West Coast Pitching Dominance

While the origins of this difference between the West Coast and the Northeast may be partially economic, partially random and partially due to ballpark effects, the result is that a distinct West Coast style of baseball has evolved. The home run heavy, weak starting pitching and strong veteran bullpen approach best represented by the New York Yankees is not tried by any West Coast team; and the Red Sox are the only East Coast team with any young starting pitches, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, who are good enough and young enough to stand out in the west. Given the recent success of the Giants, who one quarter of the way into this season, are still playing very well, this model, which seems to be applicable in Florida as well, may catch on among mid-sized market teams outside of the West Coast, thus becoming yet another trend that originates in California and makes its way east.

Reflections on a Halladay Weekend

Nonetheless, Halladay occupies a strange place in the pantheon of great pitchers as his career fell between two generations of great pitchers. He spent the first part of his career in the shadow of the Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez cohort who dominated the game from the late 1980s until the middle of the last decade and were all better pitchers than Halladay. When these pitchers began to retire few years ago, a new group of pitchers including Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez emerged as the top pitchers in the game. Although there is certainly no guarantee that these pitchers will have better careers than Halladay’s, it likely that for much of the duration of his career, Halladay will be not quite as good as at least some of this next generation of stars.

Multiculturalism and Baseball's Unwritten Rules

In addition to the question of whether Braden or Rodriguez is at fault, the incident also raises another question about the unwritten rules. Implicit in the notion of unwritten rules is that there are one set of unwritten rules which all players should understand. However, as the game becomes more international this assumption seems unlikely to hold up. Just as the language and expressions used in baseball vary regionally and nationally, it is likely that these unwritten rules will as well. For example, the policy of not stealing with a big lead dates back to a time when a five or six run lead seemed insurmountable. Countries where baseball has been introduced recently, during a period of stronger offense, may not view a five or six run lead as insurmountable and may view it as fine to steal in that situation. Similarly, places where baseball has not been played as long may have different views of brushing back hitters because they do not have the traditions of brushback pitches which were common in baseball until recent decades.