Baseball Notes for June 17, 2013: MLB and Its Hypocritical Stance on Brawls

MacWilliams

Although a major brawl last week between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks resulted in eight suspensions and a dozen fines, the incident is yet another reminder of what a joke on-field fights and the subsequent reaction of Major League Baseball have become.

Tempers flared after Dodgers’ rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was hit in the face by a pitch, followed by a back-and-forth retaliatory actions by both sides.

Managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson were banned for one game each, while Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire earned two games because of behavior which resembled an enraged rhinoceros. The punishments are more of a show than punitive in nature. It seems that MLB’s reaction to such incidents is really an unsaid acceptance that brawls are good for business because of the attention they draw. If baseball truly wanted to crack down on on-field fighting, they could do so very easily. Their insistence in staying with the status quo indicates a sanctioning of loosely-controlled violence that spices up games. No matter how egregious brawls are, suspensions and fines are generally light and often reduced upon appeal (although it is rare that an explanation is given in such cases). Continue reading

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Pitch Counts Don’t Add Up and Tommy John Surgeries Are Unnecessary

StrasburgElbow

I will be in the minority here, and many will disagree with my sentiments and theories, but I believe pitch counts are a total farce.  I believe Tommy John surgeries are performed when two weeks of rest would be a sufficient alternative.

Pitch counts were created by greedy agents who want their meal tickets to pitch as few innings as possible.  What if I told you that I believe pitch counts could actually harm a pitcher and cause the needless surgeries?  Do I have medical records to justify my belief?  No, I do not.  Am I a doctor?  No, and I don’t even play one on TV.  However, I have questions that I will ask for those of you who disagree with my theory. Continue reading

Can Valentine Enliven A Now-Tame Rivalry?

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees used to hate each other. There was the famous rivalry and fight between Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson. There was the brawl we remember mostly for Pedro Martinez throwing old Don Zimmer to the ground. It was war and there were no prisoners taken. But all that has been replaced by politeness and mutual respect. Derek Jeter says nice things about the Red Sox. The Red Sox say nice things about the Yankees. David Ortiz defended Jeter during last year’s contract dispute. It’s all become quite vanilla.

Part of the problem (if you prefer animosity to peace) started with the general managers. Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman liked each other and respected each other. Oh sure, we still got John Henry calling the Yankees an evil empire, but Cashman and Epstein set a tone of mutual admiration. The rivalry had become chivalrous. Terry Francona was about as polite about the Yankees as you could be as a rival manager and Joe Girardi responded similarly to questions about the Red Sox.

Even the two teams’ respective fans have toned it down in recent years. When you read comments from hard-core fans on major sport sites, Red Sox fans respect Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Yankee fans respect Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez. There are exceptions, but on the whole, civility has become the norm and the rivalry is only about who will finish on top of the division. It’s become impersonal.

Heck, the only manager who seems to rile the Yankees up these days is Buck S

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Best Regular Season Finishes

The final standings of the baseball season often come down to the last month of the season. Which ever team is hotter typically comes out on top. With every late season run by a team, there are also notable players that are doing their best to help their team win. To find out which players have had the best finishes to a season, I used the Fangraphs’ splits and found the five best WAR performances in the last month of the season. The stats date back to the 1974 season because Fangraphs does not provide season splits for earlier years.

I have listed the top 5 performances, by both fielders and pitchers based on the players’ WAR in the final month of the season. I am aware that there are allegations behind some of these players but nonetheless these players really performed well.

Batters:

Rank/Player Year WAR PA Triple Slash HR RBI
1. Barry Bonds 1992 3.4 136 .392/.537/.833 11 27
2. Richard Hidalgo 2000 3.3 124 .477/.532/.953 11 32
3. Barry Bonds 2001 3.2 117 .403/.607/1.078 16 25
4. Alan Trammel 1987 2.8 147 .417/.490/.677 7 20
4. Amos Otis 1978 2.8 125 .411/.476/.701 6 29

 

Pitchers:

Rank/Player Year WAR IP ERA/FIP K BB
1. Roger Clemens 1987 3.1 59.2 1.51/1.61 70 13
2. Pedro Martinez 1999 2.9 42.0 0.86/0.78 71 6
3. Steve Carlton 1982 2.7 64.0 1.83/1.70 75 11
4. Dwight Gooden 1984 2.6 42.0 1.29/0.53 62 10
4. J.R. Richard 1979 2.6 58.0 1.24/1.40 69 15