Sunday, May 29, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Last year, one of my favourite players to watch was Buster Posey. All I can say is I’ve taken full advantage of my MLB.tv subscription and enjoyed watching his dominance in the woeful National League West.
Last night, Buster Posey was absolutely drilled at home by Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins.
Now, I don’t want to get up on a soapbox and preach too much. Admittedly, I’m a fan of violence in sports. I love hitting in hockey, quarterback sacks and catcher collisions. But just like the new War on Head Hitting in the NHL and NFL, last night’s events now gives the MLB and MLBPA a chance to step up and set an example.
With both the NHL and NFL’s new policies, they put an emphasis on making a play for the puck or ball FIRST. Scott Cousins makes no initial effort at the plate last night, and in fact could have scored on the play without the impact. There wasn’t a Marlin player behind the plate signaling this to Cousins, so it’s hard to claim that he was trying to injure Posey, nor do I intend to take that stance. But I see this as a great chance for the MLB to make a statement that base-runners must make an effort at the base they wish to occupy (in this case, home), before initiating intended contact.
This is the second instance this season where a player has gone out of his way to try to initiate contact to break up a play and resulted in major injury. Twins infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka had his leg broken by Nick Swisher while turning a double play last month. While Swisher wasn’t called out by Twins management or the league, it was noted in just about each report of the play that Swisher went well out of the baseline to make contact.
This is a dangerous precedent for the MLB to be setting. I don’t think we’re even close to the recklessness that lead to the new rules in hockey and football, but I ask, how many more plays like this will it take for baseball to make some changes? Posey had NO CHANCE to defend himself, and the contact happened when he wasn’t even looking at the runner. Shouldn’t the runner assume some responsibility here?
Preaching over! I wish Buster Posey a speedy recovery and I hope that the San Francisco Giants can tread water in the NL West while he is on the mend.
Tip of the Cap to Dustin Parkes for the photo.
Friday, May 20, 2011
There’s a lot made out of a player’s ability to hit, pitch or field their position in “clutch” situations. It’s pretty easy to track too. Did x player drop/hit the ball or run the bases effectively? Did he/she do this more than once over the course of the season? He/She is either “Clutch” or not.
I’m amazed that in the game of baseball, where statistical analysis can tell us everything from the pitch a player hits the hardest, to what his favourite ice cream flavor is that this touchy-feely, anecdotal type of thought process still exists.
The idea of “Clutch” as I see it with the game of baseball is that it’s perceived that certain players try harder when there’s more at stake. This implies that the other players try less hard and are more susceptible to failure. That is a complete crock of shit if you ask me. That would be like saying drivers try harder to not get in accidents when they’re closer to their destination, plumbers try harder to do a good job when they’re quickly approaching a deadline or classical musicians try harder to play the right notes when the critics are in the audience.
Perhaps the idea of “odds” is what’s perceived as “clutch”? If a manager plays the “odds” with a bunt, steal or sacrifice fly to move a runner into scoring position then he is lauded by the fans/press/pundits as doing the right thing. I call this results based criticism. This is where the concept of “clutch” comes from IMHO. By reflection, the player who executed this play is considered “clutchy” because he/she “got the job done”.
Baseball is a game that remains important in our society because every generation has stories and anecdotes that are passed down through generations. Whether you played, your father played, you have seasons tickets or bought MLB.tv, we all invest a little bit of ourselves into different teams and players. The idea of “clutch” gives us an emotional reaction to what we perceive as a big play at a big time. But really…when John McDonald hits a walk-off home-run was he trying to do anything different then he does during any other at bat? Or was the result just inherently more positive?
Was Michael Jordan trying any harder to make the baskets for all those NBA moment clips? No the goal is to do your job….his job was to hit the shot, just like McDonald’s was to get on base.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
So there’s been a little bit of a lull here at Relay to Home. There’s been a vacation, an audition and a generally insane week of activity in real life.
But yesterday I finally had a chance to sit and watch a little baseball without having a million other things to do. I watched the last half of the Rockies/Giants game and I was particularly struck once again by the failure to use your best relief pitcher in a high leverage situation.
In the 8th inning, with runners on 1st and 3rd with none out the Giants went to Javier Lopez. Lopez has been fantastic against Left-Handed Batters all year. Prior to yesterday’s game they were 3-30 against him. But in a situation that needed strikeouts, arguably their best strikeout pitcher, Brian Wilson was sitting on the bullpen bench.
Wilson, who hasn’t pitched for a week (much to the demise of my fantasy baseball team), should have had loads of “gas in the tank” to give them the pitching they needed. Of course where this argument fails is that it’s completely speculative. Bruce Bochy played the odds and got burned by them. But on a macro level he (theoretically) got burned by MLB managers tendency to pitch to the save statistic. I’ve written about this before (insert link), but it seems that the mystique of the “Closer” and the “Save” have clouded the league’s need for high-leverage relief pitching.
Yesterday’s win for the Rockies came on a big hit by Carlos Gonzalez. One that could be called clutch. More on the idea of the “clutch hitter” or “clutch pitcher” tomorrow.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
MLB’s DUI Problem
It’s been well documented that three MLB stars have been charged with Driving Under the Influence since the beginning of spring training. In the case of Miguel Cabrera, the police reported that the five-time All-Star forced other vehicles off the road while driving an SUV that was smoking beneath the hood. Cabrera took a drink from a bottle of Scotch whiskey in front of a sheriff's deputy. He was charged with DUI and two misdemeanor counts of resisting an officer without violence.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, on April 28, a Georgia state trooper stopped Braves pitcher Derek Lowe on an Atlanta street and charged the pitcher with DUI, reckless driving and improper lane change.
