Saturday, July 16, 2022

How The Marlins Used Baseball’s Changes To Their Advantage

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

During our last edition of the Sports Exchange, we did a broadcast that centered around South Florida Tribune Sports Correspondent JB Ellis’s story, Baseball, what am I looking at?

We addressed the following points:

*Relievers dealing with the three batter minimum, which I actually like because when I grew up, relievers used to pitch multiple innings.

*Ghost Runners in extra innings where a runner starts at second base. This is designed to shorten the game and protect pitching staffs.

*Seven Inning doubleheaders that were actually used during the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic. They aren’t used now.

*Universal Designated Hitter.

*The use of the shift which is designed in many ways and will be taken out of next years game. With it, MLB is turning more into a Home Run game and there are more strikeouts. As a result, batting averages have plummeted. This is where an infield and shift to one side of the field especially if you’re dealing with a pull hitter. This will actually be eliminated in 2023.

*There is talk about adding a robot umpire or challenges on balls and strikes. Also, a pitch clock could be implemented in the game to shorten contests that exceed three hours. MLB inserted a four mound visit limit which I don’t think is a big deal and nobody is complaining about it.

The younger generation has lost its attention to a game that has a lot of strategy and chess.

All of these measures are designed to shorten the game.

During the Sports Exchange that you’re going to see in this story, Myself, JB Ellis and Rick Curti addressed all of these topics.

The following day, I attended the Miami Marlins vs the Pittsburgh Pirates at LoanDepot Park.

I thought about the Sports Exchange especially after seeing the Marlins defeat the Pirates, 3-2 in 11 innings.

This game with the ghost runner took 4:13 to complete.

What the crowd of 13,612 fans saw was Marlins left-handed starting pitcher Braxton Garrett throw six innings and strike out a career high 11 batters. He got a no decision.

This was a game that saw numerous players get caught stealing and some inning ending double plays.

The Pirates left 12 men on base and the Marlins stranded 10.

I was also intrigued by Japanese DH Yoshi Tsutsugo, who attracted Japanese Media and the Press Box was nearly filled. The kid was hitting in the fourth spot in the Pirates batting order.

While Tsutsugo won’t draw the attention like Shohei Ohtani, I was still intrigued at how much media he attracted.

The majority of the game was tied at 1-1. 

The Pirates scored a run in the top of the 11th to take a 2-1 lead.

But the bottom of the 11th inning is what makes Baseball The Great American Pastime.

Jesus Aguilar was the ghost runner. He moved to third on a single by Avisail Garcia. The third man at the plate was Brian Anderson. During the at bat, Pirates pitcher Will Crowe hit Anderson with a pitch that would have loaded the bases. 

The Pirates elected to challenge the HBP and won it forcing Anderson to go back to the plate. 

This seemed like a logical, analytical move. 

Can’t fight the thought in todays game.

But this is Baseball. 

Like the true pro he is, Anderson took this in stride and boy did he make the Pirates pay!

He hit a walk off triple that scored Aguilar and Garcia and the Marlins won in walk off fashion, 3-2 and made a winner out of Richard Bleier, the sixth Marlins hurler. 

What makes baseball so great is that Garcia grounded out into two inning ending double plays. 

But when it mattered, he redeemed himself in the 11th inning.

The win enabled the Marlins to split their four game series 2-2 with Pittsburgh. 

Twenty four hours earlier, Miami defeated Pittsburgh 5-4 in 10 innings.

Yes, extra inning baseball, 2022 style with the ghost runner.

Now I can go on and one about what I think is right and wrong with baseball. 

But frankly, nobody is going to care what I have to say. 

During countless media availability’s, Marlins Manager Don Mattingly has said that we just have to adapt to the rule changes which baseball throws at us.

That’s what I’m doing and if you are interested what I or my crew have to say, then go ahead and watch the video then draw your own conclusions.

When you’re dealing with a sport which is not timed, there will always be the chess match from players, coaches, and managers. That’s what I have enjoyed about this game my entire life!

What I’m finding out as I go to more games is there are more analytics employees in the Press Box. One of the guys that I sit next to says the Marlins have a staff of 12 and seven were at the Pirates game.

There are other teams that employ 25-30 people. These analytics employees get paid well and also have benefits.

Nowadays, the minor league teams have numerous coaches, plus the manager at each level. That’s how much money is being paid throughout these organizations.

But there is no question that baseball isn’t the game it was when I was growing up.

There are less complete games, a quality start is five innings and guys are pitching every five games. There are five man rotations and relievers average about four innings per-game. 

Managers know that pitchers can’t be extended as much because the last thing they want to deal with are injuries that lead to arm troubles resulting in Tommy John Surgery. 

The stakes are too high and expensive which is why a manager like Billy Martin could never survive in this era.

I have mixed feelings on the designated hitter, but it’s my job to report on the game and seek opinions from the newsmakers. While the universal designated hitter takes away the strategic double switch, pitchers are less likely to get hurt running the bases. You won’t hear the phrase that a pitcher will help his own cause unless you’re a position player asked to hit during a lopsided game. 

Or of course you’re Shohei Ohtani, an athlete that will come around every 100 years.

But In the end, the goal is the same. 

If you survive Spring Training, 162 season which we know is a marathon and make it to the playoffs, you’re doing well. But the goal is to be visible in the Fall Classic and win the World Series!

Everybody has to play by the same rules so there is no sense complaining about it.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, if you haven’t already, Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to see all of his broadcasts. We cover topics for every individual.

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