Raise the Mound back to 1968 levels and Make Sign Stealing Legal in MLB

You knew what was coming, but so what?

a MLB hitter on facing pitcher Walter Johnson

With Democrat debates, Presidential rallies and impeachment going on, not to mention the turmoil in Iran I’ve decided it’s time for this blog to get back to a subject that really matters.

Baseball!

It’s been a busy week for MLB as the league has assessed still penalties on both AJ Hinch and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow resulting in not only the Astros throwing them under the bus but in the Boston Red Sox deciding to part ways with World Series winning manager Alex Cora after only two years for his part before MLB even went after him.

Now I don’t have a problem with these penalties in principle as I’m a bit of a rules lawyer, if the rules say something they should be enforced ( I still think calling George Brett out in the pine tar game was the right call) but i’m also of the opinion that the rules on sign stealing are pretty stupid.

Sign stealing has been a part of the game since the day signs were and has been practiced with varying success by every team and the idea that sign stealing done one way (with no electronic help) is legal but sign stealing WITH electronic help is not frankly isn’t practical in a world of iPhones, I watches, instant replay and challenges.

So I propose a simple solution that will not only solve this dilemma but will do something that major league baseball is desperate to achieve, speed up the game.

  1. Make all forms of sign stealing legal
  2. Raise the mound back to the 1968 level

Getting rid of all restriction on sign stealing will have a liberating effect on all these teams that are doing their best to steal signs (and let’s not pretend they aren’t) by bringing this strategy out in the open you make it a more interesting part of the game and force a pitcher, catcher and coach to be more creative in their pitch calling.

Now you might argue that this will give an even greater advantage to batters in an age of lousy pitching and you’d be right, and that’s why it’s so necessary to add the second part of the equation to the plan, raising the pitchers mound.

Baseball’s panic move to lower the mound after the year of the pitcher (1968) was an action borne out of fear and did nothing to prevent the decline of the games popularity in relation to football, what it instead did was make offense easier at a time when you were increasing the number of pitchers in the game by 20% meaning that pitchers who would not have made a major league roster five years ago were not only pitching to the likes of Carl Yastrzemski , Hank Aaron Harmon Killebrew and Pete Rose but were doing it from a smaller mound.

50 years later we have smaller parks but 6 more teams meaning that there are 60 more pitchers who would not have been considered major league quality now pitching in those parks. It’s time to give the pitchers back an edge. Sure you might have a couple of Bob Gibsons emerge with microscopic ERA’s Max Scherzer instantly comes to mind but you would also give those other guys who frankly aren’t worth stealing signs against an actual shot at getting people out and speeding up the game.

Since the lack of a clock is a defining part of baseball the only way to make the game faster is to make outs easier. Raising the mound will do and doing so in conjunction with allowing all forms of sign stealing, including electronic ones will do so without overcompensating in favor of the pitcher.

And it will save everyone a whole lot of trouble.

Sable/Gerbl day 15: Scherzer Rules the Roost, Sale K’s 10 Dodgers Juneau makes it 5 straight. Texas takes Boston in extras.

Vikings 3 Washington 1

Max Scherzer gave up 4 hits over nine innnings and scored a run as King Ragnar’s Vikings outlasted Washington 3-1.

With the excepton of Anthony Rendon (2-4 2 2b) Scherzer (W 3-1) kept Washington batters off ballance and even when they managed a bit of a rally such as in the 6th when Trevor Story doubled with two outs and Josh Reddick walked he was able to bear down and end the inning without damage.

His counterpart Sean Newcomb (L 0-2) for a time managed to do the same, pitching out of a man on 2nd no out situation in the 1st, a bases loaded two out jam in the 2nd and another bases loaded jam in the 4th until he finally cracked in the fifth. Juan Segura and Kentel Marte walked to start the inning and Eduardo Escobar singled to left scoring Segura for a 1-0 game. Wilson Ramon singled to right loading the bases and after Ramon Laureano K’d Elias Diaz hit a ball back to the mound that Newcomb was able to stop but couldn’t make a play on. That single socred Marte and made it 2-0 befor Newcomb retired Rizzo and Scherzer to stop the bleeding.

Those two would be all Max would need as he killed another potential rally with a pickoff of Billy Hamilton after a leadoff walk in the 7th and by the time Washington finally got on a board with a solo Shot by Josh Reddick to start the 9th the Vikings had already added a run off of reliever Brad Hand on a two out Whit Merrified double scoring Scherzer making it too little much too late.

Notes: Scherzer walked twice along with a hit raising his batting avg to .300 this season. Bobby Poyner came out of the game after 2/3 of an inning of perfect relief complaining about arm soreness and was subsequently sent to the minors. The Vikings went 4-15 with runners in scoring position while Washington went 0-6. It will be Noah Syndergaard (0-2) vs Carlos Martinez (1-0) for Washington to finish.

Rivertown 6 LA 2

Rivertown struck for 3 in the 1st and Chris Sale struck out 10 in 9 innings as Rivertown defeated LA 6-2.

Clayton Kershaw (L 1-3) troubles began right away with a leadoff double to Lorenzo Cain followed by a one out walk to Paul Goldschmidt. After Nelson Cruz forced Goldschmidt Marcell Ozuna fly to left carried just far enough to clear the fence and Rivertown was up 3-0.

