Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lincecum's Full House

On June 25, 2014, I was wondering what to do for the day game between the Giants and Padres. After the two games before (on Monday and Tuesday) I probably shouldn't have put much thought into it, but I'm unemployed and awaiting a call as to whether I will or will not be hired. So I have what some might refer to as nervous energy.

Shall I walk to Golden Gate Park or just get a bite to eat and listen to Lincecum vs. Ian Kennedy on 680 KNBR? The two pitchers used to go head-to-head in college when Tim was on the University of Washington and Kennedy on the Trojans of USC. So I was kind of looking forward to the meeting. Besides, I had a book I was reading that I was fully invested in and I wanted to finish it. (Johnny Cash, The Life)

After six innings I started thinking, 'Hmmm, the home plate umpire has a pitcher's strike zone and Lincecum was breezing through the Padre batting order. The 7th inning was quick and the Giants scored two runs to make it 4-0.

The Eighth inning was of no difficulty and the ninth had a grounder in which Lincecum actually made the play on. Sometimes he's so tangled up in the wind-up of his he is in no position to field. So you knew that yesterday he was feeling pretty good. Then the grounder to Panik, love that name, and his second no-hitter is in the book.

He even got two hits and scored two runs. Wow, he expressed joy over that feat himself.

Then I began to think about pitchers who pitched great games and also did well with the bat. And I remembered on June 23, 1971 (yes, I had to look up the actual date) Rick Wise, of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter and hit two home runs in the game. He would hit two homers again in one game that season, finishing that season with 6 homers.

I remembered a game in 1966, when I was a kid when Tony Cloniger belted two grand slams against our beloved Giants. When I looked it up I was re-assured that it was on a Sunday, July 3, 1966. Why is that? Because I was at my cousins house for someone's birthday. Sunday would have been the day, for sure. In Cloniger's game he had AB-5 R-2 H-3 RBI-9. And he also served up a big fly to his opposing pitcher, Ray Sadecki. The guy we got in the Orlando Cepeda trade.

And I would be remissed, Holy Cow! if I didn't mention Buster Posey. Here was yet another example of how this ballplayer rises to the occasion. He went 4-for-4 and it was his blast off the bricks that upped the count from 2-0 to 4-0. Clutch. What is clutch? To me, it is doing what it takes when it matters most. And much like the pitcher in yesterday's classic, the two of these guys have shown San Francisco Giants' fans they have what it takes to make "it" happen. These two are winners.

No matter how many callers waste the listeners time to whine about how Timmy blows or Posey is overrated, on the Sports Leader (KNBR680AM), we all know that when the chips are down these two ballplayers find a way to get in the win column.

(thanks to baseball-reference.com for making my memories more accurate than they might have been)

Oh, what's Lincecum's full house?...55 2,2,2 (2-Cy Youngs, 2-World Series rings, 2-no-hitters)

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, June 16, 2014

Who Are These Guys?

In back to back to back games in which their closer threw a pitch that was hit in such a way as to "fool" Angel Pagan and the failue to execute a double-play in Sunday's game led to comeback victories by the Colorado Rockies the one thing that really captured my attention was the umpires' effort to make themselves known.

Two unknown umpires, youths breaking onto the scene, both had the attitude that they were going to make themselves known by subscribing to a strike zone not in your 2014 Major League Rulebook. Their strike zone will not be found in any rule book, unless, of course, they have come out with their own. And if this is true, who do they think they are, to shove aside the rules that have been etched in the book since it was decided that an unbiased arbiter rule on the plays made by one team on another team?

Sure, in the 1800s there was plenty of hiring "their own" going on. In 1893, the distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate increased from 50 feet to 60 feet and six inches. And it was around this time that some stabilization was being assigned to the rules of the game. In 1883, foul balls caught on the bounce were outs in the Junior Circuit. But the National League said no more to that rule.

It wasn't until 1933 that the major leagues adopted the three-umpires system. In 1952, a four-man team was instituted for all regular season major league games.

When the mounds were lowered after the 1968 season, the strike zone for 1969 was altered as such: The Strike Zone is that space over home plate which is between the batter's armpits and the top of his knees when he assumes a natural stance. Rickey Henderson's stance would not be considered natural as I'm sure he had umpires explain why they called the pitches the manner in which they did.

In 1988, the strike zone was that area over home plate, the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants. Lower level is the line at the top of the knees. The Strike Zone shall be determined from a batter's stance as the batter prepares to swing at the pitched ball.

In 1996, The strike zone is expanded on the lower end, moving from the top of the knees to the bottom of the knees (bottom has been identified as the hollow beneath the kneecap. "Hollow" is that place the doctor hits with the rubber hammer to check your reflexes.)

