Nine hours of baseball in one post:

Didn’t get a chance to watch baseball yesterday?  It’s cool – I watched nine hours of it – I got you covered.

Going in a slightly different direction for the blog today:  I wrote this yesterday as I watched 2 games and parts of two others.  I did my best to write in real time, but forgive me for the occasional switching of tenses and apparent randomness of thoughts.

I was thinking this (Saturday) morning that I’m looking forward to the post season this year more than any in a long time.  It seems like every team has some combination of interesting story lines and/or players that are really fun to watch.

So on a September Saturday, after coming home from work from my “real job”, I noticed there are games on at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm available to me through my basic Comcast package.  So with the exception of feeding myself, hydrating myself and a dog walk or two, I’ll be watching baseball until bed time tonight.  Cool thing is most of the baseball I’ll see today involves playoff bound teams, a few of which I don’t get to see too often.

First up:  Washington vs. LA Dodgers, 1pm.

Haven’t seen too much of either team this season, so I’m particularly interested in watching the decision making of managers Dave Roberts and Dusty Baker, but also seeing Anthony Rendon with my eyes – he’s very quietly having a great season and is rated as one of the best defensive players in baseball by Fangraphs.  My observations, as they occurred, more or less:

Chase Utley should not be leading off.  Utley is a Hall of Famer, and he’s a hell of a fun player to watch…but with a .322 OBP, 90 OPS+, 93 wRC+ this season he needs to be down in the lineup.

See also; Trea Turner.  .333 OBP, 102 wRC+.  But you, know – he’s fast.  Eye roll.

Rich Hill’s curveball is ridiculous, and he’s getting help from Gary Cederstrom.

Speaking of which, Hill is due up.  Time to eat, hydrate.  I still don’t understand this whole pitchers batting thing.  Crash Davis had it backwards – there needs to be a constitutional amendment banning pitchers from hitting.

1:52pm:  Michael Kay is bad?  Matt Vasergian says hold my beer…Vasergian says Justin Turner was hit by the first pitch he sees from A. J. Cole.  It was not the first pitch.  Matt was too busy with his conversation (that had nothing to do with the game) and missed some of the game.

Haven’t seen Rendon’s glove work yet, but he gets the Nats first hit with HR off a belt high Hill fast ball.

Paul O’Neill is bad?  John Smoltz says hold my beer…  For the second time (that I’ve heard) today, Smoltz says Rendon is one of the best 3rdbasemens” in baseball.

Basemens.  Pretty soon he’ll be pronouncing Frazier “fray-zur”.

Justin Turner is a better player than Daniel Murphy.  Seems like Mets’ fans get more pissed about losing Murphy though.  Is it because they see him more often?  Playoff heroics?  Not sure…

Top 5th: Cory Seager, rated as a slightly above average baserunner, just got doubled off 2nd base on a pop up that appeared to me that was obvious was going to be caught.  I’ll come back to this.

Looking ahead to 4pm: Royals vs. Indians is intriguing.  But Yankees are on and I need to see the Yanks  even though they’re playing a beer league softball team masquerading as the Orioles.  Although Carlos Carrasco is pitching for Cleveland – I saw Carrasco pitch up close for the Lakewood Blueclaws years ago probably 5 or 6 times and it was fun to see him toy with A ball hitters at age 19 and 20.  Nostalgia may force me to go back and forth between games.

I started to write something about the pace of play, because the Nats/Dodgers game is moving, then I just realized home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom is calling the neck as the top of the strike zone, apparently.  I’m pretty sure this is affecting pace of play.  (He wrote, sarcastically…)

Dave Roberts has the first big decision of the day: Joc Pederson batting, two on one out in the top of the 6th, Dodgers up by two.  Dusty Baker brings in lefty Oliver Perez to face Pederson then whomever hits for Hill after.  Roberts sends up Chris Taylor to hit for Pederson.  Hmmm…I’m thinking it’s kind of early for that – there’s more than a third of the game to go.

Turns out I was wrong.  Taylor’s OBP is about 100 points higher than Pederson’s against lefties and he’s a better defender as well.  That was an opportunity to blow the game open and Roberts went for it – well done on his part.  Although Perez gets the Nats out of the jam, Roberts made the right move.

3:20pm, top of the 8th:  I see Rendon’s glove.  Very tough short hop off a Yasiel Puig two hopper.  Made a tough play look very easy.  Now if he could only get a less ridiculous haircut.

A few minutes later, Vasergian tells us Washington is a fan base that’s hungry for a championship.  He says this as FOX cameras show 4 fans eating, drinking, and…ignoring the game out in center field somewhere.

Was Corey Seager out late last night?  Fangraphs has him as a plus defensive SS.  He lets a pretty easy Adam Lind grounder under the glove, back hand side.  Smoltz says it should not have been ruled an error because it was hit hard. Implication being that major league shortstops shouldn’t be expected to field hard hit balls.  I’ve always despised that logic.

I know, I know, he’s got 15-20 years to go so save me your hate mail, but Kenley Jansen throws the ball a lot like Mo’.

Yasiel Puig and Curtis Granderson add some nice outfield running catches to seal it for the Dodgers.  Good game.  Fast paced, well played.

 

Yankees vs. O’s, 4 something pm…

Game was held up so members of the ’07 football Giants could throw/kick footballs to Yankees as a ceremonial first pitch. Michael Kay is the only one interested.

