Sports

My pitch for handling pitchers

You know what bugs me most about major league baseball, other than the very small seats they expect you to be comfortable in?

It's the dreaded ... pitch count.

I'd like to take out the guy who invented the pitch count scoreboard at the big league parks around the country. Does the average fan really care how many balls and how many strikes pitchers are hurling every inning?

And what about today's managers who live and die by the pitch count for their starting pitchers? A young man like Felix Hernandez of the Mariners at this juncture of the season should not be pulled out of a game after eight innings when his pitch count is more than 100.

There would be more complete games in baseball if managers left the starter in for that final inning. With the score four runs or less, they always bring in the so-called "closer" the guy who is expected to retire the enemy 1-2-3 in the ninth inning to preserve the win for the starting pitcher.

Now early in the season I can see where the pitch count is important, as the pitchers are just beginning the season, but halfway? A pitcher in the major leagues should be able to pitch seven, eight or nine innings.

I notice most teams have trouble when they begin a game with their fifth starter. I think it's time for a manager to get bold and go with a four-man starting rotation. Alternate right, left, right, left. If there is no break in a three-game series, by time the fifth game comes around, that first guy in the rotation should be strong enough to start again.

Maybe it's time for major league baseball to go to the Chapman Pitching Plan.



The plan

If you remember, the CPP plan calls for a nine-man pitching staff.

Here's the way it would work: There would be nine starting pitchers all making the same amount of money. No ego trips in the CPP.

Game one: First guy goes three innings, second guy three, the third guy three.

You could go with right, left, right, or left, right, left, or any combination depending on the opposition's offensive strengths.

Game two: Same thing, three different guys, three innings each.

Game three: Three different guys.

You keep three more so-called relievers just in case.

In this plan, every pitcher should be able to throw his best stuff every three days for three innings. Gone would be the middle relief guy, the set-up pitcher and the closer.

I know this seems far out, but if you think about it long enough, it makes sense. Starting pitchers usually can get through the opposition's batting order once without too much trouble, but then sometimes have problems with the second and third time around the order.

The 2009 All-Star game showed how dominant pitchers could perform in the middle innings when All-Star after All-Star shut down the National League's best hitters.

Heck, Fernandez threw just eight pitches to retire the side in his first appearance in the classic.

I know, the CPP never will be adopted because major league managers are afraid to rock the boat, go against the baseball book, but, you have to admit, it might be fun to watch.

As an added thought, Felix did go eight innings against Cleveland and David Aardsma mopped up, then at Detroit he pitched seven strong innings, got the lead when Russ Branyan hit a homer, but he did not go out in the eighth as Mark Lowe and Aardsma saved it. The point is, I still think a guy that young could pitch the last two innings.

Imagine taking out Sandy Koufax in the eighth or Whitey Ford, or even Dizzy Dean for a reliever?



Wednesday Whirl

It's auto thrill show time Saturday night at the Port Angeles Speedway when Dusty Russell brings his auto daredevil thrill show to the track. There will be 20 racing, crashing, jumping and skydiving auto tricks, clowns and music. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m., but get there early or be left out on U.S. Highway 101 when it starts.

Port Angeles wrestling and football camps wind down Friday and both had good attendance in Port Angeles. The Rider gridders met new coach Dick Abrams and wrestling mentor Erik Gonzales had two Olympians helping his seventh annual camp.

For football, fans have only two double weekends in Seattle when the U.W. Huskies and Seattle Seahawks play Saturday/Sunday tilts.

On Sept. 12, the Dawgs host Idaho, with the St. Louis Rams into Qwest Field on Sept. 13. U.W. gets Arizona on Oct. 10 while on Oct. 11 Jacksonville is in Seattle.

One more thing - I forgot to tell you about the Wiener Dog Races, a feature of the Longacres Mile weekend at Emerald Downs Aug. 14-16. The wiener dogs have race-offs at the Seattle Center on Thursday, Aug. 13, then the winners race from the starting gate on the track Friday night between races. It is hilarious and I can't believe that owners actually try to train the dogs to run in a straight line.

Your scribe will take a month off to go camping, lounge around the house, make a trip to Philadelphia and New Jersey and then get ready for fall sports seasons.

See you in September.



Columns by KONP 1450 AM sports announcer Scooter Chapman appear weekly in the Sequim Gazette. He can be reached via e-mail at scooter@olypen.com.



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