Games » Tampa Bay RaysMay2
It’s a small-ball world after all…
The luxury of having a pitcher like Zack Greinke is knowing three runs will win most of the games he starts. That allows you to play small ball from the beginning; you don’t have to wait to see how the game develops.
The Royals had the leadoff batter on four times and failed to take advantage. In the second, Jose Guillen singled, Alberto Callaspo walked and Jason Kendall failed to get down a bunt (he dipped the bat head lower than his hands to get to a pitch, instead of using his knees to lower the bat and popped up to the pitcher). In the fifth, Mitch Maier walked and Yuniesky Betancourt swung away and flew out instead of sacrificing. In the seventh, Kendall hit a double and Maier was allowed to try hitting the ball to the right side, instead of bunting, and flew out to left. In the ninth, Guillen walked and Callaspo swung away instead of bunting and hit into a double play.
I’ve seen the numbers that say a runner at first with nobody out has a better chance of scoring than a runner at second with one out, but that’s all runners in all situations. The numbers guys often fail to look at the specific: the Royals had three hits all day. This was a game to use productive outs to move runners, and the Royals failed to do that.
A note of explanation…
For the purposes of this system, a walk and a hit-by-pitch are treated the same. The idea is to give negative points for giving away free bases. That’s why Zack has only seven innings without a walk instead of eight…he hit Brignac in the fifth.
Been there, couldn’t do that…
Before we go any further, let me say how fabulously talented I think major-league ballplayers are. If you saw the worst guy in the majors in an amateur game, you’d think he was the second coming of Babe Ruth.
I faced Jeff Montgomery a few years after he retired. My best swing was a scorching line drive…sideways. He threw me a curve that not only buckled my knees, but my ankles and hips.
I hit with George Brett and saw him rake line drive after line drive after line drive, while the balls I missed piled up at the back of the net.
I had Jerry Dipoto throw me 90+-mph fastballs with wicked movement. (We were working inside during the winter. I’m currently one for about 256 off Jerry…and he swears the one ball I hit well would’ve been foul.)
I shagged balls in the outfield for John Mayberry while he took BP and, when he hit one to me, thought, “Here comes a John Mayberry fly ball.” When it carried far beyond where I was standing, I thought, “There goes a John Mayberry fly ball.”
I’ve faced Dan Quisenberry and, even though I had just the right bat speed for his stuff, realized I couldn’t make solid contact.
I’ve been on the field with Tim Bogar, Russ Morman and Rick Parker and realized that, when compared to major-league talent, the fact that I was a decent high school athlete put me about one step above Jerry Lewis holding a telethon for me.
I did get a hit off Gary Gentry, winner of a World Series game for the ’69 Mets. Of course, Gary was about 92 at the time and appeared to be hungover, but, hey, a hit’s a hit.
So I appreciate just how good these guys are. I’ve tried to do what they can do… I can’t.
And, frankly, neither can you…but a missed cutoff man is still a missed cutoff man, no matter how talented the players are.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have the experiences I’ve had. I’ve been invited on the field with the best players in the world and, while I couldn’t play with them, I was able to see the game through their eyes.
I’ll never understand the game the way they do, but I’ll try to bring the parts I do understand to this Web site. You don’t need to be able to block a 95-mph fastball in the dirt to recognize when it’s done incorrectly.
I’ll try to be fair and praise players when they do something outstanding and honest when they do something poorly. If I get it wrong, I’ll admit it and correct it.
I just thought that if I’m going to criticize ballplayers for how they play in the major leagues, I ought to acknowledge what great players they are for being there at all.
And one more thing…Dipoto, that was a double down the line.