MLB Is Not What It Use To Be

By Joe Booker
Updated: August 14, 2006

TEXAS—I remember when the majority of pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB) were good. Pitchers pitched complete games. Pitchers with a 3.50 ERA were in the minor leagues. Today a pitcher with an ERA over 4.0 makes millions.

Back in the day, teams only had two relief pitchers—a right-hander and a left-hander. Teams pay pitchers outrageous salaries to pitch to one batter.

Baseball isn’t what it use to be.

Expansion has diluted talent

When MLB expanded, talented was diluted. Today, very few teams have more than two above average pitchers. It is amazing the number of times a pitcher will throw the ball in the middle of the plate. Charlie Brown (cartoon character) could hit the ball out of the park if he was thrown a pitch down the middle. It is funny how often opposing pitchers throw high and inside to Astros right-handed batters in Minute Maid Park, where the fence is short enough for the Astros mascot to hit a home run. Less than 40 percent of today’s players would have been in the majors 35 years ago.

Complete games have gone by the way of the dinosaur

When Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale pitched, pitchers pitched nine innings. It is embarrassing to look at MLB stats and see pitchers– who have pitched less than five complete games with over half of the season gone. Pitchers who pitch complete games in double digit numbers have gone by the way of the dinosaur. After six or seven innings starters are headed to the shower. You will hear the announcers mentioning pitch counts. We never heard of pitch counts during the Gibson and Drysdale era.

League has changed the way pitchers pitch

The league has changed the way pitchers can pitch. Pitchers are warned by the umpire if they throw too close to batters. After the second warning the pitcher is often ejected from the game. There are a few old school pitchers like Roger Clemens who will pitch close. Roger’s intimidating presence on the mound gets the attention of batters.

“Gibson would tell a batter this side of the plate is mines and the other is yours, so don’t cross over to my side,” said Gary Matthew Sr., who played against Gibson. “You didn’t crowd the plate on him,” Matthews said. If he had to get your attention he would hit you.”

Batters are having fun and it is not all steroids or HGH

When batters come to the plate and see a pitcher with a 4.0 or higher ERA they start smiling. You see guys 40 years old consistently hitting home runs. You can’t blame all those high batting averaged on steroids or human growth hormones (HGH). It is those high earn run averages that promote home runs from players you least expect. However, steroids and HGM can’t be ruled out, especially when older players perform beyond expectations. It is a combination of both– bad pitching and substance abuse. Willie Mays and Frank Robinson could come back and hit 40-home runs against most of today’s pitchers.

Former Astros star Kevin Bass never saw these kinds of pitchers

I asked Kevin Bass if he came to the plate smiling when a pitcher with a 4.0 ERA was on the mound.

“They didn’t exist,” said Bass who ended hid career in the late 80s. “Pitchers with a 4.0 were not in baseball,” Bass said. Today it is hard to find pitchers with an ERA under 300. “

Steroids and HGM does exist

Even though bad pitching– in most cases– is the reason for unrealistic home runs, it does not rule out the use of steroids and human growth hormones. I would not rule out every team having at least five players using some kind of substance abuse. Most of the players that have been accused of using some kind of substance abuse are over 35-years old. How do you explain 40-year olds performing above expectations? What happen to the 12 names former MLB player Jason Grimbsley turned in to MLB? There are some untouchables in the game. The home teams would not dare to think their favorite players are using some kind of substance abuse. “It is always the players on the other team.” How often do you hear hometown fans and media suspecting their hometown heroes for using some kind of substance abuse? You don’t. Baseball has its sacred cows. If you read or listen to the media you will believe Barry Bonds is the only active player to use some kind of substance abuse.

Game has gotten too specialized

MLB has gotten too specialized. You have pitchers who only pitch one inning and others who pitch to one batter. It’s a waste of money. You have pitchers who can only pitch to left-handed batters and others who can only pitch to right-handed batters. The bad part is that so many of these pitching specialists have higher ERA’s than most starters. You have hitters who can only hit right-handed or left-handed pitching. Former players like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Ted Williams could hit pitchers. It didn’t matter if the pitcher was right-handed or left-handed. Good hitters can hit any pitcher. Players are paid millions of dollars just to pitch to one batte


I have never liked the DH. Baseball is a game that should be played on the field and not just in the batters box. If a player is not good enough to play, he should not be in the game. The DH takes away what the game is about.

The DH allows hanger-on and players with little or no playing skills to remain in the game. The DH should not count toward baseball records. It is not fair to players who play every day to have their record broken by a player who can only hit, but is not good enough to play. The DH should not be considered for postseason honors. If there is a postseason honor for the DH, it should be called the “DH Award.” I was pleased last year David Ortiz of Boston did not win the American League MVP, because he is a batter and not a player. The DH allows washed-up players to stay in the game.