Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon built his career teaching hitting and working with prospects in the minor leagues.
So he knows a few things about developing hitters. And he cares not for the current instructional trend that has everybody and their Aunt Judy hacking away with uppercut swings.
Maddon went off on that topic last week in Philadelphia after the Phillies fired hitting coach John Mallee.
"Just go to Twitter and search 'hitting guru’ and find out all these different people making money these days." Maddon told reporters. "They’re making it too complicated, and it’s really sad. I grew up as a hitting coach, and I taught hitting a certain way. And I still think it’s germane to the way you should hit today."
And . . .
“It’s really being morphed into an area that’s non-sustainable. There are too many holes in the methods that are being profligated right now. It just doesn’t work that way.”
And . . .
“I’ve seen some of the videos that they’re selling online, that parents are paying for. Wow. They’re just promoting the strikeout. That’s all they’re doing."
This new school is making Tipsheet's favorite hitting tool, the Ken Griffey Jr. batting tee, obsolete. That tool forced hitters to slice into the baseball at a downward angle to produce line drives and backspin.
USA Today notes that hitters are on pace to break the single-season strikeout record for the 12th consecutive season. This year 36 percent of all plate appearances have resulted in a strikeout, homer, walk or hit-by-pitch.
Writing for USA Today, Bob Nightengale offered this broader warning:
And if the changes to the way the game is played – more home runs, shifts, strikeouts – weren’t startling enough, Major League Baseball is experimenting with new technology and drastic rule changes in the independent Atlantic League, namely using an automated system to call balls and strikes.
These trials in the Atlantic League are part of a larger shift in the game. A new era of analytical baseball, where everything is measured, quantified and optimized by raw, heartless numbers.
There’s more knowledge and information than ever before, which is relished in the industry, but critics say it’s sucked the heart and soul out of the game.
Here is what folks are writing about Our National Pastime:
Matt Martell, SI.com: "The Cubs have tons of star power in their lineup, with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez among the league’s best players at their respective positions. Nicholas Castellanos has been an impactful addition to their offense, slashing .348/.392/.710 with six homers in 17 games since he was traded to Chicago from the Tigers. Plus, with Yu Darvish looking like the ace of old as the Cubs’—gulp—No. 5 starter, their rotation is among the best in baseball . . . Relief pitching has been the Achilles heel for nearly every contender this year, Cubs included. Craig Kimbrel has a 6.08 ERA in 15 games since joining the Cubs in late June, while veteran righthander Pedro Strop has a 5.40 ERA. This week past week alone, the Cubs lost two games via walk-off. If they can’t keep the leads their starting pitchers give them, Chicago will be in trouble."
Mike Oz, Yahoo! Sports: "Major League Baseball as it stands right now, two weeks until September, feels like three elite teams vs. each other — and everyone else. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and New York Yankees are without question the best teams in baseball at this juncture. The room between the three of them isn’t much, but the gap between them and the other 27 teams seems a bit more sizable. That’s not to say someone can’t get hot in October and wipe away all of them, but if you’re betting on a World Series right now, the wise choice is some combination of those three teams. We’ll see at least one version of a possible World Series preview this weekend as the Yankees visit the Dodgers for three games starting Friday in L.A. The Astros, meanwhile, are hoping they can beat up on the Tigers and the Angels after a rough patch last week that saw them lose five in a row."
Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com: "Though the bullpen is worrisome -- as it is for the Dodgers, mind you -- the Braves are totally different from the team that last year barely mustered a whimper against the mighty Dodgers in October. The kids are grown up and there's more veteran firepower. Let the tale of 2015, when the Cubs were 7-0 against the Mets in the regular season but were swept in the NLCS, caution us against taking the result of this weekend's Braves' series win as something of substance. The Dodgers would still be the overwhelming favorites and their rotation would look a lot different, but the Braves have a top-to-bottom strong lineup and the ability to put forth a sturdy playoff rotation."
Buster Olney, ESPN.com: "The Boston Red Sox apparently received some good news about the condition of Chris Sale's elbow Monday with sources telling ESPN's Jeff Passan that Sale is expected to avoid Tommy John surgery. However, Sale will miss the remainder of the regular season as he rehabilitates the injury. Sale visited with Dr. James Andrews Monday and was treated with a platelet-rich plasma injection, the Red Sox said in a statement. Andrews also recommended a period of shutdown from throwing. Sale will be reevaluated by Andrews in six weeks . . . Avoiding Tommy John surgery has to be considered the best-case scenario, although there is still plenty of uncertainty. Sale's past two outings were some of his best work of 2019, and losing him could turn out to be the coup de grace to Boston's fading playoff chances this year. But Tommy John surgery would have also been an early body blow for the 2020 Red Sox, as they would have been tasked with trying to bounce back from a disappointing season without Sale. Still, there are questions about Sale's long-term future in terms of both health and effectiveness."
“I can’t watch these games anymore. It’s not baseball. It’s unwatchable. A lot of the strategy of the game, the beauty of the game, it’s all gone . . . It’s like a video game now. It’s home run derby with their (expletive) launch angle every night.’’
Rich "Goose" Gossage, to USA Today, on the state of baseball.