Sunday, June 26, 2011

5 comments Mike Schmidt May Not Remember His Playing Days Too Well

I hate to do this, but in the course of searching for this week's ESPN baseball chats I found a chat with Mike Schmidt on June 7. I read the chat because I have always enjoyed Mike Schmidt and think he is the best (or 1a with Eddie Mathews simply for pure bias reasons) third baseman of all-time. As a child playing baseball, I used to pretend I was him when I wanted to bat right-handed and Mathews when I wanted to bat left-handed. I wanted to be a third-baseman if you haven't noticed.

As I read the chat I started to get the feeling Mike Schmidt may not have remembered his playing career all that well, because he was making criticisms for things he or his teammates were guilty of themselves. It seems like some retired athletes love to criticize current athletes. This is true in every sport. Occasionally, I will find what the retired athlete is criticizing the current athlete for is a bit of hypocrisy. So here we are. I am will piss off the Phillies' fan base, as well as piss off 6 year old Bengoodfella.

This chat made me miss Joe Morgan. Actually, I just miss doing baseball chats overall.

Buzzmaster: Hey everyone, hall of famer Mike Schmidt will be here at 1:30 p.m. ET to take your questions!

Buzzmaster...I have missed you. You don't miss Joe Morgan. Don't lie.

Buzzmaster: (1:29pm) Mike is here!

One minute early nonetheless. I guess the Buzzmaster doesn't have to worry about making excuses like, "Joe Morgan is late because his plane was delayed," "Joe got arrested this morning for smacking a police officer and will have to chat from his cell" or "Joe is running a bit late. He got held up by an angry swarm of zebras that had cornered him on the street" in order to explain Joe Morgan's lack of punctuality.

Al Perhai (Minneapolis, MN)

Are those powder blue Jersey the best looking of all time? Cause I definetly think so... We love ya Mike!!!

Mike Schmidt: Looking back, today's jerseys, the Phillies are the coolest that they've ever had. Those old ones, they were pretty trendy when they came out. You still a lot of them.

Yes, you do still a lot of them. (misses Joe Morgan again) You do still a lot of them.

Clay Defayette (New York)

How do you view the raise in strikeouts? Will the amount stay this high, and is it acceptable?

MS: No.

(Slams fist on desk in anger)

In my opinion, the strikeout has become an accepted element of the offensive game in baseball. I don't think it's good for the game.

Strikeouts have always been a part of the game, I don't know if they are accepted more now or not. Perhaps some people have become more enlightened and realize though a strikeout is rarely good, it is also just an out. There isn't a huge difference in Juan Pierre striking out 50 times per year, grounding out 165 times and making 450 outs during a season and Adam Dunn striking out 150 times, grounding out 65 times and making 450 outs. Either way, the end result is an out.

So in some situations it may be fine for a player to strikeout rather than hit into a double play and in other cases it may be better for a player to ground out and drive a run in rather than strike out. I have always laughed to myself at the idea baseball is going downhill because strikeouts are "accepted" now, while no one rails against why fly ball outs are "accepted" and how this is ruining the game. Baseball is a situational game and without knowing the exact situation I tend to think an out is an out. On it's face, no out really is, or should be, accepted.

I think the acceptance of it has created a lack of accountability by today's hitter.

A lack of accountability? Really, this isn't hypocritical criticism of modern players? Let's compare the statistics of Player X to Mike Schmidt in order to see how Schmidt would hold up as accountable in his own time.

Player X is 8th on the all-time list in strikeouts, during his playing career he led the majors in strikeouts four times including three years in a row, and he was in the Top 7 of strikeout leaders every single year from 1973-1985. This player also is 17th all-time in walks drawn, was in the Top 8 from 1974 to 1987 in walks and Player X was among the league leaders during these same years in home runs and RBI's.

Now let's compare Player X, who appears to be a hitter that lacks accountability in the fact he strikes out a lot, seems to swing for the fences a lot and appears to be a three true outcomes hitter to Mike Schmidt.

We can't though...Player X IS Mike Schmidt. Yes, that is exactly correct. Mike Schmidt, the same guy who struck out the 8th most times in MLB history, is criticizing modern players for lacking accountability because they strike out so much. That's interesting to me. Later in this chat I wouldn't be surprised if Schmidt mocked current players who wear mustaches.

Mike Schmidt was a hitter who happened to strike out a lot, yet he got on-base a lot as well, which is what made him so great. Still, it isn't fair for him to say strikeouts are a result of a lack of accountability on the part of hitters because he struck out a lot when he was a player. Regardless of how great of a player he was despite the strikeouts, his playing career can be Example #1 for why strikeouts are just another out, and don't necessarily show a player is a weak hitter or undisciplined.

Jon (NYC)

Mike, your take on the Buster Posey incident?

Here's my take on the Buster Posey incident. Brian Sabean needed to quit whining about it and get over it. Buster Posey isn't the first catcher or even the first All-Star catcher to get run over at home plate by a runner. Dry your eyes and move the hell on.

MS: I hadn't seen a really, really slow motion replays. I've seen a few normal replays. It looks like the player could have slid feet first, but he chose to try to go through the catcher.

I'm not sure you need a slow motion replay to determine this. It's pretty obvious Scott Cousins went right into Buster Posey. Cousins could have slid feet first, but he wanted to score a run and Buster Posey was in the way. It was the winning run in the 12th inning as well, so there was an added incentive for Cousins to score. I thought hustling, playing gritty and doing everything it takes to win was an admirable quality for a player to have? It isn't like Cousins intended to hurt Posey nor should Cousins just not score a run for his team because the opposing player is a little bit in the way.

I think it was a direct result of the mentality of the players today.

What? If anything, players today are geared to not make contact with catchers more than players "back in the day" were. Partially because of all the bullshit that goes on when a player gets injured during a rough play. We've gotten to the point General Managers are essentially threatening players who hurt their team's players.

They're geared more for the physical contact at home plate, rather than a creative slide.

I do remember the creative slides players used "back in the day," much like this one.

In all seriousness, I don't know if there are more home plate collisions now than there used to be, but to criticize players for not making a "creative slide," as if players "back in the day" used fancy, creative slides continuously is deceiving. I don't believe it happened.

Craig (Syracuse)

How do you think the Phillies will do this year?....seems like the pitching is carrying their load.....the offense seems to be lagging......

MS: Barring the loss of Roy Halladay, although even if they lost him, believe it or not, I think the other guys could pick up the slack.

As good as Hamels, Oswalt and Lee are, I don't think there isn't a pitcher in the Phillies organization that can pick up the slack that an injured Roy Halladay would leave. The other pitchers would still pitch well, but Joe Blanton as the fourth starter doesn't look quite as good as having him as the fifth starter. So this is a fairly dumb comment. The other Phillies pitchers would do a good job of trying to pick up the slack (Hamels has probably been better than Halladay this year), but I am not sure it could be completely picked up.

They don't have a lot of stars offensively.

No. They don't have stars that are producing at the level they are used to performing at. The Phillies do have stars on offense, unless three guys with MVP's in the infield isn't enough star power for you. That doesn't include Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz...all three guys have been/are really good hitters. Are these guys hitting as well as they have or will in the future? Probably not, but the Phillies do have offensive stars. These guys are still stars even though they aren't hitting well.

By that, I mean, they have some guys with good numbers, like Polanco and Howard. But after that, everyone else is underachieving offensively, pretty much.

He meant guys with good numbers, but he just made a broad declaration of saying the offense didn't have "stars," which really isn't very clear. Everyone else is underachieving except for Shane Victorino who is not having a bad year. Jimmy Rollins...well he's hitting about like he has for the past couple of years, though he is stealing bases very well this year.

They're good enough to have a 4-game lead. That's what matters.

That's all that matters, there's no perspective on the other team's performance in the NL East needed. The Phillies are playing well enough to have a four game lead, just like a pitcher who wins a 9-8 game pitches well enough to win, while a guy who loses a 2-0 game didn't pitch well enough to win.

Clay Defayette (New York)

Do you frown upon the modern day third basemen who is big, hits for power and isn't as good defensively as someone like you back in your time?

Mike Schmidt won a bunch of Gold Gloves so that must mean he was a great defensive third-baseman, right? Yes and no.

Schmidt was in the Top 4 in errors committed at third base 11 seasons in his career, though he never lead the league in errors for a third baseman. That doesn't sound very good. Of course this could be because he got to more balls than most other third baseman as well. He was in the Top 5 in Range Factor for a third baseman 15 seasons in his career. So he was a good fielder, but did commit quite a few errors.

Of course I wouldn't expect Mike Schmidt, or nearly any older player like him, to understand or care to use Range Factor in order to evaluate his performance at a position. So I will assume Schmidt thought he was a great fielder because he won a bunch of Gold Gloves.

What's interesting is based on his error amounts, since that seems to be what the voters have been infatuated with at times, I wouldn't have thought he would have won the Gold Gloves (though they were probably given for many of the same reasons they are given today...because a player is also a good hitter), but using advanced metrics he did deserve them...but I am pretty sure the advanced metrics weren't used to show, despite the fact Schmidt had many errors, he had great fielding range. I thought that was a bit of an interesting thought without advanced metrics it seems Schmidt wasn't the best defensive third baseman.

MS: I think the defensive side of the 3B in today's game is very strong. I Think there are 8-10 really strong players at defense at 3B.

Kudos to Mike Schmidt for not criticizing the third basemen in today's game. At least he isn't completely saying, "we did things one way back when I played and today's players don't even come close to the level we achieved."

Mike (Ohio)

Did you have a "Welcome to the big leagues, kid" moment?

MS: Yes, I did. I had two hits in a row against Gibson and he drilled me in the arm with a fastball. everyone in the dugout said, "welcome to the big leagues."

In today's game of baseball this would lead to Bob Gibson getting a warning or being thrown out of the game if the pitch looked intentional. I guess back in Mike Schmidt's day they thought of creative ways to slide around the catcher, but couldn't think of a creative way of paying back a batter for getting a couple of hits off him.

Unless you were Juan Marichal of course. He thought of a creative way to pay back John Roseboro for almost hitting his ear with a baseball.

Gene Mullett (Columbus, OH)

Hey fellow Bobcat! Do you remember what you were thinking the day Pete Rose joined the Phillies?

Really, Gene Mullett is this guy's name? That sounds like the name of a character from a Will Farrell movie.

MS: Yeah. I was a happy guy. The Pete Rose free agent caravan was traveling around the country, seeing all of the wealthy owners.

I wonder why Peter Rose really visited all of these teams when he was a free agent? Was it for free agency? Or another reason...

(Pete Rose talking to George Steinbrenner) "I'm looking to take a gamble and see if I can take my bets somewhere else, if you know what I mean."

(George Steinbrenner) "It's no gamble playing in New York. It's the best thing in the world."

(Pete Rose) "When I come to your team, all bets are off, I will put all my cards on the table. The Yankees aren't a team you, nor I, would want to bet against. It's too much of a gamble and I wouldn't (winks) wager against us, if you know what I mean."

(George Steinbrenner lights a cigar) "No, I don't know what you mean. Speak fucking English and I will try to speak English back (quickly fires the secretary) you filthy hippie looking hobbit."

(Pete Rose) "That was a roll of the dice firing the secretary. Let's get down to brass tacks. Would you wager the team has a better or worse chance of winning this year with her not taking up space on the staff? (breaks out his notebook) What are the odds of the Yankees winning 90+ games this year, supposing someone was betting on the over/under? Not that I would do that of course."

(George Steinbrenner) "We'll win 170 games this year (Steinbrenner's aide whispers in his ear) I don't give a shit if we only play 162 games, this is New York. Fuck you (puts his cigar out on the aide's chest and makes plans to have the aide's family murdered)."

(Pete Rose) "I have visited with all of the other major league teams, and quite frankly I have done some research on the win projections the General Managers have given to me (pulls out a huge notebook that contains all of the important gambling information on each team's projected World Series odd and projected win totals). Is there any information I would need to know, if I didn't know this information as a non-member of the team, that would allow me to better decide if I want to wager my mone---future on the Yankees this year? Just something no other gambl---player would have access to?"

