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August 22, 2009

Scuffed Baseballs

I recently noticed an odd happening in baseball that quite frankly I'm shocked it took me 35 years of life, and 30 years of watching baseball (ok, 25 years closely) to realize.

The pitcher getting a new baseball after chucking one in the dirt.

It's not that I've never noticed the pitcher get a new ball after he throws one in the dirt, or one is fouled off at home plate, I noticed that a long time ago.  Since it happens about 40 times in an inning, you can't help but notice.

And I understand why it is done.  The scuffs on a baseball could give the pitcher an advantage (or even a disadvantage) and dictate where the ball is heading, and what type of spin is on it.

What I never noticed before until a couple weeks ago is that a pitcher will pitch a ball, the batter will hit it into the ground with a hardened wooden object (this would be the bat) it rolls across grass (or turf) and dirt, into a leather mit.

The fielder then grabs the ball out of said mit, fires to first...here we will assume worst case and say he throws into the dirt.

The first baseman scoops the ball out of the dirt (now the 2nd time it hit the dirt) and into his leather glove.

Batter is out.

Ball is then thrown "around the horn" (1st base to short to 2nd, to 3rd back to the pitcher...the order sometimes changes, but it is pretty close to this) where the pitcher gets it back and gets ready for the next batter.

One pitch into the dirt, new ball.

One hit into the dirt, fielded, thrown into the dirt, fielded, and tossed around a bit for fun, no new ball

Why isn't this ball replaced after it was abused during a "routine play"?

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

August 07, 2009

Labatt Blue Vision

I am a baseball snob.  I think I know the game, and I know I know more than most people about the game.  I understand the rules of the game.  I understand the strategy of the game, and when to do what in what situation.  I know depending on the personnel each team has, the strategy changes.

One of my pet peeves is when people try to talk about the game who obviously don’t have a clue what is going on.  I know it is their right to enjoy a game just like I do, and to be a fan just like I am.  I also know they have a right (protected by the constitution in fact) to talk about whatever they want, but when ignorant fans talk about stuff they clearly know nothing about, it sends shivers down my spine, and I just want to get up and bitch slap them across the face (this is what makes me a snob).  I hear this mostly on sports talk radio (including from the show hosts from time to time), and every now and again from fans in attendance at the games I go to.

The latter situation happened at my most recent game, an 8 – 2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday August 4th, 2009.

Me and a fellow baseball snob, my friend Todd, decided to head down to Comerica to watch Jarrod Washburn's Tiger debut.  Todd knows as much, if not more on certain topics about the game than I do, and is just as big a Tiger , and baseball for that matter, fan as I am. 

During the 3rd of 4th inning of the game on Tuesday Todd and I had a couple of ignorant fans sit directly behind us.  One of them who sounded drunk (they were both drinking, but not knowing the guy I wasn’t sure if he was sober, buzzed, or drunk, maybe he talks like that all the time, you know, slurred gargled words) was truly clueless.  He was saying some of the most asinine things that I finally turned to Todd and said, “I might have to blog about this guy”…which I’m doing right now!  Because he sounded drunk, and was drinking during the game, Todd decided he was watching the game through “Labatt Blue Vision”.

I really wish I had a pad of paper and a pen to write down what he was saying, because I knew I would not remember all the drivel he was spewing, but here is a summary of what me and Todd could remember from the game on Tuesday.  I tried to put them in order of what I though was the least to most clueless, enjoy.

1.       After Thames grounded out to third, his response was, “how hard is it to hit a ball to right field?”

a.       This was somewhat funny, because Thames is, for the most part, a pull hitter.

b.      This was made somewhat funnier because of the fact that he pronounced it exactly as it looks with a ‘long A’, and not as “Tims” which is how it should be pronounced.

2.       Asked, “ who is this Laird guy, is he a new guy we picked up?” As the Tiger catcher was headed from the on deck circle to the plate.  Yes, he is a “new guy” we got him in a trade on December 8th, 2008 he’s been our starting catcher all year.

3.       His buddy (who knew a little more, but remember everything is relative) asked if he saw the walk off home run that Ryan Rayburn hit last night (the 8/3/09 game).

a.       Although a walk off home run was hit on Monday, it was Clete Thomas, not Rayburn who hit it.

4.       He said Inge was stupid for not going on the DL to rest his torn knee ligiment to “get better for the end of the season”.

a.        I will cut him a little slack here, it isn’t everyone (just us snobs) that reads detroittigers.com, mlb.com, the baseball sections of foxsports.com, si.com, and espn.com, and the tiger sections of detnews.com, and freep.com almost every day to catch up on what the Tigers (and their farm system) is doing, so he might not have read that the trainers and doctors have said that resting the injury won’t help it, he might as well wait out the season and have surgery this winter.

