The Daily Changeup: Bonnie’s Baseball Blast, Wed 10/7
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
This new segment is called TLDW: Too Long Didn’t Watch. Basically, I will watch all the MLB postseason games so you don’t have to. Don’t worry, I’ve got your bases covered. This daily baseball rundown will come out every night from now until the end of the postseason. Today’s report is my “initiating coverage”, so it will be longer than the subsequent ones. Stay tuned.
The 2020 regular season began July 23 and was only 60 games. This year's postseason began with 8 very unconventional best of 3 wild card matchups. Now we're back to normal with the familiar Division Series structure in which 8 teams concurrently play 4 series.
Today’s Game Outcomes - Division Series is best of 5
1) AL: OAK beats HOU 9-7 (HOU Leads Series 2-1)
Oakland still has life! The A’s came from behind to tie it up 7-7 in the 7th with Pinder’s 3-run homer. A’s starter Luzardo only went 4 1/3, but closer Liam Hendriks secured the win by pitching a scoreless final 3 innings.
2) AL: TB beats NYY 8-4 (TB Leads Series 2-1)
Tampa Bay scored all 8 runs in the first 6 innings. The Yankees made a small rally to close the gap in 8th inning, but ultimately couldn’t make up the difference. Kiermaier, Arozarena and Perez all homered for Tampa.
3) NL: ATL beats MIA 2-0 (ATL Leads Series 2-0)
Braves starter Ian Anderson plus the bullpen shut Miami out, allowing only 3 hits. Both of Atlanta’s runs were scored on solo homers.
4) NL: LAD beats SD 6-5 (LAD Leads Series 2-0)
The Padres made a nice rally in the top of the 9th, scoring 2 runs. Joe Kelly narrowly got the save, leaving bases loaded 6-5 Dodgers. Cody B robbed a 2-run homer to dead center off of Tatis Jr. For Cody, that's still an easier day's work than parallel parking.
Other Musings About the League in General
The Yankee’s Clean-Cut Culture: The Yankees are the only team to enforce an “Appearance Policy”. This means players agree in their contracts to stay clean-shaven and not grow long hair (nothing longer than the jersey collar). The Yankee’s visual of 26 clean-cut, clean-shaven men in the dugout/bullpen never fails to surprise me. Especially in this day and age when a player’s outlandish hair and facial hair can be great for “marketing”, I wonder how much longer the Yankees will uphold this policy.
Player and Coach Mask Policy. In August, the MLB sent a memo to all teams saying players and coaches must wear masks at all times, including in the dugout and bullpen. The only exception is players actively playing on the field. Although MLB says that offenders will be fined or suspended, it clearly has not enforced this. In my opinion, coaches wearing masks makes a lot of sense for reasons beyond health. When they visit their pitcher on the mound, their mouth is already covered, so they don’t need to separately cover their mouth and prevent lipreading. WashPo mask article here.
The Buster Posey Effect. My favorite player Buster Posey (Catcher, Giants) opted out of the whole 2020 season before it began. He and his wife Kristen recently adopted two newborn twins, so he didn’t want to jeopardize their health. Announcing in July 2020, Buster was among the first wave of high-profile players to opt out of the season entirely. Other players who opted out were: David Price, Felix Hernandez and Yoenis Cespedes. They will not get paid a salary this year, and it will not count as “service time” towards their existing contracts.
Unrelated Buster Fact: Buster once compared being a Catcher to being a Therapist. You need to get inside your pitcher’s head, calm him down or hype him up, and say exactly the right words to get him to perform under pressure. Given Buster track’s record of catching 1 perfect game (Cain) and 2 no-hitters (Lincecum and Heston), I’d say he’s gotten pretty good at it.
My Thoughts on Juiced Balls and “Home Run Gate”. Anyone who has paid mild attention to baseball in the past few years will have noticed the massive surge in long balls. Independent researchers suspect this was caused by a slight change in the composition of the baseballs themselves, specifically during the manufacturing phase. They concluded that the drag properties of the ball had indeed decreased relative to previous years, but the reason for the change is still unknown. MLB denied deliberately changing the baseballs, but cited there may be “natural variation in the balls’ composite materials”. The ball change supposedly occurred sometime in the 2015 season. This WashPo article explains the issue in great detail.
For me, this frankly just makes baseball less interesting to watch. When every run is scored on a homer (especially a solo homer), there’s no real build up; the excitement comes and goes in an instant. I personally enjoy very low scoring games, pitcher’s duels, and some good old small ball.
My Favorite Game is a Shutout: My favorite A’s game was on October 5, 2013 (my birthday), ALDS Game 2. The A’s beat the Tigers in a 1-0 shutout. It was scoreless until Bottom 9, when the A’s scored on a walk-off base-hit RBI. Sonny Gray (A’s) pitched 8 shutout innings, whereas Verlander went 7. It was a total pitcher’s duel. I wish I got that for a birthday present every year.
You can see that 2016 and onwards have all been very high home run hitting years relative to the past 10 years:
AL = American League
NL = National League
ATL = Atlanta Braves
HOU = Houston Astros
LAD = Los Angeles Dodgers
MIA = Miami Marlins
NYY = New York Yankees
OAK = Oakland Athletics
SD = San Diego Padres
TB = Tampa Bay Rays
About the Author
Bonnie Young runs the Amplified blog. She shares her insights on market trends from US to Asia and interviews founders that are shaking up the tech scene. She has been passionate about baseball since the age of 13 and regularly attended A's games before the pandemic. Bonnie is currently looking for a growth equity or VC role in the Bay Area. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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