(George Steinbrenner) "Well, I think we are going to have a great year. Willie Randolph has been injured (Pete Rose starts writing furiously), which no one knows about. We also aren't confident about some of the other positions we have, so we need to shore them up. That's part of the reason we'd like to sign you. You can play multiple positions."

(Pete Rose) "I have visited every team in the majors and know the chances of each team winning the World Series are this year. What would you put the odds of the Yankees winning the World Series this year? If you had to bet, which you don't of course, let's leave that to the professionals...(whispers under his breath) like me."

(George Steinbrenner) "Are you visiting each major league team under the guise of determining if you want to sign a free agent contract with them so you can gamble on baseball?"

(Pete Rose starts stammering) "Hell no, I'm not---doing that stuff---gambling, whatever---I don't need to gamble to make money (runs out of the office in a full sprint)."

They all offered him a lot of money, but he came to Philly to play with some of us guys.

I'm guessing Pete Rose is one of those guys Mike Schmidt states used creative slides around the catcher. At least depending on who he had bet on for that game.

See what the lack of a JoeChat has done to me? I pick on a Hall of Fame player and mock another player for gambling. Come back Joe.


Rich said...

I think the acceptance of it has created a lack of accountability by today's hitter.

I'd actually agree with this. Watching Ryan Howard strike out 200+ times a year by swinging at everything and anything, the fact that he was given 25M a year supports this.

I know this is just one example (sample size alerts), but the number of times I've seen guys swing at pitches so far out of the strike zone is unbelievable.

he led the majors in strikeouts four times including three years in a row

Those years he struck out 138, 180, 149, 148 times. Other than the 180 times, none of those years would have been in the top 15 last year. Even the 180 strikeouts would have been good for fourth last year.

He led the league in strikeouts with 138, good for 26th in the league last year.

I think he may have a point. The fact that he's 8th all-time is more due to his having played for 17 years.

Mike Schmidt was a hitter who happened to strike out a lot

In his era, yes, he struck out a lot, but his 162 game average was 127 SOs per year... which is not all that bad.

For comparison, Ryan Howard strikes out on average 191 times a year. Bobby Abreu (a very patient hitter) 107 times.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I figured you wouldn't agree with this post. I'm not sure it is necessarily a lack of accountability among hitters, but a strikeout is now (correctly in my opinion) seen as just another way to make an out. I will accept that a hitter probably isn't necessarily poorly thought of anymore because he strikes out a lot, but I don't know if it is a lack of accountability that causes this. There were guys in Schmidt's time that struck out a lot (like Bobby Bonds) and it wasn't b/c of a lack of accountability, but they just stuck out a lot. Maybe there are more those guys now?

Maybe Schmidt does have a somewhat point about players today striking out a lot. I wouldn't say it is b/c of a lack of accountability necessarily though.

It is hard to compare a player across eras like that. Compared to hitters in the 1940's and 1950's Schmidt could be as seen as lacking accountability because of how many times he struck out.

I don't dislike Mike Schmidt, but I also don't know if Ryan Howard is the best comparison either for how players who strike out a lot lack accountability. Howard has gotten criticism for striking out as much as he does. It is just part of his game.

Across eras, today's players do strike out a lot, but so did Schmidt in his time. Comparing him to hitters in eras earlier than his it would look like Schmidt lacks discipline at the plate.

So I see what you are saying, but comparing across eras isn't incredibly helpful when it comes to strikeouts by batters I don't think. That's why I would compare Schmidt to players who struck out a lot in his day.

Martin F. said...

My problem with the strikeout today is who is getting them more so then how many for guys like Howard. If a player can pop 30+ homers, I don't want him swinging for a scratch single with two strikes. Look for a ball to drive, and try to hit the hell out of it. It's when the middle infielder with 8 homers a year is striking out 130 times a year. In his case, stop trying to hit a homer, or get a better eye, or somethi9ng.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin F, you are probably right about that. I know we are talking in generalities, but an infielder with 8 home runs shouldn't probably be striking out that much. I think we accept a player striking out a lot, as long as he hits a ton of home runs. Howard is an example of that, but I think he still gets shit for it.

Sverige said...

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