June 19, 2013
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Bats blog's Ihsan Taylor has an interview with S.L. Price, author of a new book about the late Mike Coolbaugh and Tino Sanchez, the man whose foul ball ended Coolbaugh's life. I'll admit that when I first heard about this book I was skeptical that it would be something of a ghoulish cash-in on tragedy. From the sounds of it, I couldn't be more wrong. Here's Taylor:
. . . throughout the reporting, I had this strange experience. It’s a dark moment, obviously, but while talking to everyone involved I kept thinking, “I know this is a tale of woe, so how come I feel so good?” Because everyone — at this extreme moment where there was no place to hide or fake it — kept doing the right thing. Tino in his anguish showed great respect to Mike and the life he lived, the Coolbaugh family repeatedly reached out to Tino to let him know they didn’t blame him, to support him, and, he says, that pulled him from a very dark place. The Colorado Rockies voted Mike’s family a playoff share — it ended up over $230,000 — in 2007, though they didn’t know him and he’d only been with the team three weeks and the history of stingy ballplayers goes back as far as the game’s origins, and then they refused to talk about it.
I was especially taken with Taylor's comments about how Coolbaugh wasn't great -- he wasn't A-Rod or Clemens, though he was good enough to know what it took to be them, even if he couldn't replicate it himself. About how, in that way, he was like most of us who, for all of our skills, will never win a Nobel Prize or be elected president or what have you, and for that reason we can all identify with him in ways we can never identify with a superstar.
In any event, read the whole interview. It will make you want to read what sounds like an excellent book. It has me, anyway.
I've always kind of admired Lou Piniella. For all of his bluster, he seems like a sensible and innovative kind of guy. Which makes this rather surprising:
Modern technology is a wonderful thing for 21st Century baseball managers, who have computerized scouting reports and stats at their fingertips at all times. But sometimes older is better, and after watching his players go back to the video room one too many times to replay poor at-bats, manager Lou Piniella is ready to put his foot down.
I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, I suppose. The Cubs are lost and he probably feels he has to get a little more radical than usual in order to get them to snap out of it.
We learn from our mistakes, however, and given how many mistakes the Cubbies have been making lately, you'd think that order of the day would be more video, not less.
So sayeth the Wall Street Journal:
Lousy weather, delayed games and a lackluster matchup hurt World Series ratings last October, but household ratings for Fox Saturday Baseball, the sport's so-called Game of the Week, are off 9% to date from last season, and 23% from 2000 . . .
Forgive me if I don't agree that throwing more Joe Buck and Tim McCarver at the problem is the right answer. Indeed, each time I've checked my guide on Saturday afternoons this season to see whose playing, I notice that something called "The Tim McCarver Show" is the lead-in. Instead of clicking over to something as ominous sounding as that, I usually just keep watching whatever bad 1980s movie is on basic cable at that time, and hey, sometimes I forget to click back. And I'm a baseball freak. Imagine what normal people do.
McCarver-bashing aside, I wonder if it's desirable to mess with start times a bit. I can't speak for everyone, but my Saturdays are pretty much set in stone by 3:30 or 4pm, and if I don't specifically plan to watch the Game of the Week that day, odds are I'm not going to see it. I'll be out with the kids or working in the yard or something. Granting that west coasters would complain, but I wonder if a 1pm start wouldn't do better. Heck, maybe the west coasters wouldn't complain. Everyone I know who lives out there talks about how awesome it is to wake up and watch early football and still have the whole day ahead of them. Baseball would have to be the same way, wouldn't it?
Unlike a lot of things, I don't even pretend to know what I'm talking about when it comes to television ratings, so take that for what it's worth. I'm just trying to think of ways to boost ratings that don't involve insufferable promos.
It was a slow morning writing-wise for me as my bosses decided that we needed to have several meetings today to make up for not having any yesterday. God I love government service. I hope you citizens are thankful for my efforts. Ohio citizens anyway:
No, not Cal Ripken:
President Barack Obama tapped federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice.
For those who missed my previous post on the subject, Sotomayor is the judge who in 1995 issued the preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball preventing the owners from unilaterally implementing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and using replacement players, effectively ending the 1994 baseball strike.
Guns? Gays? Abortion? Torture? Who cares! The next Supreme Court justice is pro-baseball, and that's good enough for me!
(OK, I may have overstated that last part; please hold your political attacks).
Brewers 1, Cardinals 0: This is the sort of game I hope I'm watching just before I die in my easy chair at, oh, 108 years-old. Can't help it, I'm just a pitching guy, and I get all giddy when two aces match up against one another like this. Chris Carpenter was perfect into the seventh. Gallardo had a no-hitter through five. Both starters went eight scoreless innings, and no one could scratch out a run in regulation. It's a shame someone had to lose this thing.
Indians 11, Rays 10: The Rays do their Indians' impression and collapse in spectacular fashion. They led this game 10-0 in the fourth, and just barfed it away. Ryan Garko had a couple of homers and Victor Martinez had the big hit, but the Indians' hero was probably Jeremy Sowers, who came in and pitched five scoreless innings to get the win. Lost in all of this ugliness is the fact that David Price was making his season debut. Staked to that 10-0 lead, he couldn't even get out of the fourth inning due to what appears to be an osmium-hard pitch count. But hey, if he wanted to stay later he shouldn't have walked five dudes and gone deep in so many counts. I didn't watch the whole game, but I was watching the fourth inning, and I can tell you, it was not an unjustified yanking. He had just given up a dinger and was starting to overthrow and get the ball way up in the zone.
Giants 8, Braves 2: Close until the seventh when Buddy Carlyle was summoned to do that thing he does (i.e. get torched). He's a short reliever who hasn't come in and put up a zero in six appearances. Are you telling me that there's no one in Gwinnett who can't do better? Isn't it even worth a try? Speaking of the minors, it's high time that Jordan Schafer head back there. He went 0-4 with four strikeouts, lowering his line to .205/.324/.301 and shows absolutely no sign of being ready for the Major Leagues. Between him and Francoeur, one wonders where the Braves would be if they even had a slightly below average outfield. For years Terrance Moore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution would alternate "the Braves should bring back Brian Jordan" columns with "the Braves should trade for Ken Griffey" columns. Everyone would make fun of him. Know what? I'd take Jordan and Griffey in a second right now.
Padres 9, Diamondbacks 7: I wish I hadn't used that Susan Sarandon narration from "Bull Durham" last week because it fits the Padres way more than it fit the Yankees. Ten in a row for San Diego. But I have to ask: where the hell was this bullpen last year when Greg Maddux was repeatedly boned out of win #350? I think Cla Meredith alone blew somewhere between 17 and 136 games for Maddux last season, yet they have been lights out over the course of this winning streak. Not that it's all bad: with the Padres passing the Giants in the standings, it makes it all the more likely that Brian Sabean will do something stupid and desperate, and nothing feeds ShysterBall blog posts like Brian Sabean doing stupid things.
Athletics 6, Mariners 1: Who wound up Adam Kennedy? Dude is 20 for has last 37, getting on base five times yesterday. Guy couldn't hit at Durham a month ago, and now he's raking in the bigs. He's got so much greatness oozing out of him lately that he's even helping out the opposition. In this case, breaking Kenji ".250/.275/.386" Johjima's toe in a play at the plate, which will knock the Mariners' catcher out for a couple of weeks, which should help Seattle out immeasurably.
Dodgers 16, Rockies 6: OK, remember that note above about the kind of game I'd like to see moments before I die? This is the exact opposite of it. Twenty-two runs, 15 walks, a rain delay and a four-hour run time. I'm sure Dodgers fans don't mind, but it was just a brutal-looking game for the non-partisan fan. BTW: of all of the teams donning red hats for Memorial Day, the Dodgers looked the worst. With all due respect to the troops, there should be laws against defiling L.A.'s uniform in such a fashion.
Red Sox 6, Twins 5: According to the game story, Brad Penny was vomiting between innings. I can only assume that it was nerves brought on by the prospect that at any moment, Joe Mauer could be inserted into the game to pinch hit. Which he finally did in the ninth, hitting a two-run home run.
Tigers 13, Royals 1: Only the Dodgers have a bigger lead in their division than the Tigers have in the AL Central, which was supposed to be wide open this year. Miguel Cabrera (4-6, 2 2B, 3 RBI) has to to be the top non-Twins MVP candidate at this point too, doesn't he?
Reds 8, Astros 5: Two hour rain delay, and Aaron Harang pitches both sides of it. After the game he said "I think I threw a complete game with all the work I did inside" during the delay. So, 93-pitches in the game, plus enough work to keep warm over the course of two hours. Whaddaya figure? 150, 160 pitches? Sure, Harang is a horse so it ain't exactly like Mark Prior circa 2003 here, but on what planet is this not ill-advised?
Yankees 11, Rangers 1: A-Rod (5-5, 2 2B 4 RBI) raises his average 70 points in one game and is suddenly sitting with a very spiffy .259/.411/.672 line. If he keeps raking, and the Yankees win the division, I suppose you have to add him to the Mauer-Morneau-Cabrera-Hunter MVP discussion. Given his month off, his candidacy would not rely as much on pure merit as it would on timing (i.e. the Yankees started winning when he came back). I don't know about you, but I don't think if I'm ready for A-Rod to be the team-leader/spark plug/intangibles MVP candidate. Such a thing would cause rhetorical whiplash, wouldn't it?
Orioles 4, Blue Jays 1: The Jays' freefall continues, as Jeremy Guthrie (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) and some tough weather stymied Toronto. In the interests of time I usually just read the AP game stories, but there's always a lot of fun stuff you don't realize until you go and click the local paper's game story. Stuff like the fact that Guthrie is the last man standing from the O's opening day rotation. Adam Eaton was canned the other day, Mark Hendrickson sent to the pen, Alfredo Simon had season-ending elbow surgery, Koji Uehara may be out for a while with a bad hamstring.
Marlins 5, Phillies 3: A couple of homers from Ryan Howard are not enough as Jamie Moyer -- while certainly pitching better than he had been -- continues to lose. Apparently Phillies fans booed Wes Helms mercilessly, which seems like a lot of effort for such small change. Sure, the guy wasted hundreds of plate appearances for my team too, but he just doesn't seem like someone that should occupy anyone's consciousness in a large enough way to justify booing. Booing him is like booing humidity or periodic ennui. Miserable? Sure, in a way, but really, you just gotta move on, don't you?
Mets 5, Nationals 2: I'd guess for every 100 aging veterans who claim that they simply need to play every day in order to get on track, 99 of them are full of it. Gary Sheffield may just well be that odd one who really meant it, as he goes 2-3 with a homer and 3 RBI, and has raised his line to .277/.417/.494 now that he's getting more PT.
Pirates 10, Cubs 8: Hey, the Cubs they scored some runs! And at least Milton Bradley didn't appear to get squeezed last night. Also: as I noted, Mr. T was in the house, and that has to make everyone feel good, right? Freddy Sanchez was 6 for 6, hitting a two-run homer, doubling once and singling four times.
White Sox 17, Angels 3: Bright side: if Ervin Santana is on a pitch count, he came nowhere near it last night.