Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thoughts on random baseball ESPN showed last night

With no Mariners baseball on, I came home and flipped on ESPN, which had planned to show the A's-Yankees game. Alas, it got rained out, and the network decided to rotate around different active games at the time, similar to how CBS covers the NCAA men's Division I basketball tournament. This is a terrific idea that I wish ESPN tried regularly, though I'm sure rights issues with rival network FSN (which lets ESPN borrow the feed for games on a situational basis) makes this difficult, if not unlikely.

Anyway, I noted the following:

- Bronson Arroyo still throws the most generic assortment of Jeff Weaver-like over the plate fastballs and sloppy breaking balls. He must scout his opponents well or something, because he's managed to get away with the same simplistic approach to pitching for several years now.

- I don't hate the DH rule in the AL, but I like how letting the pitcher bat changes the complexion of an NL game. Having a man on and nobody out for a guy who is almost a guaranteed out leads a manager to do things he wouldn't do with a light hitting middle infielder. AL managers never ask a light hitting 2nd baseman to bunt a runner over in the 2nd inning. In the later innings, sure, but never early on.

- Anyone who ever complains about the milquetoast, fairweather attitudes of Mariners fans need only watch a Pirates or Nationals home game. Nate McLouth helped blow a game open with a 3 run blast off Marlins reliever Logan Kensing that one hopped into the Allegheny River behind the right field seats. The sad thing was that not only were the RF seats nearly empty, but when they cut back to home plate for the HR hitter greeting, the box seats were nearly empty as well.

Now, the Nationals can at least claim the alibi that they're awful and, to some extent, unwatchable as to why they play in front of more stadium workers than paying fans. But the Pirates have a developing team that, in recent years, has strung together enough good baseball to put up a fight in a crowded NL Central. This team has too many holes to challenge the Brewers and Cubs, sure, but they're getting better and have their share of bright spots, like McLouth and last night's hurler, Ross Ohlendorf, who put down the marlins like dogs over 7 innings. You'd think that a loyal sports fanbase like Pittsburgh would show enough support to at least fill in most of the box seats. At least move the few stragglers in the bleachers down to fill it in.

- On that note, Nationals rookie pitcher Jordan Zimmerman got out of a jam in the 2nd with a fine effort. No reaction from the fans. No reaction from Zimmerman. Man, it must suck to play for that team.

Speaking of which, Braves outfielder Matt Diaz hit a ball to center that fell in for a base hit in front of Elijah Dukes. Dukes loafed so much running it down that Diaz turned for 2nd and got in safely with the old hustle double. It said more about Dukes than it did about Diaz. I'm starting to think Dukes' recent benching over his participation in a Little League event wasn't just about being tardy.

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