Friday, April 18, 2008

Ted Leitner and Todd Jones on Baseball

At nights I can pick up the San Diego Padre games better than any other signal. That includes Giants on 680KNBR, Dodgers 1340-1400KFI, Fresno Grizzly station or even the occasional NBA's Utah Jazz game.

Last night was a doozie between the Padres and Colorado Rockies that lasted 22 innings. During the bottom of the 19th, play-by-play announcer Ted Leitner directed the listeners attention to what the remaining fans were doing in the stands. "They're doing some kind of bird dance. It's really quite disturbing the way they're flapping their arms as if to create a wind tunnel so the ball off the bat of a Padre will fly outta here. I dunno... 'Third Base!' (came the response of his sidekick, which is a reference to the Abbott and Costello Who's on First skit)."

When I heard Leitner's call I immediately flashed to my favorite animated cartoon series, the Flintstones, as I pictured all the cave people doing the popular dance of their day, the Pterodactyl. There they were, flapping their arms, "cawing" all the while.

But I digress. In the top of the 22nd inning, the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki doubled off of Glendon Rusch after Willy Taveras had reached first base on a Khalil Greene error and then advanced to second on catcher Josh Bard's errant toss. Tough to hang a loss on Rusch with that kind of support (I visited the Land of Nod but having taken a liking to Ted Leitner, that's just the kind of thing he would have told the fans. I like an announcer who will tell the fans-for the team he announces- precisely what took place, no holds barred but with aplomb). The game lasted 6 hours and 16 minutes.

Todd Jones has a column in the Sporting News called The Closer.
Todd Barton Givin Jones is his birth name. He was a former 1st round selection (27th pick) of the Houston Astros. Currently Jones is in his second tour of duty with the Detroit Tigers. In his lengthy career he has collected 304 saves.

Todd's column is givin, in that it offers a perspective of someone who sees the game from the pitcher's mound. And all that goes on between and outside the foul lines.

In an article, Someone should sign Barry Bonds, he lists the possible teams who might consider signing Bonds. Like for the Kansas City Royals: Could work, surprisingly. Seattle Mariners: Their marketing department is so good that it could make fans like him.

I especially liked And you thought the mound was just a pile of the week of March 17th issue.

He says next time you check out a game in high-def, take a look at the mound. They are not all created equal.

Baseball is one of the few sports in which 90% of the game is played in two areas: the mound and the batter's box.

Back in the day, mounds were built with the home team in mind. The Astrodome was notorious for high mounds. And look who pitched there: Nolan Ryan, James Rodney- J.R. Richard and Mike Scott- all tall, hard throwers who benefited from a high mound.

Everyone knew the mound at Candlestick Park was the worst in baseball. Because of the wind, the mound would dry out. By the middle of the game, it was like you were pitching on baby powder.

He made sure to note: Few pitchers bother calling the grounds crew to fix a hole. Do that and you feel like you've got to strike out the next three guys on nine pitches because you've made a fuss and slowed down the game. Umps don't like the game to be held up for this reason, so most pitchers figure it's best to keep things moving.

How about them umps? They don't care if the condition of the mound could be a hazard to a pitcher's health. They want to hurry things up so they can do whatever it is they do outside the foul lines.

Thanks to Todd Jones and Ted Leitner and the Hanna-Barbera classic, the Flintstones.

Kevin Marquez