Games » Oakland AthleticsMay7
How Ned Yost shows guts
Are the Royals changing the way baseball is played? Probably not. OK, let me back up and explain.
There are a whole bunch of base running rules: never make the first or third out at third, with two down try to get to second or home, when you’re on second with nobody out and there’s a fly ball to the outfield go back and tag with nobody out, go halfway with one out and the list goes on.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Royals are throwing the rules away in favor of a simple philosophy: if you think you can make it, go. They’re trying to clarify their player’s thinking by giving them less to think about. They’re also trying to build a reputation around the league as an incredibly aggressive team on the base paths. They think that over the long haul this philosophy will pay off in stolen bases, extra bases, and rushed throws from the opposition.
How’s it working so far?
Last year they were at the bottom of the league in runs scored, this year they’re at the top. Clearly, you’ve got to have the horses to make this plan work, but the plan seems to be working. So why won’t other teams copy this philosophy?
Post-game press conferences.
If a manager sits on his hands, doesn’t bunt, doesn’t steal, doesn’t hit and run, plays it safe on the bases and his team loses he can walk into the post-game press conference and say, “What can I do? The guys didn’t hit tonight.”
If he starts pushing buttons and he loses, now it looks like his fault. Ned Yost will sometimes get semi-critical questions for moves that worked. “Ned, in the 8th inning how could you (fill in the blank), what if it hadn’t worked?” Ned’s usually answer is ‘You can’t be afraid to win ball games.’
So enjoy Jarrod Dyson’s aggressive race to the plate to score the winning run in this game. The outfielder wasn’t all that deep. Just remember some night when it doesn’t work and a runner gets thrown out, that Ned and the Royals could’ve played it safe and avoided criticism.
But you can’t be afraid to win ball games.
Unless I learn differently, Alex Gordon made a mental mistake when he didn’t retag second once he went beyond the bag. It wasn’t called by the umpire, but it could’ve been. Melky Cabrera also made a throw to third that wasn’t that close and allowed the trail runner to advance, taking the double play out of order.
Matt Treanor saved the game in one of those unrecorded moments when he blocked a slider in the dirt with Hideki Matsui on third in the 5th inning. A few pitches later Matsui tried to score on a grounder to short and was out on a rundown. Treanor also did a good job of getting a key call for Aaron Crow to end the 8th inning with a runner on third and the game still tied. The pitch appeared inside, but Matt caught the ball (Jason Kendall has informed me there no such thing as “framing,” you just catch the ball as quietly as you can) thumb up and elbow down (we talked about this earlier) which keeps most of the body in the zone and gives the umpire a better look.
Chris Getz had a very good day at the plate and not much to show for it. In his first at-bat he just missed extra bases down the left field line, then lined out to second, in his second at-bat a hard 6-3, in his third he laid a great sacrifice bunt down (it dropped in front of home plate like a chicken laying an egg) which immediately turned into two runs when Melky Cabrera drove Matt Treanor and Alcides Escobar home with a single. In the 8th, Getz just missed hitting the ball out of the park, pinning David DeJesus against the right field bullpen gate.
If numbers are the only thing you look at you’re missing a great game.
Leading the league in style
We got Mike Aviles to do a video explaining how to dress like a big league ballplayer. As always, Mike was engaging and funny (we’ll post the video soon). I even learned some stuff I didn’t know: I thought the style of wearing sunglasses on the back of your head was just the latest attempt to find a new place to keep your eyewear. Turns out the players and coaches are prohibited from covering up the logo on the front of the cap…another of those ‘who knew?’ moments.
We also discussed stirrups, (hey, you have your issues, ballplayers have theirs). Nobody I know is sorry that stirrups are a thing of the past: they were damn uncomfortable. Stirrups were held up by a stretchy kind of garter that cut into the leg just below the kneecap. After a game you’d have a deep groove in your flesh. This game is hard enough without playing with two tourniquets wrapped around your calf.
I picked Mike for the “dress like a pro” video because he does everything with style. Mike’s explanation for this is his natural awesomeness. Mike’s mother’s explanation is that he’s an idiot (Mike’s words not mine) and his teammates think it’s because he’s Latin and Latin players have flair.
Take the bat flips: Mike flips the bat after every ball in play, but swears he has no idea he’s doing it. (Mitch Maier doesn’t buy this). After I got hit by that pitch I flipped the bat, but had no intention of doing so, it just came out naturally. I went up to Aviles and said, “Hey, Mike, it turns out I’m Puerto Rican!”
That earned me a fist bump.
A thing I forgot to mention
Someone asked me how I avoided cursing after getting hit by the pitch. I didn’t. I dropped about six f-bombs while walking from the plate to the pitching machine (you might notice the edit they had to make there). When you get hit like that your body interprets it as an attack (duh) and you get an incredible surge of adrenaline or testosterone or Mountain Dew Code Red. (I’m a little hazy on biology, maybe I should’ve paid more attention in class.) Anyway, it shed a new light on charging the mound: you’re a bit amped up and looking for trouble.
Information that isn’t about me
Sooner or later I’ve got to get off the subject of me (hey, I don’t think so, but you know how editors are). So here’s another bit of weird information: the batter’s eye in Kauffman Stadium is actually four different walls and all of them are a slightly different green. A batter’s eye is the area that a pitched ball will appear in when thrown to a hitter and keeping the ball clearly visible is a high priority. The wall behind the outfield padding appears to be the biggest problem. It’s made of a rough looking brick and when the light hits the uneven surface it can glint, not a good thing. That’s why you see vegetation growing above it. Eventually that vegetation is supposed to hang down and cover the brick.
On the other hand, the club leads the league in hitting and runs scored (thanks, Seitz) so it can’t be too distracting.