Games » Los Angeles AngelsJun10
Why Mike Moustakas owes Eric Hosmer a steak
When you think of defense we tend to think of hands, but the feet are more important. No matter how good your hands are, if you can’t get them where they need to be with your feet, they aren’t doing you much good.
Hosmer saved his buddy, Mike Moustakas, twice in this game by using his feet. Mike launched a couple high throws (maybe he was over-amped for his MLB debut) and Eric did some of the hardest footwork in the first base handbook to catch the ball.
When a ball is put in play on the infield, the first baseman goes to the bag and puts one heel on each corner. The edge of the base is under the arch. That way, when the stretch is made, the ball of the foot remaining on the base is against the side of the bag, not on top. (You’ll see amateurs put their foot square in the middle of the bag, leaving the base runner no place to go. It’s a great way to break an ankle and if you’re doing it in your softball league, stop…and if someone else is doing it, make them stop. It’s dangerous.)
Once the throw is on its way, the first baseman goes into the appropriate footwork. A bad first baseman will stretch too soon and not be able to adjust to the ball. An outstanding defender like Hosmer waits for the throw and can gain stretching ability by working the bag. If the throw is off-line, Hosmer can add to his stretch by shuffling his feet to the appropriate corner and then stretching along the baseline. He gains the width of the bag. (I think I’ve mentioned this already.)
But the footwork Eric used to help out Mike was something different: When the throw is high, the first baseman can once again add the width of the bag to his stretch, but he has to do it by going backward. The feet are shuffled so the remaining foot is now on the side of the bag closest to foul territory and that’s where the stretch takes place — in foul territory.
And that means the first baseman has to cross the path of the runner busting down the line. Mistime this and someone gets hurt (and Eric did just miss getting clipped by an Angel runner … of course at Eric’s size, maybe it’s the runner that gets hurt).
So think of all that’s going on: Hosmer’s trying to catch a high ball, do the footwork around the bag and avoid getting blindsided by a runner. So how does Moustakas’ debut look with a lesser defender at first? A couple of E5s would have given a whole new look to the evening.
I hope Moose bought Hos dinner … and if he didn’t, someone show Eric this article. It ought to be good for a steak somewhere.
Now batting, No. 8
Mike Moustakas showed up wearing No. 8. Good number, wore it myself. (Although I’m guessing that didn’t play into Mike’s thinking.) Someone asked me how a new player’s number is determined. So I asked Eric Hosmer. He said they show you a list of available numbers and you choose one. So what if the one you want is already taken?
Well, if you’re a rookie, you shut your mouth and wait for the guy to be traded. If you’re an established player you might negotiate a trade that involves some light bribery. If you engage in heavy bribery, I think you have to register as a lobbyist.
No mental mistake for Melky
As I’ve mentioned a few times, mental mistakes are maybe the hardest category to score. The same play, with the same results done for two different reasons, would score differently. Melky Cabrera got doubled off third when Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive to third. Melky was headed home in violation of the ‘break on ground ball, freeze on a line drive and tag on a fly ball’ rule.
Except Frank White said he was going on contact. You put the contact play on with one down and a runner on third … and always with first and third so you don’t stand there watching the opposition turn a double play. I was taught that you break for home on ‘down angle’ meaning any ball that comes down off the bat.
Chris Getz told me the Royals run it on any contact. He said at the major-league level, they handle the ball too well to wait. It’s a gamble, but so is not going. It looks awful when it fails (WHAT WAS THE RUNNER THINKING!) and great when it works (Boy, those guys sure hustle, don’t they?) Unfortunately, the play has to be put on before the Royals know where the ball will be hit.
Think of it this way: You run it in the same situation you would a suicide squeeze. One down, runner on third. It’s got the added benefit of asking the players to do two things they do all the time, run and hit a baseball. The suicide calls for some special timing and coordination and is harder to pull off.
Pena at the plate
Brayan Pena blocked the plate again (after Texas he’s making sure he’s out in front), but did it by dropping to his knees. This can be dangerous because it exposes the unprotected thigh to cleating. If the catcher gets bulldozed, it can also bend him over backwards and hurt a knee or ankle, which is what happened to Buster Posey. I think everybody appreciates the effort, but nobody wants to see Pena get hurt.
Watch where you spit
Before Thursday’s game Ryan Lefebvre was leaning against the dugout railing, talking with some of us and spitting sunflower seeds out onto the dirt … until Trevor Vance arrived. Trevor’s the head groundskeeper and he announced his presence by saying, “Ryan, would you come over to my house and spit sunflower seeds on my living room rug?”
If you ever get the chance to go onto a field, don’t spit seeds or gum or tobacco on to the playing surface….or if you do, make sure the head groundskeepers not around.