On Friday morning, Sports Radio WIP put out a tweet that caught me off guard. Not the video embedded into the tweet. No, I, like you, had seen that enough already, thank you. But the wording they chose to describe the news associated with the video is what raised my eyebrow.

“No surprise.”

That’s the part that got me. Consider me very surprised. Not that I’m debating whether Kyle Schwarber’s inability to catch a line drive hit right at him is an error, and an egregious one that cost the Phillies yet another game they should have/could have won. It is. Every day of the week and twice on Thursday.

Nor am I surprised that it wasn’t initially scored as an error, and that’s the crux of the matter about which I’m about to bitch.

No, I’m surprised that Major League Baseball relented and corrected the call after the fact.

See, the real issue here is baseball’s marketing and public relations war against its own history. The sport, under the guidance of Rob Manfred – arguably the worst commissioner the sport has ever had – has gone to extreme lengths to prove that the changes it makes are best for the game of baseball, no matter what you think.

They try and control what you think through a well-designed and planned out marketing strategy, which includes their cherry-picked statistical outcomes that will prove to you how they are making the game better.

One of the ways they are doing that is by shaking down the official scorers employed in each city.

Watch games – not just the Phillies – and see how many plays that are bona fide errors get scored as hits. When you watch these plays, remember that these are the best players in the world at the sport and should make some plays that would be harder for high school and college athletes or even weekend warriors who still play just for the love of the sport.

See, I’m not the only one saying it.

Look, this doesn’t affect outcomes. The Phillies were going to lose that game Thursday whether it was ruled a hit or whether it was ruled an error. So, that’s not the issue.

It is multi-faceted though:

  • If you are a pitcher, like Yunior Marte, do you worry that a ballooning ERA will get you sent down because you were charged with runs you didn’t earn?
  • If you are a pitcher, who has multiple cases of being hit with runs that shouldn’t have been earned, or hits that should have been errors, and you end up in contract negotiations or even binding arbitration, are you going to end up making less money because the stats say something different than what the real outcome should have been?
  • Finally, if you are a fan, is the sport gaslighting you to believe there’s more offense than there actually is, and that defense is better than it actually is because they want you to believe that what they are doing to the sport is for the good of the game?

The league batting average in 2023 is .247. That’s four points higher than it was in 2022. But the batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .297, which is seven points higher than it was in 2022. The BABIP in MLB between 2013 and 2019 was consistently between .296 and .300. Then, from 2020 through 2022 it plummeted to .292, .292 and .290, successively.

That, of course, was the result of everybody shifting so damn much. But now it’s back to the same level it was for the seven seasons prior to the pandemic, likely because of less shifting (although teams are still shifting as much as is allowable by the new rules).

But why such an increase on the BABIP but less of an increase in the actual average?

The answer is because baseball continues to have an infatuation with making you think the game is more offensive-minded than it is.

There are fewer errors per team game played in 2023 than there was just a year ago. In fact, it’s a trend that has been happening in baseball for decades.

Now, some of it is that players have become more athletic and are able to get to certain balls easier than they did before, so that does need to be taken into consideration when comparing eras, but are players that much more athletic and better defensively than they were 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago? And, concurrently, are players really that much better defensively today, with balls being hit harder, and faster than ever before?

If you watch baseball regularly and believe you see a dip in fundamentals, you aren’t alone. But MLB doesn’t want you to believe what you are seeing.

Here are the average errors per team, per game the last two years, and then each 10 years going back to the expansion of the MLB schedule to 162 games:

  • 2023 – 0.515
  • 2022 – 0.529
  • 2013 – 0.565
  • 2003 – 0.652
  • 1993 – 0.768
  • 1983 – 0.829
  • 1973 – 0.887
  • 1963 – 0.903

Part of the difference is going to be that there are fewer chances per game to make errors because teams strike out more today, and that is also true. Just as an example, there were 7,792 fewer defensive chances in 2022 than there were in 2013.

Now, that might seem like a lot, but if you divide that per the number of games played, it’s only 1.6 fewer chances per game per team.

Is that enough of a difference to create a 6.4% drop in the number of errors in that decade? And, if you compare 2023 so far to 2013, a drop of 8.9% in errors?

No. It’s not. Which means there has to be some assistance in getting there. And how can that happen?

By the league mandating that their official scorers be more lenient on their scoring and give away hits that shouldn’t be hits.

This isn’t the first time the league has done this. They juiced baseballs a few years ago, and got caught, and then tried to cover it up. And we don’t have to remind you how they swept PED use under the rug for so long because the sport was experiencing an offensive renaissance.

The league, today, wants you to think things are so wildly improved because of their initiatives. That things are way better than they have been in years. They feed info and data to certain writers and broadcasters who will regurgitate all that crap for them.

Games are shorter. That’s a good thing. I agree. But they are pushing it so hard that they are hurting the game by impacting pitchers tenfold. It’s no surprise that of the 664 pitch clock violations so far in baseball this season, 465 of them, or 70% have come against pitchers.

Pitcher injuries are way up, likely from being asked to throw harder and faster with more frequency and less time between pitches – although baseball will tell you there’s no empirical evidence to justify that statement. Just like the NFL and NHL insisted the same thing for years about the relationship between CTE and their sports as a result of injuries to the head.

And to finish the assault on pitchers, the league is now doctoring scoring to further negatively impact pitcher stats.

All because the league wants to tell you just how good a job it’s doing making the sport better. Just don’t look at the train wreck behind them. There’s nothing to see there.