Coppola: Getting Back To Baseball

By William Coppola: Contributor Bronx Chronicle Sports

Today I think it is time to begin the healing in baseball. How do we put all that we have seen in the past few weeks, of what is bad in baseball, behind us?  How do we get our game back?

It will not be easy. Things like this are never easy.

I remember, my friend and umpiring instructor, Joe Grady telling me once, that when ever my strike zone was off and I was having trouble focusing on balls and strikes, what I needed to do, was to go back to my basic mechanics. Go back to the book and reboot. Well that is how I am going to approach this mess in baseball.

We all need to reset and talk about what got us here. Our game of baseball.

The questions we should be asking should not be about the Houston Asterisks or the Boston Bamboozlers. We should be asking each other, can Pete Alonso continue his rein of terror at the plate? Can Robinson Canó be maybe 50% of what he once was?

Who will be at third base for the Yankees, Gio Urshela or Miguel Andujar?  Will one of them become the new first baseman?

Who will back up Gary Sánchez now that Austin Romine is gone?

See, there are plenty of baseball things to talk about for all of us. No drama other than what moves the GM’s will do to help their clubs and trying to figure out who will fit best in their puzzle to build a championship team. So lets get started and talk about some of these aforementioned players.

To me, who will be the backup to Sanchez is the biggest question going into this season for the Bronx bombers. That could be the one non move that could hurt the Yankees the most. Austin Romine was the best number two catcher in baseball last year. Remember, catching is just that. How the guy hits is secondary.

People don’t like to hear that but it is true. How he handles the pitchers both starters and out of the bullpen can be the difference between a win or loss.

Sure it would be nice if every catcher was Johnny Bench but that is not how it works. The great pitching coach Billy Connors would always tell me, “The job of the pitcher, is to get out of the inning and he can’t do that without a good catcher.” 

Romine is one of those guys. Pitchers love to throw to him because of his pitch selection and he is solid behind the plate defensively. My guess why the Yankees let him go is the same for why they let Didi Gregorius walk.

That would be, analytics.

The Yankees are no different than the majority of big league clubs that use the numbers game to judge the value of a player. If the numbers don’t add up, it’s adiós amigo. True, numbers are important but scouts know that sometimes there is something special about a player’s makeup and heart that is special. Romine and DiDi both have that “Thing” that there are no numbers for.

What I am saying here is a bit more complicated than it sounds as it pertains to evaluating a player. It’s true that the numbers have to be there. But sometimes teams set the bar too high when they look at the numbers. Today they don’t put numbers and the human factor on an even scale. There is no analytical, mumbo jumbo algorithm for makeup and heart.

And just like that, we are talking about baseball again. See that wasn’t so hard.

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