Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Did You Know?

Before tonight, had you considered the possibility that if you bring the tying run to the plate and that batter grounds into a double play, even if a run scores, during the next at-bat, the tying run would no longer be at the plate? When was the last time you saw a pitcher throw an 8 inning complete game?

Thanks to Jorge Posada and CC Sabathia, now you know both of those things.

Not to point to point the finger(s) at those two, of course. The home run Sabathia gave up to Magglio Ordonez literally bounced off the top of the wall. Maggs sliced it off his back foot down the right field line, and left the park by the slimmest of margins. The rest of the offense wasn't too helpful either. Robby Cano and Ramiro Pena were the only ones who could muster than one hit (two apiece) as Verlander racked up nine strikeouts.

It was a swift and brutal affair, a tragic tilt that ended far too soon. After three excruciating Red losses to the Sox in a row, you might have thought the Yanks were due for a bounceback. You would have been wrong. They were were efficiently disposed of in a tidy 2:19.

While the Red Sox series averaged just over four hours per game, this one went quietly into the night. A letdown game after a clash with their arch rivals, perhaps? I'd like to think a team struggling to stay above .500 wouldn't need any extra motivation to win a game coming off being swept by a division foe.

Who knows how much effort actually correlates to success in baseball? I'd venture to guess the connection is not very strong. It's not like football, where strength has a much greater impact upon success. You can hit the gym and the results will translate much more directly to your success on the field.

At a certain point in baseball, no matter what you do (aside from taking steriods), you are pretty much as good as you are going to get. The greatest player of all-time reached base in less than half of the times he came to the plate. Both pitching and hitting have a fickleness and mystique about them. You don't want to give a sinkerballer too much rest and you wouldn't want to disturb a batter's choreographed routine.

I think it has a lot to do with the extremely random nature of baseball. Baseball completely rewrites the concept of confidence intervals. I've never seen a trend player's numbers that made me 95% confident in anything. You are trying to hit a round ball with a rounded bat. Every fraction of an inch affects the outcome. No matter how great of a slugger or hurler you are, you can never hope to control your results that precisely. And that is the reason they need to play 162 games. You just have to stack the odds in your favor, throw it against the wall, and see what sticks.

When things go wrong, who is there to be mad at? The Baseball Gods? The laws of probability? Fate? That's part of the appeal for me as a fan. You don't have to ride the rollercoaster of every up and down. The season lasts forever. It's not like football, where games are ten times more significant in the standings and occur a week apart. If the Yankees were the Giants, the season would have been over already.

It's early in the schedule, and no matter what some anonymous commenters would like you to believe, there is still a lot of baseball to be played and a lot could change over that time. Maybe when September rolls around we'll look back at this time and realize that all the rough patches were actually bad omens. Or perhaps, we'll look back at this stretch and wonder why we were so impatient so as to assume that we could tell the future by the results of 19 games.


  1. I know he'd never be mistaken for any type of sprinter, but Jorge didn't look like he was really trying to get down the line and beat out the DP. He looked like he didn't care...a slow bouncer, off balance throw to second, tough really because the runner from first really got down the line to try to break up the DP, and what do we get on the replay...Jorge looking like he didn't care!! He doesn't put his head down or even look like he was trying!!
    Hell Jose Molina probably could have got down the line!!

  2. I completely agree with Rich. Jorge looked like he was dogging it until about three-quarters of the way down the line. It was a slow roller that Inge had to range far to his left to field. Polanco looked like he wasn't even going to try to turn it until he glanced at the line and saw how far back Posada was. There's no way that should have been a DP.

    I know he's a 37 year old catcher, but there's no excusing that. He hadn't caught that night, his legs were as fresh as they were going to be. He effectively killed what could have been a rally, and as Jay pointed out, the tying run moved from the batter's box to the on deck circle.

    I'm a big Jorge fan and we always hear how he's as much of a leader in the clubhouse as Jeter, about how he's not afraid to get in a guy's face if he's loafing it. You think Jorge would have let that slide if Cano or Melky did it?

    Jorge could be an interesting subplot to this year. He looks like he's rebounding quite nicely from his surgery. However, as RAB pointed out yesterday, thus far the pitching has been much better with Molina behind the dish. Girardi made a defensive substitution for Posada in a one run game against Cleveland last Friday and Posada subsequently left the clubhouse without speaking to the media. He's been adamant about his desire to be a catcher and nothing else. Matsui's two bum knees have DH on lock-down anyway, and if he needs a day off, Damon's cranky body may be next in line for that spot.

    Maybe last night is an isolated incident. Maybe Posada's a little banged up after catching the entirety of the last 5 games, including 26+ brutal innings in Boston over the weekend. Maybe he's just a 37 year old catcher. But so far this year we've seen him get into a near altercation with a fan in KC, kinda sorta call out Swisher after his pitching performance in Tampa, dodge the media after getting pulled against Cleveland, and look like he didn't give a crap in Detroit last night. Could Jorge be getting a little crankier in his old age?

  3. Posada's not in the line-up again tonight. He has a sore hammy according to Pete Abe. If that's the case, I'm a jackass and I redact all my above criticism.

    If on the other hand Girardi is reprimanding him without saying so then it appears that Girardi's new honesty-with-the-media policy lasted all of 3 weeks.

  4. No need for a redaction, sir. You can only go on the information you had at the time and a guy running with a hamstring problem is going to look like he's dogging it. Nice job by you and Rich for bringing that up.