Games » Chicago White SoxSep10
Walks and errors will kill you. Just look at this game: In the eighth inning, two outs away from another Joakim Soria save (almost as sure as death and taxes), Yuniesky Betancourt made an error on a fairly routine grounder. He let his arm drop to a lower slot, which put his fingers lower on the side of the ball and gave it greater movement.
Yuni got so much movement he moved this game from the win column to a loss.
And don’t forget Robinson Tejeda’s contribution. After Yuni’s error he gave up a double, got Paul Konerko to pop-up for the second out and then walked Manny Ramirez, putting the winning run on base. A.J. Pierzynski (who seems to kill the Royals on a regular basis) was on deck. A.J. drove the ball into right center, Gregor Blanco didn’t run the best route, the ball plugged the gap and, poof, the Royals’ lead was gone.
I’ve been saying that, despite their record, the Royals are better this year. They’ve played something like 54 one-run games and gone into extra innings 16 times. (I’m guessing because it’s early on a Saturday morning and my WiFi connection keeps going in and out.) The point is, they’ve played a lot of close ballgames.
But recently I’ve been seeing a lot of reminders of the bad old days:
*In Minnesota, Jai Miller hit the warning track, didn’t know where he was, mistimed a leap and played an out into a triple.
*Josh Fields has already put up four errors (two more last night) and he’s the GOOD third baseman.
*Against the Twins, Wilson Betemit booted a throw from the outfield and lost the chance to end an inning. Minnesota went on to score the winning runs.
*Billy Butler got into such an awkward fielding position, he got hit on the back of his throwing hand…one more time for anyone who missed that…he got hit ON THE BACK OF HIS THROWING HAND. How do you do that?
*Brayan Pena tried to backhand two pitches that needed to be blocked instead and both ended up at the backstop.
*Last night, after going 3-2, Gregor Blanco received ball four and clearly had no idea what the count was. (Gregor’s crushing the mental mistake category.)
This is bad baseball. All these things are controllable and they’re not being controlled. When I started playing baseball at the advanced age of 37, I had the best instruction money can’t buy: Russ Morman, George Brett, Clint Hurdle, Kevin Seitzer, Dan Quisenberry, Danny Jackson, Tim Bogar, Jerry Dipoto (the list goes on and on) were teaching me the game. When I was a kid (I think it was the 1880s) if you couldn’t hit they didn’t give you instruction, they sent you home. To me, it was miraculous that there was a right way to do things and if you learned it, you could get better.
This morning, Yuniesky Betancourt shrugged off his mistake and said, “I just threw high.” Robinson Tejeda insisted, “They were all good pitches.” (Including the four that weren’t in the zone to Manny and the ball that was up to A.J.?) Good players get good because they admit their mistakes and adjust. If you won’t admit a mistake, you won’t adjust and you won’t get better.
Ned Yost has called this period an extended tryout. Players are being given the chance to show what they can do for the last month of the season. I told this to someone down at work and he said that knowing you’re going to get to play for a month must take the pressure off some of these players. I think the opposite: when you’re stuck on the bench you can whine about playing time. You can say you’ll never be consistent because you don’t get enough time on the field. Now players are getting called on their B.S., now they’re getting the chance to show what they can…or can’t…do. And some of them are playing their way off the field.
The silver lining…
When I started this project I wanted to make sure I talked about the positives as well as the negatives, so here goes:
*Brayan Pena is smoking the ball. He hit one in Minnesota that was just inches above the second baseman’s glove and still made it to the fence. A ball hit that low and carries that far is crushed.
Jai Miller can fly and brings much needed speed to the team. (OK, that positive is pretty weak, but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got to work with.)
Bruce Chen is performing miracles. A guy that didn’t make the team out of spring training and was seen as a left-handed specialist is leading the team in wins (I know that bar is set pretty low, but still) and should’ve had another win last night. Monday I’m going to bring him a bottle of water and see if he can turn it into wine.