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sport.John Smoltz believes he knows. And he wants to do something about it.The former Atlanta Braves great will get that chance as a member of the MLB competition committee that is looking into the problems facing the game. By the time spring training comes around next year there could be new rules helping to make baseball great again.Here’s hoping they start with the universally hated shift.“I think the shift is single handedly killing the game because now you’ve got everybody lifting the ball over the shift Blaine Boyer Jersey ,” Smoltz said. “If you were rewarded for hitting the ball and there was no shift you would have more action. You’d have guys not just basically trying to hit the ball over the fence.”In a perfect world — and, of course the game has never been perfect — there would also be limits on pitching changes, the way players are put on the disabled list, and a number of other things.But baseball has always been a slow game to adapt. While other leagues have been proactive in changing rules to stay relevant — especially in the new era of analytics — baseball tends not to change until circumstances finally lead to no other alternative.That means that, at least for now, we have baseball as it is. And it’s not the sport Smoltz played for 21 years, the game that enshrined the pitcher into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2015.“The game has gone to a very slow and stagnant pace,” Smoltz said. “It’s going to become unwatchable and I think that’s when you’re going to see both the commissioner and others in Major League Baseball trying to make changes to get the game back to its exciting form.”Smoltz knows where he’s coming from. He’s not only one of the game’s greatest pitchers — one of only two pitchers to ever have both a 20-game winning season and one with more than 50 saves — he’s also a student of baseball and a broadcaster with both the MLB Network and Fox Sports.That’s why the conversation co-host Jim Litke and I had with him on the PodcastOne Sports Now podcast this week was so enlightening. Smoltz not only understands the problems of the game from the fan’s perspective, but the player’s too.He’s worried fans will desert the game, yes. But he’s also worried about players becoming expendable because of analytics, which he believes will not only cost them money but shorten their careers.Up to now players have largely resisted any changes in the game, secure in the thought they’re getting their share of the cash cow. But that could change, Smoltz says http://www.royalsfanproshop.com/authentic-ryan-goins-jersey , as they become more aware of what is happening — especially on the pitching side — because of analytics.“It’s hard pressed for me to think that at the end of the day this is not just a cheaper version of baseball,” he said. “You can operate your team paying guys less and utilizing them in their younger years when they’re not making so much. Burn and churn and just keep shuffling the deck in the bullpen. But in the long term it’s not sustainable.”Also not sustainable, Smoltz believes, is the blind allegiance to analytics that pervades baseball these days. While information is essential to the game, he said it should never come at the cost of basic baseball wisdom collected over more than a century of playing the game.That allegiance likely cost the Los Angeles Dodgers a World Series last year. And while the Houston Astros also relied heavily on analytics, manager A.J. Hinch used his gut when it mattered most to put the Astros in a position to succeed.Smoltz also noted that the most recent World Series winners were teams that put the ball in play and put pressure on the other team’s defense. Those teams went against the current trend of uppercut swings for the fences and pitchers who throw as hard as they can until they can’t throw any more.“Organizations don’t care (now) if you strike out, they just don’t want you hitting the ball on the ground,” Smoltz said. “All pitchers are trying to throw as hard as they can above the belt. That’s what you’re going to get, swings and misses, strikeouts and homers. Until a team proves me wrong you can’t win the World Series doing that.”You also can’t win fans either, and who can blame them. Hitters are on a pace this year to strike out more than they get hits, and the average time between balls in play is nearing four minutes.The Cubs exemplified that this week by scoring just one run in five straight games — and each run was a solo home run. In five games the Cubs had 35 hits — and a whopping 46 strikeouts.The game needs to change, and fast. Luckily there are people like Smoltz who know ways to do just that.Hopefully Melky Cabrera Jersey , the rest of baseball is listening. HOUSTON (AP) — When Seattle reliever Alex Colome saw Houston’s Tony Kemp knock his pitch into center field with one on in the eighth inning, he was certain it would be an extra-base hit.Guillermo Heredia made sure that wasn’t the case.Heredia made a spectacular case to preserve Seattle’s lead, Ryon Healy had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run, and the Mariners beat the Astros 3-2 on Saturday night.It was yet another win in a close game by the Mariners, who have taken three straight from their AL West rivals and improved to 44-17 this season in games decided by one or two runs.Seattle trailed 2-0 before scoring all of its runs with a two-out rally in the fourth. Nelson Cruz singled and scored on a double by Kyle Seager that sailed over Kemp’s head in center field. Chris Hermann tripled to right field to tie it.Healy put the Mariners on top with a single but was out at second trying to stretch it into a double.With no outs and a runner at first in the eighth, Kemp hit a ball to center field that looked sure to drop in for a hit. Heredia raced to track it down and grabbed it as he fell to the ground. He popped up and threw to first to complete the double play.“What a catch,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Everybody knows G is an awesome defender and never takes pitches off, but that play, that was the game.”Even Heredia didn’t think he would be able to get to it off the bat.“I charged the ball to catch it, but I didn’t think I had a chance,” he said. “At the end I said: ‘Oh yeah, I got it.'”An incredulous Kemp put both hands on his head as he slowly trotted back to the dugout.“They put Heredia in for defense almost every night he doesn’t play, so that tells you enough what they think about his defensive ability Justin Verlander Jersey ,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “He got a pretty decent break on it. It was a sizeable gap … and then the ball hangs up just enough that he makes a great circus catch. I still wasn’t sure that he caught it until he came up ready to throw pretty excited.”Colome said the catch, which helped him extend his streak of scoreless innings to 18 2/3, was the best he’s seen while on the mound.Wade LeBlanc (7-2) allowed three hits and two runs in five innings. Four relievers allowed a combined two hits in three innings before Edwin Diaz struck out two in a perfect ninth for his MLB-leading 45th save in 48 opportunities.Charlie Morton (12-3) yielded seven hits and three runs in six innings for his first loss since July 1.The Astros took an early lead on a two-run single by Tyler White in the second. Houston didn’t have another baserunner until White walked to open the fifth. But LeBlanc got three routine outs to end the inning and his night.Seattle had a chance to add to the lead in the sixth when Span singled to start the inning and Cruz singled with one out. But Seager grounded into a double play.ALWAYS BE CLOSINGDiaz got his third save in as many games and his 45 saves are tied for second-most in a season in franchise history. Fernando Rodney ranks first with 48 in 2014.TRAINER’S ROOMMariners: RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who hasn’t pitched since April 27 because of a shoulder injury, will come off the disabled list to start on Sunday.Astros: OF Jake Marisnick was placed on the 10-day disabled list with groin discomfort after he was injured running the bases on Friday night. OF Kyle Tucker was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to take his spot on the roster.UP NEXTHouston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (9-9, 3.53 ERA) opposes Ramirez (0-2, 10.24) when the series concludes on Sunday. Keuchel has won six of his last seven decisions and allowed just three hits and one run in his last start but did not factor in the decision in a 2-1 win over the Giants. Ramirez is taking Felix Hernandez’s spot in the rotation after the longtime Mariners ace, who has struggled all season, was demoted to the bullpen on Thursday night.
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