The neighborhood play & more… MLBRT 4/28


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This week’s Round Table is about the new slide rule and it’s effect on the old neighborhood play… plus more Baseball talk and stuff from the week just gone by…

1) It seems Jake Arrieta has picked up where he left off from his historic 2nd half of the 2015 season, as he has now won four games in a row to start the season, has an ERA of 0.87 and even capped it all off with his 2nd no-hitter (4/21) for his fourth win. 

Is Arrieta entering into Koufax-esque territory (if, not Koufax, then maybe Kershaw?) or is this just a very, very, very hot streak, and, he, as well as the Cubs, should just enjoy it while it lasts?  

Archie: They most certainly should enjoy it while he is hot for there is no guarantee for tomorrow. And, to say he is entering into Koufax-esque territory would be putting the cart way before the horse. I mean, up until the 2014 season Jake was below average at best. While, it took Koufax a few years to find his groove as well, he was still above average during those slim years.arrieta

Dan: I think it’s a mixture of both. Not only is Arrieta extremely hot right now, he’s also entering into Koufax-esque territory. He is one of the best pitchers in the game currently & because he’s continuing his dominance into this season shows that last season wasn’t a fluke.

He’s an amazing player & I think he’s one of those pitchers that you will see once in a life time.

Earl: Maybe Kershaw territory. But, as Arrieta goes this Cubs team goes. If he’s wheeling and dealing on the mound then all the better.

This Cubs team has come in with a lot of expectations and so far they are meeting it.

Joe: I’m not sure if he is in Koufax territory yet… or even Kershaw’s neighborhood… but he is having a hell of a run lately. Enjoy it while you can is what I say…

And, if it continues for his career? Enjoy the speech at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Steve: I am a fan of Jake Arrieta, and the Chicago Cubs, so I am a little weary about what I am about to say.JakeArrietaJoeMaddon

Jake Arrieta is the best pitcher right now that I have seen in my lifetime since Greg Maddux. I think he is better than Kershaw at this point, and, literally, is unhittable. He is pitching better than I have ever seen, and he is doing it with utter ease. This guy is already making a case for a back to back CY Young award, MVP, and Silver Slugger award. Arrieta may take home all the hardware at the end of the season. I don’t want to jinx this, but things are looking up for the Cubs and Arrieta.

2) After his latest “politically incorrect” comments Curt Schilling was fired by ESPN. What are your thoughts on his being fired by ESPN? 

Archie: While this goes beyond Baseball, I support Schilling and his views. IT’S a crying shame that those of us that believe as he does are now the ostracized in society and not those that seek to do harm to OUR lifestyle. Why is it that OUR lifestyle of NORMAL behavior is wrong? Why can we no longer want things the way We want them? IF, states and governments want Transgender restrooms then By-God build them. Why all of a sudden the way I was raised is 180 degrees wrong?schilling

I do NOT believe Curt or I, either one, is wrong NOR will I ever believe that someone still packing male equipment should be allowed in a woman’s restroom, (vice versa keeping it equal). I wish to some degree there was legal recourse that he could take to sue ESPN for firing him over HIS PERSONAL beliefs and values. Why Not?

And DJ, “Get off my damn lawn.”

Dan: I think ESPN made the right move by firing Curt Schilling.

As an employee with a company, you are a representative of that company. Whatever you say falls back on that company. If, your opinion is for or against the bathroom law, keep it to yourself. You are not an employee of the company to give your political opinion on issues in the world. You are there to give your baseball opinion on baseball matters.

If, you want to talk about how that law is good or whatever you want, do it on your own time with your own family & friends, not in your article that you are writing on ESPN’s website, especially about a topic that can upset individuals of an entire group or organization. Represent your company correctly.

Earl: He deserved to be fired and should have been fired awhile ago. He’s a public face and as such he should have exercised better judgement. To me it seems like Curt was doing all that he can to get fired. Maybe he has a better opportunity lined up or he’s just an ass. Who knows?fox news

Joe: This is my opinion on the entire magilla… If Schilling is opining his personal thoughts while doing duty as an employee of ESPN on ESPN’s time, he deserved to be fired because they have told him that was not allowed multiple times previously. You can only twist the tail of the boss so often before he stops growling and bites your fool head off.

If, he was on his own dime…then the firing is without merit.

Steve: Only thing I can say on this, is that either Schilling is just that plain stupid that he would make any kind of comment or retweet that could be potentially offensive. He was already warned by ESPN not to say these types of things, and, he goes of and does it again.

