Actually, David Ortiz called the MLB “f*cking boring” and you know what? He’s not wrong. Yes, home runs and bat flips are awesome. But you know what else is awesome? Guys making plays. And plays aren’t made when the ball goes over the fence or when the batter strikes out or walks. That’s where the game is at currently. Walk, strike out, or home run. And when David Ortiz, otherwise known as a home run hitter, is calling out the game for being boring – I think MLB should listen.
What he said
In a conversation with Peter Abraham and the Boston Globe, Ortiz says “The game has changed a lot. Coaches only want kids to hit home runs and that’s all they practice because they want to get paid. We used to want to develop great hitters. Now it’s all strikeouts with some home runs and it’s straight-up [expletive] boring. If you could bet in Vegas that the next hitter was going to strike out, you’d take it every time.”
What is and what once was
Homeruns and a 20 strikeout game from a pitcher are awesome, no doubt. But fielding and guys making plays are being lost in the today’s game. Some of the most athletic players in the world showing off their skills with a glove and a hardly hit ball needs to be injected back into the sport. Think of some of the most popular players from back in the day? Ozzie Smith, Jim Edmonds, Torii Hunter, Ichiro. Sox fans – who remembers Pokey Reese? Guy couldn’t hit a lick but was a wizard with the glove!
The player who exemplifies today’s day and age of baseball is Joey Gallo. Look at his career statline for his 5 year MLB career – 473 GP, 1,516 AB, 262 R, 316 H, 262 RBI, 250 BB, 672 K, 120 HR, .208 AVG. He just signed a one year, 6.2 million dollar contract. Doing the math quickly and that’s a 44.3 strikeout percentage. Yikes. If you combine his walks, homeruns, and strikeouts – the ball is not in play in 68.7% of Joey Gallo’s at bats.
So, who are today’s best fielders? I feel like we default to Mike Trout. JBJ is a top tier defensive player… yet still unsigned in free agency. Kevin Pillar because he can rob homeruns. Who am I missing?
Forever, players and prospects have been graded with the classic 5-tool scale. The 5 tools stand for hit, hit for power, run, throwing and fielding. Running, throwing and fielding are being lost in today’s game when the ball doesn’t get put in play! And the game is suffering. Youth participation is way down, the TV audience has been dwindling. Stolen bases are a thing of the past.
We believe in you, Theo
As a former (amateur, very amateur) player and avid baseball fan, I want to see the game flourish. I don’t have the answers for fixing baseball but I hope Theo Epstein does. He was appointed special consultant to “on-field matters” by Rob Manfred and the MLB earlier this year. Not only have his comments been encouraging but seems like he’s taking action too. The MLB announced they will be slightly reducing weight and slightly decreasing bounciness in the baseballs for the upcoming season. Guys making plays is entertaining. Guys not making plays is also entertaining. Seeing the best athletes in the world use their 5 tools is entertaining!