Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Proficiently Deficient
2005-05-04 07:46
by Derek Smart

That's two games in a row where the Cubs' starter is humming along only to meet with a 'disaster inning'. Alright, so three runs in a frame is about as far from disaster as I am from handsome, particularly when they're the only three tallies your pitcher allows over seven innings, but it's a deadly serious problem on a night when your primary offensive weapon is Henry Blanco.

There wasn't much to be happy about last night, so let's put ourselves out of our misery with some appropriately glum and gloomy bullets.

  • I enjoy stolen bases as much as the next guy, and as far as such plays go, steals of third are as exciting as things get these days. Yet, despite my appreciation of them as an art form, that doesn't mean that steals of third are anything but a tactically bankrupt strategy in most cases.

    This was illustrated with extraordinary clarity last night when Jerry Hairston was thrown out attempting to steal third with one out and Aramis Ramirez at the plate. Allow me to break it down:

    1. Ramirez was hitting third last night, ahead of the blistering hot Derrek Lee. While not a solid idea when allocating playing time, it makes some sense to arrange things that way in order to force pitchers to come after Ramirez in hitters counts - something they haven't done all year, and that Ramirez has had trouble adjusting to.
    2. Hairston was already in scoring position, and when he ran, Ramirez was up in the count 1-0.
    3. When Hairston was caught, he greatly reduced the opposing pitcher's need to go after Ramirez, as the worst case scenario if he refused to give in to Aramis was now Lee at the plate with two outs and a man at first, rather than Lee up with one out and men at first and second.

    I think it's important for the entire team to be on board with the moves their manager makes, and do things on the field that enhance rather than sabotage the goals espoused by said moves - their manager may be insane, but I'd rather see a bad strategy well executed than a bad strategy thoroughly botched (of course, I prefer good strategy, but what are the chances of seeing that?).

    With Ramirez in the three hole hitting in front of Lee, an obvious goal of Dusty Baker's was to get Ramirez some pitches to hit. Hairston risking, and eventually being, taken off the basepaths was a strategy with very little reward that, in turn, made one of his manager's goals much more difficult to accomplish.

    Besides, what's the harm in being at second with Ramirez at the dish? Even if he makes an out, Lee is waiting behind him, and risking opportunities for men hitting over .400 to come to the plate with a man at second in order to secure an extra base is sillier than Charles Nelson Reilly on the X-Files.

  • Speaking of keeping your head in the game, I don't care if you were called out after standing on first for a full five minutes before the ball got to the bag, frustrating as missed calls may be, as a player, your job in that situation is to stay in the contest while your manager does the talking. Corey Patterson forgot that aspect of his occupation last night and got tossed after making a toss of his own - ie, his helmet in the general direction of the offending umpire.

    I understand frustration, but the score was still 1-0 at that point, and doing something that will so obviously get you thrown out late in a tight game is a mistake the Cubs can't afford. While this team appears to be light-years ahead of last year's version in terms of temperament, it still can't afford these kind of stupid and avoidable incidents.

  • There's no doubt that he's a more potent bat than Todd Hollandsworth and likely deserves the bulk of the playing time in left because of it, but the 'Free Jason Dubois' movement lost some momentum last night, as The Prisoner not only went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, but managed to transform Bill Hall's eighth inning hit from a single to a triple with as bad a misplay as you're likely to see from a Major League outfielder.

    In the end, if Dubois never gets to be a regular on this ballclub, or any ballclub, it will be his truly deficient defense rather than a perceived need to protect him from the big bad right-handers of the league (against whom he's 3 for 6 with two doubles and a homer this year) that will render him a mere potent part-timer instead of the very useful regular he deserves to be.

Tonight, it's the Human Yo-Yo, Ryan Dempster, against The Man The Cubs Couldn't Hit, Victor Santos. The Cubs have yet to lose four in a row this season, but I've got a bad feeling about this one. Here's to hoping I'm more wrong than usual.

