That’s what Max Engel thinks in a column in the Star-Telegram that is currently being torn apart by literally dozens of Ken Tremendous wannabes. Why not join the fun?!
Mathematics is not a friend of baseball
It’s already good.
The counting craze that once was cute and chic is now all but ruining America’s second favorite past-time.
Yeah, did you hear that baseball! Second favorite. That’s all because your fans all know stuff about their sport now unlike football where we still concentrate primarily on the body language of the head coach.
Scores of math whizzes, nerds and live-in-their-parent’s-basement
Classic. Living in your parents’ basement is better than living under a bridge, amirite?
geeks are threatening to turn Royals at Rangers into a Bobby Fisher vs. Boris Spassky chess match, minus the intellect.
Your intelligent analysis is boring, and also not intelligent, and also boring.
This absurd baseball math obsession is now spilling over into basketball, hockey and football; in a few months, this trend will turn your child’s dodgeball game into a series of where is the best place to put little Jimmy so as to ensure his greatest chances of being able to dip, dive, duck and dodge.
Dude….C’mon. Look, it’s one thing to appeal to the lowest common denominator, or as we refer to them here, JScommenters, but if you’re going to do that, you have to get your Dodgeball quotes right. Patches O’Houlihan teaches you the FIVE D’s of dodgeball. FIVE. I understand that you hate math, but I think you can get all the way to five. They are, of course, dodge, dip, duck, dive, and…dodge.
Baseball was never intended to be math homework, but now baseball fans are watching pitch counts more closely than we do wins/losses, strikeouts or ERAs.
This is my favorite part of this column. It’s one thing to rip on WAR which uses a somewhat opaque formula, and has multiple versions and takes some actual effort to understand. It’s another thing entirely to rip on pitch counts because…math? All of these things are counting. The only difference (in terms of math) with pitch counts is that you have to count higher. Which, given Max’s Dodgeball issues may be the problem.
Kids, don’t listen to your parents or teachers. In this case, math is not your friend.
Kids, if understanding concepts about something makes it less fun, the best thing to do is simply not to learn the concept in the first place. Now let’s go look at the Ark exhibit and ride the dinosaur.
Math has made us all paranoid that our favorite player is going to get hurt the moment he reaches a certain figure, or be reduced to trash if he goes a little too far.
Math doesn’t make people afraid. Math allows you to understand the situation so you can deal with it like a mature, reasonable person. That’s it.
There is no better example of this than Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, who threw 99 pitches against the Royals on Sunday.
So that’s terrible because he only threw 99, and he was “gassed,” according to his manager.
I actually don’t like pitch counts. I’d actually like to rely on a manager’s judgment regarding the fatigue level of his pitcher. I’m not sure I want to rely on Ron Washington’s judgment specifically, but this sounds like a good situation where numbers weren’t really used. I mean, around 100 pitches most pitchers will get fatigued, at which point the manager should be looking for signs of exactly that. This is stupid. Also, Ron Washington is so very much not a numbers guy.
A few weeks ago, Rangers manager Ron Washington was the second coming of noted arm destroyer Dusty Baker, when he had the audacity to allow Yu to throw 130 pitches against the Detroit Tigers.
We’re about to have one of those moments where we have to mention that maybe the author should have checked Baseball Reference a little more closely.
Let the man pitch the baseball on the baseball field.
BREAKING: Yu Darvish has been forced by Ron Washington to pitch on ice rinks.
Let them play baseball and quit being a prisoner to all of these bleepin’ numbers.
As alluded to earlier, there is an awesome website called baseball-reference.com that allows you to look up “statistics” which ARE numbers, but don’t be scared! You’re probably already used to erasing your browser history so no one will ever know.
Anyway, if you go and look up “Yu Darvish” and look at “Gamelog” you can see that Darvish has thrown 100 or more pitches in 10 of 12 starts this season, and that doing so is the rule, not the exception. Moreover, you might notice that in Darvish’s start following his 130-pitch outing he was effective, but only got through 6 innings despite throwing 101 pitches. You’ll also notice some warning signs. He walked 3 people which is high for Darvish. He drilled some poor guy. And he allowed a HR. It was a solo shot, but still, not ideal. There were some signs that he wasn’t as sharp as he normally is.
