Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mid-flight blogging

Note: I wrote this while flying over New Mexico after the conclusion of Angels 5-4 win over Tampa Bay. JetBlue, who I ordinarily hate, has ESPN2 on board, so I got to watch what was nearly an incredibly maddening game.

Angels 5, Rays 4

Something needs to be done about the way ESPN and other stations mic the crowd at sporting events. Honestly. Listening to this game tonight, all I hear is some guy near one of the microphones yelling “There it is!” after every pitch. It’s ridiculous and I don’t understand why a television network would allow their customers to have their ears under the constant attack of some drunk jackass. Thus, I’ve decided on a plan: Every game I go to, I’m going to find the ESPN mic and yell “Fuck!” until listeners at home can no longer hear me. It’ll be fun, because I like to curse and I hate ESPN.

Oh, the drum in Cleveland is bush league to the extreme. If I ever meet the guy hitting the damn thing I will use his face as a crash cymbal. At the very least, I’d prefer the networks to figure out a way to not have it completely dominate any other baseball sounds on the broadcast.

Beyond that, though, this game was a little more like the earlier games played by the Halos. A blatant inability to hit sacrifice flies and a couple lucky calls led to a run in the top half of the ninth, with K-Rod needing an absolutely brilliant 6-3 double play by Erick Aybar. The man is skilled...he made a nice play up the middle on a Navarro pinch-hit ground ball, ran it to second and threw it over to Tex, himself executing a great stretch to finish the out. That’s 48 saves.

GA drove in the winning run with a single in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 23 games, a sharp grounder which glanced off Akinori Iwamura’s glove. It was initially ruled a hit, changed to an error, then changed to a hit, more evidence of the joke we call baseball scorekeeping.

With the win, the Angels “improve” to 1-5 at the Trop this season and reclaim the best record in the American League. That said, they’re going to need to maintain a higher level of play through the rest of the season if they want to keep home field advantage. Like I said earlier, it’s going to be incredibly important this year.

Finally, a note on hitting philosophies. In the fourth inning, the Halos managed to scratch out 4 runs against an otherwise brilliant Matt Garza. After Aybar’s two-run triple, Mark Teixeira stood at home with none out. He took the first pitch and grounded out to first, allowing Aybar to score. Then, inexplicably, the Angels decided to make quick outs. Vlad grounded out on the next pitch, and Torii lasted another two or three. Why? A young pitcher who has just given up a leadoff walk and three straight hits without recording an out is a prime target...his mechanics are off, he’s nervous, and you need to take a few pitches. He’s not going to make good pitches, he’s liable to walk .185 hitters like Sean Rodriguez, and he’s bound to throw one right down the pipe at some point.

Here’s my approach if I’m batting in Torii’s place. I take a pitch. I take another. In fact, I take pitches the whole at-bat until one of two things happens:

  • He throws a pitch in my zone. It’s like batting with a 3-1 count the whole AB.
  • I get down to my last strike.

You don’t need to be brilliant to have a concept of the strikezone. Force the guy to throw you a pitch you can hit...don’t swing at balls when he can’t throw strikes.


  • Instant replay is looking to make an entrance for disputed home run calls before the end of the season. Thank you, Bud, it’s long overdue. Now, let’s get rid of the home plate umpire.
  • My favorite player in 1992 Tony LaRussa baseball for the Sega Genesis, Tommy Glavine might not be forced into retirement. Fortunately, Curt “Jackass” Schilling has probably thrown his last pitch. Unfortunately, this gives him more time to blog about his extreme political and religious views while simultaneously calling into radio shows to trash talk Manny Ramirez.
  • The Kings are having tryouts for ice girls. Frankly, I have no issue with ice girls, particularly when the male skaters on the ice are going to be rather miserable this season.
  • The Little League World Series is an absolute freakshow. I wish I had an eighth the skill of those kids.

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