Fred Lynn is right – make the batters beat the shifts – and other thoughts
Add Fred Lynn to the chorus of those who think today’s hitters need to stop crying and make some adjustments.
“I believe they went to Ted Williams and didn’t he hit .406?” Lynn tweeted this week.
Lynn’s remark was a response to Joey Gallo’s gory story in The Athletic.
“I think at some point you have to correct the game a bit,” Gallo told Jayson Stark. “I don’t understand how I’m supposed to hit a double or a triple when I have six guys standing in the outfield.”
Reached by phone in California, Lynn amplified her thoughts on Twitter.
“I also watch baseball,” said the man who hit .331 and was MVP in his rookie season in 1975. second. Now they don’t even hide it anymore. They tell you, ‘We will give you this, but we take this away from you.’
“As a hitter, it’s up to me to make an adjustment. They’re not going to adjust the way they play defense if you do the same. I can hit the ball on the screws and my exit speed is great, cool, but they get knocked out.
“I have to adjust my way of thinking. There’s a big hole over there, so how about I go the other way? The responsibility lies with the batter. It really is. Learn how to hit off-speed stuff the other way around. Caries.
Former National League MVP Freddie Freeman replied to Lynn’s suggestion: “I’m trying to cover five courts. They all move. One is like 98 mph And I’m gonna be able to do whatever I want and hit the ball on the left side? It is not so easy. I wish that were the case.
Back to you, Fred
“That’s a good point,” said Lynn, who turned 70 this month. “But when I hit against Nolan Ryan, I didn’t shoot him very often. His fastball that I hit the other way.
“It has to be a learned process. You have to teach yourself to go the other way. How are you doing that? You practice it. You can get into the cage and turn this machine on pretty quickly.
“I was a dead hitter before I came to Fenway Park. It’s literally hitting the ball before it hits home plate. To go the other way, you bring your hands back… you hold back so the barrel of the bat stays in the strike zone longer. It’s a cover leg. Just make contact and the ball will go to the left. You can make this adjustment, but it takes work.
No need to ban the shift.
“Baseball is supposed to be played a certain way,” Lynn said. “And the guys who invented the game were pretty sharp.”
▪ Quiz: Name five Hall of Famers who played for the Angels and Dodgers. (Answer below. Don’t worry. If you get three, you’re doing just fine. Four makes you HOF-worthy. If you get all five, you can write next week’s column.)
▪ The horrific situation in Ukraine reminds some veterans of the Bruins’ “Uke line” of Johnny Bucyk, Bronco Horvath and Vic Stasiuk, formed in 1957. All three forwards are of Ukrainian descent and are inductees into the Ukrainian Sports Hall of Notoriety.
The trio skated for the Edmonton Flyers in 1954-55 of the Western Hockey League before joining the Bruins. In four seasons, they scored 265 goals for Boston. the Bruins. In 1959-60, the Uke Line had 84 goals and 200 points.
Horvath died in 2019 at the age of 89. Stasiuk is 92 years old. Hockey Hall of Famer Bucyk is still a backyard regular.
▪ Dwight Evans is too classy to say anything, but he must be disconcerted to hear that the Yankees are retiring Paul O’Neill’s No. 21. Seriously? O’Neill only played nine seasons for the Yankees, hitting .303 with 185 home runs and 858 RBIs. He has never won a gold glove.
Playing in the same position as O’Neill (right field), Evans gave the Red Sox 19 seasons (2,505 games!), hit 379 homers, recorded 1,346 RBIs and won eight Gold Gloves.
O’Neill will be the 23rd Yankee to have his number retired.
▪ I can’t remember an easier streak of games than the Celtics faced in their ‘push’. I can’t punish the Greens for taking care of business, but it would mean so much more if they actually beat a good team that had one or two of their starters.
Was hoping for a challenge after the All-Star break, but the Celtics kicked off their post-break against the Brooklyn JV: No Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris or Goran Dragic.
What are we supposed to learn from this? How are we supposed to know how good the Celtics are?
Next: the 14-45 Pistons. What a league.
▪ Luckily, there was good material to accompany NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. Best was the TV footage of the 75th anniversary team huddled around a reception, posing for photos and swapping stories hours before a ‘game’ that featured 121 3-point attempts.
Best of all was Shaquille O’Neal’s heartfelt tribute to the all-time greats on TNT’s pre-game show. In his humble four-minute tribute, Shaq said: “When I watch myself play, I wasn’t as good as Hakeem [Olajuwon]. I wasn’t even as good as the chef [Robert Parish]. I wasn’t even as good as Bob McAdoo.
Great stuff at a “Look At Me” event traditionally lacking in humility and perspective.
▪ Hall of Famer Rich Gossage, always off the beaten track, says he may boycott this summer’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony because of the induction of David Ortiz.
“If we start letting in guys who’ve used steroids, you say it’s OK for our kids to do it then because stars have,” Gossage told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “We should never let Bonds or Clemens in either.”
▪ Kemba Walker’s “homecoming” with the Knicks ended when Walker and the team agreed to shut things down for the season after the All-Star break. That amounts to a spectacular run for the veteran guard, who was an All-Star with the Celtics just two years ago. It looks like the Celtics got Kemba’s last good basketball.
▪ Baseball players and owners propose the notion of performance-based bonuses virtually tied to a player’s WAR. Inflate. If this becomes part of the new base deal, real dollars will be rewarded (or withheld) based on some nerd invention no one really understands.
▪ More betting shows, less news content. Cheapo NESN at its worst.
▪ According to Boston Sports Info, David Pastrnak, Phil Esposito and Mark Messier each scored 277 goals in the first 488 games of his NHL career.
▪ The highlight moment of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games will forever be the sad saga of 15-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva, who should never have been allowed to compete after her positive test surfaced and then was publicly scorned and abused by her own coach and officials after crashing onto the ice in her long program. It was nothing less than child abuse.
▪ When watching the Florida Gators on TV, the “Billy Donovan Court” logo on their floor appears to be larger than the Citgo sign.
▪ We all lost Nick Cafardo three years ago. He never leaves.
▪ Answer to the quiz: Frank Robinson, Don Sutton, Rickey Henderson, Eddie Murray, Hoyt Wilhelm.