Analytics, universal DH are dragging down baseball

What Baseball Has Done to Baseball, in 25 words or fewer:

The winner is reader John Fleming, who submitted, “It is really sad seeing one entire side of the infield open while a .188 hitter tries to hit a home run.”

Sad, pathetic, self-destructive, mindless, idiotic, senseless, ludicrous. Take your pick, collect them all, trade ’em with your friends.

Every baseball fan who realizes that the fastest way back to home plate is to first reach first base, preferably by running there, by now recognizes that some analytics are, at best, junk science, and at worst, a coast-to-coast con .

Instead of reading the room — or in this case, reading a dugout — managers and front office geeks rely on analytical probabilities that suggest not only that various moments will unfold exactly as others, but that these repeated events happen by the dozens.

And every artificially added “cure” for The Game seems to worsen its afflictions.

The paucity of hitting caused by the analytical willingness to hit into shifts and to strike out in exchange for a few home runs, inspired foresight-bereft commissioner Rob Manfred to “add” offense through using the designated hitter in both leagues.

Yet, the only “improvement” is found among those who find reading box scores an exercise in fulfilling one’s daily requirement of slapstick comedy.

Franmil Reyes
Franmil Reyes
Getty Images

Manfred’s DH cure is such that MLB’s .243 overall batting average is trending to be the lowest in history. So how’s that new DH rule working? It’s like treating eczema with more aggressive scratching.

Designated hitters are now just the 10th man in lineups that include batters who are hitting under .200, plus one or two who are headed that way.

Consider: Cleveland’s frequent DH, Franmil Reyes, until sent to the minors on Tuesday, was batting .213 with 104 strikeouts in 263 at-bats. The team’s DH struck out 40 percent of the time!

Last Friday, Twins DH Miguel Sano struck out three times in three at-bats. He was hitting .083 in 20 games this season.

Miguel Sano
Miguel Sano
Getty Images
Bobby Witt Jr.
Bobby Witt Jr.
Getty Images

Against the Yankees last week, Royals DH Bobby Witt Jr., struck out four times in four at-bats. Next came Mariners’ DH Kyle Lewis. In consecutive games against the Yankees he was 0-for-8, five strikeouts. He left town batting .153 in the 16 games he has played.

In Diamondbacks-Braves last Saturday, the DH’s struck out five times in seven at-bats. Against Cleveland, Arizona DH Seth Beer, batting .200, went 0-for-4, three strikeouts.

The great pity of it all is that this never had to be. It’s a matter of self-design, then self-affliction, then self-ruin. The DH cure has quickly become predicated on doing the same stupid, bare-minimum, forget-fundamentals things — only more times per game. Brilliant!

The team’s slogan done got super-silly

It’s known as pandering to low standards and expectations:

I don’t know why the NBA chooses to promote semi-literacy and negative racial stereotypes. But first the Raptors introduced “We the North” as its proud salute to a stuck-in-reverse grammatical culture.

Then the Grizzlies adopted as their team and fan chant, “Whoop That Trick!” — street slang for beating one’s girlfriend into obedience.

The Knicks have marketed “We here” — another attempt to exploit black, uneducated, retrograde dialect.

If I were black, I’d be furious over such insulting antiquated minstrel show treatments that emphasize a negative stereotype. Heck, I’m white and such “can’t expect better” marketing is repulsive.

But Adam Silver, another panderer to no good end, sees, hears and speaks no disapproval.

Adam Silver
Adam Silver

The Knicks’ sales campaign was in concert with New Era, the big leagues-licensed team caps maker that once solemnly denied that it designs and markets to color-coded street gangs — even if it did manufacture a special Yankees cap for the murderous Latin Kings .

Like Nike, New Era doesn’t operate on a wish. It knows who’s buying what for how much, how often and why. In other words, they here.

Bill Rogan, local sportscaster and author gone West to pursue the unusual — he’s now the second year manager of the Santa Fe Fuego in the independent Pecos League, wanted to share this about an opponent, Najay King, power-hitting first baseman for the Garden City Wind.

In a recent game, Santa Fe shortstop Phil Buckingham took a vicious bad hop right in the chops. Buckingham went down bleeding.

As the team “medicine kit” was hustled out towards Buckingham, Garden City’s King ran to the scene, as well.

“May I check on your player? I’m a paramedic,” King asked Rogan.

Of course, of course! King then performed all the standard EMT procedures, starting with, “What is your full name?” Buckingham recovered, stayed in the game.

Najay King, added Western Bill Rogan, is from Brooklyn, NY

Sad but unsurprising was Craig Carton and “Promo Code: Evan” Roberts on Tuesday, trying to destroy a TV baseball reporter for not breaking any trade-deadline stories.

Of course, nothing prevented either of them from breaking stories. And for years, Roberts wouldn’t have dared to be heard on WFAN without first scouring the newspapers from which he could report information as the residue of his hard work.

Craig Carton
Craig Carton
Evan Roberts
Evan Roberts
D Dipasupil

But, as are the terms of his engagement, Carton had to take it further, mocking the reporter because he’s short.

Gee, if the reporter only limped, as well, think of the fun Carton would’ve had. Imagine, a 53-year-old professional schoolyard bully.

A ‘hefty’ payday for Zion

So, Zion Williamson’s new deal with the Pelicans — roughly $200 million although he has missed most of his first three seasons to injuries — includes a weight clause to try to minimize the strain on his lower body.

In January 2020, upon calling the game in which Williamson made his NBA debut after 44 games on the injured list, ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson said what was difficult to miss: Williamson appeared overweight. He was listed at 285, but Van Gundy said that seemed low. Both were scorched by fans and even media for saying such insensitive things.

Now Williamson’s deal includes a weight clause.

Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson

Now that Big Ten teams — including money-bleeding, taxpayer-funded Rutgers, last year’s reported athletic department deficit: $73 million — will have to regularly fly to California to play conference additions USC and UCLA, where are all those environmentally sensitive students to protest all the extra fuel to transport the student-athletes there and back?

In other words, it’ll cost even more money for Rutgers, once known as a prestigious university, to continue to dig its money hole — mostly to fund big-time, Big Ten football.

And now discounted RU football tickets are being sold at Costco. Yes, a life’s supply of cole slaw, a six-pack of Turtle Wax and four tickets to RU’s pay-to-play home opener against second division Wagner, last year 3-6. Thank you, come again!

Next, according to impeachable sources, the Big East will make similar additions of far-flung colleges, as the conference is renamed The Big Far East.

I’d be eager to see Brittney Griner returned, ASAP, from prison in Russia, just to gauge how she feels about repatriation.

FanDuel ads on SNY’s Mets’ telecasts: “Every at-bat is a chance to win big!” Obviously, these sports betting operations — which have teamed with leagues, teams and networks — have found a loophole in FTC rules for false advertising.

The LA Rams are being sued — again — by a PSL investor. Previously, the team settled with a group of St. Louis fans who were left holding a large, empty bag when the Rams bolted for the West Coast. Hopefully Roger Goodell is subpoenaed in the new suit to repeat his bogus claim that “PSLs are good investments.”


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