The answer isn’t (just) steroids/PEDs: Barry Bonds was better than anybody at hitting a baseball.
This is 28-point list of Barry Bonds hitting stats that are hard to imagine, yet it happened. I’m trying to think of a music corollary here to demonstrate how nuts this list is, and the best I can come up with would be a Beatles-Michael Jackson combo. Do yourself a favor, read this over beers at a bar with a friend. It’s just effing bonkers. -PAL
Source: “Barry Bonds Was An Alien God Who Destroyed Space-Time To Bring Us Joy”, Tim Marchman, Regressing (7/23/14)
Is Illegal Defense Coming to MLB?
Across MLB, on base percentage is at its lowest since 1973 – when the American League introduced the DH. In the past nine years alone, left-handed hitters have lost eighty five points on their batting average on balls in play to the right field side (this stats takes home runs out of the equation). A contributing factor to this is the increasingly implemented defensive shift, especially against left-handed hitters. Tom Verducci explores a growing call for a ban on the defensive shift as a way to promote scoring across the league. -TOB
Source: “As Shifts Suppress Offense, the Time Has Come to Consider a Change”, Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated (07/22/14)
Note: I have a crazy idea – hit the ball the where the defense isn’t. Baseball – no – sport – no – LIFE is about adjustments and evolution. Hitters, make a goddamn adjustment. This is the worst idea I’ve come across in a long time. – PAL
I want to have drinks with Dan Jenkins, and I don’t even like golf.
Dan Jenkins is 84. Until last weekend’s Open Championship (The British one), he’s covered every golf major for 45 years (that’s 179 majors). Health reasons kept him in Fort Worth, TX this year, but the consolation prize is this story from his daughter, Sally Jenkins (not a bad sports writer herself). Word for word, this is the best writing I’ve come across since we started 1-2-3 SPORTS! Funny, heartfelt, dry where it needs to be dry. Whether you like golf or not, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this short read.
Source: “After attending every British Open for 45 years, Dan Jenkins deserves some barbecue”, Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post (7/18/14)
Hey, Timmy. Take a Seat. We Kept it Warm For You.
It seemed like it happened overnight. I remember sitting in AT&T Park with my friend Ryan for Tim Lincecum’s first home start of 2012. He had been rocked in his first two starts of the season, both on the road, to the tune of a nearly 13.00 ERA. We remained defiantly optimistic. Small sample size, and all. We had reason to be optimistic: Lincecum broke into the league and went on an unprecedented run – two Cy Young Awards in his first two full seasons in 2008 and 2009. 2010 and 2011 were also very good. But there were signs. His fastball velocity had dropped considerably, and his walk rate had gone up a bit more than a tick. However, no one saw this coming. And then he got rocked. Again. He gave up four runs in the first inning on a seemingly endless run of line drives. He was getting hit hard. Ryan and I exchanged nervous glances – and then watched over the next two seasons as our hero completely fell apart. Lincecum was one of the worst starters in baseball in 2012 and 2013. This past offseason, the Giants gave him a 2-year, $35M deal, anyways – in part out of loyalty, in part out of a lack of other options, and in part because they held out hope, as all Giants fans did, that Timmy would return. This season began, and nothing had changed. Lincecum finished April with an ERA of 5.96. I was finally ready to give up believing he’d ever find that spark again. And then he did. Aside from one bad start, Lincecum has been really damn good since the end of April. Consistent. Dependable. Sometimes even electric – punctuated by his second no-hitter in less than a year. Is he back? Somewhat surprisingly, advanced statistics suggest that he is. Maybe he is not the Timmy of 2008-09, but he might be the Timmy of 2010-11 – finally learning to care for his body and actually pitch, even as his velocity remains diminished. – TOB
Source: “Don’t Call it a Lincecomeback”, Ben Lindbergh, Grantland (07/24/14)
Note: This is a sabermetrics-heavy story, but worth the read. Timmy’s career is fascinating at first blush, yet when I think about it, why am I surprised that a dude my size (short, but skinnier) has lost velocity on his fastball as he enters his 30s? It’s a novel-worthy story: what does the hero do when he can’t rely on his talent anymore? He learns the craft. -PAL
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