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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

That's Baseball ...

Hal BodleyHal Bodley's piece may indeed unwittingly hold the answer for this underachieving team of ours ... that is to say, the 2010 edition of the Atlanta Braves.

Says he ... "In the ninth inning Sunday, Wind BallEric HinskeEric Hinske blasted a fastball to deep center field that looked like it would land in the next county ... but just as it was about to leave the park, a roaring wind blew it back into center fielder Shane Victorino's waiting glove.

Moments later, Omar Infante, launched another Lidge fastball toward the left-field seats. Until the howling wind got it"

Writes kinda pretty, now don't he ... no wonder he's MLB.com's senior guy!

However, that's just background stuff for them what missed the game ... Hinske Tattootattoo laden Hinske is the one with the answer - "That's kind of the way things are going now ... what are you going to do?

You put a good swing on a ball ... I did the best I could. I hit the ball hard.

It's out of your hands after that!"

From the outside looking in, it's easy to forget that baseball is permeated by games within the game and that more times than not, the final outcome is the resultant of those inner contests ... especially when the teams are evenly matched.

I like Hinske ... he hits better than he articulates, methinks! However, "see the ball, hit the ball hard - that's all you can do" may be a reasonable general approach but it ain't much of a game plan against howling winds or a wily pitcher ... they'll have you lunch if you'll accept the invitation!

Putting a good swing on the ball and hitting it hard is important ... there's a time and place for everything. Augusta NationalIf you can't, you'd best not try playing Augusta National ... but, if you can and that's your game plan, you'd best not try playing Augusta National!!! Both baseball and golf are complex, requiring complex skill sets and situation specific strategies ...

Put a good swing on a ball ... do the best you can ... hit the ball hard ... and chances are it ain't gonna get it done, not hitting into a howling wind with a nine iron on number 12 at Augusta ... or down by two in the ninth ... so, you'd best try something else 'cause it's out of your hands after that!!

Bobby CoxAdd Eric to those under Bobby Cox's "that's baseball" influence ... probably Omar too.

Them boys need to read Dame Agatha, them what can ... the answer is out in plain view, staring them right in the face, no wonder they're missing it! Omar Infante
Well, at least they should read Hal Bodley ... "just as it was about to leave the park, a roaring wind blew it back" ... I told you that he writes pretty ... knows his baseball too!

At any time, but especially when down by two in the ninth ... the plan of choice for them what want to win is not to hit it hard and high into the teeth of a roaring and howling wind. That's baseball!

Last season, the problem was different ... we didn't have three and four position players in the lineup hitting below Mendosa and a couple more just over it. We had little problem getting them on ... just couldn't seem to consistently get them in. "Why" brought the same "that's baseball" answer!

"That's baseball" - translation: I don't know but don't blame me!

The final minutes of Bobby Cox's hour of fretting and strutting upon Baseball's stage are ticking away and indeed it's been a good 55 minute performance ... let's hope all the sound and fury hasn't been for naught, signifying nothing. Seeing the extra special, well executed drama turn into a slapstick comedy of mismanagement as the curtain comes down is truly a disappointing tragedy! Sometimes it seems that "that's baseball" is Bobby's answer to everything!

However, not everyone agrees. I seem to remember hearing a live interview with Joe Niekro's brother and others that addressed the problem ... or tried!

Phil NiekroPhil said that he'd much prefer to face sluggers trying to hit the ball out of the park, rather than those who simply try to best the pitcher and get on base any way they can ... I suggest he wasn't alone. Of course, Phil was tough for most anyone to hit, bat control or no!

Evidently, good pitchers like to face free swinging sluggers rather than bat controlling hitters, especially when the game is on the line ... the idea being to maximize your winning percentage.

They asked him what he would do ... and so, to dot the eyes and cross the tees, my interpretation of Phil's answer was that the Braves needed to continue to focus on getting safely on base with runners in scoring position, rather than trying to drive them in ... same as when they weren't.

Seemed simple to him ... if they would just keep on keeping on ... that is, getting on ... then scoring runs would be a natural byproduct rather than a problem. I agree and think it would have helped everyone ... well, all except maybe Frenchy ... that boy could hit into a double play with nobody on base, methinks!

"That's Baseball" as an answer to the team's woes bespeaks a loser's attitude, regardless of who's doing the saying or the words used to say it!
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