Mike Schmidt: Frisk the Pitcher an excuse for poor hitting

Jun 25, 2021, 11:29 PM | Updated: Jun 26, 2021, 12:54 pm

So baseball began holding “Frisk the Pitcher Night” at every big league stadium this week. Max Scherzer had the look of a guy who didn’t need help to do his job as umpires checked him at Citizens Bank Park.

No evidence was found. On Scherzer or anyone else.

OK, it’s understandable that Commissioner Rob Manfred was under pressure to take action over accusations that a high percentage of today’s pitchers cheat, using something in addition to sweat and saliva on the ball.

The modern-day pitcher can make a fastball sail in or away from a hitter with a cutter. They can make a changeup drop 6 inches with the split, made famous by Bruce Sutter.

They have the basic slider as well. Then they have the difference maker, the 95-100 mph fastball they throw high in the hitting zone, the four-seamer made famous by Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Billy Wagner and Scherzer, to name a few.

Four-pitch pitchers were very uncommon in the ’70s and ’80s when I played. I can think of Don Sutton and Rick Sutcliffe, both former Dodgers, off the top of my head. The average pitcher in my day featured fastball, slider or curve, and changeup. As a hitter, I had fewer pitches to deal with.

I know first-hand that pitchers used every possible scuff, scratch, spit, pine tar and sweat, with a little dab of rosin bag, to get hitters out. It’s been in baseball forever. There were many who flaunted it, many known for it, one is a Hall of Fame member. So let’s don’t act like this is something new.

The difference is today’s generation of hitters can’t — or won’t — keep up with its generation of pitchers. The real question is why the gap?

I have a simple answer: sabermetrics, analytics and other technology. While these sources of information have a place, they have had negative effect on the hitters.

This year the overall MLB batting average could become the lowest ever, now around .238. Must be because the pitchers are cheating … no!

It’s the shifting defenses coupled with hitters being lead astray by information: Hitting the ball in the air is better than on the ground, striking out is only one out, and a high velocity off the bat and perfect launch angle makes a great hitter. Imagine a Trackman on the wall in the batting cages that spits this garbage out — they have them.

Back to the main issue, pitchers being suspected and inspected. Let’s say MLB has a good case, why would anyone risk being caught now? In fact, with the movement of players around baseball, why wouldn’t a player on a contending team report a former teammate who is pitching against his team?

A game today must go through 75-90 balls. Any ball touching dirt is thrown out. Pitchers want clean baseballs. Aaron Nola once told me he grew up learning to make a clean baseball move, and his pitch movement is one of the best in baseball.

I played in a time where pitchers wanted scuffed balls and knew how to use the scuff to their advantage. Most would consider me a successful and knowledgeable hitter — it is my opinion the decline of hitting today lies directly in the hitters’ inability to hit the high fastball and the lack of accountability for striking out.

Learn to hit, or take the high fastball and make contact more often. That would narrow this gap quickly.

The charade on the field that began Monday may have been designed to scare the pitchers straight, but it seemed to me to be more of an embarrassment to baseball, as well as an excuse for poor hitting.

I spent time with one of the best pitchers in baseball this offseason and asked him about the high fastball as a strikeout weapon. He snickered as he said that’s an easy strikeout, waist high and above.

Without any sauce, I would add.


Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt was a three-time NL MVP and MVP of the 1980 World Series when the Philadelphia Phillies won their first championship.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Police cars wrecked in soccer riots are seen on the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Jav...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What’s behind Indonesia’s deadly soccer match?

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Violence and a deadly stampede that erupted following a domestic league soccer match Saturday night marked another tragedy in Indonesian football. Here’s a look at how the chaos occurred and what is being done to prevent future incidents. ___ HOW DID THE CHAOS OCCUR? Chaos broke out after Persebaya Surabaya defeated […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Chambers 5 total TDs help Montana St. beat UC Davis 41-24

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Sean Chambers completed 13 of 21 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 203 yards and three TDs on 18 carries to help Montana State beat UC Davis 41-24 Saturday night. Chambers, a transfer from Wyoming who made his first career start in place of injured starter Tommy […]
1 day ago
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (10) runs past Stanford coach David Shaw, right, on a long gain during th...
Associated Press

Nix has 4 TDs and No. 13 Oregon downs Stanford 45-27

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — When Oregon quarterback Bo Nix took off running in the third quarter, teammate Chase Cota was cheering for him to keep going. Nix indeed kept going, and going — all the way for an 80-yard touchdown. “I remember when I saw him get out and he was like 40 yards down […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

McCoy throws for 4 TDs, Idaho beats N. Colorado 55-35

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Gevani McCoy completed 22 of 27 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns, Elisha Cummings accounted for three TDs and Idaho beat Northern Colorado 55-35 Saturday night. Cummings finished with 78 yards rushing and two touchdowns on seven carries and his 12-yard TD catch midway through the fourth quarter made it […]
1 day ago
Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, left, throws a touchdown pass as Arizona State defe...
Associated Press

Caleb Williams runs, passes No. 6 USC past Arizona St. 42-25

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although Caleb Williams and No. 6 Southern California never trailed against Arizona State, the Trojans also couldn’t pull away during a fairly average first half by their newly ambitious standards under coach Lincoln Riley. “It just wasn’t quite us,” Riley said. “Wasn’t quite the edge that we’re used to playing with, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Dunniway, Skattebo lead Sacramento St. past Cal Poly 49-21

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — Jake Dunniway threw two touchdown passes, Cameron Skattebo scored three TDs, and Sacramento State beat Cal Poly 49-21 Saturday night for the Hornets seventh consecutive road win. The Hornets, ranked No. 5 in the FCS coaches poll, have not yet trailed in a game this season and have won […]
1 day ago
Mike Schmidt: Frisk the Pitcher an excuse for poor hitting