For many, Friday represents the end of a long work week that was filled with heavy doses of sludging and drudging. It’s my hope that at the end of every week during the baseball season, during that point of the day on a Friday afternoon when it’s too far away from closing time to leave work early, but too late in the day to start anything new, you’ll join us here to check out some random observations and contribute your own opinions to my ten stray thoughts on a Friday.
So, without further ado:
A Bit More On Brett Lawrie
It seems that this entire week’s worth of blog content has been devoted to Brett Lawrie, after the Toronto Blue Jays third basemab blew a gasket after being ejected for his reaction to back to back called strikes from home plate umpire Bill Miller.
Once again, this is what that looked like:
A couple of things that haven’t really been addressed by the multitude of articles and expressed opinions spawned by the call and corresponding outburst: 1) If I was Bill Miller and Lawrie’s thrown helmet ricocheted off the ground and hit my hip, I would have stared at him right in the eyes as he stalked toward me, and then asked, “Why you mad, bro?” and 2) I don’t think Miller’s strike three call being out of spite is the foregone conclusion that people are claiming it is.
Even if the Pitch F/X chart doesn’t properly represent a player of Lawrie’s stature standing in the batter’s box, it was close enough, with allowance for Jose Molina’s reputation for framing strikes, to imagine that the strike three call was actually believed to be in the strike zone by Miller. While, no one can knows what went through the umpire’s mind in that split second before the call was made, I think there’s the same amount of circumstantial evidence of it being a legitimate strike three call as there is that it was done out of spite.
If you claim that Miller would’ve called it a strike no matter where the pitch ended up, then you’re essentially calling Brett Lawrie an idiot for not swinging at a two strike pitch that, in my opinion, was close enough to the strike zone to warrant a swing no matter what happened on the pitch before.
So, why you hate Lawrie, bro?
I took a lot of heat on Twitter, from emails and most especially in the DJF comments section for claiming that Lawrie’s reaction to being tossed from the game was a childish tantrum. I really don’t know how anyone could look at the clip of his freak out and believe otherwise.
Aside: For a really good example of how a hitter should properly handle a disagreement with an umpire, watch Derek Jeter. He will calmly find an excuse to stay near the umpire after the strike out, never make eye contact, and state his case without getting excited.
I’m not bothered by being called a name or having my sexual orientation be put up for debate. It doesn’t hurt me personally at all. In fact, if someone is resorting to such boorish behaviour, I assume it means that they couldn’t come up a reasonable argument to counter what I’m suggesting.
I do find it depressing though. It upsets me that in the year 2012 people still feel the need to express themselves by resorting to such juvenile tactics.
I suppose I understand if you’re a teenager or in your early twenties and you feel such an intolerable rage for the world, that type of outpouring of emotion might be cathartic. Looking back at old DJF archives, I can see that it probably was for me. But if you feel that urge, it would be entirely much better received if it was done with an ironic wink or a joke or something to suggest that it wasn’t merely rage driven.
Because seriously, if a single person’s opinion on events that transpired is enough to cause you to lash out with threats or other forms of unfunny abuse, I don’t think it’s assuming too much to suggest that maybe you’re dealing with a bigger issue than merely disagreeing with someone.
Top Ten Unexpectedly Successful Seasons To Date
10. Alejandro De Aza, CHW
9. Jed Lowrie, HOU
8. Jason Kipnis, CLE
7. Jose Altuve, HOU
6. Martin Prado, ATL
5. Josh Reddick, OAK
4. A.J. Ellis, LAD
3. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
2. Rafael Furcal, STL
1. Bryan LaHair, CHC
I’m still working on a post titled LaHair Of The Dog, in which I suggest that we really won’t know if Bryan LaHair’s success is sustainable until after he has his first slump of the season. I will most certainly use a hangover metaphor in said piece.
Top Ten Unexpectedly Unsuccessful Seasons To Date
10. Russell Martin, NYY
9. Jose Reyes, MIA
8. Mark Teixeira, NYY
7. Michael Young, TEX
6. Drew Stubbs, CIN
5. Rickie Weeks, MIL
4. Danny Espinosa, WAS
3. Yunel Escobar, TOR
2. Albert Pujols, LAA
1. Alexei Ramirez, CHW
If the White Sox could ever get true talent results from all of their players at once, they’d likely be a .500 team, and therefore win the AL Central every single year.
Therein Lies The Rub
A scary incident occurred on Wednesday night when Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Will Rhymes was hit on the right arm with a pitch and then passed out at first base during the eighth inning of their game against the Boston Red Sox. Thankfully, Rhymes was all right, and the infielder will be back in the lineup after taking a few days off for precautionary reasons.
Jason Turbow, writing for one of my favourite blogs, The Baseball Codes, used Rhymes’ injury to tell us about an unwritten rule in baseball that won’t allow recently plunked batters to rub their injury. As Turbow points out, this has nothing to do with superstition, and everything to do with machismo.
My favourite part of the post is this:
The prototypical player for this rule was Don Baylor, who crowded the plate to such a degree that he was hit by 267 pitches over the course of his career—and, reported the Washington Post, never once rubbed. “Of course,” the article went on to say, “several of the balls had to be hospitalized.”
Madison Bumgarner Is The Left Handed Roy Halladay
Comparing players isn’t really my bag, mainly because it normally results in the creation of unrealistic expectations, but …
It’s 9 a.m., the day after a tough start, and Madison Bumgarner is out on the field working on his mechanics.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) May 17, 2012
I’m not saying that Madison Bumgarner is the next Roy Halladay. I’m just saying someone should get Bumgarner a copy of The Mental ABCs of Pitching, and teach him a splitter already.
The Texas Rangers Are The Best Team Ever
The Rangers are 12-13 in their last 25 games. #bestteamevar
— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) May 17, 2012
Yesterday’s five most popular player profiles at Baseball Reference were:
- Albert Pujols
- Josh Hamilton
- Derek Jeter
- Alex Rodriguez
- Barry Bonds
Over at FanGraphs, the last 24 hours has seen these player profiles visited the most:
- Brandon Beachy
- Kerry Wood
- Rich Thompson
- Yu Darvish
- James McDonald
Shameless Self Promotion
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This weekend will mark the first time this season that American League teams will face National League teams. As much as I think the gimmick is useless, it does act as an important reminder that the MLB schedule is completely unfair and unbalanced. Of course, that’s assuming that you’ve already stopped comparing the quality of talent in the American League East to the American League Central.
Still, when you look at other professional sports leagues in North America, there isn’t a problem with inter-conference mingling, so why does it leave such a bad taste in the mouths of baseball fans?
First of all, I don’t like that teams competing against each other in overall record have to play different schedules. Interleague play further complicates this preexisting condition. Mainly though, I think that if there are going to be separate rules for each league (just adopt the DH rule, already), then there should also be separate games.
Remember back to before Interleague? There was something bigger and better about the All-Star Game and the World Series.
Of course, with the Houston Astros set to join the American League West, we’ll be treated to an Interleague series on every day of the schedule next year. I’ve come back to this a few times, but I really think that MLB dropped the ball when they didn’t eliminate divisions as part of their realignment.
Doesn’t it just make abundantly more sense to have teams that are competing against each other in terms of record for a Wild Card spot share as similar of a schedule as is possible to facilitate?
I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for no injuries to American League pitchers this weekend.