Ron Costello

Monday, August 20, 2018

God summoned his Archangels together.

God wasn't happy.

So he summoned his three assistants, the Archangels of professional sports in America, the angels of basketball, football, and baseball.

He wanted to know what was up.

He first spoke to the angel of basketball, Lord Angel Lear. "I'd like a report on the three-point shot we put into the NBA," God said, "how are we doing with that?"

"Just fine," Angel Lear answered, "it took a  while but with the analytics you inserted, the three-pointers have increased from 2.8 three's a game in 1980, to 18.4 a game in 2012, and great news, last year in the NBA a fifty percent increase to 27 three's a game."

"Terrific news, Lear," God said. "with so much practice I instilled, and the numbers, man's free will discovered hitting the three is easier than shooting a two-point jump shot. Good job, Lear, good job."

Then God turned to Lord Angel Marian Motley. "Motley," God said, "how are those new quarterback protection rules I put in, teams scoring more?"

"Well God, " Angel Motley replied, "the defenses, especially the linebackers and secondary, say the new rule changes help protect the quarterbacks. I spoke with Concrete Charlie at the spring ball for the deceased and he said the new rules suck. He said you can't even grab-ass a quarterback anymore."

"Careful, Motley," God said, "I don't favor that kind of talk unless you are referring to the Catholic Church."

"Sorry, God. But the passing game has exploded. In 1977 the passing yards per game were at 141.9, but last season its shot up 224.4."

"Outstanding, Motley, outstanding."

Then God turned to Angel Musial. "What about baseball, the man, how are my changes doing there?"

Angel Musial cleared the papers on his lap. Shuffled them a little, and said, "God, it's taken hold quickly. Things are moving along swiftly." Angel Musial was a bit nervous; he hasn't been an angel long in God years.

"But," Angel Musial continued...

"But? What do you mean Musial,  but? I don't want buts; you want to go back down as a pitcher?"

"Well," Angel Musial said, "Since analytics have taken over the game, it's made it much more difficult for the batter."

"How so, Musial?" God demanded, "Speak up man, speak up."

"With all the analytical ways you gave them, the defenses have shifted each time a hitter comes to the plate. The teams hired these 20 and 30 somethings that study the direction of the batted balls and move the defenses accordingly."

"Go on," God said, "is there more?"

"Yes, Sir, a lot more," Musial replied. "Since the defenses have shifted, the hitters decided to go for the fences, since they can't get a ball through the holes, anymore, like Paul Wagner and Nellie Fox did.

"That made the pitchers change," Angel Musial explained.

"The pitchers? What the hell did the pitchers change for?" God yelled.

"Well," Angel Musial answered nervously, "The pitchers started throwing harder, given the new arm and shoulder muscles you gave them. Instead of keeping the heater down and away, they started throwing up and hard. The average heater in the majors today is in the mid-nineties."

"Holy, moly," God stammered in surprise. "Then what happened, Musial?"

"Well,"Angel Musial said, "the hitters adjusted. They began working the counts. They'd wait for their pitch, and then drive it out of there, like our friend Harry says at the all-saints tournament. So, as a result, the batters started striking out more."

"Striking out more? I thought we were supposed to increase scoring, not strike out more."

"But God," Musial said, a little panicky, "home runs are way up."

"They are? Good.  Is there statistical evidence? You know I like statistical evidence, Musial."

"Yes, Sir. At this last All-Star game, ten home runs were hit in ten innings. And at the same All-Star game, 15 pitchers threw an average of 96 mph."

"Now let me get this straight, Musial. Because of the analytics I placed in the techies' brains, they shifted the defenses to cut down on the singles and doubles.

"That forced the hitters go for the long ball, which made the pitchers throw harder. The hitters got angry and waited, making the pitchers throw more, laying off pitches they couldn't hit over the fence.

Musial was nodding.

God continued: "That created more strikeouts but also more home runs. Do I have it right, Musial?"

"Yes, Sir, and more walks because, remember, the hitters worked the counts. But you should know that attendance is down. Fewer people are attending the games, about 1500 less per game across both leagues, according to my records."

"Hmm," God said, bringing his finger and thumb to his chin. "Throwing harder, shifting defenses, working the counts, striking out, walking more, and going yard. Musial, what have I done to the 'grand ole game?'

"But there is one positive, Sir."

"What's that, Musial."

"Comcast SportsNet decided to remove Tom McCarthy from the tv broadcast booth."

"What, that guy who talks nonsense instead of baseball? Oh, thank God." 

"Wait, that's me."

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