67 Years….and counting

Mr. Lung, if I may be so bold as to call you mister since most of your comments tends towards the prissy and sissy. However, I’ll afford you the respect you so often lack in our current discourse and continue to refer to you respectfully. So, Mr. Lung, I hate to beat a dead horse but you could not be any further from the truth in your so-called “rebuttal” of my recent post regarding hitting .400 in today’s game of baseball.

First of all, I don’t think it’s all that groundbreaking or even close to infantile to claim that managers and players today do much more homework on the teams and players they are facing than they did 60 years ago. The advent of instant video technology has allowed batters to watch individual at-bats between innings and figure out what they did wrong. Is it crazy to assume that managers and coaches are doing the same thing with their fielders?

To add on to this thought, the size of the playing field has not increased in the past 60 years but the speed and dexterity of fielders has increased at an exponential rate. There’s a reason that Big Papi is a DH and Barry Bonds was usually stuck out in right field. Even if a guy is a huge offensive asset you have to put him where he’ll do the least damage defensively.

My point is, the web gems you see on SportsCenter on a daily basis were the exception 60 years ago, not the rule. Willie Mays’ basket catch is replicated on a daily basis by minor leaguers all over the country. So, it’s not unreasonable to think that these vastly improved defensive skills and the increases in mangerial acumen have had an effect on how many balls actually make it through safely. As you yourself said, “The game of baseball…has changed very little in the last 100 years, Al.   ‘You have to put it into a place where a fielder is not.‘” But when that fielder can be in more places than he used to, Jeff, you’ve got yourself a problem.

Now, the one place where we can agree is that hitting .400 would be something special. Yeah, it’s a pretty meaningless statistic overall but baseball fans of all stripes would cheer for a once-in-a-lifetime event like that. But as far as batting average being integral to a person’s understanding of the game of baseball, well, we have a difference of opinion there.

I was watching Chipper Jones during the Braves-Angels game the other evening as he was being interviewed about his pursuit of .400. After saying it was highly unlikely that he could do it he then explained that he thought only someone like Ichiro would even have a chance. His reasoning was that the person would have to have an inordinate number of walks (which decreases the denominator in the aforementioned ratio) and then be able to beat out throws for quite a few infield hits (which increases the numerator in the same ratio) which would allow the ratio to approach .400. Chipper’s right in his reasoning although I don’t think that even Ichiro has all that great of a chance.

All of this leads me to one basic point. Although I know your rebuttal comes from a love of the game, that doesn’t make it any less ignorant. Mr. Lung, you are just plain wrong.




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