MLB get­ting whiff of 40K strike­outs

Baltimore Sun - - BASEBALL - WILD CARD

Ma­jor League Base­ball is set to smash through a pre­vi­ously un­touched bar­rier: Some bat­ter likely will walk back to his dugout Sun­day af­ter be­com­ing the 40,000th strike­out of the sea­son.

There were 30,801 strike­outs in 2005. At the cur­rent rate, this year’s to­tal will be about 40,060.

“It kills me,” Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gos­sage said Thurs­day. “I can’t watch the game. It’s not base­ball. The only thing that’s the same is the bases are 90 feet and the mound is 60 feet, 6 inches (from the plate).

“If you struck out that many times back in the day, your (butt) would be back in the mi­nor leagues.”

Gos­sage ad­vo­cates small ball as a way to de­feati both power pitch­ers and in­field shifts.

“I think these com­put­ers got these kids — they’re all like ro­bots,” he said. “You’re telling meapro­fes­sional hit­ter can’t hit a ball (through) the left or right side of an in­field that’s gone? How about lay­ing down five or six or 10 bunts, like Boog Pow­ell would have done?”

More bat­ters are swing­ing for the fences. The sea­son home run record of 5,694, which had stood since 2000 at the height of the steroids era, was shat­tered with nearly two weeks left.

Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred is con­cerned about the de­crease in ac­tion, es­pe­cially in an era when sports are com­pet­ing with screen time for the at­ten­tion of youth. But not ev­ery­one be­lieves strike­outs are detri­men­tal.

“If you’re strik­ing out, you’re not hit­ting into a lot of dou­ble plays,” Roy­als man­ager Ned Yost said. “(Bat­ters) would much rather have one out than the chance for two.”

Said Yan­kees man­ager Joe Gi­rardi: “You can be ex­tremely pro­duc­tive strik­ing out 150 times a year. If you can drive in 100 and score 100, there’s a lot of (good) things that you can do.”

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