The World According to Keitho

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Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

It begins

Posted by keithosaunders on March 29, 2018

Well that off season went by pretty fast.  Another baseball season is upon us and the Mets are 1-0.  Extrapolated to a full season that comes to…[gets calculator]…162-0!  Who am I kidding,  I’ll be happy if Syndergaard and Cespedes can stay healthy for a full season.

This year, in a herculean effort to speed up the game, baseball had limited catchers trips to the mound to 6 per game.  If this is successful the time of game may decrease to that of what it was in the pre-replay review era.  In other words, not much.

In an era where teams carry 13-15 men pitching staffs and relief pitchers are expected to pitch no more than one inning, the idea of having ballgames last shorter than 3.5 hours is a pipe dream at best.

I would be happy, however, if baseball banned the playing of God Bless America in the 7th inning stretch.  If they must have this jingoistic nonsense at least move it to the 6th inning, leaving Take Me Out to the Ballgame to reclaim its rightful place in Americana.

Play ball!

 

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Rise of the Planet of the Relief Pitcher

Posted by keithosaunders on February 28, 2018

And now for some baseball madness.  I was reading a magazine article about the pitcher, Shohei Ohtani, who the California Angels signed during the off season.  Ohtani is a two-way player – a pitcher who can also hit.  Angels manager, Mike Scioscia, commented, we’ll be using Othani to pinch hit, as well as pinch run, since we’ll only have a 3 man bench.

My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.  3 MAN BENCH?!   Is this what baseball has come to?   If this is a harbinger, and I think it is, teams will soon be comprised largely of relief pitchers.

It’s hard to get excited about rule changes designed to speed up the game when managers change pitchers more often than Trump changes cabinet members.  Pitch count clocks are cute and all, but between booth reviews and  6-10 pitching changes a game, the era of the four hour regulation game has arrived.

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We turn the page

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2017

Another baseball season has come and gone and even an old curmudgeon like me has to admit that this was a good one.  The Astros won their first ever championship and they did it in dramatic fashion, beating the high-profile Dodgers in a riveting seven game series.  The Dodgers dominated the regular season, as well as the first two thirds of the post season.  When it came time for the World Series, however, the middle of their lineup went into a collective slump, and their metrics-loving manager, Dave Roberts, spit the bit.

The Series was probably lost in game 2 when Roberts pulled his effective starter, Rich Hill after 4 plus innings and began using his bullpen (many of whom will almost certainly face rotator cuff surgery in their near future) with impunity.  Then in game 7, when Roberts should have taken a piss-poor Yu Darvish out of the game before facing George Springer, the hottest hitter in the universe, he left him in to deliver a cantaloupe.  The resulting three run bomb effectively put a fork in the Dodger’s season.

A word about the announcers:  Joe Buck and John Smoltz are a terrible listen.  It’s not that they don’t know baseball, but that they are dull as dishwater and humorless to boot.  Throw in the timber of Buck’s voice, which is akin to an amplified washing machine, and you can go crazy.  It’s as if someone was using a jackhammer outside of your apartment — for 5 straight hours!  I’m convinced that the best way to watch these games is at a bar with a TV and a jukebox.

Onwards.

 

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Pitching Madness in the World Series

Posted by keithosaunders on October 28, 2017

The way managers have been handling pitchers in the post season is beyond insane. It’s a mixture of by the book, automaton managing, and desperate gambles of 6 out saves from pitchers who have never done it before.

So far A.J. Hinch is thoroughly out managing Dave Roberts. Yesterday he played it old school allowing pitcher, Brad Peacock, to gut out a 3 & 2/3 inning save. Why not stay with the hot pitcher? The rest of his bullpen has been shaky at best. Go for the jugular while you can.

How much does Dave Roberts wish he had stayed with Rich Hill for a couple of extra innings on Wednesday night? True, his bullpen had been great, but even the best have bad outings as witnessed by Kenley Jansen’s last performance. You’re doing the other team a favor when you take out a pitcher that the opposing team is not hitting. The Astros should send Roberts a Christmas present.

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World Series Memories: 1986

Posted by keithosaunders on October 26, 2017

Haley’s comet reached its closest point to earth, the U.S. traded arms for hostages with Iran, and a 20 year old Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history.

1986!

Alcoa presents: Keitho’s World Series Memories!

If one team personified the cocaine-infused, go-go 80s it was the New York Mets! Led by Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Daryl Strawberry, and Doc Gooden, they went through the regular season like Pablo Sandoval at an all you can eat buffet, polished off the Houston Mike Scott’s in 6 games, and advanced to a date with destiny with the Boston Redsox.

Game 6 found the Mets down 3 games to 2 in the Series and me ensconced at my best friend, Jeff’s house in the Bronx.

Most people think it was Ray Knight’s clutch hit and Mookie Wilson’s grounder through the legs of Bill Buckner that completed the most improbable comeback of all time, but I know what really happened.

At last it can be told.

You see, it came down to Jeff’s Yankee souvenir watch and Pez dispenser from hell. Little did poor, hapless Calvin Schiraldi realize that his implosion on the Shea mound was the result of Jeff having dangled the Yankee watch in front of the TV (alternating with the Pez dispenser) while shouting, “Callllvinnnn!”

It was the jinx, you see. The jinx.

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Replay is killing sports

Posted by keithosaunders on October 16, 2017

Replay reviews is the worst thing to happen to sports in the past ten years.  Fans of replay never tire of saying you have to get the call right.  Never mind that it makes a slow-moving sport slower, the truth must win out!   My response to that remains that the game is losing its soul.  A shortstop makes an error and so does an ump.  And you know what?  The umps usually get it right.  It’s not as if they’re on the take.  As for the close plays…who cares?!  That’s life.