So, either he is stupid, or, ESPN was just looking for a way to get rid of him. My guess, he is just plain stupid.

3) Several Chicago Cubs fans reported running into trouble at St Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium when wearing manager Joe Maddon’s “Try Not To Suck” T-shirts during a recent three-game series. The T-shirt came about last year when a minor league call-up asked Maddon what his role was and Maddon said, “Try not to suck.”

The phrase caught on; the shirt was mass produced, with all sales going to benefit Maddon’s charitable foundation, Respect 90, which supports athletics for kids in inner-city Chicago.

Now, the 2016 Cubs have adopted “Try Not To Suck” as their slogan for the season. 

A Cards’ spokesperson has said the organization didn’t want to put ushers in the position of deciding what’s offensive and what’s not so they kept a strict policy until now. Even shirts with the words “Cancer Sucks” were usually banned. 

Maddon has said, “I’d love to know why they’re offensive in any way, shape or form. Anyone that thinks its offensive has a dirty mind.”

What’s your take on this entire scenario? try not to suck

Archie: Again, the PC Devil has struck once more. I tell you , it is going to get to the point that I will not even be able to refer to Myself as a “Grumpy Old Fart” without someone taking offense and instilling a policy or law against it. The sensitivity level of the millennials is so fucking out of control no one can do shit anymore without someone taking offense to it. But, what is really bad, they expect ME and my generation to Change and Conform to Their mindset. Well, let me tell you brother, that shit ain’t happening.

David, seems you have tripped my frigging trigger with this set of questions this week. 

Dan: I don’t see the issue. The shirts did not have any explicit content on the shirt and I believe it was nothing more than it being Cubs’ fans who had the shirt on and that they’re major rivals to the Cardinals. These shirts are nothing to be forcing issues with. If, they said the f-word or the other s-word that describes a bowel movement, then okay, I would understand the issue. But, just saying “Try Not To Suck” that is widely known as a saying by Maddon and a shirt that was created with the proceeds going to his charity, there really shouldn’t be an issue.

It’s the only stadium I’ve heard that’s had an issue with those shirts. Leave them alone and let them watch the game. They are spending money at YOUR stadium, St Louis.

Earl: To me it’s not a big deal but that’s the kind of thing that makes headlines in rivalry games. These two franchises hate each other and the Cards appear to be super sensitive here but it is what it is when it comes down to rivalries.

Joe: Sounds like the Cards’ organization tried to make cookie cutter policy for something where there can be no cookie cutter policy.  That theory simply never works.

They need to go back to the drawing board and use some common sense… but then again… common sense seems to be a rare commodity these days.

Steve: It’s a T-Shirt, so honestly what is the big deal. It is a funny phrase from a manager who loves to have fun. However, it is the Cardinals decision on what they want to ban and allow.

If, you ask me though, I think they are still sore over the fact that the Chicago Cubs have taken them over, and are still sour from being eliminated from the post season by these Chicago Cubs, but it is what it is, there house, their rules. 

4) On the ESPN Sunday night game there was a play at second base on a ball hit by the Red Sox’ Hanley Ramirez that was fielded by the Astros’ shortstop who threw to the second baseman Jose Altuve who made the catch and then pivoted for the throw to try for the double play. He didn’t get Ramirez at first. But, the man sliding into second was called out. The play was appealed and it was ruled Altuve didn’t touch the bag with his foot. Altuve was given an error and all players were safe.   

A discussion ensued in the booth between Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone about the new rule that eliminates the “neighborhood play” where the play Altuve made at second probably would have stood in years past. Aaron Boone said the new slide rule was a bad rule. When asked why, he said because players in the past were taught to make that play (turning the double play) a certain way and were accustomed to that way of doing things. Now, it changes the entire situation and is just confusing and is unfair because they have to change their entire mindset on how to play their position. 

Your thoughts, on Boone’s thoughts? 

Archie: I agree with Boone.

The “Neighborhood Play” was to HELP eliminate injuries to the Second Baseman and Shortstop AND at the same allow the baserunner a fair opportunity to break up the double play as long as he could reach and touch the bag. While Baseball has begun their the adaption to safety of the players with the change to the Blocking of Home plate Rule, eliminating the Neighborhood play will only provide more opportunity for serious injury at the deuce.

Dan: I understand what he’s saying and I hear where he’s coming from. I do think the rule was a knee-jerk reaction to the Chase Utley incident & the rule will need some tweaking, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to implement it.

