Baseball Toaster Cub Town
The Power of Negative Thinking
2005-06-15 07:33
by Derek Smart

There's a reason why they play the games, folks, and while most people would look at the fine work done by Sergio Mitre in his last two starts as reason to stop doubting him, I'm not of the same mind. See, the more I've doubted him, the better he's pitched, so as far as I'm concerned, my negativity is an important contributor to the process, and I'd hate to remove a cog from the machine that is Sergio.

Therefore, not only will I continue to doubt him, but I will doubt him with a virulence heretofore unseen in the annals of man. I will call into question, not only his ability, but his desire, perhaps even his lineage. If it gets me more complete game shutouts, I'll do it gladly. Now get your head down: it's a hail of bullets!

  • 34/4

    That's Sergio Mitre's groundball to flyball ratio over his last two games - and all four of those fly outs came last night. In fact, before giving up a flyball to Damion Easley in the seventh, Mitre had a streak of 14 innings where he did not give up a fly out (he gave up some hits and run during the first inning of that streak in San Diego, but it still counts).

    There were only a couple of times last night where I saw him get the ball up in a hittable spot, and the Marlins failed to capitalize on most of them. Whether that's a reflection on the Marlins' hitters or not, I don't know, but I would imagine when a pitcher only gives you a good pitch to hit every couple of batters at best that they start to take you by surprise.

    Honestly, voodoo-like attempts to influence his performance aside, I don't know if this is a new chapter of effectiveness for Sergio or not, but the recipie for that effectiveness is certainly clear enough to everyone involved - it's just a matter of executing it consistently.

  • The first dinger Aramis hit looked like it might have gotten a little help from the wind. The second one needed no such thing. But the most impressive shot of the evening had to be the line drive off the bat of Derrek Lee in the sixth.

    It was hit so low, that for a moment I wondered if it would clear the wall. But not only did it clear the wall, it cleared the chain-link fence behind the bleachers to go into the street. It takes a lot of mustard to get a ball with that kind of trajectory entirely out of the park, and Lee simply murdelated the thing.

    I'm convinced in retrospect, that if it hadn't stayed high enough to get over that fence that it would have simply gone through it. When they showed the scramble on the street for the ball, I was curious where it first landed, so I began looking for a crater. Ladies and gents, that thing was launched.

  • One of the things that made the first homer by Aramis (wind-aided or not), and the blast by The Savior so impressive was the fact that, not only had Beckett only given up three homers all year, but he had yet to cough one up to a right-hander. When power meets power, and that power meets a strong wind out of the southeast (okay, it came from pretty much everywhere last night, but I figured "southeast" had some nice music to it), things can get ugly very quickly.

  • Alright, I'll admit I'm a softie. I like puppy dogs and sunsets and long walks on the beach, so it should come as no surprise that I just felt awful for Chad Bentz last night. In case you missed it, he's a lefty reliever who has a severely malformed right hand, similar to Jim Abbott.

    It's the sort of thing where I can't help but root for the fella, as I can only imagine his struggles to get where he is, and for the love of Pete, it was already a blowout. I mean, the guy threw four pitches last night and he'd given up three runs, and by the time he was done, he's only managed to get Enrique Wilson out while giving up five runs on six hits.

    I know you're not supposed to let up, even when you're ripping a team to shreds, and I'm sure Mr. Bentz has no use for my sympathy or pity, but there was a part of me that wished the Cubs would back off just a little, if only to let the kid catch his breath.

  • As further evidence that I'm a softie, I'm starting to feel bad for Corey. Even last night, when the team was coasting to victory, you could hear some discontent from the fans when his at bats came up short. He was the only starter not to get a hit on the night, Mitre included, and honestly, it looks like it's getting to him.

    At some point there's a treatise on booing that I'm going to write, but for now, I'll tell you that the gist of it is that (and I think I've said this before) intrasquad booing should be reserved for slackers and jerks.

