King of the (Lowered) Mound

Posted by bfreeman on August 20, 2012

Yep, I’m that guy.  I’m bothered by an impressive accomplishment in Seattle.

Felix Hernandez might be the best thing about the Seattle Mariners.  He’s a really good pitcher, maybe one of the 3-4 best in the majors (yes, he’s that good).  He’s already won a cy young in his career and now he’s added a perfect game to his arsenal of accomplishments.  It’s only the 23rd perfect game in the history of baseball and the 5th in the last 3 seasons (3rd this season alone).  No one is taking away from Hernandez on how good it was, or how good he is, but this has to stop.

I love a good pitcher’s duel.  I love 1-0 games like the one Hernandez threw last week.  And I can assure you that I’m not alone.  Baseball purists love a good pitchers duel.  But there’s something to be said for the excitement of games where someone, anyone, scores a run.  It’s not easy and I think we get it twisted in our own heads that it’s easier to score runs than to stop people from scoring.  It’s really not.

There’s actually a lot of strategy that goes along with being able to score runs in a game where the object is to hit a round ball with a round bat and making decisions in under a second.  Offense is a ton of fun and the ability to generate offense is often what makes the pitching duels so exciting and so much fun.  Yes, you pitched well, but the other team has no clue what they’re doing at the plate (oh, hello Houston Astros).

Did you see the stat I put up in the first paragraph?  3 perfect games this year and 5 in the last 3 seasons.  That is remarkable, it’s impressive, and it’s bothersome to me.  There’s a certain pendulum balance to the game of baseball.  Offense vs defense and it’s always a back and forth.  Obviously you could say the steroid era swung it heavily in the offenses favor, so I guess this is a response to that, swinging heavily into the favor  of pitchers, but shouldn’t somewhere in the middle be the goal?

I’m not saying pitching doesn’t matter.  Ask the 2010 Giants or anyone who’s won the World Series if pitching matters.  You bet it does.  But that doesn’t mean it has to be so overpowering that hearing a perfect game makes you think “what, again?”.  But in response to the steroid era, everyone moved the fences back and focused so heavily on pitching (also, because it was less watched when it comes to PED’s) that it’s gotten out of control.

Why not move the fences in a few feet?  Not softball crazy or anything, but 10-20 feet?  You’re telling me that wouldn’t equal things out a bit.  What about lowering the mound again?  After all, you can raise and lower that time after time.  Don’t have to get crazy, but you can adjust to even things out a bit.  It’d add value to the perfect game once again because they’d do it against a team that could actually hit the ball.  Isn’t it more fun to see great topped by great?

No one should take away what King Felix did.  Perfect game with 12 strikeouts? Pretty good in my book.  And it’s still a rare accomplishment.  I’m not trying to take away from what he did.  It’s just starting to feel like old hat in the baseball world.  If you’re willing to keep things competitive, you’re going to make the rare events feel even more special and you’ll still get a lot of great moments.  That’s what sports is all about.  Adjusting to keep it exciting.  Baseball’s always done pretty well.  Time to do it again.

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