Chris Segal on Saturday and Mike Muchlinski on Sunday basically said, 'to hell with that interpretation.' I'm here to make a name for myself and I'm calling what I think is the perfect pitch for a strike. Pitchers had to work harder to get calls and batters weren't confident the umpires knew what an actual strike was and some were called out on strikes more than once. Which is a signal that they weren't sure what the umpire was calling a strike.

This an inexcusable error on the home plate umpire's part. They aren't there to deceive the batters and pitchers. Fans cannot enjoy a game they paid hard earned money to see and not know themselves what was being called a strike.

Jon Miller, in one of his rambling rants so much as said that Segal was averse at calling strikes. That he seemed to not want to call the pitch a strike. No bueno.

Muchlinski tossed Bruce Bochy at the game's end on Sunday but not before Bochy vented his displeasure of the intermittant strike zone displayed over the weekend.

Something just doesn't seem right when those who were hired to adhere to the rules can't seem to. Ya think?

Kevin J. Marquez

Thursday, June 5, 2014

From Torture to Unbelievable to Panik

Joe Panik is the name to remember.

He has always been referred to as a professional hitter. The former number one draft choice, in 2011 amateur draft, out of St. Johns University, has a way of getting on base and is competitive. His walks/strikeouts ratio is respectable. Whenever I read anything on him I am reminded of Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox. I'm not putting him in Pedroia's class just yet but his style of play is similar. He needs only the opportunity to prove he belongs.

Giant fans know that the Giants will make the necessary adjustments to the roster to assist them in their quest for the 2014 World Championship. And I'm saying they already have their second-baseman. Heck, Marco Scutaro may be able to crack the roster as a pinch-hitter.

In 2010, there was torture.

In 2012, there was worry, doubt and dread.

In 2014, with the possibility of calling up Joe Panik we how have apprehension because of the early success. Giant fans are aware that the Los Angeles Dodgers are an extremely talented group of individuals. But we also know the Giants are a "team" that plays within its limitations and brings the best out of one another on a consistent basis. Giant's fans just don't want any frustration with the team after it has shown the importance of "teamwork" throughout its run to the World Series and the success they have attained in the aforementioned years (2010, 2012).

Please Giants, do not tease us, even though it appears to be PANIK time!

Kevin J. Marquez

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pablo Lost Home Run to Replay Speculation

A flaw in the system? On May 21, 2014, in Colorado, Pablo Sandoval lost a home run. Or was it that those MLB representatives- selected to provide a service at Major League Baseball's New York central location for replay reviews-do not know conclusive from inconclusive?

Can they discern something as obvious as the ball being blocked by the foul pole? That is, one particular slide showed the ball had disappeared behind the foul pole. Think about it, if the ball disappeared that means the ball went around the pole and in the manner it "WENT AROUND" it snuck inside the line/foul pole. That was the only clear view of what was otherwise an optical illusion. If the modern technology that allowed the frame to be frozen so you could clearly see just a foul pole justice would have been served just as well if the ball was in front of the pole at that freeze-frame moment. This would have been the proof necessary to prove that the ball curved foul before passing the pole.

In the book Pinstripe Empirea reference is made to numerous "would be" home runs by the Babe himself at Yankee Stadium. Evidently Babe Ruth hit many pop ups down the line that went over the right field foul pole that the author claims with modern day technology may have been called fair.

Some stadiums are easier to align yourself with the foul line and make the call fair or foul without the slightest hesitation. Others have obstacles that get in the way. As a home plate umpire I liked to straddle the line to help gauge the flight of the ball. It was the best position provided the ball didn't sail over the foul pole. In that case the replay review should be able to determine fair or foul.

One last question, is the matter of the ball being fair or foul the same as with a field goal. That if the ball goes over the upright it is considered by some (not all) to be "NO GOOD" because the ball did not go through the uprights.
I don't want to hear "it looked fair/foul." Leave the speculators out of the equation, please!

Kevin J. Marquez

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

These New Umpires in the MLB(2014) Need to Tighten it Up

Wikipedia has a list of current umpires and I don't recognize a whole helluva lot of them.
Some are vaguely familiar like #87 Scott Barry, #89 Cory Blaser, #94 Lance Barrett, #98 Chris Conroy, #51 Marvin Hudson and #2 Daniel Bellino but the majority of these guys are unrecognizable. And it has to do with their inability to call tag plays at the plate or distinguish a ball from a strike.

That and their ever-changing strike zone. Damn, when are the powers that be going to stick to the rulebook definition of what a strike is and have these improvisation artists adhere to said rules? How can someone just hired have so much leeway in how they do their job? Tighten it up, Powers That Be. It's an outrage!

