Saw a reminder of baseball fun recently. Super 70s Sports tweeted a photo of Herb Washington, a player with no position, 105 career games, 33 runs, 31 stolen bases and zero at bats.
Washington, a novelty from A’s owner Charlie Finley’s carnival mind, was a pinch runner and nothing else, a track star-turned-pinch runner.
Remember stolen bases? They were entertaining.
There were 2,505 stolen bases last year, the fewest since 1974, when there were six fewer teams in the majors.
Sabermetrics and the PED-fueled 1990s and early 2000s are the reason. Look, I respect baseball analytics. Any youth-baseball father knows outs are more valuable than runs, when there are more walks and wild pitches than hits, and the right fielder is making fart noises on his forearm.
But I miss the Vince Colemans and Otis Nixons and Juan Samuels and Alan Wigginses.
Organizations don’t develop those players anymore, not when 75 percent success makes stealing bases worthwhile, because the cost of getting caught is steeper than the reward of advancing 90 feet.
Somewhere, Gary Pettis weeps.