May 8, 2006

Uh, Baker's Dozin'...

[1] "Uh, Baker's Dozin'" is my own little commentary on the tactical acumen of the current Cubs' manager. This is far from the first time that I have given this diagnosis. It dates back to 2002, several long months before he even became the Cubs' manager.

[2] Even die-hard Cubs' fans can be forgiven for missing most of Friday night's loss --er, I mean "game"-- in San Diego. For starters, most of you probably had a premonition that this was not going to be a fun road trip. Secondly, the first pitch of Friday night's contest wasn't delivered until after 9 p.m. Central Time. On top of that, the game was still scoreless when it went into extra innings more than four hours later. Most people don't like long, scoreless games. Personally, I was so excited that, well, let's just say I was glad that I was watching the game alone-- just me and my peanuts. When your team loses a 1-0 game in extra innings, there is always plenty of blame to go around. All you need to do is look at the "Left On Base" column in the next day's box scores to know that. But we, as fans, are duty-bound to routinely pin the blame on one, or maybe two, players. No doubt you saw a replay of the game-losing play: Josh Barfield's single to centerfield, scoring Khalil Greene from second. It would be easy to affix the blame to Scott Williamson for giving up that game-winning hit. I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to, well, hey, let's face it: "Harp on" would be the most accurate term. I'm going to harp on three instances of sloppy defense in the game's final frame. Stick with me.

[3] By the way, for those of you who didn't notice, there's a whole [tr]uckload of new material "posted by Killre" on this fine Monday morning (or Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday evening or Thursday night or whenever you've gotten around to attending our happenin' little hoe-down). Yes, I know it's a lot of stuff. Feel free to browse around at your leisure. There won't be a quiz later. Just scroll along and see if anything catches your eye. No pressure. I'm just givin' ya a "heads-up."

[4] It isn't as if Juan Pierre didn't have a shot at cutting Greene down at home plate, especially with Greene hesitating, briefly, to make sure Barfield's line drive actually got down to the turf. But Pierre blew his chance: I've seen better throws from outfielders in high school. Heck, I've seen better throws in junior high. I would resort to hyperbole about Pierre's throw, except that I also saw Jacque Jones' throw from rightfield a batter earlier. Stick with me.

[5] Pat Hughes and Ron Santo: Saccharine and Mace.

[6] Arguably, Khalil Greene shouldn't even have been on base when Williamson gave up the hit to Barfield. There should have been two out and nobody on, instead of one out and one on. See, with nobody out and Greene on first, Williamson induced the batter prior to Barfield (I disremember now who it was) to pop a short fly to right. Jacque Jones came running in and made an easy catch. Then, seeing that Greene had wandered a bit far off of first base, Jones clumsily ripped the ball from his glove and uncorked an off-balance, still- on- the- run, half-[muled] throw to first. It was the worst throw in the History of Baseball at any level above tee-ball. From short right field, Jones' throw failed to reach the infield dirt on the fly! And it never even got to first base. Todd Walker had to come twelve feet off the bag to pick the ball up from where it rolled to a stop like a Datsun out of gas. Oh, but there's more.

[7] Many years ago, long before he started winning rings with the New York Yankees, I named Joe Girardi "the Cub most likely to be a manager someday." Judging by the talent level of the Florida Marlins, I was also correct in predicting that his first managerial job would be in the minors. I hereby issue my latest "Cub most likely to" statement. It is unlikely to actually come true, because of baseball's uneasiness with gambling, but it speaks volumes metaphorically, so I'll say it anyway: The Cub Most Likely to Someday Win a High-stakes Poker Tournement is... Greg "The Maestro" Maddux.

[8] Khalil Greene should never have made it to second base. After Jones failed to double him off of first, Padres' manager Bruce Bochey (sp?) decided to put the game in motion. He flashed Greene the "steal" sign. The Cubs' suspected San Diego might be up to something. Catcher Michael Barrett called for a pitch he could handle. And Williamson delivered it: Just a couple of inches off the outside corner, belt-high or maybe a little higher. On another night, with another umpire, it might even have been called a strike. As it was, it made for a good de facto pitch-out. Barrett had a beautiful shot at gunning down Greene at second, and he made a near-perfect throw. Too bad the middle infielder [congressed] it up...

[9] I'm not trying to advertise, but I have XM satellite radio in my truck. I used to have Sirius, but I switched to XM for the baseball package. There is one feed per game. Almost exclusively, it is the feed from the home team's radio booth. Since Ron "Mace" Santo is the Worst Sportscaster in the History of Broadcasting, I don't get my panties in a bunch over "having" to listen to the other team's radio call during Cubs' games. On the contrary, I usually consider it a respite. There is, however, one exception: I can't stand the Cardinals' Mike Shannon. I don't know which is worse: Hearing hime refer to The Maestro as "Greg Mad Ox," or listening to him yell, "Get up, baby, get up! Get up!" whenever one of the crew from Saint Loo hits a home run. I wonder if his wife is as tired of hearing that [offal] during foreplay as I am of hearing it during play-by-play.

[10] The proper spelling is: DuH.

[11] Hey, while we're at it: BcS.

[12] ...Jerry Hairston, Jr. got caught flat-footed, I think. When Khalil Greene broke for second, Hairston was a split-second late in breaking to cover the bag. Not devestatingly late, mind you, just a tad. Just enough late that he got to second base slightly out of control, undisciplined and very much in a rush. Instead of straddling the bag or setting up on the inside corner of the bag, Hairston skidded to a stop three feet to the infield side of it. On top of that, he reached forward --toward home plate-- to take Barrett's gorgeous throw. Had Hairston been on the bag instead of in front of it, Barrett's peg would have beaten Greene by four feet. As it was, Hairston caught the throw four feet short of where it needed to be. Hairston put himself in a position where he still had to plant and pivot and lunge at Greene as he went sliding past, head-first. The extra split-seconds that it took Hairston to do all of these things were the difference in the ballgame. By the time Hairston slapped his glove into the baserunner's ribcage, Greene's left hand was clenched around the outside corner of second base like it was the very last ticket to The Beatles' concert at Shea Stadium. Game over.

[13] Bud "...Independent of Either Congress or Baseball Means a Former Senator and Minority Boston Owner..." Selig must go.

1 comment:

One F said...

True, Hairston looked poor out there. But let's all ask, "What would Sammy do?"

With Walker on first you got either Neifi! or Jerry at second. Not a good situation.

Oh, and why does Kerry need a second rehab start? Just start him Friday at Wrigley I say.