Ask Gary: Why are strikeouts so commonplace?

by Gary Shelton on October 24, 2015 · 3 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 6 a.m.

When Babe Ruth retired from major league baseball in 1935, he was the all-time career strikeout leader with 1,330.  He now ranks 115th on that list.  Reggie Jackson is the career leader with 2,597, followed closely by Jim Thome (2,548) and Adam Dunn (2,379), who is still an active player.  Why do you think MLB players strikeout so much more in the "modern era" as compared to the "old days?"
Scott Myers

There are a few factors, but you can boil it down to this: Chicks dig the long ball. That's led the evolution where a modern day hitter can strike out 150 times without an eyebrow being raised.

The bigger the swing, the greater the strikeouts. And if you look at the lifetime records of hitters, you'll  see that a lot of thumpers have more than anyone.

Oh, there are a lot of factors. For one thing, bullpen specialists are fairly new to the game, but they strike out a lot of hitters. They're fresh, and they deal heat. There is the regularity of night games. There is the global recruitment of pitchers.

Pretty much, however, the strikeouts are related to the power. Remember the old advice about choking up with two strikes. These days, a hitter would say "what is choking up.'' No one "hits 'em where they ain't" anymore. There is no shame to a strikeout, it seems. And pitchers are being groomed from strikeouts. These days, it seems that everyone throws 95.

I read this. The first guy to lead the league in strikeouts as a pitcher was Cleveland's Al Pratt. He threw 34 that first season. Old Bullet Al. These days, that's three starts.

How do Bucs getting injured players back help their chances Sunday?

Nick Houllis


Obviously, Nick, there is a reason those guys are starters. So it helps, regardless of the position.
But in some positions, a team is better off than in others. The Bucs would miss Gerald McCoy more than, say, Clinton McDonald. Think of it like pebbles on a mountain. You're better with everyone.
In general, a huddle likes to have all of its players. Don't forget that Logan Mankins has an affect on the guys on each side of him. Jameis Winston likes throwing to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. And so forth.
How will these players help? I don't know that Akeem Spence would help a lot if Tony McDaniel weren't hurt. But he is. I think Johnthan Banks will help, because the secondary was so weak against Jacksonville.
I know this: When a team hasn't been very good, it can afford injuries less than a team that is a contender. You know that.

I see parallels between Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith in coaching style and focus. What was it that Jon Gruden brought to the Bucs that was missing with Tony Dungy, helping the Bucs to win the Superbowl? And are there any lessons there for us today?

Cecil DeBald

What Gruden brought was energy. He was like a delicious slice of something different on the offensive side of the ball. And he was a better coach that every offensive coach Dungy hired put together. The defensive players will tell you that they drew from Gruden's passion, too. But he was basically an offensive upgrade.

I think we're all deciding on whether Dirk Koetter is the real deal, but so far, I like him.

There aren't many lessons from then to now. Smith is joined with a young quarterback. Gruden didn't have a lot of interest in those. Gruden's curse was that he inherited a Super Bowl caliber team, but one that was doomed to get older. This team is  younger. That team was better.

In the spirit of Dos Equis, who is the most "interesting" sports person you've ever met? I'll even expand that and ask your readers who was the most "interesting" sports person they've ever met...and what was it that made him or her so "interesting"?

Cecil DeBald

There have been a few, but the guy who comes to mind more than the others -- and this won't be popular -- was Warren Sapp.

I got on well with Sapp, but he could be a tough day at the ranch. He was so bright, and so funny, but so mean and so ornery. You never had a clue as to which Warren you were going to get. He would have been a great test case for a psychologist.

I spent an hour with him one Friday, and he told me the Eagles had done away with Jerome Brown's preserved locker. I checked, and he was right. I saw him the next day and went to tell him that. And he didn't say a word. Just blew me off like I wasn't there. Yet, he could lean on his horn when he was behind you in traffic and cackle at your reaction.

No one could be funnier. No one was a better talker about his teammates. No one was a better defensive tackle. But I used to joke that Warren was "quad-polar'' as opposed to being bi-polar. He loves the fans as a whole, but one-on-one, he seemed ill at ease with them. We once got in a long argument in the middle of the Bucs' locker room over his place in Tampa. I said he could own this town. He said fans would be glad when he was gone.

Who else? I spent time around Dan Marino when he was young, and he impressed me every day. I covered Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker and Bear Bryant. I covered Wade Boggs, who was fascinating. Dungy. Gruden. Wyche.

But most of these guys I remember as being one guy. A good guy or a bad guy, an odd guy or a funny guy.

Warren? Warren was every guy you could imagine.

Professional golf has a lot of young guns right now, all of whom have won and dominated at times. Of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, and Rickie Fowler, who will come out on top in 2016 - and do you expect he will be dominate or simply be the best of the bunch?

Cecil DeBald

I think Day could be the best of the bunch, but I'm just guessing. The way Spieth putts, he might be the guy.

I don't think one of them will be dominant just because they're are so many of them. I didn't feel that way when Tiger Woods was young. I thought there were tournaments he won because everyone backed up when he approached the tee. I don't think this group will be that way.

Will one of them be a Nicklaus, who dominated in an another era with several gifted golfers? I'm not sure. Someone usually ends up being the best of the lot, but I think we may have three, maybe four, different winners in your majors for the next 2-3 years. Then ask again.

Who do you see making it to the post season first? The Rays or the Bucs?
Jim Willson
I guess it would be a cop-out to say the Lightning, huh?
Between those two? I'll say the Rays. Now, I don't think they'll be able to get to the World Series, but I can see them squeaking in if that outfield clicks the way we think it can and if it develops a true ace on the pitching staff.
I think the Bucs can be a playoff team if Jameis Winston continues to develop, if they find a real pass-rusher and if they plug some leaks in the secondary. That's assuming they don't hurt themselves as they go. You know, like not re-signing Doug Martin.
Remember, the Rays have a half-a-season head start (they finish in October, where the Bucs are into January). Of course, the NFL is talking about expanding the playoffs, which could change things.
Do you see Jimbo Fisher being a lifer at FSU like Bowden, or do you think he has his eye on the NFL?
Jim Willson
I don't understand the lure of the NFL for a college coach. A college coach can make almost as much money, and college football allows you the opportunity to build a dynasty. You can schedule so many home games, and you can sign 25 No. 1 draft picks, and you get two gimmies a year.
I don't know if Fisher will be there as long as Bowden, though. A lot of coaches develop wanderlust, or certain people in administration are hard to deal with. Sometimes, we all want a new challenge.
But Fisher has FSU going his way these days. Recruits all pay attention when he comes into the room. Why would he leave?
 Do you think that soccer will ever be truly big in the USA?
Jim Willson
Well, it depends on what you mean by big. I have friends who will tell you that it's big as it is. Certainly, the women's national team was huge. The men's World Cup, I think, drew the second highest ratings of any country.
Does it have to be on par with the NFL to be big? But I know what you mean. Will it ever have a big TV contract? Maybe. Soccer is a great game, and the crowds have a blast.
I think soccer is fighting this nation's in-bred leanings toward football and baseball.  But I think soccer is cool. There is enough room on the menu for it, too.


Share with:Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Kudelko October 24, 2015 at 10:45 pm

I did not attend, but I have been a long term FSU fan mainly because of my respect for Coach Bowden. I’ve cheered for the team the last few years through many, many ugly wins and tonight the lack of discipline caught up with them.
The talent on these FSU teams should be out shining almost every team quarter by quarter. Yet they play down to the competition and don’t rise to the occasion enough.
Lack of discipline caught up with them..
They got away with it long enough…
We will see what the future holds.
I have a feeling of what a Saban or Spurrier would do…..


Rick October 24, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Isn’t it fun watching former Rays players in the playoffs? Just think if the Rays were able to keep them all…..Zobrist hit a first inning HR and Wade Davis earned a save in game 6 to get the Royals in the WS. Hated seeing Price not win the game. Wonder where he’ll go as a free agent.


Cecil DeBald October 24, 2015 at 12:25 pm

A few comments.
As I understand it, back in the early days there were pretty much a fast ball and a curve, a spitball at times I guess, but I do think the variety of pitches today makes it much harder to make contact, in addition to big swings, big arms and relievers.
As I kid I met Eddie Feigner, the King of the King and his Court. This was in the 50’s, and what I remember most about him was even then he had been everywhere and knew everybody, and could tell stories for hours – I was told, my Dad wouldn’t let me listen to many of his stories… He was the most interesting because there was nothing he couldn’t talk about from personal experience, or so it seemed to me then.
And as for soccer, my problem, and it is mine, not soccer’s problem, is I never played it, so I don’t understand the strategy involved, how the plays set up, etc. I have a bit of the same problem with hockey, but hockey is more confined in area and easier for me to see the plays, the logic of them. As more and more of the kids growing up play soccer, I think it will become a big TV sport, much bigger than it is now. Wish I understood it better.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: