MY BASEMENT, LOS ANGELES
Despite the emergence of the fly ball revolution over the last few years, I just can't get on board with this new analytical push to sell out to hit more home runs at the plate. This is undoubtedly a bit of a controversial take, but hear me out. More home runs, walks, and strikeouts may be the most analytically efficient way to build your offense, but it's robbing the sport of its heart. In quantifying baseball's magic, you are pushing out what makes the sport America's pastime. New training methods and technology may uncover more optimal strategies, but robotic "spin rates" and defensive shifts won't ever surpass the thrill of a perfectly executed hit-and-run, or a suicide squeeze.
When a player goes up there just swinging away to hit home runs, they are selling out their team to pad their own stats. And besides, it's just not very exciting for the fans to see guys hit 450 foot home runs anymore. It happens multiple times a day now, and has made the viewing experience stale. Give me a good sacrifice bunt or base hit the other way to keep the team going.
But isn't a home run a good piece of hitting?
No. A home run is a selfish piece of hitting. Show me that you can hit with a runner on base and keep a rally moving. Work with your teammates to scratch across a couple of runs. Play small ball and get the defense on their toes.
What about opposite-field home runs?
Y'know that... that actually is a really good question. I suppose if maybe the batter homered the other way on accident that might not be so bad. Like, if he meant to hit a line drive into right field that carried just a little too much, I won't be upset. But if a wise guy gets up there intentionally trying to bomb it out of the park every time, that's not real baseball to me, no matter where he hits it.
It seems like shortening up your swing with two strikes, choking up on the bat, and just trying to poke a grounder through is becoming a lost art to modern hitters. Where is the skill in just lifting one over everyone's head?
Purposefully driving a ball and going with a pitch takes much more ability and focus than blindly swinging a club around. Exposing a slight gap between two infielders or lacing one into the outfield grass is the pinnacle of hitting prowess. That's playing the game the right way.
In an age where the character and soul of America's pastime is being swallowed up by computers, spreadsheets, and corporations, we need small ball to return now more than ever. Titanical brutes have muddied the game for too long, it's time to get back to the classic brand of baseball that our grandparents knew and loved.
Let's bring back bunting, and stealing, and spiking infielders like Ty Cobb. Bring back the tobacco-drenched ball and get back to barehanded fielding. Take player labor rights back to the 1920s. Just get back to real baseball, not whatever this is.