LA got one back of Christ Sale (W 3-1) David Freese singled and Kike Hernandez was grazed by a sale fastball. With one out Matt Kemp delived a single to left scoring Freese and sending Hernandez to 2nd. It looked like a big inning was brewing but Max Muncy’s liner was right at Ozuna and Chris Taylor’s fly to left was just a few feet short of the wall so the game remained 3-1.

In the 3rd Rivertown struck again. Goldschmidt walked again and this time Cruz drove a ball to left center scoring him all the way from 1st. After a pair of gournd outs Yadier Molina doubled almost to the same spot scoring Cruz from 3rd easily and Rivertown was up 5-1.

Kiki Hernandez struck back at once in the bottom taking Sale deep to left center to make it 5-2 but that would be as close as they would get as LA would only manage two hits and one walk for the rest of the game off Sale whose fastball and changeup baffled LA’s bats to the point where Matt Carpenter’s 6th inning single scoring Lorenzo Cain who doubled with two outs off Ross Stripling was just window dressing.

Notes: Dodger Ace Clayton Kershaw’s 5 earned runs in 3 innings raised his ERA to 6.64. The team has a winning record in games he hasn’t started. Ozuna’s homer was his 1st of the season. Dodger Reliver Stripling came to the plate for the 1st time this season and singled off Sale Lorenzo Cain went 4-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored. The Dodgers will throw Walker Buehler (0-1) in the finale He will face Aaron Nola (2-0 )

Juneau 8 NY 1

Mookie Betts hit two home runs and Miles Mikolas went all the way as Juneau crushed the NY Yankees 8-1 for their fifth straight win.

Luis Severino (L 1-2) Got deep in a hole three batters in. Andrew Benintendi led off the game with a triple Andrelton Simmons singled to drive him in and Mookie Betts hit the 1st fastball he saw 478 feet to right center and the score was 3-0

The Yankees couldn’t answer till the 4th Gleyber Torres singled to start things off and was erased on a force play on Aarond Judge. Didi Gregorius singled to right and Judge raced to 3rd ahead of the thow allowing Gregorius to reach 2nd and giving the Yanks two men in scoring position with only one out and the tying run at the plate. Alas for the Yanks while Giancarlo Stanton’s grounder to short scored Judge, Miles Mikolas (W 1-2) struck out Neil Walker to keep the lead 3-1.

It didn’t stay that way long, Benintendi walked to start the fifth, Simmons singled and Mookie Betts Doubled to left scoring Benintendi and getting Simmons to 3rd with nobody out but Shohei Ohtani fly to center turned into a double play when Brett Gardner’s bullet to the plate beat Simmons keeping the score 4-1.

This was Boston’s big chance and it looked like they would take advantage of it. With one out in the bottom of the fifth Austin Romine doubled and Greg Bird singled to right sending him to 3rd. Once again the tying run was at the plate with only one out and once again Mikolas came through k’ing Aaron Hicks and coaxing a force out from Torres to end the inning.

They might have come back but with Matt Chapman on 3rd (single) and Harrison Bader on 2nd (walk) and two outs their defense failed him. Torrez booted a grounder that Benintendi hit off Zach Britton scoring Chapman and sending Baider to 3rd and Britton and Romine allowed a passed ball scoring Bader making it six to one.

At that point it didn’t matter Mikolas would retire the last 12 in a row so solo shots by Betts and Othani were just afterthoughts.

Notes: In addition to his solo shot Ohtani stole his 1st base after a walk in the 7th. Yankees relieveers Dellin Betances (Ohtani) and Zach Britton (Betts) both gave up solo shots for their only earned run Betances ERA went up to 0.66 but Britton’s DROPPED to 16.20 Benintendi and Betts combined for 4 hits 4 runs 4 RBI’s 2 walks 2 homers and a double. The series ends tomorrow with David Price (1-0) against J.A. Happ (0-1)

Texas 5 Boston 4 (10 innings)

Michael Brantly hit an extra inning homer and Keone Kella pitched two scoreless innings for the win as Texas won for the 3rd time in four extra inning games with a 5-4 victory against Boston.

The Thunder stuck in the 1st off of Justin Verlander who after striking out the 1st two batters gave up a single to Mike Trout, a double to Freddie Freeman which scored Trout and a Triple to Javier Baez scoring Freeman to make it 2-0.

In the 2nd Boston came back Alex Bregman singled. Corey Kluber retired the next two the 2nd on a fielder’s choice that replaced Bregman with Ronald Acuna Jr. for J.T. Realmuto who took a ball over the green monster to tie things up.

In the 3rd the Thunder hit Verlander again, Trout walked with one out and with two outs Javier Baez doubled him in and Francisco Lindor followed with a Triple and it was 4-2 while in the bottom of the inning Christian Yelich hit a solo shot to center and the lead was 4-3.

There it stayed until the eighth when again with two out Alex Bregman hit a shot out to center off of Raisel Iglesias tying things up at 4 and taking Verlander off the hook. Verlander retired the 1st two in the 9th before giving way to Brandon Morrow L (1-1) who would retire the final man in the innings before giving up that shot in the 10th.

Notes: Keone Kela (W 1-1) retired all six men he faced for the win. Verlander struck out 15 fifteen texas batters in his no decision. 8 of the games nine runs were scored with two outs. This was Texas’s 4th extra inning game this season. Texas has played as many extra inning games as any other two teams in the league combined this season. It will be the battle of the even records in the finale as 1-1 Zach Grenkie of Texas faces the 1-1 Blake Snell.