I’m only here at the office half a day today, so all I’ve got today is a few quick notes from last night’s game:
1) Wendell Kim has failed to master any of the three elements of a third-base coach’s job. As I see it, those elements are knowing the speed of the runners on your team, knowing the quality of the throwing arm of the opposing outfielders, and knowing, at the very least, how many outs have been made already in an inning. Breaking down last night’s Wavin’ Wendell moment, we see that Kim sent a slightly hobbled runner, Aramis Ramirez (Element 1), against the great arm of Reggie Sanders (Element 2) when there were no outs in the inning (Element 3). Hilarity ensued.
Kim was apologetic after the game.
2) In the 4th inning, after Jim Edmonds deposited a ball onto Sheffield, he admired his shot too long for Carlos Zambrano’s taste. Now, my seatmate, Michelle, and I didn’t notice anything, and even as we watched the slow-motion replay on the TV hanging above our heads, we didn’t think Edmonds had been out of line. Zambrano thought differently, so he yelled at him, almost precipitated a brawl, and then in the 8th, after giving up another home run, this one to Rolen, he hit Edmonds. I agree with Phil Rogers today (Wow. That’s the first time that’s happened that I know of. And I thought it was weird when I found myself agreeing with something Pat Buchanan said recently. These are strange days indeed.) in the Tribune: if you’re pitching for a team whose superstar does a wiggly little hop every time he homers, you should probably keep quiet about demonstrations by your opponents.
3) Zambrano was ejected immediately after hitting Edmonds–who, to his credit took his base in manly, “I’m above this shit–and we’re about to have a 9-game lead” fashion, singlehandedly preventing a brawl–which led Michelle and me to consider the rules. Zambrano knew he would be ejected for hitting Edmonds, as both benches had been warned earlier. Because there was no one getting ready in the bullpen, Mike Remlinger, when called upon, was given all the time he needed to get warmed up.
Michelle and I agreed that that’s an understandable policy. After all, it’s not in anyone’s interest to have pitchers getting injured because they only got eight warm-up tosses. But we also agreed that such a policy could lead to abuse by managers: in this case, Zambrano had just given up the lead. He wasn’t going to be lifted from the game, but it’s easy to imagine a circumstance in which the manager, his pitcher suddenly falling apart on the mound, has him get ejected from the game in order to avoid having to keep him out there for another batter or two while the reliever gets ready.
But I came up with a solution to this problem. The reliever who enters following an ejection gets all the time he needs to warm up . . . but the opposing manager gets to pick who that reliever is. Jeff Fassero, are you hiding down there behind the tarp? Come on down! Mel Rojas, are you in the clubhouse wrapped in a towel? Tony LaRussa would like to see you!
Next time I harangue the Commish in a dream, I’ll suggest that change in the rules.
4) And a quick note on selectivity and patience at the plate. I was tracking pitches while keeping score last night. Cubs leadoff man Mark Grudzielanek saw only eight pitches while making four outs. Meanwhile, Cardinals leadoff man Tony Womack, in the course of going 0-3 with two walks, used up 21 pitches. That lack of patience has dogged nearly all the Cubs all year long, and it goes a long way towards explaining how Chris Carpenter was able to get through eight innings last night on only 97 pitches and four earned runs despite giving up 12 hits. Well, that and point #1 above.