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Home Runs Flew At Record Rate In May, But Is That Such A Good Thing For Baseball?

The National Pasttime – Baseball The old play-by-play call for home runs – “going, going, gone” – needs to be updated. It should be “going, going, gone again.” Major...

The National Pasttime – Baseball

The old play-by-play call for home runs – “going, going, gone” – needs to be updated.

It should be “going, going, gone again.”

Major League Baseball’s hitters combined in May for a record 1,135 homers, the most in any month ever. That eclipsed by 16 the mark set in August 2017 by 16.

Is the baseball juiced? Who knows? Is this simply a result of power pitchers throwing harder against hitters who swing for the fences, rather than to make contact?

We all marvel at home runs sail majestically into the upper deck or rocket down the line like missiles. Analysis techniques tell us the speed at which the ball left the playing field and the exit angle. Great. But other than that quick jolt of excitement, where is baseball’s fun? Where is the artful construction of a run via a single, a stolen base, a bunt, a sac fly?

Because the game is now so much about strikeouts and home runs, the ball is in play in the field less than one-third of the time. In April of 2018, there were more strikeouts that month than hits – a first in baseball history.
And that’s dull.

“Right now it’s about the home run and the strikeout,” Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton said last year in Cooperstown, New York.

That kills strategy. Why try to steal a base if the next pitch might land in the bleachers? Or if the batter cannot protect the runner or hit behind him?

“Part of why teams don’t hit-and-run so much anymore is so many hitters swing and miss,” San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “The art is missing.”

So is much of the fun.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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