2005-05-04 08:08:44
1.   Weeks T Olive
Was it determined that Patterson got thrown out after the helmet toss? I was watching the Brewers' broadcast and they were unsure as to whether the toss caused the ejection or vice versa. The cameras apparently didn't catch the ump's ejection motion.
2005-05-04 08:15:36
2.   Derek Smart
Honestly, I'm going off of what the Cubs' broadcast was saying, so it's possible they could have been making incorrect assumptions. If Corey got tossed because of an umpire's oversensitivity to something he said, then I'd stand corrected.
2005-05-04 08:43:40
3.   Weeks T Olive
Actually, it looks like that the helmet did, in fact, cause the ejection and you (and the Cubs broadcast) were correct.

From the Trib:

"I knew as soon as I threw my helmet I was going to get ejected," Patterson said.

I wonder why there was such a difficulty in determining this on the Brewers broadcast.

Despite the fact that getting ejected was supremely stupid (and one wonders why Sarge and Dusty didn't send him back to the dugout immediately), it was interesting to see Patterson show fire. I don't believe I've ever seen him complain about a call before and there have been numerous times over the past few years when I've wondered why he didn't say anything to an umpire on a poor call.

2005-05-04 09:07:51
4.   aqc
Agreed. Corey never shows emotion. Either this team is really frustrated or we're seeing a new Corey.
2005-05-04 09:17:41
5.   Tom08
The timing of Corey's ejection wasn't clear from the Brewers broadcast because their announcers are some of the worst homers in the profession, and are often unable to comprehend what is going on down on the field.

Last night they had Neifi Perez making both the relay throws to cut down Brewers at the plate, even as several replays made clear that DLee had made the second relay. They repeated this error for several innings.

Speaking of thrown out at home, these runners thrown out at the plate (the first of whom was pretty clearly safe) saved Zambrano from a worse fate. He was great early, but he was getting tattooed in the later innings of his appearance. I'm not sure I'd call that a bright spot.

2005-05-04 10:49:54
6.   Weeks T Olive
"The timing of Corey's ejection wasn't clear from the Brewers broadcast because their announcers are some of the worst homers in the profession, and are often unable to comprehend what is going on down on the field."

Actually, I find Sutton and Schroeder to be pretty decent for "opposing" announcers. For the most part I find that they are fairly balanced in their game-calling and are not overly homeriffic. You are right in that they will sometimes make fairly obvious mistakes, but I did not catch the one about Lee's relay throw. The several times I heard it discussed, they correctly identified Lee, but I may have missed some others.

Overall, I'd say they do a good job and, having listened to some atrocious announcing tandems via MLB Extra Innings, I would certainly put them in the top 10 of TV announcing teams. I think that Sutton and Schroeder are easily the best in the NL Central, though Kasper and Brenly might be better once they've worked together a little more and Brenly stops constantly talking about Arizona.

If you want some truly bad/boring/homer announcing, have a listen to a Pittsburgh, Cincinatti, or Houston broadcast. Those teams make the guys in St. Louis seem tolerable.

2005-05-04 17:30:03
7.   Tom08

I've got Extra Innings, too, and I think you and I are going to have to agree to disagree. Hell, Sutton and Schroeder just spent a few minutes in the top of the first of tonight's (Wednesday) game going over the long list of Cub injuries, and then stated that the Brewers were suffering just as badly because Sheets was out.

They make a LOT of "fairly obvious mistakes," and to my mind that's a disqualifying attribute.

I also think that they are among the announcers who will go against the evidence of their own--and their viewers'--eyes to interpret things the Brewers' way.

You are right that there are other lousy announcers around, and maybe my perception is colored by the fact that whenever I see them the Cubs seem to lose. Nonetheless, I'd put them well down the list.

Obviously this is a totally subjective matter, and one man's Red Barber is another man's Milo Hamilton. A toast, then, to differences of opinion.

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