Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by Derek Smart
Since I can't seem to force myself to write about a position battle for second that I simply can't get a feel for, or work up the wherewithal to talk about This Week In Mysterious Non-Injury Injury Monitoring, I'm just going to dash off a few random thoughts.
I think I found a new favorite baseball player last night. I was watching the Canada/Mexico tilt, and late in the game (it was either the seventh or the eighth), the Braves' Pete Orr came to the plate for Canada, facing the Brewers' Jorge De La Rosa.
At this point, the game was basically hopeless, with Mexico leading the thing by what was eventually the final score of 9-1. Orr came up - leading off, I believe - and De La Rosa uncorked a curveball that could most charitably be described as errant. It was high, slow, looping, and clearly had an unintentional trajectory that took it straight for Orr. And that's where things got interesting.
Orr instantly recognized that it was coming for him, and since the pitch was so slow, he had enough time to sit down, pull out a laptop, do a few queries about run expectancies in various situations, stand back up, then decide whether or not to get out of the way.
Orr opted to take one for the team, but he didn't just turn a fleshy part of his back into the thing. Seeing that it was coming straight for his bean, and that it was the only place this particular pitch would have a chance of hitting him, he not only didn't try to avoid the ball, he turned his head into it like he was in the international tournament the WBC aspires to be.
He didn't score a goal, or even a run, but that's the kind of reckless disregard for...well...anything that, while it might be spectacularly stupid, is sure to win you a place in the baseball section of my heart.
This is the time of year that I have traditionally (and by traditionally, I mean for two years running) done a series that I call "Know Your Enemy." Those of you kind enough to follow me around in my virtual wanderings (which stopped a year ago yesterday, by my reckoning) may be familiar with it, but for those of you who aren't, it's a yearly rundown of what to expect from the Cubs' opponents in the NL Central.
Needless to say, I'm a little behind this year, and partly because of that, and partly because I just feel like it, I'm going to shift the format slightly. When I first started the thing, my intent was primarily to educate myself, and perhaps by extension those reading it, about the teams in the division, mostly by taking a look at nearly every person likely to be on or have a shot at the club's 25-man rosters.
Last year, this resulted in approximately 30,000 words being spilled on five teams, which speaks less to any positive traits on my part than it does to my desperate need for a good editor (see the sidebar for examples of the depth and breadth of my ability to prattle on and on and on and on...). Suffice to say, not only don't I have enough time left to write that much this year, the idea of essentially doing more than 125 player comments in a couple of weeks makes me a little queasy.
So, here's what I'm going for: I'm going to try to write something for each team that is more essay-like, which as one can judge from my tendency to resort to bullet points, will be a bit of a challenge. This will make it at least possible to get these up before the end of the spring, provide a new challenge for me, while additionally making things a lot more readable for you all. That's what I hope for, anyway.
I just checked in on the WBC game featuring the U.S. vs. South Africa, and Our Savior, Mr. Lee, has already hit a homer and a double, driving in four and scoring two, helping the Homeland Nine to a 10-0 lead in the top of the second (Michael Barrett and Johnny Damon are the only two players from the U.S. without a hit thus far).
I'm happy for Lee - I always want to see him do well - but I feel kinda bad for the young South African squad. Like Ken said the other day, don't be the team facing a really great team immediately after they've experienced a big upset. 'Tain't no fun.