Good afternoon everyone. This is your commissioner speaking. There is an odd issue that needs to be addressed...
Huntington Wiffle League games can be very high-energy and electric but lately it appears that there has been something putting the brakes on the excitement. There has been what cannot be explained as anything else but a walking (BB) epidemic. It is something one might not notice a lot while on the sidelines but when you're in the game and you've noticed a shift in sunlight and you're still in the same half-inning you were 20 minutes ago you start looking for valid reasons this is happening. "Sure," you might say "we've had some walks. It happens. It's part of the game. How bad could it be?" Well, it's pretty bad. Even the casual observer might notice that there are a few too many walks occurring in each game but it isn't until you start crunching the numbers that the crisis becomes clear.
We've completed 5 weeks of regular season play which puts us at halfway through the regular season. So far the league has accumulated 129 walks in 17 games played. There has been an average of 7.5 walks per game and every pitcher will walk an average of 1 batter per inning. If that does not put things into perspective for you then consider this: 19 of the 136 runs scored this year have been the result of walking a run in. This translates to 13.9% of runs scored this year are unearned. Yikes.
So what can we do about this? To answer that you will have to read another article, Rule Ch-Ch-Changes, to get a full grasp on what we intend to do to curb this problem. But what would really help stop the Base on Balls bleeding is for pitchers to practice in their off-time even if it's just for a few minutes a day or two a week. Also, there are some batters that are notorious for crowding the plate that need to take a half step away from the plate and swing the bat if it's anywhere close to the strike zone. Walking is boring and drains the game of any excitement. I think it goes without saying that it really slows the games down too.
Think about it. Walking is murder on a batting average because you are not getting the at bat so you're batting average plateaus out - and that's usually not a good thing. You are not doing yourself any favors by just standing still your whole at bat. At least bring a chair with you to the batters box so we can have a laugh if all you intend to do is inactively reach first base. That sort of strategy really neutralizes any fun or excitement that could occur in fair territory. I've never been happy to walk for most of a game. Sure I was excited to walk when I was in Little League because I was a terrible hitter and was super excited to get on base, but this is wiffleball - just about anyone can hit a wiffleball. Hitting with the original yellow bat is harder but the Rules Committee allowed a bat with a slightly bigger barrel as a compromise. It is for that reason that it seems almost criminal to not swing at a ball that is literally being soft-served to you from a pitcher that already has 5 balls on you. If someone is lobbing the ball at you, why resist? Cream that thing and get on with the game! The odds of you missing (since you have additional time when it's being pitched slower) are almost zero, and if you don't have two strikes - why not swing at it? The pitcher is making an effort to let you earn your base and possibly more by giving you something to hit. Why punish them for it?
But if you insist on continuing playing statue while up to the plate - enjoy what success you have had so far while you can. The season is only halfway over and pitchers that are struggling to hit the strike zone will start hitting it more frequently (even if they don't practice) and you will eventually be forced to swing. Sure some of your walks were due to lack of balls being anywhere remotely near you but that is not always the case. Everyone has done their fair share of walking but two players in particular have walked a combined 48 times this season, which makes them accountable for 37% of the league's walks. It's numbers like these that almost make me consider making an individual end-of the year award for the player who walks the most. What would you even call such an award? Most Blasé Batter? I'll think of something.
My overall point is that I know all of us can do better at getting the ball into the strike zone and hitting balls that are very close to the strike zone. For the sake of keeping the games fun and interesting I ask you to please give it an effort. I will see you on the field.