Saturday, April 6, 2024

Are You Perhaps Seeing the Problem Here?


This week alone, we have seen Shane Bieber, Spencer Strider, Justin Steele and Jonathan Loiasiga pitch some absolutely beautiful stuff and then promptly undergo testing to determine internal issues. Bieber is missing the rest of the season, Steele will be out for a while, Loiasiga is missing the rest of the season, Strider...I'm not sure but it's not looking good.

That's...three, maybe four excellent pitchers gone by Week 1. The goal, need I remind you, is for this shit to not happen.

I feel like I bring this up on the blog now every three weeks, but it's a genuinely flagrant issue. Every pitcher feels the need to throw hard on every pitch, and that is not as sustainable as it used to be. Not everyone is built like Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson, and not everybody can just do that. So if the human body is relied upon to do that every game, there is going to be even more wear and tear.

Now, as for why it's happening more frequently now than ever? Well, the commissioner implemented two rules that are reasonably unfair to one's pitching arm. One is the ban on tack, and substances that can help pitchers gain leverage without overexerting themselves. Gerrit Cole famously would use tack, and once the ban was instituted he continued at the same pace and this season, surprise surprise, had arm issues. It should be clear that some pitchers use these sort of things not to cheat, but to make sure they don't blow their arm out. This is why Gaylord Perry pitched for 20 years, because he used sticky substances, and it helped him stay afloat in the 70s and 80s. 

The other, of course, is the pitch clock, which forces pitchers to speed up their windups and call for less time in between pitches. If you're throwing that hard over and over with less buffer time between, there is going to be wear and tear. And there's no coincidence that both this season and last season, you've seen so many pitching injuries to people acclimating to the pitch clock in March and April.

Rob Manfred is the latest example of a businessman who thinks they know what makes something great trying to dictate decisions over people who actually have first-hand experience. This is happening all over right now. The president of Warner Brothers is a charts-and-ratings guy who's writing off entire films that don't fit his exact business model, and he's pissing off all the creatives that actually know what movies are supposed to be. Hell, even in baseball, the owner of the A's has no idea what the fanbase wants and won't spend money on the team, hence pissing off everybody and moving the team to Sacramento. This never works, even if the idea of the current economy depends on what makes money instead of what is viable and ethical. 

And as much as people have criticized Rob Manfred for cutting costs and making rules the players don't support and forcing a lockout because he lets the owners have whatever they want, he's not going anywhere. He's stated that he'll be done when his contract expires, which is the equivalent of a mobster dying of natural causes. It's likely that whoever takes over as commissioner will be someone who has a lot of the same ideas about baseball as he does, and won't make any fundamental changes, as much as the fans, and the players, complain.

I have no idea what the straw that will break the camel's back will be. If there will be anybody brave enough to properly say, 'hey, we're all getting injured because the commissioner keeps putting in rules that don't respect the players'. Maybe Strider, given how smart he is. But logically, no one will want to rock the  boat so soon after the lockout, and everything will keep going on as normal, despite everything clearly being done incorrectly and sacrificing player health for exciting product.

Shane Bieber deserves better than this. Baseball deserves better than this. I'm exhausted.

Coming Tomorrow [?]: A star outfielder I figured would be gone by now, but here he is helping his team dominate in April for a second straight year. 

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