Will Little, DJ Reyburn, Adrian Johnson, David Rackley,John Tumpane, Quinn Wolcott, Adam Hamari,Pat Hoberg, Chris Segal, Marcus Pattillo,Toby Basner, Gabe Morales, Tom Woodring, Seth Buckminster (got a thumbs down for his attempted at calling balls and strikes in both an A's and Giants game)Jordan Baker, Mike Muchlinski, Alan Porter (who did opening day at Dodger Stadium, so if you saw that game you saw how badly this guy stunk!!), Todd Tichenor, Manny Gonzalez, and finally Vic Carapazza (son-in-law of former AL ump Rich Garcia...so you see that favortism happens in the umpire ranks as with everything else on this planet)all need to be schooled on what a strike is and not leave it to their imaginations as to what is and what is not a strike. It is a head-scratching conundrum when you continually ask yourself who hired this guy? Balls and strikes are a struggle and his positioning on tag plays is giving him no chance to get the call right. Are the people who grade these guys going to take into account that these guys almost always have their calls overturned? Isn't that a reason to give them the boot? That and their willingness to put on some "rabbit ears" so that they can give a player, manager or coach the heave-ho, even though the player, manager, or coach is actually in the right for questioning the inaccuracy of the umps' call. Is anything these new umpires valid? I'd say as of April 22nd the answer is their ball/strike zones and ability to call tag plays are D- at best.

This and a few pitchers who seem to think they have the authority to slow the game down to a crawl is what is making the game of baseball drag to unwatchable proportions.


Kevin J. Marquez

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What Happened to Calling Balls and Strikes OR why has a tag play suddenly gotten harder to call?

Unwatchable.

Alan Porter behind the plate is unwatchable.
The home plate umpire in the Los Angeles Dodgers' opening day game for 2014 had no idea what a strike was. Judged based on his body language, if you asked him about his "strike zone" you may as well have been speaking a foreign language because his facial countenance would have reflected total disbelief. As if someone slipped something in his morning coffee and he just couldn't assimilate what the hell was happening.

It is amazing how extremely boring the game of baseball can be when umpires act as if something else besides the game is going on. When the home plate umpire is wearing sunglasses, as was Porter, even though the rules do not permit such "equipment" for the arbiter of balls and strikes it's understandable why they can use their own interpretation of the rulebook strike zone.

Hey, this rule says this and that rule says this but I'm the umpire and I can interpret each and every rule any way I see fit. Which in layman's terms means however they can make it work best for them they will most assuredly interpret the rule in that fashion.

All this moaning and groaning about speeding up the game. How about the umpires just follow the rules they were hired to adhere to? If you call a strike a strike and not leave it to your imbecilic interpretation perhaps the batters will swing and pitchers will throw in more of a rhythm than when they have to rub their eyes or ask where the pitch missed.

******************
Michael Morse's defensive approach to Adrian Gonzalez' homer was an optical illusion. He (Morse) played that homer like he was 5'6" when the last I looked he stands 6 feet tall and 5 inches. The Giants had to know he was defensively challenged? How could they not know he was so inept?

Earlier in the season some "expert" came on a show on the A's flagship station and said Morse was the worst fielder he ever saw. It was like listening to Bobby Slayton, the comedian, rip into some overpaid ballplayer who didn't know which hand to put his glove on. I mean the guy's statement was a bull's eye. Unfortunately, I cannot remember his name. But his ball busting was point blank bingo.

The 2014 Los Angeles Dodger season opener was simply unwatchable. Alan Porter somehow making it to the big leagues as an umpire and Michael Morse in the big leagues as a left fielder.

******
The missed tag play by Eric Cooper in Arizona vs. Giants is unacceptable.

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eric Cooper Stunk it Up on April 1, 2014 in Arizona

Eric Cooper. Had trouble with balls and strikes and missed a tag play at the plate. Maybe he smelled good upon arrival for the game but by game's end he most surely stunk.

How tough is it to call balls and strikes?
How tough is it to get into position to make a call on a tag play?

Evidently these are things the people who grade the umpires are still working out. Like with instant replay, in all of the preparation for using replay on questioned calls and it had not been established that on all plays at the plate, these were grounds for a reviewable call.

Anything that causes one team to score or not to score, that is the question. And Major League baseball did not think to implement into the replay procedures. It somehow slipped the minds of everyone involved. They were spending too much time worrying about the "pace of the game." But when it was determined to GET THE DAMNED CALL RIGHT you threw out the "pace of the game."

C'mon people, get your priorities in order. You've may have already cost a team a game (unfortunately it's the team I root for) and you don't think plays at the plate warrant a view from the important people in New York? New York, everything about the need to go to New York smells like low tide at Candlestick or a rainy night at the former Oakland Coliseum, home of the A's and Raiders.

And that smell last night was Eric Cooper, home plate umpire in the Giants @ Diamondbacks. Game 2 of the 2014 season.

Kevin J. Marquez