Four days later, Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was pulled over by a Cleveland police officer when his vehicle crossed the double yellow lines and drifted into a bike path. After failing a field sobriety test, Choo took a Breathalyzer test and registered a blood
alcohol content of 0.201, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Starting at the turn of the calendar year the DUI’s starting rolling in faster than no-hitters against NL teams (heyo!). Seattle infielder was arrested on a DUI charge in Newport Beach, Calif. Cleveland outfielder and Oakland outfielder were also arrested on charges of driving under the influence.
Clearly the MLB has to step up and do something here. Aside from the marketing and promotions
nightmare this creates, these players are putting lives in danger. These players make not just a little money – but A LOT. There is literally no reason that a guy making $4 million a year can’t afford to take a taxi. Hopefully they realize this before someone actually gets hurt.
Captain Bud’s Wheel of Justice
On Wednesday, May 4th Tampa outfielder B.J. (Bossman Junior) Upton lost his shit after a questionable third strike call. He proceeded to throw his equipment all over the field after being thrown out of the game by umpire Chad Fairchild.
See the display of sportsmanship HEREFor this kind of behavior, Bossman Junior received a 2 game suspension and a fine of $1500. The suspension is about par for the course…but if you want to make an example of a guy shouldn’t you fine him a little more? A $1500 fine represents less than 1% of his income this season. Bravo Bud…slow clap for you.
1B - Don Mattingly
2B - Roberto Alomar
3B - Paul Molitor
SS - Cal Ripken Jr.
OF - Tony Gwynn
OF - Barry Bonds
OF - Ken Griffey Jr.
P - Greg Maddux
P - Jack Morris
P - Roy Halladay
P - Nolan Ryan
P - Pedro Martinez
CL - Mariano Rivera
Honorable Mention - Brooks Robinson, Dave Winfield, George Brett, Jeff Bagwell, Keith Hernandez, Albert Pujols, Larry Walker, Kirk Gibson
1B - Albert Pujols
2B - Ryne Sandberg
3B - Mike Schmidt
SS - Robin Yount
OF - Barry Bonds
OF - Ken Griffey, Jr.
OF - Reggie Jackson
P - Greg Maddux
P - Nolan Ryan
P - Roger Clemens
P - John Smoltz
P - Randy Johnson
CL - Mariano Rivera
Sunday, May 8, 2011
"The baseball gods are a fickle pain in my ass" - Jay Austin, May 7, 2011
- Last year when Ubaldo Jiminez was throwing his, I had to go to work. My boss didn't like me watching the game on my computer...so I had to turn it off.
- Roy Halladay's Perfect Game in Florida was on my MLB.tv when I got a phone call for a gig and missed the last two innings while making the arrangements.
- When my wife had just moved to Toronto, I took her to see Brandon Morrow pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays. We saw 8.2 no-hit innings of 17 strikeout baseball before Evan Longoria broke his bat...and the no hitter.
- I had watched the first 8 innings of Matt Garza's no hitter last summer...when our internet cut out and I missed the last 3 outs.
- Roy Halladay's playoff no hitter hurt. I was watching until I had to go to work. When I got off the subway I had 7 text messages saying "did you just see that?"...sigh
- Yesterday, I also had to go to work after watching the first 7 innings of Justin Verlander's no hitter.
Friday, May 6, 2011
I'm not sure if this is even real news...but on a slow Friday in baseball news THIS LINK came across my Google feed.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Through my formative years I watched as much baseball as I could. Since this was before MLB.tv that consisted of Jays games and anything that FOX or NBC would broadcast on the weekend. But the one constant was my mornings with sports highlights and my weekends watching This Week in Baseball.
Last night the Blue Jays lost to the Rays on a B.J. Upton walk off home run. This was a game that saw the Jays strand 7 runners on base and only get 7 hits themselves. You can look at both of the starting pitchers, Wade Davis and Jo-Jo Reyes, as to why this was the case. Both pitchers kept their teams in the game and when Reyes left the game after 6 innings of 4 hit, 1 run baseball the Blue Jays had a 2-1 lead.
Shawn Camp and Marc Rzepcynski pitched two innings of flawless relief and as the practice goes, the doors to the bullpen opened and the “current” closer, Jon Rauch came in for the save. The generally accepted “baseball-ism” is that you use your closer in save situations only (up to a 3 run lead in the 9th inning). Interestingly enough, on most teams the closer is also the team’s best relief pitcher. Right now the Jays sport a trio of closers comprising of Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel. Rauch is the only one of these three that is in the top four of some pretty important categories for relief pitchers.
Batting AVG. against
Inherited Runners Scoring %
So before Blue Jays fans throw Jon Rauch under the bus the way they did last night on Jays Talk with Mike Wilner, don’t forget that right now, our best relief pitchers don’t have jobs that give them the chance to lock down the 9th inning for us. That should be the issue, not a guy who is 5 for 6 in save opportunities this year.