Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Ongoing Saga of MadBum

The ongoing saga of MadBum (according to me, a Giant's fan who has umpired since the age of 9. I am pretty comfortable in distinguishing a ball from a strike)could be called, As the Umps Mess With the Kid.

Are the umpires messing with the kid?  Think about it, he joins the team midway in the season and nobody messes with him.  Then he does better than anticipated in the postseason. 

Giants win the World Series! Next to the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl, who saw this coming?

So the umpires do a little research. Upon further review, it is discovered that Madison Bumgarner (a.k.a. MadBum) had a moment that some might see as psycho and yet others might craft down to mere competitive edge. (My recollection is that MadBum, in his Fresno days, threw a ball into the centerfield bleachers from around the pitcher's mound. Because of little defensive support and shady umpiring.)

Do the umpires interpret this as disobedience?  As a fan I say, "Why do the umps think they are so special?"  Umpires seem to have this leeway where they can fuss with new entries into the major leagues. (How this came about would be good knowledge for the revision of this "umpire hazing." In other words, who initiated the need to do this, from the umpire's perspective?)

Baseball needs to eighty-six the umpire initiation faze of the game. Because it generates more reason to distrust the arbiters of the game. It does nothing to make the players better but it does disgrace the boys in blue. (In much the same way a borderline great ballplayer is judged by his demeanor, why doesn't this belief work for the umpires? And if they are totally separate in how things are run in baseball, could we please stop seeing the umpires who show up the players even though this is something the umpires abhor when it happens to them. The double-standard must stop, agreed?)

I mean, c'mon, how many ball/strike calls, or calls in general, do the umpires miss, in a game?  Bob Fitzgerald of KNBR680 has it right. It's these guys jobs to get the call right. Not sit on the laurels of their brethren and boast about how they are the best at officiating. Nowadays with baseball umpires it's more like the Get Smart phrase of, "Missed it by that much!"

It's bad enough that you cannot question a ball/strike call but to allow them to haze rookies in the MLB is a bit too much.


Why? Because I'm not questioning a ball/strike if it's done once in a while. I'm questioning the inconsistency of why one inning it's a ball and another inning it's a strike. I am not asking because I'm questioning the umpire's authority, I am asking him because I need to have a better idea when it's my turn to bat of how I can make the pitcher's pitch work for me. 

Kevin J. Marquez

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fear the (Thought Behind the) Beard

I can recall back in the days when the San Francisco Giants called Candlestick Park home.

Back when Rod "Shooter" Beck toed the slab as the Giants' closer.

He had a look not many tailors could work with.  In fact, if memory serves me, when Dusty Baker was mulling over why so many players today are pulling muscles Beck's response was, "You can't pull fat."

He had a look that caused my imagination to wander back to the Wizard of Oz.  The scene where the Cowardly Lion was getting the treatment.  His hair was styled into lucious curls.  I always thought, since Beck had the fu manchu thing happening what it would have been like had he included the curls falling out from his ballcap.

I would have been so damned funny how in the world could the batter keep his concentration. Doesn't your vision get distorted when tears begin to form?)

Wouldn't a batter just bust-a-gut laughing at Shooter in dangling curls with the fu manchu?  And if so, would Uncle Bud promptly test him for some sort of illegal drug? Certainly not a performance enhancer. (Meanwhile, Shooter would only be weighed as he continued to look like the before model in a new fad diet advertisement.)

The idea of getting a batter to lose his focus simply by the look showed to him by the guy throwing the ball has to be as old as the game. But, to a fan of the game, I think originality always registers on the "taking one for the team" scale.  Any time a player takes one for the team it's a good thing. Being a team player is what made the 2010 San Francisco Giants World Series champions.

It's why Brian "Don't Worry, Baby" Wilson gets all the kudos afforded to him.  It's, well,  good vibrations.

