A few well-placed bunts in game-same situations produce another "never seen before" event.
One of the well-worn tropes of baseball is that, at any game, you'll see something that you've never seen before. In going to the ballpark, there's so much you can look for and see in any one ballgame-a pitcher's mechanics, a hitter's swing, a manager's player usage patterns. Heading to Wrigley Field for last night's game, however, I went with one mission in mind, something I want to explore as I spend this spring and summer going to ballparks across the country: did I see something new?
The Cubs were limping back into town after a disheartening 2-4 road trip through St. Louis and Phoenix, while the Marlins have been inching back to the pack after racing out to a hot start, diving into a seven-game losing streak after winning seven straight, but winging to Wrigley after winning their last two against the Mets. With two injury-depleted offenses-no HanRam, no A-Ram, and no Geovany Soto in tonight's starting lineups-and with an April night game, the chances for a low-scoring affair seemed pretty good. However, with Milton Bradley back in action for Chicago, I arrived at the park musing that there's always going to be the chance that you'll see something incredible-some feat of skill and strength from the switch-hitter, perhaps also some bit of unhappiness afield, or perhaps another embroglio inspired by his striving bleeding over into strife. Maybe in Milton the Cubs have somebody who might appeal to the NASCAR demographic, where people show up to watch for all the wrong reasons?
Whether evaluating throwing motions off the field or adapting rotation usage patterns on it, smart people are doing cool things.
If there's one thing I've learned in the seven years that I've been doing UTK, it's how much we don't know. Each time I learn something new and think that the game has figured something out, there comes new information that poses new questions. My job is to report the story as best I can based on the information I have, and because of that, I regularly make mistakes, but I am learning from them as well. I wish I could go back in time and retract saying that CC Sabathia was overused in 2003, or that Frankie Rodriguez's arm had to fall off at some point. (It still hasn't!) As I learn more, those mistakes become part of the process of learning itself. What we can't do is ignore the facts or the mistakes; to do either would slow the pace of our learning. Back in 2004 when I wrote Saving The Pitcher, I listened to people who I trusted, experts like Tom House, Bill Thurston, Craig Yeager, Marty Kobernus, and others.
Could Mike Marshall--or anybody else--have saved B.J. Ryan's elbow? The results don't back up the pitching doctor's claims to have found the one way to keep hurlers healthy and effective.
From the looks of my inbox, you've all read Jeff Passan's piece on Dr. Mike Marshall. While I respect Dr. Marshall's professional experience, scientific credentials, and some of his findings, he doesn't have the one thing I look for in his work with pitchers, and that's results. There's a lot of good things in his message, but I won't agree that no one other than him knows anything. Pronation? Great. Keeping kids from throwing too many pitches? Great. Jeff Sparks is the most skilled pitcher in the world? Umm, I'm not going to go that far--give me Daisuke Matsuzaka for the win. If Dr. Marshall would let someone get some high-speed analysis to see the stresses placed on the pitcher in his motion as compared to the "standard" delivery, that would be a start.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the lost art of pinch running, past, present, and future.
With the help of Mat Kovach and Retrosheet, pinch running statistics in the last 50 years have now been compiled, along with leaderboards for seasons, lifetime, and most times removed, along with team and manager statistics. (E-mail me if you want this.) In compiling all this information, a few things jump out from the statistics, and so here are the highlights of pinch running statistics.
A controversial trade was consummated last week, Dr. Mike Marshall is back in the news, some players sound off about the Pirates, and more.
"There are probably some nasty messages already on my voicemail. Cincinnati leads the nation in polls. There's probably something on the crawler now--'Is this good or bad?'"
--Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky, on the eight-player deal that sent Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to Washington (MLB.com)