Some bunts are followed by big innings, believe it or not.
When nerds (your humble narrator included!) argue about bunting, they often rely on a metaphor that's barely a metaphor but is really a way of comparing baseball to other sports. In basketball and football and hockey and rugby and lacrosse and sometimes ultimate frisbee, there is a clock, an explicit timekeeping device used to mark the end of the match (or segment of the match) and how near it draws. If the score on the pitch is 13 to 2 and the hard time cap of 40 minutes is just 90 seconds away, well, it's physically impossible to score that many points in that little time, even for Reggie Miller. Baseball, by contrast, has no clock, only outs. If you have fewer runs than the other team once you use up your 27 outs, you lose. Outs are thus analogized to time, with the idea being that intentionally taking precious units off the clock is not a winning gambit.
The metaphor alludes to the infinitude of baseball, the idea that there's nothing in the rules preventing a game from happening to the end of time in a different way than in timed sports. In basketball, a game could have infinite overtimes, but there's something about the clock starting over every five minutes that feels distinct from the infinite baseball game—I think it's the visual image of an endlessly tied basketball game, where the clock loops back to five minutes again at the completion of each overtime, that makes it feel finite, just a circle that we can hold in our hands and our minds, not a line (score) extending out past our contemplation the way a baseball game does.
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Despite high prices in expert leagues, B.J. Upton may well be worth it
To have owned B.J. Upton in fantasy baseball is to have both loved him and loathed him. Consistency has never been a strong suit for Upton as both his career statistics and monthly statistics have taken fantasy owner on a wild roller-coaster ride since the start of the 2007 season.
Finding some of the stranger names to appear on a Cy Young ballot in the last ten years.
Three of Major League Baseball's four major post-season awards were announced this week. On Monday, it was announced that pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel were the leagues' top rookies, each beating out free-swinging sluggers in Mark Trumbo and Freddie Freeman for the title. Wednesday saw Arizona's Kirk Gibson and Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon win Manager of the Year awards for leading their teams to better-than-expected records; Milwaukee's Ron Roenicke and Detroit's Jim Leyland were the runners-up in that race. On the mound, Detroit's Justin Verlander won a unanimous Cy Young Award over the Angels' Jered Weaver and the Rays' James Shields. In the National League, it was 23-year-old Clayton Kershaw beating out Philadelphia two aces Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee for the honor. The Most Valuable Player awards will be announced next week.
Overall, it's pretty difficult to argue with the writers' winning picks in any of the categories. There are certainly cases to be made for other players in each of the awards, but each choice is defensible on more than a superficial level which is a nice change of pace. The runner-ups and other down-ballot candidates, however - that's a different story. Trumbo's .291 OBP was worth a second-place finish? Jose Valverde got how many second-place votes? Did the Giants really have four pitchers worthy of Cy Young votes? It's pretty standard stuff, really. There are strange names on the ballots every year.
If you tuned out when the Rangers led 7-5 in the ninth, you missed quite a finish
It was the best worst World Series game—or perhaps the worst best World Series game—I've ever seen. Four and a half hours, 11 innings, 42 players, 19 runs, 23 men left on base, six home runs, five errors, two final-strike comebacks, a handful of bad relief performances, some managerial howlers including a cardinal (not Cardinal) sin… and it all ended with the much-maligned Joe Buck giving a fitting nod to history by emulating one of his father's most famous calls. As David Freese's game-winning blast landed in the grass beyond the center field wall of Busch Stadium, Buck exclaimed, "We'll see you tomorrow night!" Game Six of the 2011 World Series will be remembered as a classic—a Game Six that can sit alongside those of 1975, 1986, and 1991, among maybe a couple others—as the Cardinals staved off elimination to beat the Rangers 10-9, forcing a Game Seven.
A series of questionable moves, bloopers, and blown calls to the bullpen were pertinent in the outcome of Game Five.
Given not only his history but the clinic in bullpen management that Tony La Russa put on in the NLCS, it’s difficult to believe that he could wind up botching a situation as badly as he did in the eighth inning of Monday's Game Five of the World Series. But thanks to a miscommunication between the Cardinals' dugout and their bullpen, a manager who has spent his career chasing the platoon advantage ad nauseam was left with lefty Marc Rzepczynski facing righty Mike Napoli with the bases loaded and one out. Meanwhile, the pitcher he wanted to face the Rangers' best hitter at the game’s pivotal moment wasn't even warmed up. Napoli, whose three-run homer had broken the game open the night before, pounded a double off the right-center field wall, breaking a 2-2 tie and helping the Rangers take a 3-2 lead in the Series.
Albert Pujols makes history in the process of putting the Cardinals up 2-1.
"When you have the bat in your hand, you can always change the story," said Reggie Jackson years ago. Mired in the controversy regarding a post-Game Two no-show following his ninth-inning relay flub, Albert Pujols changed the story on Saturday night, becoming just the third player ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game and collecting five hits en route to a Series-record 14 total bases. Before hitting his first home run, Pujols had already collected two hits while helping the Cardinals build an 8-6 lead; his three-run, sixth-inning homer off Alexi Ogando broke the game open en route to a 16-7 rout and a 2-1 Series lead. The Cardinals' 16 runs tied the 2002 Giants and 1960 Yankees for the second-highest single-game total in Series history.
Sloppy defense does the Brewers in, putting Milwaukee at a 3-2 disadvantage.
With the NLCS tied at 2-2, we had the makings of a pitchers’ duel, as the Cardinals’ sinkerballing lefty Jaime Garcia opposed Zack Greinke, former AL Cy Young winner. While Garcia looked downright dominating through most of the game, Greinke did not, allowing seven hits and failing to notch a single strikeout.
Trying to keep his team from facing an elimination game, Randy Wolf gave the Brewers some much-needed length in a come-from-behind win.
The Brewers entered Game Four of the NL Championship Series in St. Louis needing to buck a couple of ominous trends just to ensure that the festivities would return to Milwaukee. They had yet to win a road game during the postseason, going 0-3 after stumbling to a 39-42 mark in the regular season. Furthermore, their ballyhooed rotation had yet to deliver a quality start from anyone besides Yovani Gallardo, instead getting three disaster starts (more runs than innings) and two that were just Greinke (10 runs in 11 innings) in five turns. Behind seven strong innings from Randy Wolf, they shook both slumps with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory that evened the series at two games apiece.
Rick Porcello looked like the hot hand for the first few innings, but the game unraveled quickly for him
Prior to Game Four, if you asked some well-meaning, in-tune baseball fans whether they considered Rick Porcello to be a good pitcher, I suspect most would have said no. Perhaps an overwhelming majority would have said no, and for good reason. Despite pitching in run-suppressing Comerica Park, Porcello has a career 94 ERA+, a generous figure given his career 87 FRA+. Porcello has never thrown 200 or more innings in a season, never struck out more than 104 batters, never posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of more than 2.3, or accomplished any numerical feat that serves as an earmark for good pitching.
The playoff races have been de-zombified, and Team Entropy was on the prowl, looking for meaningful baseball going into the final game.
Welcome to Team Entropy! Grab a seat on the couch, and here, have a beer. You've been invited to this party because after almost exactly six months and 160 games of regular-season baseball, you've suspended the need to root for a specific team and are working for the greater good, more interested in maximizing the amount of end-of-season chaos the remaining schedule can produce. The amount of season, even, if it comes to a 163rd game—or two.