You will also notice that in his next start he threw 116 pitches. In that game he struck out 14 and didn’t walk anyone. And you may notice that Washington let him go quite a while, and perhaps regretted leaving him in quite as long as he did as he surrendered a game-tying 2-run HR to Did Gregorious in the 8th inning on his 111th pitch. Whoops.
Throwing a baseball is an unnatural and demanding activity for the human arm. The shoulder and elbow were not intended to throw a little object at a high velocity over and over and over again.
The activity alone begs for injury.
I FJM stuff fairly frequently and I’m always shocked by the frequency with which poor writers list off points that clearly cut against whatever it is they’re trying to prove. Baseball people use pitch counts not to be namby-pamby weenies, but to try and get the most out of their fairly fragile assets. Pitching is hard, that’s why they study this stuff. But your “let’em go til they die” strategy; that’s probably good too.
The same goes for the recreational runner who suffers shin splints, plantar fasciitis or a turned ankle.
The Rangers owe Yu Darvish $50.5 million through 2017. No one owes a recreational runner diddly-squat.
We weren’t designed to run 26.2 miles, and we are not supposed to throw a ball 100 mph.
Tramps like us…*
We do these things because we can and, often as a result, we are probably going to get hurt at some point.
For most of us who participate in physical activity, it is simply a matter of time before something goes wrong.
Yeah, sure, but getting hurt is not all randomness. If a player is already hurt he may suffer a cascade injury. If a players doesn’t let a concussion heal long enough he’s more likely to be concussed again. But again, your play them til they die policy is intriguing.
I spoke with former big-league pitcher and ex-Texas Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser about what he says has become part of baseball’s culture.
His take on this goes back to the ’80s when the media (they ruin everything!) started to ask about pitch counts, and then it became a cover-their-butts move by managers and coaches.
A little counting clicker has completely changed what is expected of the starting pitcher and, in the process, made managers, GMs and fans all scared to death of the ramifications of throwing “too many pitches.”
“Not every pitch is as strenuous as the last pitch or the next pitch,” Hershiser said. “There are some times 130 pitches can be easier than 60. If you throw one or two pitches with bad mechanics and tweak your back, the wear and tear on your next 30 pitches isn’t even close.
I just thought I’d break in to point out that Hershiser led the NL in IP In 1987-1989, (1987 as part of a 4-man rotation) and promptly tore his rotator cuff at the beginning of the 1990 season, missed the rest of the year, and only threw 112 innings in 1991. Also, he was never as effective again, though he was never bad.
“You said, ‘If someone is going to get hurt, they are going to get hurt’ — there is some validity to that. The weather, the inning, the ballpark, the lineup he is facing, mechanics, all of these things have validity, but none of them are the reason.”
We are panicking for no reason and obsessing over Yu’s pitch count is fruitless.
Says the guy who doesn’t have to pay him $50 mil. Other than Orel Hershiser basically invoking destiny, Max hasn’t provided a shred of evidence that pitch counts are counterproductive. And by the way, there is a ton of research that AGREES with Max on that point.
A few weeks ago it was a big deal that he threw 130 pitches.
Today, it’s a big deal he threw only 99.
All of this number-watching obviously does work or sports teams would not be spending millions and creating new departments to research tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
Oh, good, so you can go ahead and delete the whole beginning part of your article then instead of publishing it in a newspaper.
But it is still sport, and nothing will ever be able to trump the inherent unpredictability of baseball.
Construction work is unpredictable, so why where helmets? Or have forklift training? After all, if someone is going to get hurt…
After all, the stats say Nelson Cruz makes that catch in Game 6 in the 2011 World Series. But he didn’t, so where is your math there?
Cruz is, by all accounts a good defensive player, and he probably does make that play more often than not. Also, .333 hitters don’t go 1/3 every night.
That is why we watch, for the precise reason that it is not a math assignment.
Math is never wrong.
Baseball very much is, which is why I love it.
I also love baseball, but I also understand baseball. I’m offended that someone would think love increases as ignorance increases.
Hershiser is right when he says all of this math is based on the past.
Unless you are Marty McFly or The Doctor, everything is based on the past.
And if we knew exactly how it all was all going to turn out, why would we watch?
Cool, strawmen can time travel now. I will now use my time-traveling strawman to set this article on fire.
*It’s possible that this book is bullshit. I’ve read a few things that argue against some of his basic premises, but it’s an interesting read.