Blogs » Politcs Plus » A Yen for Old School Baseball



I love our national pastime because that's what I grew up with, but it's changing. I'm not talking about the designated hitter or the specialty players who only pitch against left-handed hitters, but it's the constant change on the 25 man rosters. A manager will call up a pitcher to pitch one game and then send him back down to the minors the same night. I'm a little leery of a player who's put on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to 10 days prior. I long for the good old days when the 25-man roster played the 150 plus games.

It was refreshing to hear Philadelphia Philly’s pitcher Cole Hamels, admit that he intentionally hit the Washington Nationals' outstanding rookie, Bryce Harper in the back with a 93 mph fastball. It was one of those "welcome to the big leagues; rookie"pitches. It was nice to hear Hamels say the truth, but he paid for it with a five-day suspension and this issue not over because retaliation is sure to come. The brush back pitch has been around forever, and it certainly was a part of notable pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, and Don Drydale's repertoire. This is professional baseball, so pitchers cannot let hitters have the inside corner, or else they won't be around for long. The hitters naturally like to extend their arms and don't like to be tied up inside. It's not a given, because some major-league hitters can turn on an inside fastball. I think one of the stupidest rules in baseball is the warning to the pitcher who threw the "bean ball" and his manager plus the opposing pitcher and his manager. You can rest assure you will hear the other pitcher say something like this "what did I do?"The inside pitch is taken away for the rest of the game. I understand the safety implications, and I certainly don't condone going for the head, but that inside corner belongs to the hitter and the pitcher. It was common to see a pitcher pluck the next hitter who stepped up to the bat after his team mate hit a home run, the player would attack the mound and an old fashion donnybrook would break out but it was rare to see someone get hurt. It was more like several bantam roosters putting on a show. One was scared and the other was glad of it. The funniest one I ever saw was where Nolan Ryan taught Robin Ventura to never charge the mound while he’s occupying it.

Last night I heard the Astro announcers say that Jose Reyes of the Miami Marlins had the most steals by an opposing player in Minute Maid Park with a paltry sum of 12. That told me that teams in the National League Central Division don't do a lot of stealing. It's mind startling when these announcer points out that a position player hasn't bunted since 2009. To put it in perspective, Minute Maid has been around for 12 years and the player who is not bunted since 2009 probably had 1200 plate appearances. I'm not talking about the third, forth, or fifth-place hitter. The fans of today want to see a lot of scoring, home runs, and are not interested in the small ball game, like stealing, taking pitches, moving runners around, or bunting.

I know it's early, and I have an Astro bias but this year's team is something to watch because they can hit. The advantage of having the second youngest team in the majors is that the manager has their undivided attention. It's like coaching 13 and 14 year olds in contrast to coaching 16 and 17 year olds. The players are excited to be on a major-league roster, so they don't get upset sharing a position, being substituted for, or being scolded for not playing all out. I've been watching Astros second baseman Jose Altuve for a year and 1/2 now, and I think he's a legitimate major league hitter and has the stats to prove it. Another one I'm enjoying watching is shortstop Jed Lowrie, who has come through in the clutch many times and has yet to make an error. I'm not saying they'll make the playoffs, but I can see them winning 75 games this year because they satisfy my yen for old school baseball.

I wonder if I'll ever see Pete Rose enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame where the player who had more hits than anyone belongs. Charlie Hustle paid his debt to society, and he certainly played every game as if it was the 9th inning of a seventh World Series game.