Duck Snorts

Duck snorts, as Hawk Harrelson calls them, are little blooped singles that fall into no-man’s land between the infield and the outfield.

In this case, Duck Snorts are little quick-hitting thoughts that I find interesting, but not interesting enough to be worthy of an entire post.

  1. There’s a saying “speed never slumps.” That is a lie. Billy Hamilton is barely hitting .200. Byron Buxton is in the minors. Michael Taylor and Ender Inciarte are 1-2 in steals, and both have an OPS+ roughly 20% below league average.  Speed slumps plenty, and in many cases slumps worse than other skill sets because it doesn’t have the occasional home run, walk or double to fall back on.
  2. The Braves’ bandwagon is ridiculous. Every time they lose a game or two, or have something go wrong half the fans go “same old Braves, here comes the slide.” And the other half vehemently defend the Braves. They are both wrong. This Braves team is improved. But it is fundamentally a .500 team that had a lucky, hot start. So you shouldn’t think of them as contenders, but they aren’t losers either. They are just a slowly improving team that should win about as much as they lose, which in and of itself represents an improvement.
  3. Baseball’s replay system is impossibly stupid and broken, and should be scrapped all together. New York is supposed to have every available camera angle, but somehow have couched their language “enough to overturn” into a system where obvious calls are frequently missed, and then upheld even on replay. And instead of being sympathetic about it, most umpires are grumpy about being challenged in the first place so the next borderline call is always going to go against the last team that lost a challenge, just because the umpires know they can’t challenge again. (Which is a horribly dumb policy in and of itself). Either you want it right or you don’t. And if you don’t want to take the time to do it right, don’t do it at all! (Which would definitely help the “pace of play initiative”).
  4. I think it’s important in any attempt to talk about sports to be careful to simply point things out, and not be perceived as attacking a person. Politics has far too much of this already, but lately sports media has gone this direction as well. Half the “sports” “talkshows” are nothing but empty-headed  bloviating blowhards forming deliberately uninformed opinions just to bash someone who is massively more talented than they are. In school, name-calling and character assassination have a name – it’s called “bullying.” It’s a crying shame that the adult world thinks it’s perfectly acceptable behavior. Of course, on the flip side, I know several of these shows get a lower viewership than re-runs of Bonanza – so maybe we are growing up after all.
  5. Watching baseball in 2018 is an exercise in the ridiculous. Absurdly talented pitchers like Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb can barely pitch 5 innings, not due to a lack of skill, but because they run up 2 and 3 ball counts on every batter. Somehow, we’ve created a generation of pitchers afraid to trust their stuff, because we’ve created a generation of hitters who don’t care if they strike out 1/3rd of the time. They just keep on swinging for the fences. So now pitchers live in fear of the big swing, and nibble, nibble, nibble at the edges of the strike zone trying to avoid giving up a home run.
  6.  This leads to a self-referential, self-defeating spiral of avoiding the home run, but putting men on base, running up the pitch count, having shorter outings, and having a greater chance of giving up a 2, 3 or 4 run home run from all the base-runners.
  7. Additionally, high pitch counts and walk totals lead to slower, longer games, which doesn’t help MLB’s “pace of play” initiative. Plus, walks, strikeouts, and long at-bats aren’t action, which further slows down the actual pace of play, in addition to creating longer games.
  8. All of which leads to a novel, groundbreaking idea: If hitters would try to hit singles instead of home runs, pitchers could trust their stuff and throw strikes, at-bats and games would be shorter, there would be more action, there would be more steals, and home runs would be more exciting and matter more because they’d be less routine and represent an actual accomplishment!
  9. So hit a single once in while, why don’t you? Even if it’s just a bunt against the shift.

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