NEW YORK (FAFIF) — Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig has announced the implementation of several statistical changes in pitching categories, effective for all Major League Baseball games immediately following the 2010 All-Star break.
• “Wins” will cease to exist as an individual statistic. Starting pitchers will now be credited with Nice Job if they, in fact, do a nice job. It won’t matter whether they pitch fewer than five innings or leave with their team in the lead. All that will be required of them is a nice job.
• Relief pitchers who don’t finish games but aren’t judged to have contributed to their team falling behind or losing when they do pitch will now be credited with Atta Boy. For example, a relief pitcher who pitches a middle inning and doesn’t give up a run will be told, “Atta boy.”
• Relief pitchers who finish games will now be credited with Way To Go. There will be no delineation among lead sizes or number of runners on base and no thought given to batters on-deck representing tying runs. The relief pitcher who finishes a game that his team wins when he throws that game’s last pitch will receive a Way To Go.
“That’s it,” explained Selig at a press conference at MLB headquarters Monday. “That’s all you need. No more compelling managers to manage to meaningless measurements. No more worrying about keeping in a starter who’s pitched well for four innings but is struggling in the fifth. No more of the pitcher who pitched seven shutout innings pouting because he isn’t credited with a win. The team win is the important thing. All the starter can be asked to do is a nice job. And that’s what we’re recognizing here — Nice Job.”
Selig abolished the save rule because he believes it was making a mockery of late-inning managerial strategy.
“The goal of every team is winning the game it is playing,” the commissioner declared. “The only reason a manager should use a pitcher is because he thinks that pitcher can help the team win. It doesn’t matter which outs a pitcher records. Every out is important.” Still, Selig acknowledged there is a certain cachet to the final out.
“Winning is surely the way to go” the commissioner continued. “A pitcher who secures the last out of a win represents a logical extension of ‘that way’. Thus, his accomplishment can be summed up accurately as Way To Go.”
As for the Atta Boy designation, it replaces holds, though Selig admitted he had no idea what a hold was.
“Never heard of it,” he said. “Are you sure that was a real statistic?”
The repercussions of the commissioner’s edict are being felt around baseball as statisticians, historians and player agents scramble to convert previous barometers to the new yardsticks. For example, the Elias Sports Bureau has ceased tracking possible membership within the 300-win club and has instead announced several veteran pitchers are on the verge of joining the 400 Nice Job guild. Topps is recalling its 2010 update set to clear space on the backs of its cards for Atta Boys. And at Citi Field, New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel was reshaping his time-tested bullpen philosophy.
“You can get an Atta Boy in a tie game in the seventh inning, but not the eighth,” Manuel said as his team prepared to face the Cincinnati Reds. “That’s when you use your Atta Boys with a lead or if you’re behind, but not if you’re tied. And not on the road. Then you have to use your Way To Go. That’s the Way To Go pitcher’s job, but only in the ninth and only at home. What I’m mostly concerned about is making sure we get a Nice Job out of our starter and then a couple of Atta Boys before we hand it off to Frankie and hope we get a Way To Go. That’s how it works in baseball.”
Manuel then chuckled maniacally and turned away from the scrum of microphones and notebooks.
Monday, July 12 is AMAZIN’ ALL-STAR MONDAY, with Marty Noble and Howard Megdal. Come out to Two Boots Grand Central at 7 PM. It’s in the Lower Dining Concourse of Grand Central Terminal, 42nd Street and Park Avenue, accessible via Metro-North as well as the 4, 5, 6, Times Square Shuttle and, of course, the 7 train. Phone: 212/557-7992. Full details here.