The Emotion of Baseball

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So if you weren’t sitting with two boxes of Kleenex last night during the Say Good-Bye to Mariano Rivera segment of Yankees-Rays, you’re a heartless bastard with no feelings or emotions.  At least that was the consensus on social media last night.

No doubt it was a special moment at Yankee Stadium last night when Rivera came in to pitch for the last time at home (or anywhere) and I watched and thought it was great but did it punch my emotional buttons? No. Did I get misty eyed with Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter came out to remove Rivera from the game? Nope, sorry. Did I think it was a nice moment? Sure.

Mariano Rivera is without a doubt the greatest closer in baseball history. He is a sure first ballot Hall of Famer –he won’t be a unanimous first ballot honoree because we all know some shithead from the BBWAA will leave him off their ballot in “a look at me moment”-but  since he was not a New York Met, then my emotions stayed in check.

Sorry if that pisses off the ultra-sensitive types but I save my baseball tears for the New York Mets, both happy and sad occasions.

I don’t get why the baseball writing eggheads get so bent out of shape over events on the field that fall under the “unwritten rules” of baseball. Seriously, what is it about this code of conduct that baseball players have amongst themselves that pisses you off? Is it that it doesn’t fall under your view of baseball through the eyes of statistical analysis? This is no way a knock at the analytic work done by many of these folks, if you are a MLB organization that doesn’t have a fully staff analytic department, then you’re in the working in the dark ages. I love how  baseball execs have so much data to look at and study to make help make important decision in player personnel to help achieve the ultimate goal of winning the World Series.  You still have to take the human side into account as well.    

When Brain McCann waited at home plate for Carlos Gomez to arrive after putting on an embarrassing display of being an ass hat when he hit a home run of Paul Maholm, I thought it was one of the best on field statements I’ve seen in baseball in a long long time. McCann just standing there explaining to Gomez just what an asshole he was and daring him to go through him to touch home plate showed me that McCann was standing up for his pitcher, his teammates and his organization. He should be applauded. Sadly some folks didn’t see it the same way I did and to tell you the truth I was a bit surprised by some of the reaction.

As I said, it was mostly the people who seem to be the baseball intellectual types that thought McCann was a jerk.  None of the McCann bashers mentioned that Gomez was still holding a grudge from being hit by a pitch from Malhom (who throws about 85 mph tops and that’s with a running start) earlier in the year. The first pitch of the at bat, Gomez nearly swung himself out of his uniform as he wanted to hit the pitch to Buckhead . He damn near succeeded on the next pitch which he hit a towering home run. Gomez stood and admired the shot then glared at Maholm to which Freddie Freeman screamed at him and he yelled back at Freeman while he leisurely strolled the base paths like he was out for a constitutional on the deck of the Queen Mary. As Gomez went down the 3rd base line, staring into the Braves dugout, he was startled by McCann standing in his way of touching home plate, a destination Gomez never arrived at. At that point the benches emptied and the Braves went after Gomez and any Brewer that stood in their way.     

Now why anyone who watches, covers or has played baseball was surprised at McCann’s actions baffles me. It’s the same way I can’t understand people getting upset when Tiger Woods curses after he hits a bad shot.  Those people have obviously never been on a golf course, same with the folks who are appalled by baseball player’s behavior on the field.  

What do they think happens on the field and in the dugout and clubhouse? This may come as a shock to some of the finger sandwich and high tea crowd but baseball players use very bad language at times, in fact they use the bad language a lot on the umpires. Ball players (I hope I don’t offend anyone here) also spit nasty tobacco juice and sunflower seed shells and (hold on to your pearls Francis) blow their nose without a tissue. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. The floor of a dugout is as nasty as a subway platform.

As much as baseball has to go forward using statistical analysis in decision making it also cannot forget the on field emotion of the game as well. I don’t know about you but my love of baseball didn’t come from a calculator it came from first watching it, then playing it , then embracing the camaraderie of being on a team. There’s no better feeling than being on a team that has each other’s back. There’s no better feeling than playing on a team that wins. There is no better compliment in baseball than “he plays the game the right way”.  If you can’t understand that, then I have pity on you, you’re missing a great game.

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Blown (Save) Away

Happy 87th Birthday to Yogi Berra, if you haven’t read Harvey Araton’s book Driving Mr. Yogi, you should it’s a terrific read    

 

 

Nothing pisses off a fan base more than a blown save that cost their team a win. As we witnessed in Miami last night, the Met s again unleashed their version of “5 O’clock Lightning” coming from behind again to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead as Mike Baxter has channeled his inner Smokey Burgess to become a potent late inning pinch hitter, drove in two runs with a double while batting for the offensively challenge Mike Nickeas.

I listened to latter part of this game in the car, enjoying the duo of Howie Rose and his partner Josh Lewin, who by the way has become a great listen and has blended in quite nicely with Howie making for such a pleasurable listen that even when I’m home I’ll tune in to hear a few innings, especially today when the game is on FOX, the sound on the TV goes mute and radio is turned up, but I digress.

When Baxter hit that double to score Captain Kirk and Ike to take the lead, the excitement in Howie’s voice was as jubilant a call I’ve heard from the radio booth in a long time. A 5-3 lead with six outs to go and the way the pen has been going it looked like you could start “putting this one in the books” but wait………..

Of all the players in the infield the last guy I’d predict making a crucial late inning error would be Ike Davis, I mean, no matter how awful a batting slump Ike has been in, he never brings that out to the field on defense so his costly error in the 8th that gave the Fish life was a bit of a shocker.

Give hat tips to Bobby Parnell and Tim Brydak who set up the save for Frank Francisco. All Frankie Frisco had to do was get three outs. Instead Greg Dobbs single gave the Fish their 4th walk off win of the year and their 9th win in 10 games.

That’s what makes this Frankie Frisco’ blown save hurt more, the Fish are red hot and here come the “5 O’Clock Lighting” Mets doing their come from behind magic again buoyed by another solid performance by their Ace Johan Santana (after a tough 1st inning Santana was masterful mixing mostly fastballs and slider but not many change ups to keep the Fish in check from innings 2-6 ) and looking to add to their dominant record against the NL East (now 13-6 after last night loss) but instead of killing Francisco maybe we have to credit Dobbs for hitting a pretty good pitch, a 94 mph fastball that was just inside the strike zone.

If we’ve learned anything about the 2012 Mets, this early in the season a loss like last nights doesn’t linger long with them, they’ll turn the page quickly.

I see where Rony Cedeno is at shortstop again today so my question is why is Jordany Valdespin here? If Terry Collins feels Cedeno is his guy until Ruben Tejada gets back that’s fine but if that’s the case maybe keeping Vinny Rottino around would have been the better move and let Valdespin play every day in Buffalo.  Rottino has played catcher so with two weak hitting catchers on the roster a guy like Rottino would be valuable.

 

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