Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stephen Strasburg's Arm, RIP

The hottest prospect in recent memory just blew his elbow out and will require Tommy John surgery.  This carries a 12-18 month rehab time.  Strasburg has been just about the biggest story of the year.  I'm really sorry to hear this happen to such a young, bright star. 

What interests me most about this story is that some people predicted this would happen.  Curt Schilling apparently did, and I heard an audio clip of a radio interview from earlier in the year of Chris Lincecum (father of Tim, and master mechanics planner of his delivery, who has his own show on in San Fran) saying he witnessed some problems with Strasburg's mechanics and wasn't very confident of his future health.  Now, I'm no expert on pitching mechanics.  But I'm wondering what was going on in the minds of the Nationals' people, especially given that others were concerned.  Were there issues?  Were they in the process of being addressed?  Is the topic of mechanics widely understood within baseball?  Is it merely a matter of opinion with several radically different schools of thought?  Are most baseball people clueless with only a few experts on the topic?

I don't know.  But it's sad for Strasburg, his family and the Nationals, not to mention the game of baseball.  I hope he recovers fully and has a hall of fame career.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night Quote

A lot of people my age are dead at the present time. - Casey Stengel, at age 75

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coming Soon: Friday Night Quote

I love baseball quotes, so I thought I would include a quote each Friday night, at 7:35pm.  Pacific time, that is.  Baseball quotes have a way of telling stories all their own, and also serve to show the game's characters for their strange views of the pastime.  Next Friday will be the first installment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Giants Win Projection Through August 15

August 1 through August 15, 2010:

W 61-45, 93; W 62-45, 94; L 62-46, 93; L 62-47, 92; W 63-47, 93; L 63-48, 92; L 63-49, 91; W 64-49, 92; L 64-50, 91; W 65-50, 92; W 66-50, 92; L 66-51, 91; W 67-51, 92; L 67-52, 91.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bobby Thomson, RIP

Bobby Thomson, the former Giants player who hit the most famous home run in baseball history, died yesterday at the age of 86.  His "Shot Heard 'Round The World" off of Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca ended the greatest pennant race in history between the two fiercest rivals in history in the media capitol of the world.  That's probably why it's so famous.  It's also the most famous radio broadcast in sports history, called by Giants announcer Russ Hodges.

On August 11, 1951, the New York Giants were 13 1/2 games behind their cross-town rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Giants won 37 of their last 44 games to tie the Dodgers for first place on the last day of the regular season, forcing a three game playoff for the pennant.  The teams split the first two games, and the Dodgers had a 4-1 lead in the ninth inning of game 3.  The Giants started a rally, and after closing the score to 4-2, Thomson came to bat with two runners on base.  Two pitches later, history was made.

Here's a video of the home run as shown on Best Damn Sports Show Period.  It was edited down, very unfortunately, to fit their show, and due to copyright reasons, I'm guessing, the unedited version just doesn't show up on the internet.  Also, there is a story and a video clip on that shows a bit more of what happened after the traditional recording of Russ Hodges' call ends.  Then for further listening pleasure, a video of Hall of Fame broadcasters Ernie Harwell and Red Barber on their TV coverage of that game.

A strange twist to this home run changed the way sports broadcasts were handled from then on.  Recordings of radio broadcasts of great events simply weren't done in those days.  But a Dodger fan got out his tape recorder in the last inning of a would-be Dodger victory and made a recording of what he thought would be Hodges' lament over a Giants defeat, just to rub it in the face of Giants fans.  Here's a blog article dealing with that history.  All in all, a great homer by a true gentleman.

Trivia question:  What rookie was on deck when Thomson hit his famous homer?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Benjie Mowina

Okay, game one of the 2010 World Series in San Francisco and they're announcing the starting lineups and extras.  Renel announces Rangers catcher Benjie Molina.  What do the Giant fans do?  Cheer?  Boo?  Remain silent?

Although our five year old's favorite player is Tim Lincecum, he loves to play catcher in pee-wee ball.  Molina (pronounced Mowina) has been his favorite catcher.  This year he made the pee-wee All-star team, and chose uniform number 1 to wear in honor of Molina.  He got to catch a few innings, throwing his arms up and yelling, "YES!" when the manager asked him to catch.  Although he's very small, with the gear on he resembles Molina.  I would be okay with a Giants/Rangers World Series, and I'm sure our son would be too.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Instant Replay Proposal

I have a proposal for the testing of instant replay in baseball.  Okay, we already have instant replay for home run calls, but there are cries for more.

My proposal may seem a bit extreme, but I think it would give a good flavor for what we could expect.  For a specific introductory period, let's institute full blown instant replay review, including balls and strikes, with unlimited challenges given to each manager during Yankees-Red Sox games only.  If it is successful, then we could apply it to the rest of baseball on a permanent basis.

Blown Calls, Official Scoring and Perfect Games

Blown calls by umpires have been in the news quite a bit this year.  Blown calls that have literally cost games - and in the worst situation imaginable - a perfect game on the last out.  This has quite naturally stirred debate about instant replay.  Armando Galarraga was rooked out of a perfect game by a blown call on the last out.  In another situation, the Giants scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth vs. the Mets a few weeks ago, only to have the home plate ump blow the call by five miles and call the runner out.  The Mets won in extra innings.  The call literally cost the Giants the game.  Not that it weighed heavily in helping them lose the game.  The winning run had already crossed the plate before being called out.

I was wondering this last week how an official scorer deals with blown calls by umpires.  They have to come up with reasons as to why a play was a hit or error, wild pitch or passed ball. Would the runner have been out?  Should the catcher have stopped the pitch with ordinary effort?  But what of a blown call where the scorer has to make a decision?  If a safe runner is called out, a scorekeeper can give a putout and assist.  What if the reverse happens?  Does the scorer have to give the batter a hit, even though he was out?

As soon as I saw the Galarraga/Joyce replay, I wondered if the official scorer could have ruled an error on the play, at least preserving a no-hitter, as a way to "make up" for the blown call.  It was a difficult play, first baseman coming off the bag to get the ball and the pitcher covering.  The first baseman has to hit a moving target in the pitcher while timing his arrival at first base.  Those two players have practiced that play thousands of times a year since they were eight years old.  It's common for a pitcher to stutter step if the throw isn't quite right and miss the bag with his feet.  A throwing error can happen easily.

So why, especially given that the official scorer was tied to covering Tiger baseball in some way, could he not have scored an error?  He could have given an error to the first baseman.  Or maybe to the pitcher as a way to say "here's the price for your no-hitter."  The umpire gives no reason as to why he ruled the runner safe.  A number of things could have happened in his mind.  He could have beat the throw.  The pitcher could have missed the bag, or he could have bobbled the ball.  We don't know at the time the play happened.  So why could not a scorer have ruled in the same manner?  A throwing error with a no-hitter going in the books one batter later would be preferable to giving the batter a hit, knowing that he never got one to begin with.