Bill Baer

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Catchers Have It Rough

I do not envy catchers. They have to squat for as many as 200 pitches in a game that lasts, on average, three hours. They do that over 100 times during the regular season. Not only that, but they have to handle an entire pitching staff which involves going over scouting reports and dealing with individual personalities. On the field, they’re — at some level — expected to produce offensively while calling a game and playing great defense.

And then there’s this:

Sean Rodriguez bowled into Rangers catcher Mike Napoli in the second inning of Game Four of the ALDS. I wince every time I look at it. Napoli was not able to hang onto the ball, but the Rangers won the game 4-3 and the series 3-1 behind three — count ‘em, three — solo home runs from Adrian Beltre. The Rangers await the winner of Game Five of the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees on Thursday.

Continue the catcher carnage after the jump…

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Yuniesky Betancourt is known for a lot of things. Not walking. Not being a good fielder. Not walking. Hitting baseballs with a ridiculous amount of backspin is not one of his primary talents.

In yesterday’s NLDS opener between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers, Betancourt got a key triple that helped the Brewers pad their lead in what was then a very tight game with the NL West champs. Most of the time, he gets two bases, but his fly ball to the gap in left-center had so much backspin that Gerardo Parra misjudged the carom, allowing Betancourt to easily jog over to third base.

Check out the crazy second bounce after it hits the video board.

(Title reference for those of you not big into the table tennis scene)

Umpires have it tough. They get almost no sympathy from fans for what is a very draining job that requires the precise eyesight of an eagle. And, every now and then, they have to deal with a stray baseball with lots of velocity, no knowledge that it’s coming, and almost no time to react.

Exhibit A was on display last night when Game One of the ALDS between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees was resumed. Home plate umpire took one right near the temple when catcher Alex Avila couldn’t corral a Doug Fister sinker.

List of jobs I don’t want now: CEO of a multi-national bank, Taco Bell janitor, umpire.

You are no doubt familiar with the “Five Stages of Grief”, also known as the Kübler-Ross model. On the Comcast SportsNet broadcast of last night’s game in Atlanta, a game served to the Phillies on a silver platter, the five stages were on display in between pitches. Great work by the CSN Philly camera crew.

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Nice to Meet You, Josh

There’s something about Safeco Field and women in the stands that attracts corner outfielders. Last July, this girl met — and, but for a wall, would have been bowled over by — superstar Ichiro Suzuski. Yesterday, another fan had a run-in, quite literally, with Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Notice the failed catch of the foul ball by the fan in the row behind her. But Hamilton does make a smooth save of his sunglasses.

Lights Out in Oakland

This happened during last night’s Tigers-Athletics game, causing a 16-minute delay. Is it a metaphor for Oakland’s season? Were they unable to pay the electric bill?

The Tigers went on to win the game and clinch the AL Central, the first team to clinch their division this season.

The balk rule in baseball is notoriously complex, riddled with what is known as “gray area”. Most of the time, balk calls get argued or at least require further clarification. That was not so in the first game of a day-night double-header between the Marlins and Phillies on Thursday. Starter Anibal Sanchez likely had the most obvious balk in the history of baseball, but when umpires didn’t immediately call it, he tried to play it off as if he was just stretching. The umpires, after shaking off the rust, did call the balk much to Sanchez’s dismay. There are no Golden Globe awards waiting for this man.