Tonight’s home plate umpire has an entertaining and malleable strike zone, but the beloved (and bemused) Reds are currently ahead. I’ve seen a good bit of 2020’s baseball-in-the-time-of-the-cholera.
Some thoughts occur;
- I like the rule change starting each extra inning with a man on second base. It maintains the clock-free bliss that is baseball while intensifying the action in the extra innings of a game that has stretched over the years. The strategy of waiting around for a home run isn’t so sound under these new conditions. With a runner on second and nobody out; singles, doubles, and (God forbid) sacrifices are back in play. You might still be sittin’ and watchin’ a tie game for the rest of your life, but you’ll be seein’ some action.
- Ditto for the rule change requiring a relief pitcher to pitch to at least three batters or to the end of an inning. It adds a dollop of strategy to the game and it eliminates seeing four pitchers warm up in one half-inning.
- The jury’s still out for me on the designated hitter, but I’m not as opposed I was. Tonight, it’s a lot more entertaining to see catcher Curt Casali batting in the ninth slot than wailing at Luis Castillo’s inept whaling.
- The crowd sounds being pumped into the empty stadiums need to go away. It’s a hoax. It sounds like a hoax. It makes me wonder if the game is really real. It makes me wonder if we really did land on the moon.
- The two-dimensional fans in the stands are odd, but at least they’re not all looking at their phones.
- I like Sam LeCure’s increased participation with the broadcast team. He is more relaxed this year and has an interesting wit and perspective. I’m also happy to see more of Lexington-born Jeff Piecoro…but then, I’m an unabashed homer.
- The Reds are flat-out disappointing. The highest batting average in tonight’s starting nine belongs to Nick Castellanos. He’s batting .237…pitiful. New additions to the team have not delivered. Moustakis has neither impressed at the plate, nor in the field, and has been often injured. Shogo Akiyama is just now fighting his way through a tough transition to US baseball. Matt Davidson has been released from the team. Pedro Strop, and now Wade Miley – injured. And then there’s Nick Senzel, clearly our answer in center field for the foreseeable future, injured and now injured again. This team should have been in the playoffs this year. It looks highly unlikely now.
- On the happy side, the pitching has been strong and deep, and all should be Reds next year. A corps of young potential stars are interesting to watch. José Garcia, Tyler Stephenson, Aristide Aquino, and Nick Senzel all should be Reds next year.
I do dearly love the game, though it has and will change. So must I.
But the strike zone…that should be immutable. Someone tell tonight’s umpire.
May your launch angle be correct, your exit velo be 110+, and your spin rate be dazzling.
And this one belongs to the Reds! (Despite the shimmering strike zone)