Top 2nd, Michael Kay already speaking interminably about things that have absolutely nothing to do with the Yanks or the O’s.  Already have the mute button in my sights.

Glad to see Jacoby Ellsbury hitting the ball and glad to see him batting 6th in the order.  As he steals 2nd base in the 2nd inning I’m reminding my wife that his skills can be valuable there.  Being able to take 2nd base when hitters who have less power but are more likely to slap the ball for a single are coming up, being on 2nd is WAY better than being on first.  But of course, the more Ellsbury hits, the more likely Joe Girardi will lead him off, putting him in front of Judge and Sanchez where his speed will be wasted. Groan…

On the Ellsbury play, Todd Frazier interfered with O’s catcher Wellington Castillo, forcing Baltimore to mount a mild complaint.  Here is something I’ve observed from playing, coaching and watching baseball for years:

It is an immutable fact that batters interfere with catchers’ throws all the time and it NEVER gets called. 

It’s 4:49pm and we get our first pace of play complaint from Kay.

5:16pm: Me: “I’m not a fan of Didi batting 4th in the lineup”.

5:17pm: Didi hits 3 run HR.  I stop researching Didi’s numbers.

Top 4th: Greg Bird hits a 3 run HR.  Every time I see Bird and Tyler Austin swing a bat I wonder why Todd Frazier still plays for the Yankees.

Top 6th, 7-0 Yankees:  Kay and O’Neill see Chad Green warming up in the bullpen and note that it might be more important to save him for closer games.  Point 1 – Imagine how bad your bullpen management has to be for these two chuckleheads to notice and question.  Point 2: This has been Girardi’s M.O. all…season…long.  Use your best in mop up duty, use your 12th best in 1 run games.

6:35 pm: Simpleton Summer Camp (YES network) member Meredith Marakovits informs us that the Yankees have recalled Miguel Andujar.  Because what the Yankees need is another corner infielder who can hit to sit on the bench while Frazier plays.

Top 7th, Yankees leading 7-0, cameras show David Robertson warming up.  My wife says “Really?  Wow…”  Yes, really.  Never change, Joey Bullpen.

Top 9, 2 outs, 9-3 Yankees, Aroldis Chapman warming up.  Seriously.

Shortly thereafter, the Yankees win.  Thhuuuhhhh….Yankees win!

 

Switch to Boston vs Tampa, top of 6th, 1 out, 2-0 Sox:

Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson has an index card sized strike zone, which is really annoying to me and the Tampa pitchers.

I’ve seen enough of Rafael Devers to know he can hit a fastball away from a left handed pitcher pretty well.  Holy bat speed…Remember, Boston called him up because they were unable to land Todd Frazier from the White Sox.  (Audibly groans…)

Tampa batters haven’t received the memo about Nelson’s strike zone as they’re swinging as Rick Porcello winds up.  Cy Ricky has 7 shutout innings on 81 pitches thus far.

Craig Kimbrel shuts it down with a great play from Xander Bogaerts to end it.  Kimbrel now has a nauseating 119 K to 14 BB ratio, in 63 innings.

Not gonna’ lie…been a long week with my “real job” and I’ve been up since 5:30 am today, so I’m not sure how long I can hold out, but…

Gonna check out the Rangers vs. the LA Trouts.  It’s not often we get to see one of the best players of all time, so I’m going to do what I can here.

After hearing the pre-game scouting report about how cold Trout has been cold, in his first at bat he swings at a 1-1 pitch right down the middle and pops it up.  I wish I knew who was doing the announcing, I’d give the scouting report some props.  (I’m watching the MLB network, don’t know what feed it is…)

Fun Fact: Cole Hamels, who I also saw as a Blueclaw, has never faultered.  Ever.  It’s always someone else’s fault.  The ump, the fielders, the mound dirt, etc., etc…

In the 3rd inning with a runner on, Trout pops up to right in the 3rd.  With my awake minutes numbered I turn to the other interesting aspects of the Angels:

Justin Upton, who homered in the first to give the Trouts a 1-0 lead, is a very underrated player as noted here earlier this season.  Look for him to opt out of his contract at season’s end and get himself a raise.

Albert Pujols is one of the worst players in baseball this season and still may end up with 100 RBIs.  This is why you don’t use RBIs as a tool to measure players’ performance my friends, despite what MVP voters have told you for decades.  Pujols is in the bottom seven among AL batters who’ve qualified for the batting title in OBP, SLG, OPS+, wRC+ and is dead last in fWAR (2nd to last in rWAR).

Andrelton Simmons:  Won’t win the MVP award, but should finish in the top 10, if not top 5 in voting this season.  He’s by far the best defensive player in baseball playing the 2nd hardest position and is an average, if not slightly above average offensive player.  And as if on cue, makes a nice catch and tag at 2nd getting an out that was originally ruled safe at 2nd.

The only real drama in the game arises in the top of the 6th with the Rangers down 1-0, runners on 1st and 3rd, 2 out and future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre at the plate.  Beltre grounds out weakly, ending the drama.

A 2nd HR from J-Up and some good bullpen from LA ends it 2-0 for the Angels.

End of evening.

Time to check Sunday’s schedule.  With the exception of spending some time getting angry at the Jets, I’ll be doing pretty much the same thing today.

Thanks again to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference.

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