I was watching the Giants battle the D’Backs today and was all ready for a pitchers duel with two of the top-5 pitchers in the NL this season going against each other in Tim Lincecum and Dan Haren in the last home game of the season for the Giants. As often happens in such a matchup only one player came through as Lincecum tossed a two hitter over seven innings (he allowed two runs which of course came after he was removed from the game). If The Freak doesn’t pick up his second straight NL Cy Young Award I don’t know what is up as 15 victories, a 2.48 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and an NL leading 261 Ks certainly say Cy Young to me. As for Haren, he continued his second half slide as he allowed five runs over six innings to drop to 14-10 on the season. Still, a year with a 3.14 ERA and 1.00 WHIP is nothing to shake a stick at.
Trivia Question: Do you know how many right-handed batters have hit an opposite field home run in the 10 years of AT & T Park? Look for the answer below.
Why is it that baseball players get suspended for a myriad of stupid things while major league umpires are allowed to act like jackasses on a regular basis with no punishment? In the Giants/D’backs game home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt had a ginormous strike zone that was eliciting complaints from both sides. In the fourth inning he decided to stop calling the low strike that had been there for the first three innings, and Dan Haren barked out in anger for about a second when one of his pitches was called a ball. He then turned away and was heading back to the mound when Wendelstedt decided he wanted to make the game about him. He walked menacingly toward the mound, at which point D’backs pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. came out to calm down Haren. The plan worked, but Wendelstedt wanted his pint of blood so eventually tossed a very calm Stottlemyre from the game. Manager A.J. Hinch then came out, and again, very calming, voiced his displeasure at the proceeding events. Wendelstedt, under the mistaken impression that people had come to the game to see him fire his hand skyward as he chucked people out of the game, then gave the thumb to Hinch as well. Look, sometimes guys deserve to be thrown out, and sometimes they really ask for it by baiting an umpire, but other times (like today) the umpire just has a bee in his bonnet and simply decides he wants to make a statement. Hopefully the league will take a look at this situation and fine/discipline Wendelstedt who seemed to think he was Wyatt Earp at the O-K Corral hauling in the bad guys. By the way, I thought that Kevin Costner played the role better than Kurt Russell when both took a turn at the role in the early 90′s.
One other thing that struck me in the game – when did players forget how to take a pitch? I learned how to turn my shoulder into the plate on an inside pitch to protect my hands as well as my noggin’ (I was thankful that I was taught this when I once took an 86 mph fastball in the ribs during my senior year of high school. So hard was the impact of the pitch that I literally went to my Senior Prom with baseball stitch marks on my left rib cage. Sure it hurt, but who knows what would have happened if I had taken that off my hands). Seems like today’s players have completely forgotten how things works which I was reminded of again today when Chris Young took a curveball off his head (a curveball kiddies). The new breed of athlete has more physical talent then I could ever dream of possessing, but at the same time I think I had better fundamentals when I was 13 years old.
Trivia Answer: Thirty. Despite being just 307 feet down the right field line, AT & T Park has yielding an average of just three opposite field home runs by right-handed batters per season. Talk about a pitchers’ yard.
By Ray Flowers