Thursday, March 27, 2008

Maybe I'm not so crazy after all

Western Kentucky is about to succumb to UCLA; score is 77-71 Bruins, 1:25 to go, and Boris Siakam (A black guy named Boris? cool) just fouled out. I tip my hat to the Hilltoppers who, down 21 at the break, managed to cut the lead to 4 with just under 5 minutes left. Heck of an effort, fellas. Well done.

We can only hope Villanova shows the same heart tomorrow against Kansas. And that it doesn't take a 21 point deficit for them to reach that deep.


This academic quarter is finally, mercifully over. I had a take home final that I started Thursday last and finished Tuesday afternoon. Four, count them 4, problems. Problem #3 took me 11 hours to do. Never been a fan of the take-home exam. I also had a group project that wrapped up last night, and a final this morning. Needless to say I'm much more relaxed right now than I have been since New Year's Day.

Which is good, because I can quit ignoring this blog and start it up again. Nice timing, considering the season starts Monday.


Sports Illustrated's 2008 Baseball Preview is out. Cardinals are picked to finish 5th in the division, one game worse than the Astros (73-89). 5 years ago (2004) the magazine picked them to finish 3rd, and they won 105 games. Not seeing that this season. The magazine projects the following every day lineup:

Schumaker RF
Duncan LF
Pujols 1B
Ankiel CF
Glaus 3B
Kennedy 2B
Molina C
Izturis SS

Adam Kennedy in the six slot? Yeesh. I'd flip him into the 2-hole, bench Duncan, and put Ludwick in left hitting sixth. You win with pitching and defense; we have minimal pitching, so we need lots of defense - something Duncan doesn't excel at. Of course, I'd only stay with this lineup as long as Kennedy wears his hitting shoes. When they wear out, or he loses them, he moves down in the order rapidly.


Let's return to the subject of Anthony Reyes. Two very interesting posts appeared on Viva el Birdos this week - the first by The Red Baron, the second by Larry. Lboros gives a nice summary of what organizational strife is now playing out in the Reyes saga, but I want to focus on von Richthofen's article, because I finally figured out why I'm rooting for Reyes.

He reminds me of my brother.

Not literally, of course; my bro stands 6'4". He doesn't iron the bill of his cap. And if you're sitting down and he walks between you and the sun, you'll think a solar eclipse is in progress. My brother is an imposing man, and a good athlete, who for a portion of his youth aspired to be a big league pitcher.

He tried out for his high school team as a freshman and got cut. He then buckled down and got to work to try and make the team his sophomore year. I know my dad found a pitching coach in the local area to work with him, and I believe it after his freshman year disappointment that he started working with the guy; this wasn't one or two sessions, but several over the course of the year. Younger Brother (YB - I can't call him Little Bro because, well, he ain't little) played Pony League baseball that fall and summer working on his mechanics and pitching. I distinctly remember one game he was pitching in, where he had runners on first and second and two out, and got the count to 2-2 on the hitter. He threw a fastball over the outer half of the plate. Now, it may have been the approaching dusk, or the fact that after a while the balls aren't very clean at the little league level, but I had trouble seeing the pitch. So did the umpire, who called it outside. YB was starting to throw some gas.

Anyway, by the time tryouts rolled around YB was another year taller and bigger. The coach came over to watch him throw (this story is what my late father told me afterwards). YB was messing with a breaking ball that he never really had good command of, so the coach asked him to throw a fastball. YB fired one over the plate, at the knees, that was a dart. The coach blinked. I think YB made an impression.

To make a long story short, YB was cut in the final cut that season. When he approached the coaches to find out why, he was told 'You weren't dominating enough.' What kind of a bullshit answer is 'You weren't dominating enough'? Tell me I don't have a breaking pitch, that I suck at holding runners on, that I'm tipping my pitches, that my pants don't fit - in short, tell me something objective. Not something subjective like relative domination level.

As I recall, that particular incarnation of the high school team won 3 games that year. Nice job selecting a squad, jackass.

However, the 'dominating' rationale sounds an awful lot like the rationale Duncan and LaRussa are using to keep Reyes out of the rotation. In addition (quoting the Baron):
Anthony Reyes has pitched as well as any other pitcher in competition for a starting spot this spring. He has the second most strikeouts of any pitcher, the second best ERA, (despite throwing one game while still recuperating from the flu) and has walked almost no one. However, there is some mystical thing, some magical thing, some fantastic, bamstaferous, flamtabulous thing that Anthony Reyes simply does not do. Unfortunately, whatever that single thing is, it's the only thing that can possibly make him into a major league pitcher.
How can Brad Thompson, who I also like, only make 1 start and be anointed as the #5 pitcher? How can dead weight like Wellemeyer, who routinely can't get out of the fifth inning due to a high pitch count and walks more men than "Wild Thing" Ricky Vaughn, be guaranteed the #4 slot? Reyes probably thought, if I pitch to my ability there's no way they can send me down this season. Looks like he was wrong; Duncan never wanted him on the starting staff, and is doing whatever he can to ensure that Reyes doesn't make the team.

Reyes is getting railroaded, just like YB did. Now I understand. Stick it to them, kid. This blog will be vocal in your defense all year, starting now. If you make the team (and the rotation) out of camp, I'll tone it down a little bit, but don't worry - I got your back.

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