Kevin J. Marquez

Barry Finito, uh, Zito

Okay, he's the best fifth starter the San Francisco Giants have in their organization. Or is it that he costs so damned much that the team doesn't want to part ways with him just yet. Well, with the help of Lowell Cohn (of the Press Democrat) I would like to interject some thoughts as to why Giant fans cannot stand to see Seventy Five toe the slab.

The Giants do what they do because of pitching. When it's Zito's turn, you get to see how inept he is at getting ahead of hitters and finishing the hitter off. Countless times he'll be up 2-strikes and 0-balls and somehow either groove one or lose him to four out of the zone. Now, I know, the strike zones nowadays tend to fluctuate, from inning to inning but according to the over-dramatic Dave Fleming or psycho-babbling Jon Miller, these pitches "aren't close!" And, Zito is really friendly to his opposing pitcher. In the words of Casey Stengel, you can look it up! The collective batting average of pitchers lucky enough to face Barry Zito. 

Now I turn the topic of Finito, uh, Zito over to Lowell Cohn. In Monday's, (April 11) Santa Rosa Press Democrat, this is what Cohn had to say... On Bochy's flawed logic. You never save the bullpen with Zito. You save Zito with the bullpen. ... Call it the immutable law of physics: The speed at which Zito loses his stuff is always faster than his fastball.

Priceless stuff, eh?
(thanks to Lowell Cohn's brilliance for inspiring me to add my own two cents.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

From the February 21, 2011 ESPN Magazine

The writer was Peter Keating. He speaks of Pittsburgh Pirates' catcher, Chris Snyder. Says Keating, Snyder has stolen zero bases, hit one triple and grounded into 43 double plays in just over 2,000 plate appearances. Now, if you consider that at its most stationary positions (1B, C, DH), baseball requires far less speed than any positions in any other Big Four sports (Football, Basketball and Hockey, aside from Baseball). Snyder may be the slowest pro athlete ever. He's slower than Bengie Molina giving Pablo Sandoval a piggyback ride. He's so slow, he takes 2 hours to watch 60 Minutes. (Keating reaching for the laughs, ya think?) If Chris Snyder were in the Olympics his sport would be plate tectonics. (Insert rim shot here.) Offensively his numbers have been solid and he's really known for his game-calling. "Speed always impresses but few can outrun mediocrity," says Keating. He goes on to state that the top career speed score ever was 8.8, belonging to Vince Coleman. From 1985-87, he swiped more than 100 bases each season. "Vincent Van Go" was a below-average hitter with a career OPS that was 83% of league average, and he made bushels of errors in left field. Secondly, speed is a measurable raw talent, and it's impressive to be the fastest at anything. But combining modest speed with discipline is almost always more valuable than flat out jets. Speed is cool. But sports don't just reward inherent abilities, they reward the intelligent application of those abilities on fields of play. (Keating closed on some good notes, I thought. Hope you did too.) Kevin J. Marquez

Cast of Characters Really Wants to Please Fans

I found it quite humorous reading about Pat Burrell's antics regarding his old college teammate, Aubrey Huff. Before Sunday's game, (the one in which Huff misjudged a couple of fly balls leading to a couple of runs for the Dodgers who would eventually win the game 7-5) Burrell had Brandon Belt lay down so he could do an outline like the police do for murder victims, only he used medical tape and put the number 17 inside the outline (Huff's jersey number). This cast of characters truly wants to win for their fans. But a couple players, namely Buster Posey, seem to be pressing. Anybody who has ever played the game has experienced the act of trying too hard. There's a fine line between giving your best effort and putting too much into what you are doing. When these matters get the proper attention and the necessary adjustments are made, due to a sort of natural selection, everything will be fine. Because what cannot be forgotten throughout this process is that you can never lose sight of the fact that you are playing a game and in being a participant you must first and foremost have fun. Enjoy yourself. Anything that gives the appearance of you pressing is just that. You must ask yourself, 'Am I having fun?' and if the answer is obvious that you are not, you sir, are trying way too hard. Relax, don't forget it's a game. Kevin J. Marquez