The Pussification of Major Leauge Baseball

The Pussification of Major Leauge Baseball

My homeboy and mentor, Zach Even-Esh, once talked about the Pussification of America and how it is ruining the physical culture of our country. I am going take it one step further and talk about the pussification of Major League Baseball. Long gone are the days of pitchers like Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, and Tom Seaver, throwing complete game after complete game season after season. Unfortunately for baseball, these days are over and instead baseball has entered an era of pussification in which coaches and managers baby pitchers. I realize that Major League Baseball is a business and the players are investments and you want to protect your investments but there is a more effective way of monitoring pitchers. In part 1 of this 2 part article I will tell you why coaches and managers SHOULD NOT baby their pitchers.

Why the Pitch Count is Bullshit

I have major beef with the pitch count. Why is 100 pitches the magic number for all pitchers?  Shouldn’t it be independent from pitcher to pitcher? Another issue with the pitch count is it does not take account the intensity of each pitch.  There is a major difference between a 100 pitch effort through 8 innings, in which a pitcher has breezed through the game, compared to a 5 inning effort when each pitch was a grind.  Also warm up pitches are not included. A starting pitcher may throw anywhere from 20-35 pitches before a game and 5-8 before the start of every inning.

Let’s take this a step further and assume a pitcher will make 30 starts a year and will throw 100 pitches each start. This equates to 3000 pitches thrown in a year. The warm up pitches before the game and before each inning will add another 1000 pitches. The severalty of these 4,000 pitches can vary greatly from pitcher to pitcher depending on shoulder health, how well conditioned their arms are and how successful they are.

One of the best pitching coaches of all time, Leo Mazzone, does not believe in the pitch count. Mazzone once said “I tell people this: If a guy is pitching good, leave him in and if he’s getting his butt kicked, take him out,” he said. “If he shows signs of fatigue from what you see with your eyes, not what a number says, then you take him out.” This is a very simple but yet effective way of monitoring pitchers. I will compare it to weightlifting in this way: once an athlete cannot perform a rep with proper technique or his technique suddenly changes, the set must be cut short. Once a pitcher changes his mechanics due to fatigue, he may be at risk for injury. This may occur at pitch 80 or pitch 150. It is highly individual from pitcher to pitcher and that is why the pitch count is irrelevant.

Conclusion

Understandably, MLB teams put strict pitch counts or innings limit on their top prospects because they want to protect their arms. But does this justify the pussification of coaches and managers when it comes to managing their pitchers? I am a die heart Yankee fan, but what the hell were they thinking when they instituted the “Joba Rules”.  Clearly that project was a failure.  Coaches and managers need to stop treating pitchers like babies. Ask any MLB pitcher and they will tell you they want the ball. They want to go out and shove the ball up the other team’s ass and finish what they started.  There were no pitch counts back in the day. Pitchers were expected to go out and leave their heart out on the field. This is part 1 of a 2 part article. The next article will discuss a solution to protecting pitchers without babying them.

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Leave A Reply (5 comments so far)

  • jim

    Idon’t fully agree with what your saying. there are still pitchers in the league who throw complete games or atleast past 7 innings. Example: Halladay and Lee

  • Jim,

    In part two of my article I talk about why pitchers like Halladay and Lee can throw complete games week after week. But here is a little teaser.

    “Check out the career of Roy Halladay. Roy had a short stint in the majors before he was sent down to the minors to correct his throwing mechanics. They dropped his arm angle from over the top to three quarters (a much more natural motion. The rest from there is history. He is one of the best pitchers in the MLB and logs well over 200inngs every year.”

    Also Cliff Lee, is part of the Rangers organization. Nolan Ryan believes his pitchers should be conditioned to throw over 120 pitches and they need to be stretched out. I completely agree with his take on it. Take strength training for example. If you never attempt heavy weights,when you attempt to go for a 1RM you will get crushed. Same thing with pitching, if you never throw 125 pitches, chances are your body and mechanics will break down before you even reach that. The only way to combat this is to condition your arm to throw that many pitches. Make sure you check out part II of this article. You will see the rest of my take on the situation then.

    Coach Megz

  • I think some of the old-time pitchers will agree with you Joe. I’ve watched a few interviews with old-time greats throughout this season and heard a few of them make mention of how it was harder back when they played because they were expected to do more. I wish I could remember who it was but someone just recently said something like, “Back in my day you had to be a starter and a reliever,” or something like that. There have been plenty of references like this poking little jabs at many current starters. I also recall statements being made about the 5-man rotations they are using now, as opposed to the 4-man rotations of old.

    Jedd

  • Pat

    Joe,

    Great article. I like the point you made about 100 pitches being the magic number for all starters. We know not everyone is built the same and not everyone can handle certain loads the same way, so why the same pitch count? I also always wondered why warm up pitches and throw overs to first to check on runners was not included in the “pitch” count as well.

  • Jedd- I agree with you, especially about the old time pitchers. I don’t think the problem is with the players but instead with the front office. They think the best way to protect their players is to use the pitch count or innings limit but what they don’t understand is the importance of proper mechanics or the importance of BUILDING a pitch count, not limiting one. Lastly, they don’t realize how to gauge if a pitcher is getting tired or not. There are other indicators instead of getting lit up and whether or not he has thrown “100 pitches’

    Pat-The pitch count is overrated and misused! I completely agree with you Pat.

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