Extra Innings: MLB is becoming hitting dominant

first_imgSam Arslanian | Daily TrojanIn the 2017 MLB season, baseball fans witnessed the most home runs hit in a single season in the modern era. With 6,105 dingers tallied between April 2 and Nov. 1, the players shattered the previous season’s total by nearly 500 home runs. But that magnitude of an increase isn’t the first of its kind. The 2016 season saw roughly 700 more homers than the 2015 season, which recorded about 700 more home runs than its preceding season. There are a lot of variables that come into play when discussing trends in baseball. The game has a unique way of naturally balancing itself out. Pitchers discover new methods of pitching that batters aren’t comfortable with, or they find a new technique to add a bit more heat to their fastball. At this point it becomes a pitching-dominant game. It isn’t until the hitters adapt to these new forms that we see the game shift back to a more hitting-dominant game.Another element, one that the players can’t control, can have a significant impact on the game of baseball: Rule changes. In 2015 — the year we started seeing these massive increases in home run totals — the MLB’s “Pace of Play” rules were introduced. These rules limited the amount of time pitchers had between innings in an attempt to combat the increasing length of baseball games. While their intention is clear, perhaps the implementation resulted in the increase in home runs. Pitching at the  MLB level is no easy task. For many pitchers the break between innings is tough — their arm gets cold or they can get off rhythm. Rushing a proper warm-up at the start of an inning, via the Pace of Play rules, can definitely have a negative effect on pitchers.At the end of the 2017 season, pitchers like Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish made headlines — not for their performances but for their grievances over the baseballs the MLB provided. “I think the main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason,” Verlander told USA Today. “And even from the postseason to the World Series balls. They’re a little slick. You just deal with it.”At first, I was skeptical about this claim (and as a Tigers fan, when Verlander speaks, it’s the truth). Why would the MLB alter the balls for the postseason? It didn’t make sense. Then I watched a World Series with 22 home runs. That is ludicrous. Then, like wildfire, a slew of conspiracy theories overwhelmed the internet claiming that the MLB made the balls slicker to increase the home run count. At the time, I believed there was some weight to this claim. After all, historically, World Series ratings have been on the decline and home runs are fun to watch. I partially believed this theory until a couple of days ago when I read an intriguing article from Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci titled “Countdown to Liftoff: How Joey Gallo and Josh Donaldson Embody Baseball’s New Era.” The article focuses on a few select players who are beginning to break the norm and introduce a new approach when down in the count. “Hitting concepts were once passed down like stories at the Thanksgiving table, generation to generation,” Verducci said. “These outsiders have instead used technology not just to educate themselves but also to disseminate their message, guiding the celebrated midcareer breakthroughs of J.D. Martinez, Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson and Jake Marisnick — to name just a few.”I’ve experienced this phenomenon of passed-down techniques firsthand. Every coach I’ve ever played under has told me the same words when I faced a dreaded 1-2 count: “Choke up, shorten your swing, crowd the plate and put the ball in play.” I listened to those directions. Why? Since every coach was telling me the same thing, I assumed it was just how the game is played.Completely flipping the traditional approach, the early adopters, Donaldson, Gallo and Martinez, are now doing away with the passive approach and instead opting for a more aggressive two-strike approach. Someone else who has adopted this method is the Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. Verducci quotes Turner’s frustration with the traditional method and decision to adopt a more aggressive approach from his teammate at the time, Marlon Byrd, saying, “‘Screw it. I’m going to start hitting the way [Byrd] told me.’ I go into Cleveland and I hit a home run off [Cody] Allen. Two days later, off [Danny] Salazar, I hit another homer. We go back home, and I hit some ropes off the wall in centerfield. I was feeling really good.”Game 1 of the 2017 World Series was a thriller. The score was tied at 1 entering the sixth inning when Turner launched a 2-run bomb over the left field wall to ultimately grant the Dodgers the 3-1 win. But what separates this from any other game winning dinger is that Turner was down in the count 1-2. If you look at his swing, you can tell he wasn’t thinking “put the ball in play,” he was looking to send a missile to the outfield and he did just that. All the aforementioned theories could be coincidence, perhaps even a perfect storm of variables that has led to this massive increase in home runs per year. But I think there is just too much that lines up to argue against this new hitting approach. With opening day just three days away, I am eager to enter the season as a spectator with an eye out for this new approach. If this proves to be the factor that has been the catalyst for this home run increase, it will be up to the pitchers to find a solution to restore the game of baseball to its balanced state.   Sam Arslanian is a freshman majoring in journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Extra Innings,” runs Mondays.last_img read more

