Monday, October 20, 2008

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Yesterday we all heard about how Alex Cora would start over Jed Lowrie because he hits hard-throwing right-handers better. This was reported by the Globe. I don't know about you, but something in my head said, "why are we telling the other team this?" I mean, they do their own research, too, so they know this fact. But if they know the reason we think he should be in there, can't they just adapt to it? As I watched Cora take a breaking ball right over the middle for strike three, I thought back to my theory. Cora's up there lookin' for hard stuff, why would they give him any? This also goes along with my theory that it's stupid to start a bench player in a game against a certain pitcher he's done well against in a few at bats. Because those at bats probably came as a pinch hitter or in a vastly different situation. That was when he fared well--not as a starter specifically in there to succeed against that pitcher.

Anyway, I didn't think about the Cora thing much after that. Sure, Lowrie could've started, and maybe hit two home runs or something, but odds are he doesn't make that much of a difference.

But just now I checked out Toeing the Rubber (formerly "Red Sox Chick") and she had up a season-ending post by her buddy, Tru, who often does guest posts there. In that post, mention is made of Bill Lee's "Leephus" pitch in Game 7 of the '75 World Series that Tony Perez hit over The Wall. Tru doesn't mention it in the post, but one of my favorite Bill Lee stories revolves around that series. In Game 2, with the Sox up one game to none, Lee pitched a masterpiece. After seven innings, he'd given up just one run, which scored on a fielder's choice, and just three hits to one of the most feared lineups of all-time. While Boston batted in the seventh, the game was delayed for a half-hour, but Lee was sent out to pitch the eighth. He set the Reds down, but was once again sent out to pitch the ninth, still holding a one-run lead. During the rain delay, Reds catcher and future Baseball Bunch host Johnny Bench was interviewed by NBC. He mentioned he'd try to take Lee to the opposite field. All of America heard it. But did anyone tell Bill Lee? No. So when Bench led off the ninth, Lee throws one down and away, and Bench slaps it down the right field line. Double. Tying run on second. Lee was taken out, and the bullpen allowed Bench and one more runner to score. The Red Sox went down quietly in the bottom half, and the Reds had tied the series with a 3-2 win.

If someone had told Lee that Bench was looking for the outside pitch, maybe he never even throws the lob to Perez in Game 7, because the Fisk homer in Game 6 ends the series.

Here we are 33 years later, in an age where nothing slips by. In a similar situation now, the only worry would be that maybe telling the pitcher would screw him up, so attempts would be made NOT to tell him what the opponent said. Otherwise, he's gonna find out. These players can look at a called strike three, go into the clubhouse, watch the replay on the TV of the "pitch zone" graphic, see the pitch was a ball, and be ready to complain to the ump about it in his next at bat. The pitchers don't need to worry about scouting reports when they can instantly watch at bats of any player from any game of any season. Knowing all this, there still should be secrets. If Tito really thinks one guy should be in a lineup for a certain reason, whether it's obvious to everyone or not, shouldn't he just put the guy in and leave it at that? Or come up with some phony reason why he's in there to trick the opposing manager? Who knows, maybe this does happen more than we know--I've definitely heard Tito laugh at reporters' questions whose answers would obviously give away strategy.

But I thought it was interesting, and it didn't hit me until I read the post about Lee--back then, lack of knowledge cost us, and last night, the overload of it may have, too.

Players could watch the "pitch zone" graphic in the clubhouse if the network shows it. I noticed Sunday night when they showed the "pitch zone" graphic of Price's pitches in the 8th that had all his pitches he had thrown to the batter, one of those called strikes was out of the zone. Then, even though more than a couple of his pitches were questionable in the ninth, we were never shown the "pitch zone" graphic again. We wouldn't want a controversy, now would we?

Maybe the home team should set up their own camera for instant evaluation.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States