    Near as I can tell, Corey is neither of those, and while I understand that fans get frustrated when players don't perform up to their perceived expectations - hell, if you could hear the invective I hurl at the television, it would burn your nose hair off - there's nothing constructive to be gained from booing a player who's trying his best, especially if you want him to improve.

    Do fans have a right to boo their players? Sure, they bought their ticket, they can do what they like within reason and the law, but to my way of thinking, there's a level of restraint that fans should exercise. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should, and for me, booing a member of your favorite team because he tried hard but failed is one of those things you can do, but shouldn't.

  • Teams have been getting the stuffing knocked out of them over the last two days. Since Monday, there have been twenty-three games played, five of which have seen a team score in double figures, and fourteen of which saw a team score seven or more.

    What's extra odd is how lopsided these games have been, as none of the high scores have been on the losing side. In fact, of the teams that lost those games, only three scored four or more runs (only one team scored as many as five), and fifteen teams were held to two or fewer runs, with six shutouts, all of them coming last night.

    The average margin of victory in those twenty-three games was 5.48 runs - 5.50 Monday and 5.47 yesterday, remarkably consistent - with the average score being 7.22 to 1.74. I have no idea what an average margin of victory or average score might be this year, or even in recent years past, but at first glance, this seems like a big outlier. How's that for fun at the old ballpark?

It's another matchup of finesse versus power this afternoon, as Greg Maddux goes up against A.J. Burnett. It looks like the wind is howling again today, and if those conditions hold up through the afternoon, we could have another blast-fest on our hands.

2005-06-15 08:08:29
1.   Tom
Maybe I've said this before, but I think there's a difference between booing the player and booing the result.

Todd Hundley was a great example of that. He was booed as soon as his name was called to come to bat. That's a we hate you Todd, please do us a favor and die.

It's a different story for Corey. The fans, I think, are booing Corey's strike outs, not the player he is.

For example, Mo Rivera was booed at the start of this season. But, I think the fans weren't saying "we hate you Mo, go pitch for the Red Sox." They were saying, we hate that result.

2005-06-15 08:16:56
2.   onetimer
The fans are booing Corey because he is an obstinate ass. He's coached repeatedly to lay off the high cheese. He is unwilling to do so. Every pitcher knows the guy can't hit a high fastball, but it doesn't matter to ol' struttin' "look how pretty I am" Corey. He'll just let 'er rip. Boo is right.
2005-06-15 08:46:17
3.   aqc
You're right about one thing, onetimer: Corey is gorgeous.

I don't think it's a matter of him licking his chops at a chance to hit a high fastball, but rather the inability to recognize pitches before it's too late. Yes, he has been coached, but these things take time and he's trying to produce right now.

My theory on Corey is that he coasted at every level, high school, A ball, AA. He had success on just natural ability--being that much better than the opposition. The chinks in his armor began to show in AAA, but not so much that it slowed is rapid ascent to the big league club.

Now, he's in the major leagues, and he can't coast on that physical ability. I believe he's trying to recapture the form he had before the knee injury in 2003 and pressing.

Bottom line, there is no need to boo Corey. He's working, and damn people who judge others on whether or not they will sign autographs while working out.

2005-06-15 09:27:58
4.   rynox
I don't think Corey is a jerk or slacker. He's just really young and he hasn't even scratched the surface of his abilities. Cubs fans at Wrigley are usually just too drunk by the 7th inning to restrain themselves.

Great blog, Derek. You crack me up!

2005-06-15 09:33:25
5.   onetimer
Having never been a major league ballplayer, I do not know how difficult it is to recognize high fastballs. However, as a fan, I do know that most major league ballplayers are able to do this--this is what sustains their careers, afterall.

I know that Corey has said that patience, drawing walks, etc. are anathema to his natural desire to be agressive. Well, fine, if your agressiveness is tied to an ability to selectivity. It's not in his case. If the boos get him to realize that a new approach is necessary, boos are appropriate.

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