Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Starting Lineups: My Biggest Baseball Pet Peeve

Starting Lineups: My Biggest Baseball Pet Peeve

It's Friday, Time to Dance

So here's the thing — I don't understand Drake. I mean, I understand that he's from Canada and really popular with younger people, but I don't understand what Drake is. Is he a rapper? An R&B mix of a singer? I don't know.

All I do know is that Drake's music is absolutely terrible to my ears, which only adds to my confusion. His voice is annoying. His lyrics are stupid. And he's not really good at rapping or singing. Yet he's everywhere. And I mean everywhere.

Now, he has a song about Johnny Manziel, another guy I don't understand but for entirely other reasons.

Manziel was an excellent college quarterback, winning the Heisman as a redshirt freshman and doing some amazing things at Texas A&M. But I don't understand the infatuation with him as far as his off-the-field incidents, which don't seem like a big deal at all. And I don't understand how he'll fit in the NFL, or where he'll be drafted.

So maybe it makes perfect sense that Drake wrote a song about Johnny Manziel, because both people are pretty damn confusing.

Anyway, here it is. I listened to it once, and I will never listen to it again because Drake is terrible.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm Already Sick of Ryne Sandberg

Well it took all of three games for me to get sick of Ryne Sandberg. When he took over for Charlie Manuel late last season, it was whatever. The Phils were out of contention, and it was nothing more than an opportunity for him to get his feet wet. Let him evaluate his players and get a feel for managing at the big league level.

Expectations are low for the 2014 Phillies, as Ruben Amaro Jr. has managed to turn the World Series caliber team he inherited into an aging, middle-of-the-pack squad. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn't go out and try to win games, and it doesn’t mean fans shouldn’t hope for the unexpected. After the season-opening series in Texas, my patience for Ryne Sandberg is already waning.

The Phillies will head to Chicago with a 1-2 record, but they could have very easily been 3-0 and absolutely should be 2-1. Tuesday’s loss isn’t 100% on Sandberg, but he made some decisions before the game even started that I disagreed with. Most people will look at Wednesday night’s loss and point the finger at Jonathan Papelbon, and he deserves his share of the blame (especially with his comments last year about “not coming here for this” and wanting to be in a competitive situation). But despite Papelbon’s piss-poor performance, he did enough to get the job done and the Phillies should have escaped with the victory if not for a crucial error in judgment by Sandberg.

What I disagreed with on Tuesday was the lineup. I didn’t like that he sat Dom Brown, and I really didn’t like that he sat Cody Asche. Asche, making his first opening day start, had perhaps his best game in the majors. He was 3-for-4 with a home run and a walk, drove in two runs and scored four runs. The kid had to be feeling great and had confidence through the roof. But instead of penciling Asche right back in the lineup, he sits him. The logic was to “protect” him from a lefty pitcher. I say why not send the kid right back out there while he is feeling great and see if he can build off of the hot start. Instead he rode the pine, along with Dom, and the offense banged out a whopping two runs.

There are going to be lots of lineup changes over a 162-game season, with a lot of factors playing in. Sometimes managers just like to go with a gut feeling. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I understand that and can live with it, but I disagreed with his decision and it irked me.

What happened on Wednesday night did more than irk me. I was legitimately angry. It was an in-game decision, and making the wrong one directly led to the Phillies losing the game.

Allow me to set the scene: Phils lead 3-2, bottom of the 9th, runners on 1st and 3rd. If you are able to induce a groundball, you can turn the double play and end the game. So here I am watching the game, and I see the ball hit on the ground. Looks like it should be a tailor-made double-play ball. I begin to stand in anticipation of the possible double-play and the Phillies win, when to my horror I see the ball shoot pass a diving Utley, who had apparently been playing just behind the front of the infield grass. Tie game. Long story short, Papelbon concedes another run and the Phils lose.

I was watching the game on ESPN instead of the local feed, and they made no mention of the Phillies' defensive alignment, so I was just assuming that they were at double-play depth. So when I saw Utley diving for a ball that looked off the bat like a tailor-made double-play ball, I was shocked, shock that eventually wore off leaving behind anger.

After the play, ESPN aired a pre-pitch replay that showed that the Phillies were, for some reason, playing the infield in. It makes absolutely no sense. If you are hoping for a groundball anyway, why would you choose the riskier proposition of the drawn-in infield and the potential play at the plate when you have the safer option of the double play? Even if you get lucky enough to have the ball hit right at a drawn-in infielder and get the out at the plate, you have still left yourself with an out to get with the tying run still in scoring position and the winning run on base. If you are at double-play depth, you give your fielders a better chance because the ball doesn’t have to be hit right at them, and a successful double-play ends the game and gets you a series win to open the season.

Again, I cannot see the logic to playing the infield in instead of at double-play depth in that situation. Even if the Rangers had hit a sac fly to tie the game instead of that grounder, I would have been angry upon finding out they weren’t at double-play depth. As it plays out, there is a grounder hit basically right to where Utley would have/should have been playing that more than likely would have ended the game. Instead it snuck through, and the Phillies lost as a direct result of the manager’s poor strategy.

Two days, one questionable lineup decision and one baffling defensive strategy decision, and I am already fed up with Ryne Sandberg. At this rate it won’t be long before I’m painting the “F” on my “Fire Sandberg” sign.