Leave Matt Holliday alone (and other supplemental observations)

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Matthew and Bob did an excellent job of recapping yesterday’s games, but I have a couple of random observations knocking around my head:

— Look, I know all you Cardinals fans want to kill Matt Holliday right now, but (a) your guys may not have made the postseason without him; (b) he did hit a homer in the game last night; and (c) after the error, in order to lose that game, Ryan Franklin still had to walk Casey Blake, give up a single to Ronnie Belliard, walk Russell Martin, give up a single to Mark Loretta and deal with a passed ball. And it’s worth noting that Tony La Russa let that slow-motion car crash all unfold. Does that absolve Holliday? No. Dude messed up; no gettin’ around that. But rather than make him the biggest goat since Bill Buckner, maybe the allegedly smartest and bestest fans in baseball should acknowledge that last night’s ninth inning collapse was a  team effort.

As Matthew noted, Red Sox Nation is none too happy with the umpiring of last night’s game, particularly as it came from C.B. Bucknor. It’s worth repeating however, that (a) none of those mistakes led directly to Angels runs; and (b) none of those mistakes added any velocity or movement to the 114 John Lackey pitches that the Sox’ batters couldn’t do a damn thing with.  If it was a close game, sure, I’ll listen to some complaints, but you don’t get to moan about umps when you get shut out like this.

Also, from the AP game story:

Despite the Angels’ ominous playoff history against the Red Sox, the noisy Orange County crowd didn’t seem to be anticipating
disappointment while clacking its ThunderStix and easily drowning out
the surprisingly small Boston fan contingent on a slightly chilly night.

Holy crap, they’re still doing the ThunderStix thing out there? I went
to an Angels game in 2003 and it was played out then. Angels fans, take
it from a Braves fan: you don’t want to continue to be identified in the
world by a group cheering thing that, while possibly amusing when it
started, grows more and more ridiculous as time goes on. No,
ThunderStix will probably never be as bad as the Chop, but you don’t
even want to be half as bad as that, OK?

— Finally, congratulations to Cole Hamels on becoming a dad. Yeah, running out of the stadium to head to the maternity ward makes for a stressful day, and yeah, he got roughed up a bit before he ran out, but as a father, I can tell you that no bad day at work can make you feel as bad as a good day with your kids can make you feel good. And even a bad day with your kids is better than a good day at work.  Added bonus:  Hamels now actually has a use for that minivan he’s been driving around in for the past few years.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.