. How could he not? “The spirit moved me,” Soper explained.

Off at 16-1, Mr. Walsh paid $34.40.

New Jersey’s Monmouth University’s delayed-by-COVID football team Friday plays at Texas’s Sam Houston State. It’s a Big South vs. Southland Conference playoff battle. Yet Monmouth, the Big South rep, isn’t even in South Jersey.

Sunday, YES producer Josh Isaac produced two Yankees pregame shows — one taped for streaming — from the studio in Stamford, Conn., then drove to Brooklyn as an emergency fill-in producer of Nets-Heat. Who does he think he is, Kenny Albert?

Question for Rob Manfred: In your new, seven-inning games, should the “seventh-inning stretch” be observed after the game or in the fifth inning?

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