Thursday’s column addressing the abundance of offense in baseball today
inspired a significant amount of reader mail, most of it making salient
points. I wanted to follow up on a couple of issues.
A couple of people pointed out that I contradicted myself, claiming that
there wasn’t enough evidence to say there was a "problem" with
increased offense, while simultaneously offering a solution to the
nominally nonexistent problem. This was poor writing on my part.
It’s clear we’re playing a much different game than we did in 1992, and
that has been the case for a while. What I was objecting to was the feeding
frenzy based on a couple of hot weeks by the Cardinals, and the idea that
people were up in arms based on less than a month of the 2000 season. These
conditions have existed for a while. I don’t object to saying that there
is a lot of offense in today’s game, and that calling a reasonable strike
zone is one way of impacting that.
Another big point was that more offense leads to longer games, and that
game times have gotten out of hand. This is a problem, because while
many people–like myself–don’t mind long games, there are a hell of a lot
more people who do, and they’re the people baseball is in danger of
Again, I look to a realistic strike zone as the solution here. More
strikes, fewer deep counts, fewer hitters’ counts, fewer runs. There is
also something to be said for baseball players making an effort themselves
to keep a certain pace. Long games, to me, aren’t as big a problem as slow
games. That’s something baseball can, and should, address internally, and
something that is independent of runs scored.
I want to point out, though, that the highest-profile long games, the ones
on network TV in the postseason, are lengthened by the additional
commercial time in those games. A lot of media coverage of the issue
This is an era of increased offense, and that increase has contributed to a
surge in the game’s popularity. Some of the causes of the increase, like
stronger hitters, are simple evolution of the game. Others, like the strike
stamp, should be corrected in the interest of making the game as good as
possible. And before anything radical comes into the picture, like raising
the mound or changing the structure of the baseball, the solutions that are
less intrusive should be explored fully.
I’ll close with a different topic, but one that has found its way into my
mailbox a lot lately. Many people have written in to ask how they can
become part of the BP team or contribute articles to the Web site. The
simplest answer is: send something in, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll take a look at it and if we can use it at the site, we’ll let you know.
Simply from the mail we get, we know that Baseball Prospectus is
lucky to have a very knowledgeable readership. I know that much of the mail
I get personally is well thought out and some of the messages would make
interesting articles. So if you have something you want to see published,
please submit it for review.
Joe Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com.