Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

We’re a week deep into baseball and . . . I was just about to do the whole baseball as a girlfriend analogy, where you know, you’re like totally getting each other that first week, but you have to wait until at least the second month before you can tell if it’s legitimate or not.

My apologies.

I’ll tell you what, check out my Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday this week, and I promise never to insult your intelligence with another such analogy ever again.

Deal?

Out Of His Element

Based solely on my observations over the first three games of the season, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, didn’t look all that great defensively at second base for the Minnesota Twins. The guy is in a new league and I recognize that it’s going to take time to adapt to a slightly different level and style of play. All of this makes me wonder if I was mistaken with my initial reaction to this play, which was to blame Swisher for his vicious slide.

Hard slides are a part of the game, and not to blame the victim, but Nishioka’s positioning and awareness would likely have been different if he grew up playing baseball in America. For his part, Swisher sought the Twins infielder out in the X-ray room after the game to apologize. Nishioka said that there was nothing to be sorry for. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire agreed that it was a clean slide.

Looking at it again though, it certainly appears as though Swisher kicks out his one leg. When I played baseball, at a level barely above church league softball, hard slides were expected on the outside part of the base line, but not on the inside. Judging by Nihioka and Gardenhire’s reaction, I’m guessing this doesn’t hold true at the Major League level.

West Coast Road Trips Are Awesome

Living in Toronto, I love when the Blue Jays go on a West Coast road trip, doubly so when it’s over a weekend. Despite being able to decide my own bedtime for at least fifteen years now, it feels especially adult for me to stay up late and watch a ballgame. Not to mention that it fits in so much better than 7:00 PM with my regular drinking hours.

Baseball And Booze

Speaking of alcohol and baseball, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before why baseball and booze go so well together. It’s the whole social aspect of the game, the pauses between moments of action that allow observers to carry on a conversation. Those very same pauses also allow for constant sips which only make the game more of a social experience among drinking observers.

For years my drink of choice has been beer, and while I’ll still indulge in a beer or eight over the course of a ballgame, lately I’ve been more appreciative of the bourbon buzz. The brown liquor leaves me less bloated, more cognizant of the game and with only a slightly increased chance of being confrontational. And the hangovers the next morning are incredibly less severe.

Drinking bourbon also feels uniquely American, which goes along with the whole baseball motif. Warning, though: if your conversation between pitches centres around what’s wrong with universal health care and the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, you’re either drinking with Luke Scott or you’ve gone too far.

Here’s a story on baseball bars in Toronto that I participated in for The National Post.

Good Eye Better Hands

Earlier today, Drew Fairservice brought up the fact that it took Starlin Castro 22 at bats before he swung and missed at a pitch. After 17 at bats, Todd Helton’s swing accuracy is still perfect, but perhaps most surprising is that among his 20 plate appearances there is a single strike out.

Scary Music

At today’s Red Sox home opener, during the player introductions a single note was played on an organ after each member of the team was announced. I don’t know if it was solely because of Boston’s 0-6 start to the season, but it sounded incredibly ominous, like the suspenseful part of a bad horror film.

New Found Love

I’m certain I’m not the only one appreciating Rajai Davis’ defensive abilities in center field. Do you think that has anything to do with watching Vernon Wells’ declining skills for the last few seasons? I remember at one point this offseason, prior to the trade to Anaheim, Wells tweeted something to the effect that he would play center field the coming season because it was in the best interest of the ball club. I don’t think he could’ve been more wrong.

By the end of the month, I think we’re going to see a lot of Davis jerseys around Rogers Centre.

Popular

The most popular player profiles on Baseball Reference this week were Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Barry Bonds. For FanGraphs, the most popular players of the day were Edwin Jackson, Esmil Rogers, Phil Hughes, John Lackey and Kila Ka’aihue. A little bit different.

Shameless Self Promotion

As always, you can get the latest Getting Blanked stories to pop up in your Facebook news feed by clicking here, and “liking” our Facebook page. And staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter here, and follow the other Getting Blanked contributors here and here and here and here and here.

And remember that the next movie night is May 2nd at The Revue Cinema. We’ll be watching the best baseball comedy of all time, Major League at 6:45 PM. As for our next Getting Booked, I’m leaning toward reading Buzz Bissinger’s Three Nights In August, which was written just before Bissinger turned into a colossal clown. We’ve paid Moneyball it’s due, so maybe next we tackle the other side of the argument. A date hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Undue Praise

A ton of praise was heaped on John Farrell for leaving Marc Rzepczynski for a ninth inning encounter with Hideki Matsui in the second game of the A’s series, with the alternative being going with the team’s interim closer Jon Rauch. First of all, I haven’t looked at anything quite yet, but my impression is that this sort of thing happens a lot more than people think, especially outside of the teams who have one of the top ten closers in the league. And secondly, I don’t think that Farrell, who has let it be known in interviews that he’s a big fan of defined bullpen roles, would’ve done the same thing if it was Frank Francisco waiting to come into the game instead of Rauch.

I don’t want to sound negative about it. It was still a smart move, but perhaps our willingness to praise Farrell for it, just like our appreciation of Rajai Davis, has more to do with who was filling the position previously than anything else.

It’s Like Being A Huge Fan Of Fascism

Finally, this is pretty good:

Have a good weekend, everybody.