Matt Holliday… It’s Not Your Fault..

October 9, 2009

Here’s a quick video of Tony La Russa and Matt Holliday talking it out after last night’s game…

Matt Holliday made one of the more memorable plays in recent history last night in the Cardinal’s last inning loss to the Dodgers.  In a play more fitting for America’s Funniest Home Videos than Baseball Tonight, Holliday got hit in the balls, fell over, and then chomped on sunflower seeds while getting harassed by America’s prettiest in SoCal.  It was as if the opposing team’s Leftfielder was channeling Holliday from the bench.  To put it bluntly, Matt Holliday pulled a Manny.

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isnt getting 3 outs your job?

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isn't getting 3 outs your job?

Moving on, I realize that Holliday’s catch would have ended the game.  It would have been a one, two, three inning, and Cardinals fans would have gone and listened to books on tape read by Jack Buck, and wandered off to dreams of Mark McGwire hitting dingers into Big Mac Land (or whatever it is Cards fans do after victories… Budweiser?).  But, in his defense, Ryan Franklin still has to close this game out.  Lets take a look at Franklin’s line:

R. Franklin   0.1 IP,  2H, 2R, 0ER, 2BB,  0SO, 0.00 ERA  L, BSv

James Loney would have been Franklin’s second out in his appearance.  You are telling me a closer can’t get three outs for a save?  The problem I have with Ryan Franklin is that he doesn’t have overpowering stuff.  He had a WHIP of 1.20 for the season (meaning he gave up 1.2 walks or hits per inning he pitched, meaning, basically, he allowed at least a base runner in every appearance he made.).

A good closer has to be nearer to 1.  Also, with a WHIP of 1.2, Franklin is used to pitching with a runner on base.   He did not have anything to put away Casey Blake in a long battle that ended with a walk of Blake.  He then sacrificed the game tying single to Ronnie “Belisario” Belliard.  Then, the one that really throws me for a loop, he walked Russell Martin on four pitches, none of which, made Martin even contemplate swinging.

Once Manny and Ethier were out, this was not the heart of the Dodger lineup.  One must question Tony La Russa’s taking out of Adam Wainwright as well.  Wainwright had thrown 109 pitches, but he had allowed only 3 hits.  Wainwright did run into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the 8th, but it ended without anyone hitting anything too hard off of him.

A closer has to have the ability to get a strikeout.  Unless you are a popup producing machine, you need to be able to get a K to limit damage with runners on.  Franklin struck out 44 guys in 61 innings this season.  For some perspective (Mo, 72K- 66IP, Pap, 76-68, Hoff, 48-54, and Broxton, 114-76).  My esteemed colleague picked him as closer of the year in the NL.  WHIP is why I disagreed.

I am not placing the blame squarely on Franklin, but he is due a fair share, and I am sure he is kicking himself as much as Holliday is today.  You want to spread it around some more?

Here we go, nobody out in the 7th, Mark DeRosa singles, Colby Rasmus follows him with a double that scores DeRosa, but is thrown out at third.  Cardinals take the lead, but the rally is dead.  Could have been a big inning, instead of runner on third nobody out, it is nobody on, one out.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in ST. Louis as, That guy that got hit in the balls.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in St. Louis as, "That guy that got hit in the balls."

Here is another fun fact, the Cardinals scored two runs in this game.  The second was on the double by Rasmus.  The first run was on a homerun by none other than public enemy #1 in St. Louis right now, Matt Holliday.  How soon we forget.

There is no worse feeling for a baseball player than making an error, and just waiting in the field to see if it will result in runs.  A closer has to have the balls to pick up his teammates.  Holliday screwed up, but this loss was a team effort, just as the win was a team effort for the Dodgers.

What Grinds My Gears? National League Style Baseball

October 9, 2009
Heres to the mute button for baseball commentators.

Here's to the mute button for baseball commentators.

You know what really grinds my gears?

Well, I will tell you.  Baseball commentators consistently talk about National League style baseball.  They talk about how National League teams bunt and run more, and play an older style of the game.  Well, that is bullshit…Let me explain.

Tonight, during the Red Sox-Angels game, Buck Martinez made numerous dumb comments.  Not only was he trying to tell Don Orsillo (who called every Red Sox game this season) that he was wrong about how teams aligned defensively against David Ortiz, but he also mentioned how strange it was to see two American League teams that rely so heavily on the running game.  Well, Buck, I loved you in Triple Play 97, but you are a moron.

I only looked at stats back to the year 2000, more because I am lazy than anything, but in six of the last ten seasons, American League teams have averaged more steals than National League teams.  Every year has been close, though.  The widest margin in fact, was in 2001 when an average AL team stole 118 bases, and an average NL team stole only 91.

The idea that AL teams just go station to station and wait for a homer is preposterous.  Certainly there are teams that do this, but even Billy Beane’s Moneyball squad stole 133 bags this year (he must not believe in his theories anymore).

NL fans are screaming, “but we bunt guys over and do double switches.”

Well, yes.  You do, but only because when the DH rule came around, every pitcher, no matter the league, forgot completely how to hit.  There is no use in having NL pitchers hit anymore because they are just wasting everyone’s time.

“Its part of the game!”

Charlie Morton, trying to bunt.  Hes a Connecticut guy so I can make fun of him.

Charlie Morton, trying to bunt. He's a Connecticut guy so I can make fun of him. Hes also 6-4 and could break my legs. So, sorry Charlie.

No, it was part of the game, back when pitchers had pride, and didn’t take three down the chute, and go back to drink a Red Bull in the dugout (Anyone else see the treasure chest full of supplements and goodies in the Dodger’s dugout?).

But i digress.  Looking at the numbers, the NL averages about twice as many sacrifice hits per team as the AL does, but a pitcher is going to bunt at least once every game.  So, in my most distinguished opinion, I would infer that the amount of actual sacrifice hits, done in actual situations, by actual hitters, is about equal.

This rant would be thrice as long (yes thrice) if this guy were calling the games.

This rant would be thrice as long (yes thrice) if this guy were calling the games.

So Buck, and all you other commentators who like to fill the space with words because you know no one knows better, shut the hell up.  Why? Because I know somewhere down the road, some guy at the mall, or church, or even at a baseball game is going to tell me about how the NL is better because they play a more entertaining style of baseball, and I know they know nothing about baseball, but they heard it from some poor old sap like you.

Sorry, but TBS is killing me.  Dick Stockton referred to Ronnie Belliard solely as “Belisario” at one point tonight.  I would rather have Charles Barkley call the games if Turner is going to be involved (I love Chip Caray, you aren’t included in this rant).

2 More Myths about NL Baseball that People are Always Wrong About

#1: Managing in the NL is Harder:

The common point: Managing in the NL is harder because you have to pinch hit for your pitcher, and make double switches, and all that jazz.

My counterpoint: Okay, so its the 6th inning, your team is down one.  Your pitcher has thrown 92 pitches, and has shown a few signs of wear.  He is a proud guy and never wants to give up the ball.  Do you tell him to go back out there for the 7th, or keep him in and replace him with some shlub who failed as a starter?

Well, if you’re an NL manager, its easy.  You have some guy that plays nine positions (none well) but can swing the bat a little, hit for the pitcher, and the pitcher understands because he hasn’t swung a bat since college, for some reason.

The famous, You got enough left for one more batter? Conversation happens much less in the NL.  Grady failed there too, though.

The famous, "You got enough left for one more batter?" conversation happens much less in the NL. Grady failed there too, though.

If you’re an AL manager you gotta let “The Rocket” go back out there, and then go talk him down from ‘roid rage after he walks the other team’s 9 hitter (who can work a count, because its the AL, and he’s not a pitcher).

In the AL, you actually have to figure out when a pitcher’s done. In the NL, he’s done when his at bat means something.  Also, its a lot easier to keep a clubhouse happy when every slob gets to pinch hit every night.  Try keeping Eric Hinske happy when he bats once a month.  He will tear your goddamn arms off.

#2: Guys don’t get Thrown at in the NL because Pitchers have to Bat.

Tell Sammy they dont throw at guys in the NL.

Tell Slammin' Sammy they don't throw at guys in the NL.

This one is just pure garbage.  The argument is that NL pitchers do not throw at opposing players because they know they have to bat, and think they will get thrown at.

The HBP numbers are again, the same in both league for the last ten years, but if you dig deeper, you can understand.  Obviously, if a pitcher hits your best hitter you get really angry, and you want to throw it right at the pitcher’s head.  But then, you, being an NL pitcher, think for a moment.

“Hmmm…Why would I throw at Tim Lincecum who is hitting .152 with 36 k’s in 66 ab’s when I can just strike him out and drill Pablo Sandoval with 2 outs and nobody on?”

So, throw that out the window.  Myths.  The NL and AL are the exact same except for the DH rule, and the NL has the Mets which makes them an inferior league.

Thats what really grinds my gears.

That's what really grinds my gears.