Games » Oakland AthleticsJul16
wzRnnXs,mxkjfxn,…Oops, sorry. It’s been four days since I did this and I forgot as much about typing as the Royals forgot about baseball. The goal is to control what you can: throwing strikes, making routine plays, swinging at good pitches and running the bases well.
Instead, the Royals walked five (two of them scored) and made an error on a double play ball that led to three unearned runs. Most of the time, winning is playing solid baseball and letting the other team make mistakes. The Royals were on the wrong end of that formula in this one.
Very shortly the Royals will have to decide whether they are buyers (teams that think they have a shot at the playoffs and want to acquire help) or sellers (teams that will trade away good players now for a shot at the future). Eleven games out and four bottom-of-the-rotation starting pitchers: the Royals look like sellers.
What’s the deal with the umpires?
On the very first play, the umpires met to decide whether Coco Crisp’s ball hit the right field line after it was ruled foul. They decided it was fair and gave him second. What the hell is going on? When did they start doing that? Not only have I never seen that before, but Frank White said he hadn’t either and I’m pretty sure he played with Cy Young. And if they can do that, why didn’t they get together and give Armando Galarraga his perfect game?
Bud Selig, the commissioner who never met the issue he wasn’t willing to duck (Steroids? What steroids?) needs to figure out just when the umpires can meet and overrule a colleague.
Outstanding defensive plays…
Willie Bloomquist’s diving catch in center, Jason Kendall’s block with a runner on third, Billy Butler going to his left and robbing Coco Crisp of an actual double and Mike Aviles had two: a ball to his left on the outfield grass that looked like a hit and an over the shoulder catch of a flare that looked like it might drop between second and right.
Mike got away with some poor technique on that one: he caught the ball low around the belt. It’s better to catch the ball above the shoulders whenever possible; it prevents your head from moving. A catch below the shoulders snaps the head down to follow the ball’s flight.
I’m not sure how to rule this, but Aviles also made a decision not to attempt a double play when it looked like he had time. Maybe there was a good reason and if I get a chance to ask I will.
Frank White told me Mike was opening up (stepping more toward right field than first) and this was allowing runners to get to his back leg. The correct technique is to step directly toward first, let the runner safely take out your left leg by hopping over him and landing on your right leg. If the runner gets to the back leg, you can’t hop. Maybe that’s what happened, which would mean it’s not a mental mistake and needs to be corrected later.
(Naturally, I can talk about ‘correct technique’ all I want…I don’t have a 230 lb. runner trying to flip me while turning me into a gelding at the same time.)
Aviles also took a throw from Kendall that had a base stealer beat, but Mike received the ball too far out from his body and then had a long tag back to the bag. By that time the runner was safe, but almost slid by the bag. A smart second baseman (as Frank White pointed out) will keep the tag on the runner and “help” him come off the bag. And if that’s wrong, remember, “It ain’t cheatin’ if you don’t get caught.” (Probably the first baseball saying ever.)
This stuff goes on all the time: not exactly breaking the rules, but taking advantage of any leeway. Flipping runners, hard tags, blocking bases with a knee…it’s all there if you know what to look for.
The blahs, kind of…
At times the Royals looked like a team that was going through the motions: Greinke didn’t know where the ball was going for three innings, Alberto Callaspo didn’t dive to knock down a ball to keep it on the infield, Kendall peeled off on a double play ball instead of going after the pivot man, Betancourt dropped a double play ball and reverted to his bad pop-up catching form…on the other hand there were five outstanding defensive plays, Podsednik got points for advancing on a ball that didn’t get all that far away from the catcher (the runner can take off when he sees the catcher drop to his knees) and Kendall had a wonderful at-bat in the first inning, moving Podsednik from second to third while getting a hit of his own.
Good stuff, but too inconsistent to win…and too slow. Butler was on second when Callaspo hit a single to Coco Crisp. Even with Coco’s arm, Eddie Rodriguez did not feel comfortable sending Billy home with no outs. The right call, but more team speed would solve a lot of problems.