The big news of the week is more like a running rumor: Players union and major league management are reportedly negotiating details for a truncated season that would open around July 1.
With few certainties about this available, I’ll withhold detailed comment. But I’ll toss out two broad opinions:
• The very first sentence of any agreement should state that nothing that follows is applicable to any future season and is not to be regarded as precedent or as status quo in a future collective bargaining agreement.
• The union should be a hard “no” on reopening the financial agreement it struck with management in the earliest days of the pandemic shutdown.
On to a different topic: The book “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches,” by Tyler Kepner, which was published last year but which I just got around to reading this spring.
I possess a goodly number of books about pitchers and a goodly number of books of baseball history, and I have read even more. This is easily one of the best of either.
Which should not be surprising. Kepner’s day job is as national baseball writer for the New York Times, and I have come to regard him as his generation’s Peter Gammons — which is high praise indeed. Like Gammons, Kepner seems to know, or at least have access to, everybody.
As a result, “K” is reported both in great depth and in great breadth, big picture and details.
“K” has provided the best definition of the difference between a “forkball” and a “splitter” (or “split-finger fastball”) that I’ve encountered in roughly 30 years of reading about the latter pitch. Both pitches are held between the forefinger and index finger. If there is space between the ball and the webbing between the fingers, it’s a splitter. If the ball is up against the webbing, it’s a forkball.
(And just thinking about wedging a ball that deep between those fingers makes my hand hurt.)
“K” also makes explicit a concept that I wasn’t deeply familiar with but appears from the vast bulk of pitchers and coaches quoted on the topic to be a pretty common concept in the majors: That the curveball should not involve a twist of the wrist. The spin comes from the angle of the hand in the delivery, not from wrenching the limb.
A running theme of the book is the rise and fall of certain pitches in popularity among pitchers. The fastball will always be No. 1, but these two facts about pitching as we enter the third decade of this century are true:
• Velocity is at an all-time peak
• Pitchers throw their fastball less often than ever.
And this book helps explain why the game has evolved in that direction.
Edward Thoma is at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @bboutsider.