The idiocy of pitch count

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Baseball’s lunacy in enshrining pitch count as the most important method of evaluation of a starting pitcher reached its nadir last year when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts used four separate pitchers to pitch to only four batters in the sixth inning of a midseason game.

They were the only batters to come to bat in a short inning. There is no rational justification for such foolishness. It is a disservice to the fans and to the game. And it explains why baseball is no longer considered the nation’s national pastime. This nonsense must stop.

The purpose of this article is to point out one of the biggest flaws in judging a pitcher by the number of pitches he throws in a game, and limiting every starting pitcher to 100 pitches.

What makes no sense whatsoever is that the pitches that are counted do not include the pitches a pitcher throws warming up before a game. A starting pitcher generally goes to the bullpen at least 15 minutes before the game’s starting time to warm up. If he throws one pitch every 10 seconds, that’s six pitches a minute or 90 pitches in 15 minutes. If there was some scientific correlation between the pitcher’s efficiency and the number of pitches he throws, then those pitches should be counted.

But it doesn’t stop there. When the team takes the field on defense in every inning, a pitcher may throw up to eight warm up pitches, and generally does. So, if there were some scientific correlation between a pitcher’s efficiency and the number of pitches he throws, those pitches should logically be counted, also. The same muscles and ligaments are used when throwing a warm-up pitch as when throwing a regular pitch in a game. If the theory is that the arm can only throw a certain number of pitches in a game, then all pitches should be counted. What’s the logic in only counting the pitches when a batter is in the batter’s box and eliminating the warm up pitches? Obviously, there is none.

The result is that limiting a pitcher to 100 pitches actually thrown in competition is sheer and utter nonsense. If that were true a smart manager (excuse the oxymoron) would instruct his pitcher not to throw any warm-up pitches at the beginning of each inning. Further, he would probably instruct him only to warm up for five minutes before the game, thereby cutting down the number of pitches his arm must throw and limiting that arm to only throwing pitches that are in actual competition.

It’s not just the quality of the game that is destroyed by these foolish and irrational determinations by every manager in the game, it is the boredom forced upon fans who have to sit there and watch the manager trudge out to the mound, talk to his pitcher, motion the new pitcher into the game, wait while the new pitcher walks in from the bullpen, and wait some more while he takes his eight warm up pitches that he is entitled to take after he arrives at the mound. We are talking, conservatively, five minutes each time a pitching change is made. Is this what the fans are paying for? I think not.

Football is struggling with the amount of time it takes for officials to determine replays, but they only happen two or three times in a football game, and the rule actually states that the officials should take no longer than 90 seconds. If that’s a problem in football, then the manager’s constant changing of pitchers is much more of a problem in baseball.

You can’t change unwise people’s minds by reason. Their minds are made up and no amount of logic will be able to change them. As far as the good of baseball is concerned, it must be done by rules. I think that there should be no more than one pitching change allowed per inning, and the number of pitchers allowed in a game should be limited to no more than four.

Baseball is the only sport that treats its most important position with such utter disdain. It has ruined the game for me, and I do not think I am alone.

Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.

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