Baseball’s Rules For Next Season May Eliminate The LOOGY : NPR

    steve inskeep, host:

    major league baseball officials know the game is a bit slow. the average contest lasted three hours and four minutes last season. new rules for next season would reduce the number of pitcher changes. Commentator Mike Pesca points out that this could end a specialized baseball tradition.

    mike fishing: where is the loogy. it is an acronym. means left-handed kid with one out: a left-handed pitcher brought in from the bullpen to face a generally left-handed hitter. that’s because left-handed pitchers perform better against left-handed hitters. then the loogy hits the showers. or, really, maybe just use one of those body wipes. the job is not that demanding. there are also roogys – right-handed boys. but as with so many things in public life, it would be a false equivalence to compare right-handers with left-handers. in baseball, it is much less common for a right to be used in such a specialized way. besides, lefties are a bit crazy. everyone knows that, just like everyone knows that redheads are hot and Canadians are even-tempered. please don’t bother testing the hypothesis. this is baseball. it’s much easier to go with what everyone knows.

    The plan to reduce the number of times a manager can send out a new pitcher will spell doom for the loogy. And while baseball is a game of tradition, eliminating loogys next year is a case of conflicting traditions. normally, the league wouldn’t meddle in how managers use their bullpens. on the other hand, in recent years, managers have increasingly used one pitcher to score an out against a batter and then sent an entirely different pitcher to score the next out. this means a pitcher would be removed from the game – pause in action – a southpaw would be called from the pen, – pause in action – would get his eight warm-up pitches – pause in action – for enough it’s time to ponder why the baseball is the only sport where substitutes stop play and warm up on the field of play. the newly inserted lefty pitcher could throw a pitch, induce a fly ball or a weak ground to second and voila.

    Now, this is how it works in real life. I’ll take you to game seven of the 2011 world series, as announced on fox. The Cardinals’ starting pitcher has reached the seventh inning and then gives up a hit.

    (excerpt from archived recording)

    unidentified sportscaster: that shoots into the corner.

    fishing: has lifted for a loogy.

    (excerpt from archived recording)

    unidentified sports commentator: while torrealba waits and takes a strike.

    (fragment of crowd atmosphere)

    fishing: and three pitches later, that loogy, arthur rhodes, gets his out. and then it is replaced, which brings us to…

    (excerpt from archived recording)

    unidentified sportscaster: kinsler, red hot. take a strike.

    (fragment of crowd atmosphere)

    catch: Thrown by the third pitcher in that inning. all those pitching substitutions, just so a loogy could get a guy out, they’ve chewed up nine minutes and 18 seconds. that’s why the madman will go the way of the woolly mammoth and the flip phone. It is not that change is impossible. the game has changed in the past. spitball used to be allowed. now it is prohibited. that was before this rule, which threatens the lefty with one out. so it was never illegal for loogys to use loogys. today’s loogys say they’re going to evolve, that they’re going to show they have what it takes to last half an entire inning. so maybe the loogy won’t go away. maybe there’s an evolution from loogy to litoogy (ph), the three-out southpaw guy. or, as they simply call it, launcher.

    (music fragment)

    inskeep: mike fishing: we brought him in just for that comment, and now he’s taking a shower. he hosts the podcast called loogy? nerd. it’s called “the essence,” for blackboard.

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