Henrik Tjärnström: Collaboration makes Kindred the trend setter in global sustainability

first_img Stockholm-listed online gambling firm Kindred Group Plc has published its 2018 corporate sustainability report, outlining key long-term social responsibility commitments and targets for its enlarged enterprise.Updating stakeholders, Kindred Chief Executive Henrik Tjärnström details the enhanced responsibility placed on the online gambling group, which in 2019 services 25 million customers, across Europe, the US and Australia, operating 11 brands and employing 1,500 staff globally.One of the largest Stockholm Nasdaq tech enterprises, at present Kindred, records an average of 30 million transactions per day, having recorded an 18% increase in 2018 active customers.Having been a company executive since 2003, Tjärnström details that the Kindred is entering its most exciting phase in business, where the company has to meet numerous complex and diverse global challenges.“As an online gambling group with operations spanning literally across the world, we face interesting challenges and complex regulatory requirements wherever we set our feet,” Tjärnström added. “It keeps us on our toes and we enjoy the close relationship we have with local regulators across our markets. To ensure a steady course we have set out a clear path ahead, focused around our purpose of transforming gambling to ensure fair play, the best deal and a great experience for our players.”Leading Kindred through numerous growth phases, Tjärnström outlines the importance of the company being able to meet challenges head-on, whilst maintaining top customer experiences, product output and its diversified business model.Tjärnström points to the success of Kindred’s ‘sustainability framework’, launched in 2018 with the initiative derived from a close dialogue with key gambling and wider stakeholders.“This framework, together with our corporate values, ensure we focus on where we as a company have the biggest impact, both positive and negative, and thereby can make a substantial difference,” he continued. “The framework is integrated into our long-term strategy, objectives and business model to ensure it filters through every area of our operations.”The success of the framework has allowed Kindred to approach complex matters differently, with the company absorbing advice from multiple field experts such as Christian Kalb (Ethisport Co-Founder expert on sports integrity), Dr Mark Griffiths (Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University), Sant Yanica (Malta MGA Legal Counsel on Customer Protections) and the All-in Diversity on industry workforce inclusion and diversity.Moving forward, Tjärnström notes collaboration as a key dynamic that will help Kindred meet its tough objectives, with the CEO outlining that partnerships have helped the operator launch first to market social responsibility tools.Furthermore, at an operational level, collaboration with sustainability researchers has led to Kindred gaining better customer profiling abilities, player communications, self-perception and team-to-team feedback on customer engagements.He concluded: “With approximately one per cent of customers who cannot keep their gambling under control need to stop and we as an operator need to help them in the best way we can. We do not benefit from having them as customers and our goal is that zero revenue is derived from harmful gambling by 2023.“To reach this goal we continue to invest in tools and research, as we do not have all the answers ourselves. ‘Collaboration to Improve’ was the theme at the 2018 Sustainable Gambling Conference, which you can read more about on page 17, and we intend to continue to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders.” Kindred marks fastest route to ‘normal trading’ as it delivers H1 growth July 24, 2020 Share Mace launches EQ Connect to solve the industry’s ‘single view’ conundrum on identifying risk  August 10, 2020 StumbleUpon Submit Unibet backs #GoRacingGreen as lead racing charity  July 28, 2020 Related Articles Sharelast_img read more