Thursday, October 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/18: Filing Papers, Contemporary Managing, Fan Interference

1. The fact that I've had a small pile of paper records sitting around unfiled has been bugging me for about a week and today I finished putting each piece of paper in its proper folder.

2. I've decided that rather than have a negative knee jerk response to Craig Counsell's managerial approach to running the Brewers, I am going to be curious, let his methods play themselves out, and enjoy the intrigue. Counsell is not managing in traditional ways, most notably, in how he's handling his pitching staff. Traditionally, managers have run out a starting pitcher to begin the game with the hope that he would pitch well for, let's say, five to nine innings, although in today's game, managers keep a strict eye on how many pitches the pitcher throws and once a starting pitcher crosses a pre-determined threshold, he's out of the game.

Craig Counsell is breaking with the tradition of using a starting pitcher in some games and is opening selected games with a pitcher who will not pace himself over several innings, but will throw hard for a very few innings. Traditionally, such short term pitchers have been used late in games, but Counsell is one of several contemporary managers who are using these short term relief pitchers early on, even opening the game with one on occasion. Tonight, Counsell rolled out lefty Wade Miley, a traditional starter, to pitch to the Dodgers' leadoff  hitter, left-hand hitting Cory Bellinger, and pulled him after he pitched to this one batter.  He then brought in righty Brandon Woodruff, who is kind of a hybrid starter-reliever, to face the rest of the predominantly right hand hitting Dodger lineup. Woodruff pitched 5.1 innings before giving way to four other Brewer pitchers.

The Brewers lost the game 5-2. Did they lose because of how Craig Counsell managed his pitching staff? I don't know. I thought the Dodgers benefited from the fact that their hitters stopped swinging for the fences and eked out runs with timely singles and aggressive base running. All five of the Dodger runs were batted in by a hitter stroking a single and I thought the Dodger hitters were much more contained today than they were last night and it paid off.

3. The Red Sox/Astros game was thrilling. It ended when Boston's left fielder Andrew Benintendi made a spectacular diving catch of an Alex Bregman line drive with the bases loaded. Had he not made the catch, Bregman's hit would have cleared the bases and the Astros would have won the game.

It was an exciting game, but my excitement was dampened when Jose Altuve's apparent home run was ruled an out because the umpire decided that a fan interfered with Mookie Betts' attempt to rob Altuve of the home run.

I know I'm in the minority in my view, but I wish those fans in the front row of the right field bleachers would have let that fly ball play itself out before trying to catch the ball for a souvenir. Although the fan denies it, it looked like a fan reaching to catch the ball closed Mookie Betts' glove as Mookie reached over the fence to rob Altuve of his home run. I can't tell if Betts' glove is in front of the fence or if he reached beyond it -- if he reached beyond the fence into the stands, the hit should have been ruled a home run. But umpire Joe West ruled than the fan (or fans) interfered with Betts in the field of play and Altuve was called out. The officials also ruled that the video replay did not provide conclusive evidence to overrule Joe West's call.

To me, in a perfect world, a world we do not live in, I know, once the fans could see that Mookie Betts was making a play on that ball, they would have leaned away from the ball, done all they could to clear the way for Betts to make the catch or miss it. Had Betts made the catch, he might very well have tossed the ball to a fan and had he missed it, then they could scramble for the ball. Eventually, some one would have likely procured a souvenir.

I know I'm being unrealistic. But, I have to say, I don't give a rip about catching a souvenir baseball when I go to baseball games and usually cower when a ball is hit my way in the stands. I would be the guy the broadcasters laugh at when they replay the video of the old guy ducking and hiding as a ball comes toward him in the stands.

By the way, I'm not ready to argue about how I see this questions of baseballs coming into the stands near the field of play. I am, however, trying to honestly express how I think about it whenever these situations occur.

In short, I know I'm being unrealistic! I rock at being unrealistic. Moreover, I don't have a clue as to what might be done to remedy this problem -- if it is a problem.


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