Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by alex ciepley
So I ran into a few difficulties trying to scoreboard watch while at the Yankee-A's game last night:
a) The Cubs game didn't start until 9:30 East Coast-time, so my departure from a quick-paced game at Yankee Stadium coincided with the bottom of the first in Arizona. Hard to follow a game that isn't being played.
b) It is virtually impossible to follow out-of-town games in Yankee Stadium, something I had forgotten. The hubris in Yankeeville is indeed at such a height that the hometown heroes deign to ignore the rest of baseball: from our seats -- upper deck, third-base side -- you can only see a small ticker that displays one game at a time.
I subwayed home just in time to catch the last out of the Cubs game; a mildly alarming fly ball off the bat of Luis Gonzalez. No harm done, though, as the Cubs salvaged the last game of the series. Christian has some notes below on the game, though I'll add that I find Maddux's 8 home runs allowed in only 28 and 2/3 innings to be not so hot.
While at the Yankee game, I witnessed one of my least-favorite player tics: Derek Jeter's "talk to the hand" salute before each pitch. Now I'm not just piling on poor Jetes -- the Bronx Booers already gave him a frustrated earful with each hitless at-bat in the game (he's now oh-fer 32) -- but this little thing he does at the plate annoys the heck out of me. While the pitcher looks in for the sign, Jeter steps in, looks down at his feet, and raises his right hand -- palm facing out -- at the umpire. It's a brief, suspended moment before each pitch, as if Jeter is saying, one sec... okay, go ahead. And while I'm sure it is a completely unconscious motion, it bugs me. If were a catcher or an umpire, I'd be sorely tempted to reach up and slap his hand out of the way.
I was trying to think of tics and signature habits of Cub players that bother me, but I came up short. On last year's team, sure: Alfonseca's intolerable fist-pump after a "successful" inning comes to mind. I remember one game in which he gave up two runs, left a couple runners on base, and still had the nerve to jiggle his load with a raucous choo-choo of the fist after getting the final out in the inning.
Sosa is a guy who probably irritates a lot of people, as he features a hobbyist's collection of mannerisms and gesticulations. His homer hops, right field wind-sprint dash, and kissyface camera routine all have the potential to grow tiresome, but I'm not irked. In fact, as opposed to Jeter's little motion, I really like Sosa's pre at-bat ritual. While digging in the dirt with his right foot, Sosa taps the edges of the plate, almost a quick motion of prayer. Now I cross the plate with bat - I pray the pitcher's pitch is fat. And with litany done, he's all business at the plate.
Are there any Cubs quirks, from past or present, that bug you? Or habits of players from other teams around baseball?