5.       While watching the bottom of the lineup, without any provoking, he all the sudden says, “the problem with our offense is the bottom of our lineup is no good, because Inge bats between Laird and Everett.  I mean what is Leyland thinking that Laird is going to drive in Everett?”

Ok, this one was hard for me and Todd to grasp (and as Todd said, in an email Wed evening, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around this logic”) so here is what is wrong with the above statement:

a.       1st off the bottom of the lineup of even the best teams is often flawed, THAT IS WHY THEY BAT AT THE BOTTOM!

b.      Often times, you put your best defenders who don’t put up the best offense numbers at the bottom.  This pretty much describes Inge (whose defense speaks for itself), Everett (known for his solid glove, although I wonder this year sometimes), and Laird (who throws out close to half the runners who try to steal on him, which is HOF type numbers).

c.       The bottom of the Tigers line up on this day was: 7. Inge, 8. Laird, 9. Everett.

d.      So with the above mentioned line up in place, I’m not sure how Laird would ever drive in Everett unless they batted around in an inning, which is still mathematically impossible to do.

And we will save the best for last…

6.       After the Tigers leadoff hitter stuck out during his 2nd at bat, he complained how that was a horrible at bat, because the batter struck out on three straight pitches.  (At this point I turned to my friend Todd and asked if he was watching a different game?) He continued to state that Granderson is horrible at hitting left handed pitching (which in his defense is actually a true statement), but you had to keep him in the game because his glove was so good. (And it was at this point my friend Todd replied to me, “oh yea, he has to watching some replay of a game on a portable TV or DVD player” keep reading)  He continued, stating that you really want a right hander in against the left handed pitcher, but because of his defense, you had to start Granderson.

Lets see, where to begin with this one…

a.       The tigers leadoff hitter did strike out, but it was on a 2 and 2 count, and he had fouled off 4 pitches during the at bat, so aside from the strike out, you could argue it was actually not a bad at bat.

b.       Wilken Rameriz was the said leadoff hitter, not Granderson

c.       Rameriz is a right handed hitter, and was clearly hitting from said right side during this at bat, and his pervious at bat to lead off the game.

d.       Granderson never entered the game, not even as a defensive replacement.

They left after the 6th inning, and did not return.  I guess in a way, they made a 8 - 2 snoozer a little more entertaining.

 Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

August 03, 2009

Japanese Wonderment

Recently while playing on my Monday night softball league, I was somewhat taken aback by what I saw a group of Japanese softball players do.

There is a team that plays in a different division the same night and place that I do. (Monday's in Novi).  The team consists of 100% Japanese players, and they seem to be decent enough players, but my team hasn't played them (and won't being they are in a lower division) so I don't really know.  Besides this entry isn't specifically about their softball skills, so how good or bad they are really doesn't matter.  Not sure if they work together or live together, or are part of some evil plot by Toyota to finish the take over of Detroit, I just know they play softball together on Monday's and their team name is "The Bombers".

While my game was wrapping up (another win by the way), the aforementioned Bombers were begining to congragate for their game.  I noticed one of the teams fans (they have incredible fan support by the way) hollering and pointing at another Japanese girl who looked to be in her early teens.  The hollering fan was probably a grand mother, as she looked to be in her 60's, but my age meter scale could be off, because it hasn't had the proper ethnicity calibration performed on it yet.

At any rate, the Japanese Grandmother was pointing at the Japanese teeny bopper's shoes and was yelling something.  She seemed excited and was somewhat laughing, but I wasn't sure what she was saying as my comprehension of the Japanese vocabulary is very poor...actually poor isn't the word I'm looking for, non - existant is probably a better term.

As she was pointing, an older...non playing (again outstanding fan support) Japanese man began to talk, and make a motion with his hands.  He held his hands flat, and pushed them out from his chest away from his body.  With this he added a "wooshing" sound almost as if he was describing an airplane flying through the air (remember the team name is the bombers).

At this point, the teeny bopper popped up on her heels, and I realized what all the comotion was about.  The Japense girl had on a pair of Heely's, you all know the shoes with the single roller skate wheel in the heel, this was what was causing all the rucus!!!

She began to "Heely" (not even sure if that is a verb) around the ball diamonds, and as she did this caught the attention of almost the entire Bomber team and it's fans.  They stood and watched her meander around them, silently mumbling and laughing to each other.  This wasn't for a few seconds, several of them watched until I got bored watching them.  This is why I was somewhat dumbfounded.

Japan, the country that has brought us such things as the walkman, the electronic calculator, Godzilla, LED lights, floppy disks, and Ichiro, just to name a few, had 20 or so of their transplanted citizens mezmorized by a tennis shoe with a wheel in the heel.

It was truly a unique sight to behold.

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan