My favorite part of this game was when Bobby Valentine said, upon Ryan Theriot being called on to pinch-hit: “We were wondering why he wasn’t in the lineup. It was just for this reason. Get the hottest guy up when you need him most.” The implications of this are staggering. Bobby Valentine is saying that you shouldn’t start your best players, because you might need them to pinch-hit. I just checked Baseball-Reference, and, sure enough, when Valentine managed the Mets in the late 1990s, he used Mike Piazza exclusively as a pinch-hitter.

(Note: No.)

Anyhow, that was my favorite part of this game:

A.

Depending on which stats you prefer, the Cubs might have the worst defense in the NL this year. And depending on which stats you prefer, the Cardinals might have the worst defense in the NL this year. The Cubs are last in John Dewan’s +/- system. The Cardinals are last in UZR. The Cubs have committed the most errors. The Cubs rank last in defensive efficiency. What I’m saying is, we could expect this game to be defended about as well as the Maginot Line (whoomp!).

But still. This play last night — you might have missed it, but it definitely happened — defies belief, and a number of players involved should probably be DFA’d. It is my favorite play in baseball history.

Let’s break down a few of the individual roles in this catastrophe:

The second baseman. Baseball rules are complicated, and it can sometimes be difficult to parse the dependent clauses and sub-lettered exceptions. However, this seems clear enough:

OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

So this:

“In my day, that guy would have gotten a fastball in his ear his next time up.” — Don Drysdale, probably.

Kangaroo Court fine: Six thousand million wet willies

The first baseman. Everybody has a place to be on every play. A groundball to third base seems like a two-man operation, for instance, but the left fielder should be moving to back up the play, and the right fielder can anticipate a missed throw. On a ground ball through the hole into right field, the first baseman should never do this, unless he really, really, really has to pee.

little-league-lol2_o_GIFSoup.com

“Get that kid on the ground his seizure medication!” — Dr. Don Drysdale, probably.

Kangaroo court fine: Must spend five minutes in the abandoned haunted house behind the middle school. Alone. At night. On Halloween.

The third baseman. This guy knows how to cover a base.

Kangaroo court fine: Gimme a sip of your Coke.

The first baseman, again. He finally stops hopping up and down and takes the relay throw. There’s a reason second basemen and shortstops usually take the relay throw from right field. First basemen have terrible, terrible arms. (Except for Ryan Howard, who has a terrible, terrible, terrible arm.)

little-league-lol3_o_GIFSoup.com

This throw is so bad that, as he watches it soar straight up in the air, he abruptly turns away from the play and runs to his house in shame

Kangaroo court fine: You know that dead lizard we found behind the wood pile? You have to touch it.

The right fielder. As the play progresses, let’s track the right fielder:

Kangaroo court fine: You have to trade me your John Olerud 1990 Leaf for my Ben McDonald Bowman.

The right fielder and one of the two (?) shortstops. There’s a play at the plate! Here comes the throw! It’s going to be close! And these two jokers are already jogging past the third-base line toward the dugout.

Kangaroo court fine: $500 each.

One of the right fielders, or maybe one of the second basemen. As the play goes on around him, he tries to get the rest of the dog poop off his feet. Fair.

Kangaroo court fine: Eat dog poop.

So there you have it. The Cubs and the Cardinals. Defense.

B.

I don’t spend much time complaining about pitcher wins. Obviously, it’s a flawed stat, but everybody knows this, it seems like nobody pays attention to pitcher wins anymore, and just about everything smart has already been said. But I do want to point this out, as an interesting factoid:

This shows the win probability added of every Cub in last night’s game. Ryan Dempster has the lowest WPA of any Cub. Every other Cub who played did more to help the Cubs win. Ryan Dempster got credit for the win.

C.

Right now, your vision is partially impeded by your nose. Really. Look down. There it is, always there, never noticed. Weird, right?

So, that’s how I felt when I realized during this game that the umpires wear uniform numbers. Really!

This is a relatively new development — the 1970s for the NL, the 1980s for the AL. There’s surprisingly little about this on the internet, or in mainstream news publications, although I heartily recommend this post about umpire uniforms on Uni Watch. And, just barely related, is this bit of trivia from Peter Morris’ “A Game Of Inches.”

Umpires used large brooms to clean home plate until a game on May 14, 1904, when Cubs outfielder Jack McCarthy stepped on one and sprained his ankle. The injury led NL president Harry Pulliam to mandate the use of whisk brooms.

D.

As regular readers know, fans who sit behind home plate and wave at the camera are the worst people in the world, and should probably be whipped. But this girl took it to a whole new level:

Only her body, from the neck down, is on TV, and *still* she is waving. “Oh, hey, it’s Megan’s right thigh. Hi Megan,” said all of Megan’s friends.

Sam Miller is a baseball writer who covers the Angels for the Orange County Register. He is on Twitter.

Comments (7)

  1. You know what else I never noticed about umpires? They’re humans! I kind of always assumed they were some sort of robot call-making machines. I mean, there’s no way MLB would let a human call a game without the benefit of instant replay, you know to protect them from making bad call and to make sure a game is never decided on the basis of…wait, what?

  2. If you get a chance, can you write a post on Jays pitching and potential pitching next season. I noticed that the Jays are top 5 in runs scored this season, but bottom 5 (or so) in runs allowed, a stat that severely restricts a challenge for playoff qualification. AA has built a fantastic batting lineup, but so far a weak pitching lineup.

    Is this reflective in your opinion of perhaps pitchers being more difficult to judge, AA being less skilled at judging pitching talent, Jays waiting for young guys to come up next season or pitchers being easier to find on the market in a given summer when we want them or another possibility that I’m unaware of?

    Cheers,

  3. @HE: I would say there is a ton of good pitching on this team. Romero is at least a very good number two and Brandon Morrow certainly has ace potential. Brett Cecil’s a solid mid-rotation guy and Kyle Drabek has top-of-the-rotation talent.

    There’s also a TON of high ceiling arms in the minor leagues like Drew Hutchison, Noah Syndegaard, Deck McGuire, Aaron Sanchez, Asher Wojciechowski, and Henderson Alvarez; not to mention the great arms the Jays got in this year’s draft like Tyler Beede and Derek Norris (providing they sign). In a few years there will be a glut of good arms at the major-league level, it’s already a position of strength in the minors.

    Dustin may cook up a post at some point, but if not I may take it on.

  4. Notably, Ron Luciano fought strongly against umpires having numbers, as he didn’t want another way for people to single him out on the field. Most people can’t remember if you move clockwise or counterclockwise each game of the series, and Ron wanted to keep it that way the day after he’d blown a call.

  5. That analysis of the little league play was pure gold. I tip my cap to you, sir.

  6. Always my favourite post of the week. The future of the game is obviously in good hands.

  7. RE: B. Pitcher Wins

    IMO, the pitcher win is great, though it greatly conflicts with a player’s personal performance evaluation. The stat demonstrates one of the best qualities of baseball as a game: that the game cannot be won singlehandedly. Baseball is a game where the individuals have to rely on each other to win and its their performance as a whole that makes or breaks the season, not that of individual players.

    Of course, the other great thing about baseball is the ability to compare a player’s performance to every other player who EVER played the game. And in this aspect, pitcher win stats are terribly used, of course. I feel like it’s more a team stat that references players than a player stat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *