All posts by IndyBallIsland

30. Baseball fan. I prefer indy ball and the minors over the majors. If it's summer, you can find me at a ballpark. The Washington Wild Things and the Pittsburgh Pirates are my "hometown" teams, but I'm always up for taking a baseball road trip! Follow me on Twitter: @kmthomp29

Atlantic League Mound Movement Results Are Not As Noticeable As Expected

Earlier this year, there was an uproar in the baseball world when it was revealed that the Atlantic League would go ahead with MLB’s experimental movement of the mound.

When Indy Ball Island first reported the change in August, players were concerned about how much it would change the game and if the move would ultimately injure pitchers.

There were even a few players who ended up on the inactive list or were contemplating retirement over their concern and issues.

It was also rumored that if players or coaches were to speak out negatively about the changes, they would be banned from playing in the MLB or in any of the partner leagues. Clearly, the MLB was expecting a lot of outrage when they decided to continue with their experiment.

But as the New York Post reported, all of the concern was blown out of proportion as not much has really changed in the Atlantic League.

There are a few slightly noticeable differences…

Courtesy of Long Island Ducks & The New York Post

From the adjustment’s implementation on Aug. 3 through Sept. 19, as per MLB (reported by the NYPost):

• Run scoring is up by .22 runs per game.

• Slugging percentage is up 26 points, a by-product of home runs being up from 2.9 percent of all outcomes to 3.6 percent. “I think that’s probably the most meaningful thing that has happened,” Sword said. “Twenty points of slugging is not a lot, but directionally, it’s what we were hoping for.”

• Strikeouts are up a tick, from 18.3 percent to 18.4. “I couldn’t explain that one to you,” Sword said In conjunction with that, the batting average on balls in play has dropped from .324 to .320.

• There’s a “slight increase” in the percentage of fastballs thrown and a “very small decrease” in the number of sliders and curveballs thrown.

But overall, the one foot increase from the mound to the plate seemed to bring little changes and no directly reported injuries (that I have seen) – a big concern of a lot of players over a month ago.

Most players, pitchers and hitters alike, didn’t seem to notice.

Said Scott Harkin, who pitched six innings of one-run ball for the Ducks that night, picking up a 4-2 win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs: “Honestly, I don’t even notice it.”

Said Ducks outfielder LJ Mazzilli: “I think a lot of people got ahead of themselves before it actually happened. They really were opinionated early on, and I was just trying to take it in and let me see for myself. And then as soon as I got in, that first game, that first fastball I saw, it was like the exact same as what I’ve been seeing my whole life. I was like, ‘This is not as crazy as people were making it seem.’ ”

NY Post

And even when some pitchers reported a slight difference, such as Long Island Ducks RHP Joe Iorio, he was able to overcome it quickly because that’s always the goal of the game.

Ducks pitcher Joe Iorio, a native of West Islip, said he had to adjust his arm slot to throw his off-speed pitches: “I’m trying to get it to a different spot now, because he’s a foot back. The hitter obviously has a little more time to see it.”

Yet Iorio added: “It’s definitely an adjustment, but at the end of the day, we’ve been pitching our whole lives, so you feel like you can figure it out pretty quickly. But once you get in the game, it’s a constant adjustment, and that’s pitching, anyway. Whether it’s the regular distance or not, you’re always adjusting and trying to fine-tune your pitches.”

NY Post

If you would like to read more about the effects and responses to the movement of the pitcher’s mound or about the other rule changes put into place in the Atlantic League, check out Ken Davidoff’s in-depth article, MLB’s mound experiment an underwhelming minor league innovation, from the New York Post HERE.

Yinz Play Baseball At WHAT Time?!

This summer, baseball was played from morning until night at Wild Things Park in Washington, PA.

Just like every summer for the past 20 years, the Washington Wild Things played baseball in the evenings from May through September.

But for the second summer in a row, the stadium was also host to the Yinzer Baseball Confederacy and their own double headers every morning.

Born out of the summer of COVID baseball and the need for players to stay active and ready to play ball, the Black Sox pro baseball organization created the Yinzer Baseball Confederacy to give guys a place to play the game that they love.

This year, the Yinzer became a place that the MLB Partner leagues could rely on to find game-ready players at a moment’s notice.

In fact, more than 80 players went through the Black Sox/Yinzer to play in one of the four MLB Partner Leagues this summer. (More on some of those players will be featured in upcoming posts throughout the off season… Stay tuned!!)

I have always been a big supporter of the Black Sox. I’ve known the owner, Joe Torre, since I started this website over 6 years ago.

I’ve been in the dugout when it was hard to find players and the teams struggled to put up runs against established indy teams. I’ve also been there when guys were doing anything to get in that same dugout and have a chance to put up competitive numbers and win against those same indy teams.

They’ve adopted the wrestling “NWO” mentality… the outsiders who come in, take over and change the game.

This website was created for the guys like the Black Sox… For players who are seen as the underdogs… For the true grinders of the sport… For the guys who just want a chance to prove themselves…

It’s for the guys who get up and drive to the ballpark for early work before 7am… and play a double header starting at 9am… That’s right… the majority of the games this season started at NINE IN THE MORNING.

It’s for the players who put in the work on the field and then help out in the stands – charting, chasing foul balls, working the scoreboard, announcing on the PA system, and live streaming on social media…

It’s for those same players who – after early work/BP and two games of their own – stay around to work in the concession stands during Frontier League games just to make enough money to live and play baseball.

These guys played hard every single day with the hope that they would be the next guy up… the next one to get a chance to prove themselves.

Some guys were used for spot starts and to fill depleted positions. Those guys would drop everything at a moment’s notice just to meet up with a team in need… sometimes with no idea how they will even get home if they were released after they did their job.

Some were able to be a part of a “travel” squad who played games north of the boarder when other teams couldn’t field their own full roster.

And then some even proved themselves and stayed around for a lot longer than anyone (outside of this Black Sox organization) ever thought possible.

In fact, a few of them are currently playing in the Frontier League and American Association playoffs or finishing up the regular season in the Atlantic League.

This guys are at the very heart of indy ball and what it’s all about. THEY are the reason I love this sport the way that I do.

On a personal level, this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons of my life.

Getting up and driving an hour to the stadium to be there by 9am, sitting in the blazing sun for two straight games while watching the Killer B’s (the eventual Yinzer League champions), Road Warriors, Brilliance Sox and Wolfpac, and then staying in town to watch the Wild Things play in the evenings… I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

And those Wild Things evenings meant even more this season when my favorite Black Sox guys were working around the ballpark or just sitting in the stands because they just couldn’t get enough baseball.

To those players who I got to talk baseball with and just enjoy the game in the company of someone who truly loves the game the way that I do… Thank you. Those were some of my favorite moments of the entire season.

I was also fortunate enough to travel and see former Yinzer players thrive in the Frontier and Atlantic Leagues. There is something special about seeing a player who put his heart and soul into the Black Sox showcase their talent and commitment in a top league. It’s on the same level as seeing a brother and family member succeed.

And that’s because it is exactly that… it’s a family. Those guys who play against each other every day, who are competing against each other for attention and a chance to “make it” are still brothers. When one succeeds, they all celebrate.

Any time a former Yinzer would be at the plate or on the mound in Wild Things Park – no matter what team they happened to be on – you could always find a crowd of current Yinzers behind home plate cheering on their brothers because…

When you’re NWO… you’re NWO for life.

And if you didn’t know… Now you do.

Stay tuned this off season for more features and articles highlighting players from the Yinzer Baseball Confederacy.