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HE STRUCK OUT? WHO CARES?

By Murray Chass

April 15, 2018

Once upon a time major league baseball players cared if they struck out. Striking out was the sign of a weak, inept hitter. Striking out, in short, was embarrassing. No more.

In this new era of baseball, better to swing and miss but have a chance to hit a home run than have no chance at all.

Players have adjusted their swings to uppercut the ball, giving them a better chance to hit the ball over the wall or into the stands. There is, however, a downside to that approach, and that results is more strikeouts.

That is not to say that the increase in strikeouts is attributable entirely to the new hitting approach; hitters are capable of striking out through their own devices. But there is definitely a connection.

No major leaguer struck out 200 times in a season until Mark Reynolds struck out 204 times for Arizona in 2008. Reynolds quickly followed up his record-seeing performance, eclipsing his own record by striking out 223 times the following season. He threatened the record yet again in 2010 but fell short with a major league-leading 211.

Arizona traded Reynolds to Baltimore before the 2011 season, but he took his strikeout championship with him, striking out an American League-high 196 times in 2011.

Reynolds’ record has remained intact while he has played for the Indians, Yankees, Brewers, Cardinals and Rockies, but Adam Dunn and Chris Davis have threatened it, Dunn with 222 for the White Sox in 2012 and Davis with 219 for the Orioles in 2016.

For much of the last couple of months last season, Aaron Judge …

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SNOW, SNOW GO AWAY; THEN IT CAME ANOTHER DAY

By Murray Chass

April 8, 2018

When I woke up the morning of April 2, looked outside and saw snow falling, I instantly thought of April 1982. We don’t normally think of snow falling in April or during the baseball season, but snow fell in April 1982 and deposited its pretty white flakes in the same month 36 years later. In both instances the snow that fell was enough to force postponement of the Yankees’ home opener. The Yankees have to hope that snow was the only similarity between that season and this one. That season was a disaster for the Yankees.

The previous season, 1981, the Yankees won the American League pennant and played the Dodgers in the World Series, losing in six games.

There were no post-season games in snow-disrupted 1982. The Yankees spent most of the season …

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OPENING DAY. WANNA BET?

By Murray Chass

March 27, 2018

The 2018 season has arrived, and there isn’t a legal bookmaker in sight, unless that is, you’re in or traveled to Las Vegas. Legal sports betting is very likely on its way to baseball and other professional sports, even college football and basketball, but it still has a couple of hurdles to clear.

First, the United States Supreme Court has to rule unconstitutional the existing law that limits legal betting to Nevada or tell Congress to give other states the same right as Nevada has. Then the states have to enact legislation creating sports betting at casinos and race tracks.

The high court has been expected to take its step in the process in its current session, which runs into June. At least half of the 50 states have been working on legislation that would take a handoff from the Supreme Court and create betting guidelines.

A Major League Baseball official told me recently that baseball has been working on contingency plans to be ready when …

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