March 21, 2005

Baseball style coach

Leather is "in" as we look at what's hip in 2005.

Couldn't sleep last night. Like our correspondent Martin Smith does when this happens, I went through the rosters one by one in my head, filling out rotations and lineup cards. It’s the sign of a true baseball junkie. Colorado did me in and I fell back to sleep.

Lately, I've been gearing up for my NL East preivew and big Phillies primer. Today, a couple of colleagues have posted their own here and here. For now, a few thoughts from last night circa 2 a.m., other than Josh Towers will pitch fifth for Toronto.

The next big thing
I've been thinking a lot about what Peter Gammons said earlier this offseason when he said defense was "the next big thing." The Phillies blogosphere has been talking about it for some time.

I like the way he said it and agree with him, for a number of reasons. First, defensive stats have expanded to become better indicators on how we value fielders.

But the bigger trend, whether he considered this or not, is a broader shift I expect to begin this year.

I believe the home run is going out of style. Small ball and "smarter" ball, including defense, will make a comeback in 2005, and I expect it to stick, at least for a while.

Baseball is as cyclical as bell-bottom jeans. The big trendsetter is ESPN, with Gammons, Tim Kurkjian, Jason Stark and others setting the bar and promoting a new style of thinking. Some might argue that will never happen: A network based on the big play would never put together a highlight reel based on defensive zone rating.

Just wait.

Whether it's the steroid scandal or records that have already been broken, the long ball isn't the high water mark it once was, and has been infected with a bad vibe, to a certain degree.

Where baseball left off, with Boston finally winning, beating St. Louis after the greatest comeback in post-season history, there's something "natural" happening in baseball, underneath the unnatural arms of Jose Canseco and the congressional committee on steroids.

Personally, I embrace the change, like I welcomed back hip-hugger jeans on a chick. This is going to be one, smooth, groovy season.

On tap
Defense is the next big thing, but will it be the deciding factor on who wins the NL East? More on that later.


At 3:28 PM, Blogger el123chico said...

you wife must really love you to put up with your late night baseball pillow talk.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Tom G said...



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