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Just The Sports: Is There Any Job He's Good At?

Just The Sports

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Is There Any Job He's Good At?

Why I listen to sports radio at all is a question I ask myself every time I push the power button on my radio and I still do not have a worthy answer. But since I do and since sports radio hosts are mostly buffoons, the ignorance that pours from their mouths does give me fodder for this blog. Today, the buffoon trophy goes to Steve Phillips, who has proven to be as bad a baseball analyst as he was a baseball GM.

During his baseball-themed ESPN radio show, Phillips made the prediction Glavine's high strikeout rates now would come back to haunt him at the end of the season by bringing on some sort of pitching injury. Phillips then proposed to Glavine that Glavine try to throw his pitches so as to make more contact with the hitters' bats. After I finished banging my head against the wall and subsequently bandaging the wound that was a result of said head banging, I sat down and tried to wrap my head around the utter inanity of Phillips's idea. It took me a while, but I finally did it.

There are three parts of a baseball game that a pitcher has maximum control over: walk rate, strikeout rate, and home run rate. Noticeably absent from this list is balls batted in play (home runs are not technically in play) because there is no way for the pitcher to control where the ball goes, how hard it will be hit, or whether or not his defense will be able to cleanly field the ball and get a put-out. So what Phillips wants Glavine to do is to relinquish control over one of the only things he actually has control over. The worst part about it is he thinks that will help Glavine. Even a pitcher who gives up a considerable percentage of groundballs in comparison to flyballs really has no control over where a ball goes once it makes contact with a player's bat. He cannot make his pitch make control with a bat and then wave his hand and with a simple abracadabra say, "Ball, go to the second basemen who will throw you to the first baseman for an out."

If, in fact, Glavine's strikeout rate goes down, it will not be because of any concerted decision Glavine made. Most likely it will be Glavine's strikeout rate per nine innings regressing to the mean. And when that happens, look for Glavine to have less success than he is having right now.


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