Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Baseball Quiz Time

Last night, we had the pleasure of watching the Rockies give away a victory to the Houston Astros late in the game. It was stupendous. But mostly terrible. However, this was not the worst part of the game. The worst part of the game was the guy who sits behind us for 12 games out of the year. He is a old curmudgeon who has admitted that he never played baseball, yet constantly tells us why we are wrong about the strategy of the game. Last night, he took it to a new level. First, let's set the scene.

The Rockies were down by one run (4-3) in the bottom of the 9th. After getting the first out, Ian Stewart is sent in to pinch hit for Clint Barmes against the right handed closer Matt Lindstrom. He draws a walk, which puts the tying run at first base with one out. Jonathon Herrera comes in to pinch run for Stewart as Jason Giambi strolls to the plate to pinch hit in the pitcher's spot. Giambi proceeds to hit a long, high fly ball to deep left field that the left fielder caught up against the wall for the 2nd out. Herrera had advanced to 2nd on the fly, then retreated to first after the catch.

Now here is where our disagreement started: did Herrera run the bases in the correct manner?

Augie, Noel, Vicki, John, Robert, Natalie, Katie, Jorge, Sarah and I all said that Herrera ran the bases correctly. Hell, even Emerson and Riley agreed with us. The idiot behind us was screaming at Herrera for not tagging up. Carlos Gonzales ended up grounding into a fielder's choice and the game was over. This did not stop the moron behind us from screaming at Herrera for his base running. We defended Herrera's decision and chirped back at the old bastard. After he got all hot and bothered and Robert put him in his place, he finally left and we were allowed to quietly enjoy the walk to the car. After thinking about it more, I am completely convinced that we were right and he was wrong. Do you agree? Let me explain my reasoning.

First, let us look at the absolute best and worst case results for each scenario.

Herrera advancing to 2nd on the fly: 
There are three possible outcomes to this play:
  • The ball leaves the yard - Herrera continues on to home as the tying run, Giambi as the winning run.
  • Left fielder catches the ball - Herrera returns to first with 2 outs.
  • Left fielder does not catch the ball - Herrara either advances to third with one out (1st and 3rd with one out), scores the tying run (Giambi at 1st or 2nd with one out), or is thrown out at home attempting to score the tying run (Giambi at 2nd with 2 outs).
Herrera tagging at first base:
Same three possibilities:
  • The ball leaves the yard - Herrera and Giambi both score. Game over.
  • Left fielder catches the ball - Herrera either advances to 2nd on the tag with two outs in the inning or he is thrown out at 2nd for the 3rd out of the inning. Game over.
  • Left fielder does not catch the ball - Herrera makes it to 2nd with one out in the inning.
Looking at the two different viewpoints, isn't it obvious that Herrera did the correct thing on the base path? The way he played it, he gave himself a chance to score (he potentially scores on the missed fly ball). The way the moron behind us wanted him to play it, the best he can do is GET TO SECOND. If I am a manager down by a run with only a couple outs to work with, I make sure I try anything to get that tying run across the plate. I am 100% certain that Herrera, Tracy, and Hill made the correct move when they sent Herrera on the fly.

One more thing about the dumbass behind us - this is not the first time we have had a verbal spat with the guy. He constantly questions the Rockies decisions despite the fact that everyone around him agrees the Rockies played it correctly. Since he talks the entire game and since I am sitting with a bunch of people who have big mouths (myself included), we are constantly questioning his reasoning. Yesterday's ridiculous vitriol was just so aggravating because we knew for a fact that he was wrong. Completely. Yet he was the one who called us all idiots as he left his seat.

Even with my big mouth, I tend to avoid subjects where I am clueless. This guy should learn to do that and never talk about baseball again. Every time he opens his mouth, he comes this much closer to having a pregnant lady punch him in the face. IN THE FACE!!!

One last thing - Robert did have the quote of the night. It was, "How have you lived that long and still not know how to play baseball?!!"

I'd love to hear some feedback to see if my reasoning stands up. Let's hear it. 

Til the next post,


Unknown said...

In the FACE....awesome quote from that game also because that person in front of us was hit in the face with a foul ball. I agree with you that we were correct and the old guy was wrong. I usually just laugh at you all for yelling at him, but this time I was angry with the guy. I mean, this is the guy who didn't want to stand up during the playoffs last year. COME ON OLD GUY

Scott Tesar said...

Hmmm...I frequently find myself chiming in with the old guy, but not all the time...
My beloved Rox (CA license plate 1ROXFAN) are blessed with an abundance of basepath speed. (See Herrera, Fowler, EYJr - even Tulo)
They are ALSO blessed with an abundance of hitting power.
I would like to see them hold the runners back on many of those big hits that sometimes fall short of "yard" because their baserunners are so capable of advancing on deep flies.
Had Herrera tagged and advanced to second on the deep fly (now I realize this is pure conjecture, but this is the beauty of baseball) it can mess with the pitcher's head knowing that a runner in scoring position is now behind him waiting to score on a single, and it can cause the pitcher to pitch more conservatively, thereby creating more offensive opportunities for the batter.
Herrera retreats to first, and the offensive/scoring threat is now mitigated, and creates a bolder/potentially more aggressive pitching situation and tends to tip the balance more in favor of the pitcher.
NOT a baseball strategy expert by any stretch of the imagination, but this COULD explain the somewhat "untraditional" opinion expressed by your "curmudgeonly" neighbor...but Coors Field IS an expansive park with deep fences and a hit to the wall CAN create an opportunity to force the RISP.

Mikey said...

Interesting point, Scott. Had this been earlier in the game, I think your logic could apply. However, Herrera was the tying run in the 9th. He needed to score any way possible. Because of Coors Field's expansive grass, by advancing to 2nd on the fly, Herrera ensured that he would score easily should the LF miss the ball. You are correct - by retreating back to 1st, he relieved some pressure on the pitcher by having the tying run three bases away from home instead of two. But again, Herrera's job at that point was to score a run. If you tag and go to second, you basically take scoring out of the equation. In the bottom of the 9th and when you are the tying run, you can't do that.

Thanks for commenting, Scott. Hopefully this is the first of many baseball discussions here for you! I do love talking baseball!