29 August 2009

Down Looking

I figured out who Manny reminds me of at the plate these days. It all came together when he watched a perfect strike three go by to end yesterday's game against the Reds. Manny is so out of sorts, so discombobulated at the plate --- he's swinging at pitches he shouldn't, he's swinging through pitches he used to hit, he's taking very hittable strikes --- he's lost. He's loster than than lost. Who is he, who does he remind me of?

Wilson Betemit!

Remember how awful Betemit looked in early 2007? So often he looked completely flummoxed at the plate, the low point coming against the Braves when he watched two beautifually hittable down-the-middle fastballs go by in the same at bat. During that time it just seemed that Betemit was guessing or hoping on every pitch. I think this pitch is a curveball that will break out of the strike zone, I've been burned on those so often --- no, it's a fastball down the middle. I hope this pitch is a fastball I can crush --- no, it's a terrible pitch you just struck out on. I think Manny is in the same kind of mental place. Now I don't know this for sure --- I don't know what either man was thinking, so in a way I'm guessing, and maybe my guess is as far off as Manny's guesses have been, but this is sure what it looks like.

This comparison isn't all bad for Manny. Right after Betemit had his infamous strikeout against Smoltz, when it seemed like he was the worst hitter in the world who would never collect another base hit in his life, right after that --- he hit two pinch hit home runs in a row. And he proceeded to hit better for most of the rest of 2007, barring a nasty late-June slump. In any case, this comparison offers hope for Manny. He's hit bottom, and now the recovery begins. I hope.

The crazy thing is that Manny shouldn't even have been up at the plate. With two outs and the bases loaded Andre Ethier swung and missed at a pitch for strike three. As he swung and missed the pitch hit his foot and bounced away, but at the moment the pitch hits Ethier it's a dead ball, and he's out by strikeout since he did swing at it. Game over. Except everyone just treated it as a wild pitch that got away, and all the runners including Ethier were allowed to advance. Here is a quote from the official rules: APPROVED RULING: When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance. Seems pretty clear to me. I'm kind of stunned that the umpires got this wrong, and that Dusty Baker didn't argue, or the catcher didn't argue, or the pitcher didn't argue --- did that ball not actually hit Ethier, despite the visual evidence? Even if somehow it didn't hit him, it sure looked like it did, so wouldn't they argue even in that case? Do they just not know the rule? Am I getting the rule wrong?

I'm as confused as Manny at the plate, I am.

Game 129 Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )

Ethier -- 1
Manny -- 1
Blake -- 1

Yeah, Billingsley had a poor game. He really did, allowing 11 baserunners in 5+ innings. But the heart of the Dodger order was just awful, going 1-13 with 7 strikeouts. They had pitches to hit against Homer Bailey, especially in the sixth inning, and just didn't hit them. I'll give the Dodgers this loss after their great series against the Rockies, but the truth is they did LOSE this game. Bailey pitched a lot better than last time but this was no Marquis-like performance. They let Bailey get away with a lot.

Game 129 Unfair Win Shares ( Reds )

Bailey -- 1
Gomes -- 1
Stubbs -- 1

I'm not buying that Bailey had a great start. The Dodgers were flat and he took advantage. He had a good start. It only seemed great because of how out of sorts the Dodger big boppers were. Maybe it was a Coors Field hangover effect.

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