In the phenomenal movie, “Good Will Hunting,” Robin Williams changes the life of a young man by convincing him that his tragedies are not his fault, but the fault of others. The “it’s not your fault” scene is the turning point of the movie, and Hunting’s life, sending him on the road to recovery and success.
In the next few days, the pitching staffs of several professional baseball teams will be under tremendous pressure to perform well enough to get their teams into wild card positions for the major league playoffs. It will be asking a lot of these talented players to pitch victories under the difficult conditions they labor under. Fans in San Diego (Padres) and Boston (Red Sox) are quick to criticize their pitchers and slow to blame their non-clutch hitters.
Should the baseball season end badly for teams, some fans will blame their pitching staffs. I prefer the rationale of Robin Williams, that it is not their fault!
The reasons are simple. Baseballs today are “juiced” meaning they are made livelier than in the past. They are made smaller, lighter and fly farther. It is the best kept secret since the Manhattan Project! A fly ball of yesteryear that would be caught as a routine out, now clears the fence and lands 30 rows into the stands for a home run. That is not the pitcher’s fault.
The umpires’ uneven calling of balls and strikes makes a huge difference in the results of any game. Technology exists to remedy that situation with unerring calls, but baseball’s authorities have yet to install Robo-Umps in any major league ballpark. And so some strikes continue to be called balls- that’s not the pitcher’s fault.
In over inning games, the baseball authorities now gratuitously place a runner on second base, thus giving a team three outs to get him home to score. This is probably the biggest injustice of all against relief pitchers. Again, it is not their fault.
In the baseball world, many are called, but few are chosen – exactly the case of wild card entry to playoffs. Those few wild card teams that successfully make the playoffs in these waning days of September means they have earned more than a modicum of respect in the baseball hierarchy, and opens the door to a possible world championship, albeit a backdoor.
Those teams that fail in that endeavor will cast blame in many directions. My point is that the pitchers, who are the workhorses of the teams, are the least to blame.
Shakespeare suggests the fault lies in their stars. If he was referring to highly paid baseball stars that underperform, he may be onto something. And, I believe, the real fault of baseball lies in the “Lords of Baseball” who compound their mistakes trying to speed up the game and manufacture homeruns at a dizzying pace. They are the more to blame than any of the players for what has become wrong-headed in baseball today.