Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bruce Dreckman: Two Thumbs Down (for his home plate umpiring performance on 4/3/13 in Chavez Ravine)

I listen to the Giants on KNBR 680 AM radio. The play-by-play in last night's 5-3 win over the Dodgers was done by Jon Miller and Dave Fleming. And for the entire game Miller and Fleming remarked how home plate umpire, Bruce Dreckman was not calling the pitch across the knees. To all baseball fans if the pitch is where they said it was THIS IS A STRIKE!

Now, let us go to the pitcher who started the game for the San Francisco Giants. He was Tim Lincecum. A player who struggled mightily in the 2012 season but who raised his game to a new level as a relief pitcher in the post season. And despite all of his woes last year and during the spring training season we are all trying to get a read on this beloved hurler for our esteemed Giants.

After watching him in the Cactus League I determined that if he has an umpire incapable of consistently calling balls and strikes that he would not fare well. Well, last night he got one of those buffoons behind the plate and he managed to make it through five innings (which qualifies a starting pitcher for a "win") with his team leading at his departure and at the end of the game. Tim Lincecum wasn't getting the "across the knees" strike therefore having to raise the zone and putting his pitches in harm's way. Only three hits were allowed. Tim Lincecum proved that he could overcome the adversity of an umpire with a shaky strike zone. And for that, I tip my cap.

Seven walks. Were they? Take away a portion of someone's livelihood and you force that someone to make adjustments on the fly. Heck, most people can't walk and chew gum at the same time. NOW put a pitcher in the unfriendly confines of Chavez Ravine with a heckling crowd and add someone dressed in dark blue, in the vicinity of home plate, misjudging how pitches are crossing the plate or landing in the catcher's glove and you know the man was focused. Throw in a passed ball by Hector Sanchez and a boot by Buster and you know number 55 was bound and determined.

I listened to the game trying to picture what it must have been like in Los Angeles where a major league umpire had the power to determine whether a pitcher had to get the batter out on his skill and guile or whether a batter had a chance to step into the batter's box, grip the stick and rip. And Bruce Dreckman chose the grip it and rip mode. Fortunately, it was the Giants who took advantage by ripping two homers (Panda and Pence).

And to put the cherry on the sundae my cousin's name was selected for the Grand Slam inning (Anita South). Unfortunately, for her, our man Lincecum led off with Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro following but they went 1-2-3. Earlier in the game Lincecum had a battle with his opposing pitcher, Josh Beckett and was able to hit a grounder up the middle to bring in the tying run. Scutaro made a stellar defensive play with Brandon Crawford following that up with a web gem that I'm sure ESPN played over and over. Anytime you get a player with the blazing speed of Carl Crawford you must get the spotlight. And if they did not, for shame.

Kevin J. Marquez