THINGS THAT BUG ME ABOUT SPORTS TODAY – BASEBALL EDITION

04Aug13

Anyone that knows me also knows that I am a huge sports fan.  I’ve been playing and watching sports my entire life.  So regardless of how things change over the years, I will always be a fan of anything that involves athletic skill.

However, I can’t help but pull my hair out when I watch players that are at the professional level of their respective sport, making more money in a month than most people will make in a lifetime, and they cannot, or will not, perform the basic fundamentals of their game.

No sport is immune to this phenomenon, so I will attack these issues one sport at a time.  Today’s topic sport—baseball!

WHY CAN’T ANYONE BUNT?

I was taught how to properly bunt a baseball when I was in little league.  The skill was reinforced and perfected in high school.

I know that sounds cocky and braggadocios (how’s that for a big word?), but the fact is, if you didn’t know how to bunt when I was in high school, you didn’t get many plate appearances.  It was part of every single practice.

In fact, every time you got into the batter’s box for your round of batting practice, the first thing you had to do was put a bunt down the first base side, and then another one down the third base side.  If you did not successfully get the bunt down, you continued to try until you made it happen.  Then, and only then, were you allowed to swing away.

Why were we put this rigorous drill?  Because we were all part of the same team.  As such, we could all be expected to lay down a sacrifice bunt if the situation called for it, whether we were home run hitters or base hitters.

And if you were a pitcher?  Come on, you’d better be the best bunter on the team!

So how come there are so few good bunters in the major leagues today?  I find it hard to believe that little league, high school and college coaches have stopped teaching this skill.  It is as fundamental as catching, throwing and hitting.

Yet game after game, when a sacrifice bunt is called for, we continue to see these major leaguers grab the bat in their hands like a club and poke at the ball coming towards them, rather than squaring up, sliding one hand down to the label and loosely tapping the ball in the proper direction, being sure to deaden the ball upon contact.

Rather than seeing successful bunts, we see millionaires popping the ball up or tapping dribblers towards the dugout, time after time.  I guess they’re just too good to practice such a mundane activity.

Do they really believe that this skill is not needed in today’s game?  If so, then the head coaches must not be very smart, since they keep sending the bunt signal to the batter’s box.

Something else to think about.  When the opposing pitcher is mowing down your lineup like they’re standing still, a great way to break up his momentum and shake up the infield is to drop a drag bunt down the third base line for a single.

WHY DO SO MANY “STARS” REFUSE TO HUSTLE?

This one bothers me more than any other issue.  I was taught to run every time I was on the field.  If I struck out, I ran back to the dugout.  If I walked, I ran down to first base.  I ran on the field at the beginning of the inning and I ran off the field at the end of the inning.

If I hit a ground ball, I ran full speed down to first base, even if I didn’t think I had a prayer of being safe.  You never knew when a fielder would make a mistake.

Although many of today’s players adhere to this rule, it seems that a lot of the “stars” of the game have decided that they make too much money to take part.  Time after time, I see a big name player hit a ground ball and trot half way down to first.  The fielder could have booted the ball three times and still thrown him out!

I really enjoy seeing a guy hustle when he hits the ball, stretching a single into a double when an outfield gets too comfortable.  I only wish every player would play with the same attitude.

WHY CAN’T ANYONE CATCH WITH TWO HANDS?

This one drives me nuts.  When I was young, we would run laps around the field if we got lazy and caught a fly ball with one hand.  I’m not talking about the ball you catch on the run.  I mean the one that you are planted under, waiting for it to come down from the skies and into your glove.

We’ve all seen the play go south when a player one-hands it, only to have the ball pop out of his glove.  Yet in today’s game, you never see a player use two hands.  Do they really think they’re too good to lift their other hand up to close the glove around the ball?

This is one of those situations that I actually cheer when I see an error!

WHY DO SO MANY INFIELDERS THROW OFF THE WRONG FOOT?

This one doesn’t bug me as much as the one handed catch, but it’s close.  I understand that when a ball is dribbled into the grass, the fielder may only have time to pick up the ball and throw, regardless of which foot he’s currently propped up on.

However, when you’ve got time to make the play, for crying out loud plant your proper foot and fire the ball.  More times than not, the ball will get to the first baseman faster and more accurately.

Believe me, your first baseman will thank you (and so will your head coach)!

WHY ARE UMPIRES ALLOWED TO CREAT THEIR OWN STRIKE ZONE?

Okay, we’ve hit the players, now it’s time for the umpires.  I’m not going to complain about calls in the field, regardless of whether I believe they are doing a good job or not.  Those are judgment calls, so I’ll let them slide, within reason.

But the strike zone is supposed to be the strike zone.  It’s defined in the rule book.  You’d think it would be called the same by all umpires, regardless of their personal opinions of what it should be.

But nooooooo!  (A little John Belushi humor there!)

Just like all umpires insist on signaling their balls and strikes in their own fashion (punching, pulling, raising their fist or doing some kind of martial arts kata), they insist on having their own strike zone.

Remember the good old days when a pitcher, and a hitter, could count on a ball over the plate that was between the batters armpits and knees being a strike?  Not anymore.  Now it depends on the man behind the plate.

One day, the strike zone is from the shins to the belt, the next day it is from the thighs to the letters across the chest, and the next it is from just below the waist to the shoulders.

Worse yet is the umpire that changes the zone in the middle of the game.  Most players would agree that they can handle a weird strike zone, as long as it is the same in the ninth inning as it is in the first inning.

I’ve got an idea of how we can make it easier for everyone.  Let’s have all umpires call it per the rule book!

I could go on with more issues, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more later!

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One Response to “THINGS THAT BUG ME ABOUT SPORTS TODAY – BASEBALL EDITION”

  1. 1 Patrick Lagan

    Ok on the player side I have one player that eliminates all of the things that bug you. Granted he played some 30 plus years ago but he did everything the way it should be. He is also a player that should be in the hall of fame and looking at the way some players act today he should have gone in on the first ballot.I am talking about Mr Charlie Hustle Pete Rose.


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