Neighborhood play
Neighborhood play

The rule is designed to provide safety for middle infielders due to the large contracts that are being handed out and that some moves do be getting a little dramatic and with harmful intents. But, there needs to be some leeway with the rule.

The defensive side should not be taught any different on how to field a double play and Altuve has no excuse for his foot missing the bag. The only people impacted, or should be impacted, by the rule are the base runners who are not allowed to slide into the fielder to break up the double play but are expected to slide into the base.

The replay is also a great move because it allows the umpires to make sure they got the call right. You never know what little call might make the difference between a W and a L.

Earl: Part of me agrees with Boone. Its an adjustment that flies in the face of everything you have learned but you got to adjust to rules. Its going to add a few more errors, but, in time, I think players are going to adjust to the new rule.

Joe: MLB made a rule (that I, frankly, don’t entirely agree with) because of the supposedly illegal take out slide by Chase Utley that in my opinion was entirely legal. Whatever… it is what it is.

However, in making the rule about how a  runner could slide into a base they also said the “neighborhood play” was no longer to be allowed. And, that part of the rule I have no problem with. I always thought it was stupid for an out to be called when it was sometimes so damn obvious that the fielder at second never even came close to touching the bag.

Simply put…. Ultuve’s foot never touched the bag while he had the ball, so the runner was called safe upon appeal. It was the right call.

Boone’s comments? Ridiculous in my opinion.

Steve: I think back to when I was in high school many years ago, and I did the exact same thing while turning a double play as a shortstop. My foot was not on second base when I had the ball, so the runner was called safe. It was the right call, I messed up.

These guys need to regroup and learn the right way if the umpires are going to start to call this play in favor of the runner. We don’t have ghost runners in baseball now do we?

5) It’s quickly becoming a given that Noah Syndergaard is probably the most consistent 100-plus MPH fast ball pitcher in the game today. Proof? In a recent game in the 1st inning, Syndergaard threw 6 fastballs…100, 100, 101, 101, 101. In the 2nd inning he threw 8 more fastballs… 100, 101, 100, 101, 100, 100, 101… yes, that’s only 7, he had one at 98 MPH. Add in a slider that reaches into the 90’s… he has thrown 4 sliders that were measured at 95 MPH. 

The question: Should the Mets be worried how all that heat/torque is effecting his arm?noah

Archie: Each pitcher’s body is unique in what it can and cannot handle on muscles and stress to the joints. I personally don’t see much reason for concern simply because IF someone starts mucking with his mechanics and tries to slow him down they probably will wreck other aspects of his game, i.e. timing, landing, control, etc…

I say leave him alone.

Dan: I think that they should be a little worried due to his 2-seam fastballs registering 98-mph on the radar gun and his sliders going 93-95 mph, as well as his change-ups hitting low-90s. He’s having a lot of torque on his arm in order to throw at that speed for “off-speed” pitch.

These “off-speed” pitches have been almost unhittable, though, as Jayson Stark pointed out in his article. Batters facing Syndergaard’s “off-speed” stuff have 23 strikeouts compared to only 5 hits and 2 walks. That’s some nasty stuff he’s throwing. Even Ned Yost made the comment that nobody can hit that. I’d be worried a little bit & want to put some extra caution & awareness with regards to his arm but I’d let him go ahead and keep going with how he’s pitching. He’s getting outs and pitching incredibly. Let him do his thing. 

Earl: Thor is throwing that ball hard as hell right now. He’s been dominant but I would be worried about a guy who’s burning up the radar gun while we are still in April. I’d be worried that by July he burns himself out.

Joe: My first inclination is… yes, they should do something..thor

But, then, when I think about it, I come to the conclusion that if they force him to alter how he pitches will that effect something else?

I guess the only solution is let him continue throwing like he is and just keep an eye on how he is feeling between starts.

Steve: It’s too early to tell, but the Mets should be careful, not worried, and, keep a close eye on Syndergaard’s velocity moving forward. If, he is over throwing, then, yes, this could potentially be a problem down the road. Just ask a guy like Stephen Strasburg who consistently threw over 100, and, then, he had some nagging injuries, then surgery before he bounced back and now is a solid MLB pitcher.

So, I wouldn’t be worried at this point, but, if, he starts to show signs of lag, they need to address it and fast.

Extra Innings…

Cuban children play baseball in a park of Havana, on September 12, 2014. There is a peak in the practice of football in Cuba, a country traditionally of fans of base ball. AFP PHOTO/ADALBERTO ROQUE

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