‘Intellectualism’ has gone too far in baseball

Theo Epstein is reining in the fixation of baseball analysis he helped usher in.

Epstein, the former architect of the Red Sox and Cubs World Series champions, has been tasked by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred with bringing the game back to a more aesthetically pleasing product from a competitive perspective.

He spoke with Jon Greenberg of The Athletic about his belief that the change was an example of “intellectualism” gone mad.

“The change, I think, is an example of intellectualism gone too far in the game,” he said.

“I think it’s a better game when it’s not about whether your front office has the best algorithm, but whether your second baseman is on an island, with a heavy left-handed hitter, and can get a good break on the ball, pull over to his left, dive, drop his feet, make the play clean, and step up and throw the guy.

“It puts the players in the middle of the action, where they should be.”

Hiring Epstein to bolster the in-game action is akin to casinos hiring former cheaters to help them identify errors in their processes.

Theo Epstein is helping bring MLB back to previous levels of competitive action.
Theo Epstein is helping bring MLB back to previous levels of competitive action.
MLB via Getty Images

In addition to banning the shift, there’s a new pitch clock that has shortened the average spring training game by 20 to 25 minutes.

In late February, a mash-up video by MLB analyst Rob Friedman went viral showing Dodgers pitcher Landon Knack throwing an entire inning faster than Guardians pitcher Pedro Báez threw a single pitch against the Cubs. Epstein at the 2016 World Series.

The video has been viewed over four million times.

Theo Epstein celebrates the 2016 Cubs World Series.
Theo Epstein celebrates the 2016 Cubs World Series.
Getty Images

“People who watch spring training are normally your passionate fans,” Epstein told The Athletic.

“Your casual fans don’t watch spring training much, but I think almost everyone has seen the video (of the Dodgers and Padres) playing a full half inning for how long it takes Pedro Báez to throw a pitch in NLCS 16. It’s actually funny, the camera at one point cuts me off to being like, being super frustrated in the GM box, ironically enough.

“But yeah, those viral moments helped bring attention to it.”

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