In the 8th inning of the deciding NLDS game five between the Cubs and Nationals – a one run game – Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton was ruled safe on a close pick off play.  Let’s go to the video tape!  The review folks in the New York bunker proceeded to spend five minutes reviewing the play frame by frame, Zapruder-style, to discover that for 1/100 of a second Lobaton’s foot was off the bag.  He was ruled out.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote, ‘For 100 years, Lobaton would have been safe, the original and seemingly obvious call, and everybody would have moved on to the next pitch, unbothered and riveted to the eighth inning of a one-run game. As Thursday night became Friday morning, a ballpark engaged in near-forensic video study, squinting to see if Lobaton’s leg had come off the base at a moment when Rizzo’s glove touched him.’ 

I’ve thought all along that replay is ruining sports and nothing has come along to change my opinion.  Between replay reviews, innumerable trips to the mound, and double digit pitching changes leading to five hour (9 inning) post season games, we’re stuck with a sport that is fast becoming unwatchable.

Say what you want about the other three major sports, they aren’t interminable to watch.  What’s the difference between a bunch of technocrats painstakingly making a call – that is still debatable – and an ump making a bang bang call in the moment?  The difference is that one is anti-climatic (and still sometimes wrong) and the other is exciting.

Image result for jose lobaton pickoff

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Bring on the playoffs

Posted by keithosaunders on September 30, 2017

This was a terrible year to be a Mets fan.  The team suffered a barrage of injuries early on, unloading much of the 2015 World Series lineup by the trading deadline.  It appears that Matt Harvey, thanks to overuse during the 2015 post season, is all but washed up. Mea culpa:  I was one of those who supported pitching him during that post season, and I still believe it was the right thing to do.  You don’t get many shots at a World Series ring, especially if you’re a Met.

This was also a terrible year for pennant races.  The National League seemed all but decided by the All Star break, although the Brewers made a run for the Central, and at this writing are still alive for a wild card slot. (although the Rockie’s magic number is 1.) I really can’t get too excited about wild card races, however, especially when the Mets are not in it.

Much to my chagrin the Yankees are good again.  I’m hoping that the upstart Twins can take them out in the gimmicky one-game play-in, but who am I kidding – the Twins are the Yankee’s bitch.

In the junior circuit I’ll be pulling for either the Astros or Indians.  Houston has never won a World Series and has only played in one of them.  It would be nice to see them get through.

In the NL I’ll be rooting for the Dodgers.  I can’t stand the Cubs fans, who I find insufferable, so I’ll be content with their team bowing out.  The Cubs seem to be peaking at the right time, however, and I would be surprised if they do not make it back to the Series. The good thing about the Dodgers going deep into the post season would be to watch these idiot Giants fans up here suffer. (I live in the Bay Area)  Talk about front runners!

Well that’s it.  I don’t have a dog in this race so I’m hoping for some good games and a minimum of exposure to Joe Buck.

Let’s go!

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Baseball’s one percent

Posted by keithosaunders on August 19, 2017

Anyone who doubted that baseball, in its current form, is a soulless affair I offer you exhibit A:  The Los Angeles Dodgers.  Here is a team, arguably having their greatest regular season in their 134 year history, that felt the need, with 6 weeks remaining in the season, to add Curtis Granderson to their already stacked roster.

Exhibit B is the New York Mets, a team not two years removed from a World Series appearance, who are now in fire-sale mode.

Baseball as it exists today is a microcosm of our capitalist society. The best talent congeals to form super-teams such as the Dodgers, Redsox, Yankees, and Golden State Warriors.  Money begets money.  The rest of the league – the have-nots – can be content with playoff appearances and the occasional Cinderella season, to be followed by the inevitable selloff once their young talent reaches free-agent eligibility.

Enjoy.

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Monday night baseball

Posted by keithosaunders on August 13, 2017

Last night, while browsing Twitter, I stumbled upon this VHS recording of a telecast of a 1979 ABC Monday Night Baseball game between the Angels and the Redsox.  The recording only contained the first inning and a few highlights, which was fine since the game ended up being a blowout.  It’s a great time capsule, however, and is worth watching for a few minutes.

The thing that struck me the most was how much more pleasant it was to watch a game in those days.  There are hardly any replays, stats are kept to a minimum, and the overall pace of the game is much quicker.

The announcing team was Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell, and Bob Eucker.  Jackson was known largely for college football but he did a professional job and was a good listen.  He didn’t get in the way of the game and you can tell that he did his homework.  Cosell, on the other hand, did get in the way of the game – he had a tremendous ego – but was still a much more compelling listen than today’s bland ex-jock color men, or robotic, colorless Joe Buck.

Check it out!

 

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The [non existent] National League Pennant Races

Posted by keithosaunders on August 4, 2017

Baseball in the modern age is nothing short of depressing.  First of all these games are interminable.  Each steroidally-enhanced pitcher takes a year between pitches before walking the ballpark.  Throw in catcher’s and coaches visits to the mound and you’ve got yourself a snooze fest.  I honestly don’t see how anyone can watch a regular season game in real time.
The National League playoff picture is all but set thanks to a top heavy western division.  The Dodgers are on a hot streak that hasn’t been seen in baseball in decades, and the Diamondbacks and Rockies seemed poised to secure the two wild card slots.  The Nationals have wrapped up the East, leaving us with a tepid Central division race figured to be won in a cakewalk by last year’s champion Cubs.
I find it depressing how at this time of year, teams are either buyers or sellers, thus eliminating the chances of a late season playoff run from an underdog. I hate to say it but I’m for adding more playoff teams.  Who cares at this point?  The integrity of the playoffs is already ruined, can we at least have some decent races?  Let’s throw caution to the wind and go the way of the NHL & NBA.  8 playoff teams in each league, baby!

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