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The MLB Broke Baseball Again

I really don't want to shit on the individuals here. It's not Wade Miley's fault he threw a no-hitter. John Means, Carlos Rodon, Spencer Turnbull, and Joe Musgrove went out and did their jobs to the best of their ability, if they want to celebrate their accomplishments who I am to try and tear them down. No, that would be a waste of time. A constructive use of time would be calling for Rob Manfred to figure it the fuck out. These aren't world class pitching displays, there hasn't been some influx of generational pitching talent to enter the Bigs in recent history. The MLB has yet again broken baseball, and it genuinely sucks.

Everything has been reactionary since the lockout. Yeah, that lockout, the one Montreal Expos fans like to blame for their lack of Championships. Steroids were encouraged, the McGwire-Sosa-Griffey pursuit of Roger Maris was a quick fix that brought baseball back to the forefront. Then Barry Bonds joined in on the fun and that was that. Steroids became vilified, Bonds was blackballed, Clemens still isn't in the Hall of Fame, Rafael Palmeiro had to testify in front of Congress for some strange reason, the mid-2000s were a real fucking clown car for baseball as a whole. And they've never really gotten out of their own way since. National interest waned, the MLB would tear down your social media account if you dared to share a highlight without express written consent, they looked for yet another quick fix in the same vein of the mid-'90s: they juiced the balls. 

They frequently lied about the balls being juiced despite everyone with eyeballs clearly seeing they were juiced. Especially once the league would deaden the balls for the playoffs to bring back some thinly veiled attempt at fair play. The problem with the juiced balls that the League never once saw coming was two-fold: it encouraged players to *only* swing for the fences while forcing pitchers to lean on pine tar more than ever before. Pitchers have always used pine tar, that's not new. What is new is everyone's fucking spin rate jumping exponentially. There's a reason Trevor Bauer used to openly complain about pitchers increased spin rates. There's another reason he stopped complaining: the MLB told him they didn't care. So, he started using pine tar to his advantage. That advantage turned into a CY Young and a massive new contract with the Dodgers. I don't fault Bauer in the slightest, you'd have to be an idiot to see the rest of the League using this advantage only to sit back and keep throwing straight, dry balls begging to be dinged 440' in the opposite direction. 

Hitters swinging exclusively for homers was also a natural transition once they realized how much easier it had become to go yard. Again, why the fuck wouldn't you? I really can't blame the players in any of this, it's the direction they were nudged by people trying to solve long-term problems with short-term solutions. But the MLB can't even stick with their short-term solutions. They came into this season announcing they were deadening the balls year round. No more juiced balls. Only... pitchers with pine tar. So now we're seeing pitchers with lighter baseballs throwing harder with more spin against hitters still in the mindset to only swing for the fences and it's resulting in less hits and more strikeouts. What's next, move the mound back? Start suspending pitchers for pine tar? I'll be fucking pitching by June if they start doling out suspensions for that. The MLB has put itself into yet another corner with no one to blame but themselves. (*side note: I know when referring to a league you should say "it," "itself," etc., because it's a singular league and that's proper grammar. I also don't give a shit. I'm sure there's only four of you reading this who even care, and I'm talking directly to you.)

You know what's truly the answer here? The only actual level playing field we've seen in the last 25 years, that gave no advantage to neither pitcher nor hitter? Steroids. That's right. Out of everything they've tried the only true equal playing field is having everyone juiced. You can't juice the balls without giving the pitchers something and you can't de-juice the balls without giving the hitters something. Plus, we're not talking '80s 'roids anymore. The science has come a long way. Let these guys get all the vitamins they want, I've never actually spoken to a human being who has ever once given a single shit about steroids. If you hated Barry Bonds the baseball player your opinion does not matter. If you didn't enjoy Big Mac and Sosa going toe-to-toe all Summer long you are a dweeb. And, the real point I'm building towards here, if you don't rank Pedro's '99 All Star Game performance as one of the most dominant displays of pitching you're a goddamn narc. That's what made it special. You knew those hitters were bad motherfuckers and Pedro never even blinked. When Pedro and Clemens would square off, you were able to appreciate their dominance because the lineups could kill you a million different ways. Now if the wind is blowing in Wade Miley can throw a no-hitter. Sick. 

I write this because I miss pitching. This isn't a "back in my day" thing, either. This is like a, "back six years ago," thing. 

Hitters don't hit anymore. That's why the MLB implemented the extra inning rule. Because no one went into extras trying to manufacture runs. You'd waste six innings watching guys exclusively swing for solo jacks. Now with a guy already in scoring position you see these weirdos do things like try to hit singles the other way. What a concept! In 2001 you saw 9.1 hits per nine, compared to just eight today. Hits, in general, are down 11% in 20 years. Couple that with the fact that strikeouts are up from 6.7 to 9.2 per nine with the realization that homers are near identical (1.12 in '01 vs. 1.14 in '21) and you can start to see what baseball has done to itself. Earned runs allowed fell from 4.78 per game in 2001 to 3.96 in 2021. We're seeing 17% less runs despite hitters mashing the same amount of taters. If you haven't realized it by now, I don't much care for it. 

Juice 'em all, pitchers and hitters alike, let them utilize medical advancements to stay off the IL so the good players can stay on the field, not because steroids yield more homers, but because it's the only way the MLB has proven to keep a level playing field.