Boom or Bust as Homers, Strikeouts Dominate Diamond

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — Boom or bust. This is what baseball has become — and that has owners worried.“It’s just kind of what it is: home runs and strikeouts,” Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling said.Stripling had just given up 10th-inning home runs on consecutive pitches to Houston’s Alex Bregman and George Springer on a night players combined for 10 longballs , nearly double the previous All-Star record.Last fall, you may remember, the Dodgers and Astros totaled 25 home runs in the World Series , four more than had ever been hit before in a Fall Classic.“It’s extremely tough to manufacture hits these days, especially with the shift,” Stripling said after the American League’s 8-6 win Tuesday night. “I certainly understand that’s where the game’s going, and so I think this game encapsulated that.”It took until the 344th pitch for a run to be driven in on something other than a homer, Michael Brantley’s tack-on sacrifice fly that boosted the AL’s lead to 8-5. Joey Votto added the final home run in the bottom half, four more than the previous All-Star mark.“Everybody’s throwing 97 to 100,” Washington ace Max Scherzer, the NL starter, said in a reference to pitch velocity. “You’re not going to string three hits together like that. So everybody’s just swinging for the fence.”Hours earlier, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was expressing alarm. Strikeouts (24,537) are on track to surpass hits (24,314) for the first time and are likely to set a record for the 12th straight season. This year’s average of 17.0 per game is up from 12.6 in 2005. The current big league batting average of .247 would be the lowest since 1972.And the average of 2.28 homers per game is just below the record 2.51 set last year.“Standard operation nowadays, right? We’re going to homer-and-punch-out as an industry,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who led the AL to victory. There’s a great love affair with both results.”Among 90 plate appearances, 44 ended in a home run, strikeout (25) or walk (nine), at 48.9 percent the highest in All-Star history, according to STATS.“I don’t really want to see guys shorten up and slap the ball around the infield just to avoid a strikeout. That doesn’t excite me,” Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon, who won the NL batting title last year while hitting 37 home runs. “I don’t mind strikeouts. That doesn’t mean I want guys swinging way out of the zone, but it doesn’t bother me.”Many cite shifts as the cause of the, well, big shift in offense, transforming groundballs that once were hits into outs. There have been 20,587 shifts on balls in play, according to Baseball Info Solutions. That projects to a full-season total of 34,668 — up 29.8 percent from last year and an increase from 6,882 for the entire 2013 season.“There is a growing consensus or maybe even better an existing consensus among ownership that we need to have a really serious conversation about making some changes to the way the game is being played,” Manfred said. “We are not at the point where I can articulate for you what particular rule changes might get serious consideration. I can tell you the issues that concern people: I think that the period of time between putting balls in play, the number of strikeouts, to a lesser extent the number of home runs, the significance of the shift and what it’s done to the game, the use of relief pitchers and the way starting pitchers are going to be used.”When it comes to change, players are Luddites. Union head Tony Clark maintained his members are “stewards of the game” and are resistant to tinkering with the rules for fear of unintended consequences.“We may get to a point where those coming to the ballpark or have an interest in coming to the ballpark for whatever reason aren’t 100 percent certain that what they are seeing is the type of game that they want to see,” Clark said.Home runs bring the crowd to its feet, especially by the home team. Think back to the 1998 Nike advertisement with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, titled “Chicks Dig the Long Ball.” The Yankees’ Aaron Judge started the barrage with a second-inning solo shot off Scherzer.“I know the fans enjoy seeing these homers,” Judge said.By RONALD BLUM , AP Baseball WriterTweetPinShare55 Shareslast_img read more

For tailors and quilters in the NWT theres only one person to

first_imgRoger Fraser, known as the Stitchin’ Gwich’in”, is hard at work on one of his machines. Photo: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTNCharlotte Morritt-JacobsAPTN News SundayThe needle darts up and down with polished precision, but the reverse on the machine glitches.Luckily for these avid sewers and quilters of the Northwest Territories, the “Stitichin’ Gwich’in,” is but a phone call away.Roger Fraser of Yellowknife, better known as the “Stitchin’ Gwich’in” is the only one in the territory that repairs broken sewing machines.After spending years sending his wife Karen Fraser, a talented seamstress and traditional wear maker’s machine down south for service, they decided to get their certification as technicians.The two travelled down to Austin, Texas to take the course.The Stitchin’ Gwich’in is only a year-and-a-half into his repairs, but already business is booming.Fraser prides himself on being thorough when it comes to repairs, especially when he is without a manual for a machine.“To do a good jobs you have to do a good two hours. Other technicians could repair in an hour but I am still learning,” he said.When the winter roads are open, Fraser has serviced upwards of four machines in a day.His most valued tool of the trade – a cotton swab.“The most common problems are with the needle and the hook. If that’s out of whack you are going to skip stitches or it won’t sew at all.”For machines that are routinely used, Fraser recommends having them serviced once a year as most machines need to have a deep-clean from fabric particles and dust and a top-up on grease.For the next project, a 1930’s Swinger from Inuvik is placed on the workbench. It’s older machines such as this that give him some grief, but not because of the fix.“Waiting for parts and finding parts for the older hand crank machines is difficult,” he says. “I go on eBay and have a sewing supplier located in Toronto they give me parts but you have to order $150 worth of parts so I either have to wait until I need parts or guess what I will need in the future.”The parts are inexpensive, and before the business opened for northerners to ship their machines down south was greater than the cost to have the machines serviced.Stitchin’ Gwich’in says he has received nothing but positive feedback from customers.Like Marilyn McGurran, who co-owns a quilting company in Yellowknife.McGurran relies on her long-arm machine to sew up quilts from N.W.T. communities, saving clients a few hundred dollars by staying in the north.She stresses the importance of sewing in the territory.“You have six months of winter and sewing is big up here. There are a lot of talented people up here who like to create.”Marilyn McGurran works away on a quilt. Photo: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTNBut when a spring on her $10,000 machine broke she turned to the Stitchin’ Gwich’in.“He said I don’t know how to fix that machine. I have never touched one or worked on one. I said that’s okay I know you can fix it.”Fraser told APTN he hopes to work with local governments to set up public repair workshops in all five N.W.T. communities.Until then the Stitchin’ Gwich’in will keep the thread a’ twitchin’[email protected]@aptncharlottelast_img read more