The Billy Joel song "Only the Good Die Young" struck me as an ode to rebellion and especially against religious authority.
Really catchy tune but like a lot of stuff out there, if you listen carefully you might just get to wonder. What's that got to do with baseball, you ask? Well this past couple of weeks brought home the thought behind the title of the song. Our community lost a really good man in the sudden and way too soon passing of Kris McNichols.
I had the pleasure of working with Kris at the Honeywell plant before I retired and had the utmost respect for him. Kris was only 50 years young.
Baseball lost a young man just this week when Tyler Skaggs, left handed pitcher with the Angels, passed away at the incredibly young age of 27. By all accounts he was a delight to be around as well.
I just watched him pitch a week or so ago and now he's gone . . . hard to believe.
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I'm not going to prognosticate here about the second half of the season but the Yanks and the Dodgers look awfully tough. The good ole N.L. Central still looks like a horse race to me. The Brewers and the Cubbies are taking turns leapfrogging each other.
The Cards, Pirates and my dear old Reds are all still lurking around and who knows? I still can't believe some of the stuff I see on the TV out of the players these days. Fundamentals are gone and athleticism is all the rage.
A guy can strike out a ton, be a horrible base runner and throw to the wrong base time after time and he's still in the Bigs and still making a ton of money.
Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner, and his crew are all up in arms about the relative lack of action in MLB games nowadays, and they should be, but what can they do? Teams don't score by stealing bases, bunting or otherwise sacrificing runners along and stringing hits together anymore. They hit home runs and strike out. They hit a lot of home runs and they strike out a lot, a whole lot.
Back in my high school days, I was a fan of Glenn Beckert, who played second base for the Cubs. This guy struck out around 20 times a year. 20 times in an entire 162 game season! I've seen games this year where there were 20 strikeouts between the two teams. Pitchers can't throw over 100 pitches, seldom get past the sixth inning and don't know how to get batters out without their 100 mph heater. Fielding? It's all about acrobatics.
Gone are the day of getting your chest in front of the ball and knocking it down. Even amazing fielders like Nolan Arenado, third baseman of the Rockies, play the ball off to the side and depend on cat-quick reflexes to make the play. My old baseball coach has turned over at least a hundred times in his grave, I'm sure. Baseball has problems, a lot of them, but for my money it's still the greatest game ever invented.