It’s a new baseball season and, with it, a few new rules. It is not so much the changes that are important as much as the effect on the game. Most of the changes require pitchers and batters to move more quickly. As a result of these changes, games that averaged three hours and three minutes last season are this Spring taking a full half-hour less time to play. Speeding up the game, particularly in this era of reduced attention spans, will make the game far more accessible and exciting. The only negative I can see is less beer sales (or maybe they sell the same amount in a shorter period of time, which pose its own problems…).
I’m pleased with making the bases slightly bigger as well. Doing so is safer for players, reducing collisions, and will marginally increase stolen base attempts, which will increase excitement. I’m not as keen on prohibiting the defense from the “switch.” For the uninitiated, this means loading up the infield by putting several players on the right side of second base (for example) because the odds of the hitter hitting the ball on that side are significant. But I get it. A few more hits generally is a good thing.
THE IMMACULATE INNING
There are few statistics in a sport that indicate excellence but generally are uncorrelated with the abilities of a player over a long period of time. One of these is the concept of the “immaculate inning.” Most of us are familiar with the “1-2-3 inning,” in which the pitcher retires the first three batters he faces in order. Most of us know what it is to “strike out the side,” which, as the name makes clear, is striking out the first three batters faced. The immaculate inning is one in which the pitcher strikes them out on the fewest number of pitches possible (nine—three strikes each on three players). It’s been done 112 times so far, by the great, the near great and the obscure. That said, only seven players have done it more than once and those names reads like a Hall of Fame list: Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and Kevin Gausman (well, nearly so).
THE NEWEST FORM OF STRIKEOUT
Because the rules for speeding up the game require that the batter be in the batter’s box ready for a pitch in eight seconds, failure to do so is an automatic strike. In Spring Training, there already have been strikeouts recorded for this. In the Washington Post it was suggested that a new notation should be employed in scorekeeping. Currently, a strikeout swinging is indicated by the letter “K,” while striking out “looking” (without swinging) is a backwards K. The article suggests that being struck out in this new way should be a K on its back, indicating striking out while not paying attention.
PREYING ON THE VULNERABLE
I have been railing on state-supported gambling like lotteries. States ought not sanction activities that are, at their core, a form of immoral behavior. But worse, the participants in these lotteries (as well as many of the denizens of the poker parlors strewn across the country) are people who suffer from gambling addiction. And many of the rest are poor, desperate, or don’t understand the basic (daunting) math that makes their odds for success nearly impossible.
There are other places in which people are misled in our consumer economy. Fortunately, we have agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Protection Agency to help ensure safety, fair advertising and disclosure. Yet, the misleading of customers continues today in other forms. These include the myriad tech companies offering something for little or no cost, while taking in return the right to send misleading (or downright false) information your way, gather information from you, and inundate you with relentless advertising.
But Ira Waldman highlights an even more insidious form of consumer-abuse out there and that is the way in which “insurance companies” prey upon the elderly. Many of the elderly are in a vulnerable state, existing on fixed incomes in an inflationary economy, fearful regarding the future, and desperate for relief.
Ira notes, “…you don’t watch enough cable news because not an hour goes by without one of these commercials coming on”:
. “And this is just one of several annoying commercials with ‘Jonathan.’” The commercial begins by stoking fear—a couple discussing recently learning of the unexpected death of a friend who runs marathons regularly. The not-so-subtle message is “you may be next and you need insurance.”
The policy, available for “only $9.95 per month” is not really life insurance as we all imagine it. It covers some portion of insurance payments and has a two-year period. The pay-out for a 55 year old male $1,506. Based upon the actuarial tables, a white male has a 26 year life expectancy (and ignoring the time value of money), he would pay in $3,120 for that benefit. It’s annoying and it is a scam. Here is the explanation - https://choicemutual.com/jonathan-lawson-colonial-penn/.
Truth in advertising being what it is, the salesperson never states the total benefit upon death, nor does he go through the math.
Ira points out that it’s immoral and a scam and shouldn’t be legal.
Just think, these elderly people being made to fear something that isn’t really a danger, being fed lies, and being convinced to pay dearly to address the non-risk. Then imagine it being pounded into their heads on TV day after day after day after day…
Sort of like Fox News and/or being convinced to fund Donald Trump’s latest fundraiser to “stop the steal.”
Have a good day,
From the archives:
I think you want ‘shift’, not ‘switch’, right? I’m ambivalent about that rule. One the one hand, playing your position as assigned goes back from the start. Since late 1800’s. Stick with it. On the other hand, if you don’t like the shift, learn how to hit to the opposite field. Bunt down the 3rd base line. You’re a pro, right? I like Olbermann and he hates the rule. Batters should adapt. I’m on the fence.
Your comments and those of Ira Waldman about the deceptive advertising in the insurance industry are spot on. A copy should be sent to the FTC and AARP.