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CHANGING FACE OF BASEBALL AND LIFE

By Murray Chass

October 13, 2019

Once upon a time in my lifetime, teams used four-man starting rotations. That practice allowed the Baltimore Orioles of 1971 to have four 20-game winners: Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer. In five-man rotations, which the New York Mets initiated in the late 1960s, pitchers don’t get enough starts to win 20.

That change was only the start of the era of pampering pitchers. Pitch counts followed. Someone decided that 100 pitches served as a magical limit to avoid injuries. Of course, the fact that pitchers continued to develop sore arms was ignored. Arms didn’t become weaker. Brains did.

The fact that pitchers, for decades, worked 300 innings in a season without incurring injuries and without shortening their careers eluded managers and coaches. No one was willing to take a chance on reverting to previous practices and incurring blame for any pitcher’s injury.

Bullpens have been expanded. Starters, if they are effective, last only five innings, and four relievers pitch an inning each. Tampa Bay created the “opener,” a pitcher who starts a game but pitches only an inning or two, followed by a series of relievers.

Pitching, however, isn’t the only area that has seen changes. Shifts have consumed the game. Infielders are stacked on one side of the field or the other. One player often plays in short right field or left field, looking like the short fielder in a softball game.

For the most part, today’s game is dictated by analytics. Every team has a staff of analytics experts, many of whom graduated from Ivy League schools, which in previous eras had no connection to Major League Baseball.

Besides all of these changes, though, there is one that surfaced just the other day and might be the most controversial of all of the changes …

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GM GONE FROM RED SOX, RED SOX GONE FROM POST-SEASON

By Murray Chass

September 29, 2019

The post-season is here, but the man who built the winner of last year’s post-season isn’t. The Boston Red Sox fired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations September 9.

The decision by owners John Henry and Tom Werner was the latest in a series of questionable moves they have made with high-ranking personnel.

They fired manager Terry Francona in 2011 despite his pair of World Series championships in 2004 and 2007 after the Red Sox had not won a World Series in 86 years, and they pushed out Larry Lucchino as chief executive officer in 2015. Lucchino had joined Henry and Werner in their 2002 acquisition of the team.

My opinion doesn’t mean anything where the Red Sox are concerned, but in my opinion …

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LEMAHIEU OUI, TROUT NO

By Murray Chass

September 22, 2019

The Angels played the Yankees in New York last week, but their best player was only an observer in the visiting dugout.

“No Mike Trout,” viewers were informed by Michael Kay, the Yankees’ play-by-play announcer. “He’s going to have surgery and that will end his season. He was having some year, but he’s out with Norton’s neuroma, which is affecting the toe on the right foot. It’s not supposed to be a serious surgery, and he should recover in plenty of time for spring training, but it did cut short his season and now leaves open the question: Is he still the M.V.P.?”

Huh? When did Trout win this year’s American League most valuable player award? When and how did …

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