MLB is making baseball fundamentals relics of the past

Among the for-better-or-worse elements of the internet is that anyone can become a syndicated columnist, and in my case, for not even a penny more in pay.

But that’s OK as I no longer feel alone in my laments that big league, big-ticket baseball has been senselessly denuded of fundamental winning skills as they’re no longer taught or demanded.

Not a day passes without reading the woeful tales of MLB games from devotees throughout the continent and beyond of games risked or lost to the inability or unwillingness to do the least in service to winning. Other than replying that The Game is suffering from a sustained epidemic of illogically diminished standards, I’ve nothing better.

Here, where there are two teams, we’re able to double our wonder as to why multimillionaire players and their managers do whatever it takes to lose games and disable pitchers.

The Guardians’ Josh Naylor, right, scores a run after avoiding a tag by New York Yankees catcher Austin Wells in the 10th inning on April 14. AP

Still can’t get over Yanks-Guardians, Sunday, won, 8-7, by Cleveland in 10. Josh Naylor scored the tying run on a bobbled infield grounder to Gleyber Torres but it’s not as if Naylor didn’t try to be tagged out by a throw caught chest-high by the catcher.

While the sweep tag was missed, it was a close play only because Naylor didn’t perform the obvious fundamental. He didn’t slide home beneath the tag. He made an easy run — the tying run in the 10th, for crying out loud — into a close play. Astonishing! Or, at least, such used to be.

On YES, where the fundamental sight of whether the on-deck batter signaled the runner from third to slide or remain upright did not appear, John Flaherty, former MLB catcher, simply said, “I’m a little surprised Naylor didn’t slide.”

A little surprised? A week later, it remains flabbergasting! It’s highest rung professional baseball! Naylor, at $6.5 million per, isn’t paid enough to slide?

The Mets, last week, swept the Pirates, mostly thanks to the Pirates.

In the second of three games, a 3-1 final, the Bucs should have led, 1-0, but lazy, presumptive baserunning interceded to end the half-inning before that run scored.

The Bucs’ starter, Jared Jones, was untouchable, allowing one hit and striking out seven before he was removed after the fifth, having thrown just 59 pitches. The Mets’ SNY booth of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez immediately concluded that no one could have been more pleased to see Jones yanked than the Mets.

Pirates stud young pitcher Jared Jones. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

But Jones was on an arm-saving pitch count. Or was he? Was the idea to save his arm or have him throw as hard as he could for five innings knowing he’d be done after five? It appeared to be the latter.

How many big-price-tag pitchers are now lost for months, the season or forever because they knew they had no chance to throw beyond the fifth or sixth, as per new-age, find-a-way-to-lose preordained “strategies,” so they tried to throw 100 mph on every pitch?

Regardless, Tuesday the Mets didn’t beat the Pirates, the Pirates beat the Pirates — another common modern result, April through October.

Early last week the Braves lost Spencer Strider, among the best starters in the majors, for the rest of the season. To his ulnar ligament in his right elbow surgeons attached an internal brace.

He had twice pitched this season, neither time for more than five innings, striking out a total of 12. He’s 25 and in 2022 signed a seven-year deal worth up to $92 million. Did a five-inning limit hurt him? It certainly didn’t help.

Spencer Strider Getty Images

The Braves’ No. 1 starter will now be lefty Max Fried, a sensational whip-bodied pitcher — and strikeout specialist — until last season when, at 29, he was placed on the 60-day injured list with a strained left arm.

The Dodgers last week placed 25-year-old right-handed starter and first-round draft pick Bobby Miller on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. In just 11 ²/₃ innings this season, he’d struck out 18.

The “crafty” pitcher is trending extinct. Heck, ESPN now applies speed guns to Little League pitchers.

Every MLB team now does it the same: five, six innings at the most from starters, leave the rest to a transient phalanx of half-inning-only relievers even if they were signed as starters. Winning fundamentals from bunting to base running abandoned. It’s parity based on foolish fad.

The survivor — the top of the flesh heap — wins it all.

Prime no saint to worship

If you claimed to be in direct touch with God as often as Deion Sanders, you’d be institutionalized — except in New York.

Wonder if God told Sanders to rip off all those kids, teachers and vendors who were abandoned after the notorious collapse of his scandal-scarred charter school he modestly named “Prime Prep Academy.”

Perhaps CBS’s hard-hitting “60 Minutes” can bring that up during its third installment of “Kissing Coach Prime’s Fanny.”

Deion Sanders Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Simply no end to the highly paid TV and radio sports baloney grinders, those who rely on their bosses’ ignorance for sustained employment.

As can be seen and heard on @Backafttathis (on X), FS1’s self-promoting, rotten-guesswork artist and fact-fabricator Colin Cowherd claimed, “I covered [future Villanova coach] Jay Wright when he was an assistant coach at UNLV, and I knew he’d be great, but he just wasn’t ready at the time.”

Fascinating! … Especially because Wright was at UNLV from 1992-94 while Cowherd’s bio reads that he was in Tampa in 1993 and 1994, thus he couldn’t have had much time to recognize Wright’s rising greatness at UNLV.

Unless, of course, Cowherd, as usual, was full of it.

NBA gimmicks have diminishing returns

Seems everything attached to the NBA this season, from its early in-season tournament to its play-in playoffs, is predicated on some gimmick to fuel TV value, almost as if gambling on NBA players and games still isn’t enough.

How’d you like to be a CBS News-Tokyo employee, recently laid off in order to cut costs while CBS pays Tony Romo $180 million to call half-a-year’s NFL games?

Tony Romo Getty Images

I’ve tried, but I just don’t get it. Two of the most ubiquitous commercial comedy acts on TV have been Kevin Hart, who will sell anything, and that winged creature in the Buffalo Wild Wings ads. While both are designed to be funny, there’s a nothing funny about redundantly loud and annoying.

Harvey Greene, a Gotham sports media go-to-guy until he bolted to Miami to become PR boss for the Dolphins, has been chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2024 Award of Excellence. He’s one of those throw-back types — everyone knows him, everyone leans on him.

How was world championship tennis played for over 100 years before players began to fist-pump after points? Natural enthusiasm or TV taught? Rod Laver lacked demonstrable drive?

Well, it has reached this point: If Shohei Ohtani had nothing to do with it, why didn’t he? He allowed his pal to pull $16 million from his pot yet he and his — surprise, again! — newly revealed wife had no idea?

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