Baseball’s New Era

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*Baseball and Computer Shifts

• Last Saturday I woke up with a great idea for a MLB column. How do all these shifts on defense determined by computer affect the outcome of the game? I was rapidly brought back to Earth by an excellent column in The Register Sports Section, Page 1, written by Pedro Moura. The Headline, of course, read “GRAVEYARD Shifts.” The column documents the number of times various teams have employed their shifts.

• My concerns are similar to Moura’s with in addition how these shifts affect the game for the fans. My opinion is that it removes much of the human element for players and fans with outcomes decided by computer. Kids playing sandlot, and learning the game, don’t play defense (and offense) by automation. At first observation there doesn’t seem much we can do about it. We could have a rule that the defensive players can’t go into shifts that move them across an imaginary mid-line that runs from home plate over the pitching mound and second base and to the fence in dead center field. It is unlikely that would be acceptable to the baseball brass. It would be just another rule! On the other glove you could argue that most other sports have rules as to where you may situate yourself at the initiation of play (examples: soccer, ice hockey, basketball, track, tennis, etc.). The newly employed computer shifts do take away hits and that is exactly what most fans come to see. One thing for sure — it is worth MLB thinking about it. In the meantime enjoy the new computer baseball. And last of all there may be a savior in all this. If the shifts close holes they also open up new ones. As a last resort sluggers could learn to be opposite field bunters.

 * Do You Need A Phone?

This is from my daughter-in-law Amy in NY, who said the dinner conversation went something like this:

Ali (age 5): “God is the director of everything. And he lives in outer space.”

Annika (age 3): “I think he lives inside you, in our bodies.”

Ali: “Mom, text god to find out. And say thank you too for this beautiful world.”

Mom: “I don’t have God’s number. But I don’t need a phone to talk to god.”

Ali: “You need a phone.”

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