Walking Barry Bonds
Baseball needs some help here

J   
ust watched some of the 4th game of the 2002 World Series and have to ask a question I formulated long ago and to which I have never found an answer. Which is this: Why ... when you are being intentionally walked ... would you take your base on only four pitches? Where are these people's heads? Are all baseball managers out to lunch?

This is my gripe. After the third ball, why not swing at the fourth pitch and take a strike ... then ... again swing at the fifth pitch ... then ... take the sixth pitch for the walk?

What good would that do?

Well now ... first off -
The only reason (allegedly) for going through the motions is that the catcher might miss the ball and the runners might advance (I've heard this from announcers). Well, if this is so, the probabilitly of getting a passed ball or wild pitch is enhanced by 50% by forcing two more pitches.
Secondly -
You make the pitcher throw two more pitches and as everyone knows, the more he throws the more tired he gets and the more likely he is to make a mistake.
Thirdly -
Messing with the pitcher's head may cause a "rattling" mistake.

So why does Bonds or any other baseball player take this crap standing there like an inanimate, unthinking object?

There is an unexplored logic in the intentional walk.

For instance, suppose Bonds swings and misses at the first two pitches creating an 0-2 count. He's in the hole now. Will the pitcher take the bait and try to sneak in a fastball for the strikeout? It's very tempting. What if the pitcher's manager signs him to go for it? He's gotta' think, "I'll just give him a low and away slider. If he bites I'll get an out. If not, I'm no worse off since he's supposed to walk anyway". See what I mean?

Suppose he swings at the 3-0 pitch and misses. Can the pitcher come back with a regular pitch on 3-1? Probably not since Bonds will be swinging away and has one more strike to give. How about on the 3-2 pitch. Yes, the pitcher might go for it. Bonds will be ready ... but he now has something to lose too. He could strike out whereas before he had a sure walk. Of course, this is not what Barry Bonds does for a living ... strive for a walk? ... get real. He wants to get a crack at a 3-2 pitch. And if the pitcher isn't control perfect, he may accidentally come up high and ... ZOOM!

What would Bonds and fans gain from all this?

Easy ... he gets to input his experience into the game. The intentional walk obviates his contribution to the team for the entire season. The point of playing the game is to play ball not stand on the sidelines. The people want to see the interplay of pitcher and batter ... NOT pitcher and catcher.

There's another little option here too.

Stick your bat out and try to foul off the pitch. If you can do this, the pitcher will have to throw yet another pitch to walk him and will be further rattled ... and ... the catcher will have to go out just that much farther from his box. This means the chance of a passed ball are increased.

You see, the pitcher is not the only one who can demonstrate strategy in the realm of the intentional walk. There is all manner of cagey thinking possible here. Why not use it? It would certainly add another dimension to this part of the game.

Steroids

All the homers here of Bonds and Glaus for instance, recollect this thought.

"Why are people hitting all these home runs now?"

I mean 'now' as in the last ten years or so. The answer is, of course, steroids. It's not a livelier ball. The ball they use today is substantially no different than the one used in the 60s. What's bigger is the players arms, necks and chests. They're huge. Compare Mark McGwire's arms to Babe Ruth's ... there is no comparison. I'll bet McGwire's measure 26" and the Babe's about 16". McGwire could easily mop the floor with Ruth (and Ruth was a bar jockey / carouser as well).

For that matter, look at pro football players. The worst team playing today could easily beat any Vince Lombardi Packer team. In general, if the offensive line consistently pushes back the defense, it will win the game. I watched this keenly in the Cowboys glory years (mid 90s). The players now are a hundred pounds beefier per man than back then ... steroids do it.

Similarly, if you are a hitter who puts 12 balls per season to the warning track for outs ... if you increase your strength by, say, 3% ... and your ball goes 3% farther ... it's in the stands and you chalk up 12 more homers. Get it? 3% of the distance to the warning track is generally about 10 feet and that track is about ten feet wide ... so ten more feet puts the ball in the stands. Liners that might have been caught are in the stands. A long pop-up is in the stands in some stadiums. Plot all your fly outs on a graph. Do steroids. The re-plotted graph will move outward toward the fence. Elementary.

Once again, just look at those arms and tell me McGwire is not at least 3% stronger than Ruth. It's probably more like 50%.


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