Following that great catch by Aaron Judge last night in Game 3 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, a reporter who was covering the game wrote, “The ball left the bat at 94.7 mph at a launch angle of 27 degrees, traveling a projected 326 feet, giving it a hit percentage of 29 percent, per Statcast™. Judge fittingly made the play directly in front of the Playstation Greatness Awaits sign in right field.” Are you serious? It sounded like mission control giving us a blow by blow description of a rocket being launched into outer space. Has it really come down to this? Does the average fan need all that information to realize that this was a great catch?
“Statcast” at times has become a cornucopia of useless information. When someone tells me how they made the soup and exactly what every ingredient was that went into it, It kind of takes away from the fact that it tastes delicious. Is this what MLB thinks of it’s big money spending fan base? That they need to be told every little detail about what they just saw? The first time I heard the loud crack of the bat when Yasiel Puig came to Yankee Stadium in 2013, I didn’t need a battery of statcast numbers to explain to me what I had just heard and saw.
The other day I was watching a 17 year old left handed pitcher at a tournament played out on Long Island. There were about ten scouts lined up behind the backstop waiting in anticipation for the first pitch from this prospect. Their radar guns were all turned on and aimed at the pitchers mound. The kid began his windup and with a delivery that was as smooth as silk, throws his first pitch. Badda Boom! The sound of the catcher’s glove could’ve said it all, but then all the scouts looked at their guns and read 91 mph. The next pitch was 92. The next words I heard were from a veteran scout of 40 years who said, “put your guns away boys. Go write your reports. We’ve seen enough.” In other words, no need to go crazy with the velocities recorded by their radar guns. “This Kid Can Throw!”
This game has changed so much over the years. From the turn of the century small ball to the Babe Ruth inspired age of the long ball. The carpeted fields first surfaced in 1966, when the Houston Astrodome introduced the world to “Astroturf.”
Starting pitchers only go 6 innings these days followed by an army of one inning guys and the use of situational relievers with a designated “closer” to complete the game. Now we have Statcast.
We have learned to live with all these changes, some good, some not so good. Resistance to change can be a detriment at times, yet, othert times there is a call for a revolt. I read where the players were furious when they were told that they could no longer leave their gloves on the field back in 1954. Everyone got used to it. I understand that some things must change in baseball to keep pace with our ever changing society.
I see where the new base of fans come to the ballpark with more technology stuffed in their pockets, than the Apollo astronauts had on their way to the moon. I understand that.
Major League Baseball has recognized that and now even encourages it by providing free Wi-Fi at all the ballparks throughout the League. They will be extending the netting at Yankee Stadium for next season, like we now have at CitiField to protect fans from being hit by flying bats and balls sent into the seats.
I haven’t heard any rumblings about obstructing the view from high-priced ticket holders. You know, the ones who we see on TV with their heads buried down looking at their cell phones during the playoffs. The fascination with all these stats, on their cell phones, during a game is sad to me. Watch the game, go home and read about all the numbers. Than say, “I SAW that ball that was described by Statcast last night.” My goodness, just watch the game.