Atrocious umpiring not a factor as Yanks stomp Angels

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At least some brought their A games to the park on Tuesday. The Halos certainly didn’t live up to their logos, and the boys in blue continued to build the case for why instant replay needs to be greatly expanded in baseball.
Since it turned into a rout, CC Sabathia will be the story, and deservedly so. On three days’ rest, the big left-hander silenced anyone still questioning his postseason record with eight innings of one-run ball. He improved to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.19.
Had the game remained close, then the umpires would have faced their greatest scrutiny yet. Tim McClelland, widely revered as the game’s best, horribly botched two plays at third, making it obvious in the process that he wasn’t even paying attention to the game in front of him.
In the fourth, second-base umpire Dale Scott missed a clear pickoff at second base. That was the play that led to McClelland’s first error. Nick Swisher should have been called out after straying from the bag, but Scott ruled him safe following the pickoff throw. He went on to advance to third and seemingly score on a sac fly, but McClelland, who never looked to see where Swisher was, said Swisher left too early and called him out, though replay showed he didn’t. It wasn’t even particularly close.
At least that was righting a wrong. McClelland’s call in the fifth suggested that his head was a long way from Anaheim. Swisher hit a comebacker to Darren Oliver with Jorge Posada on third and Robinson Cano on second. Oliver threw home, and catcher Mike Napoli snatched the ball and ran Posada back to third. Cano, meanwhile, had run almost all of the way to third, only to stop a foot in front of the bag. Posada returned to third, but overran the base, allowing Napoli to tag both players while neither was on the bag. Bizarrely, McClelland only gave the Angels the one out. Fortunately, the Angels did get out of the inning without further damage.
So, the score will overshadow the bad umpiring and some poor managing from Mike Scioscia, who decided against pulling an ineffective Scott Kazmir to start the fifth and never went to Ervin Santana until it was 5-1. It didn’t matter, since the Angels couldn’t get anything going against Sabathia and they again failed to stop Alex Rodriguez, who went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and three-run scored.
Now comes the unnecessary day off before a must-win Game 5 for the Angels. A.J. Burnett and John Lackey will pitch. With Lackey comes his personal catcher, Jeff Mathis, and that the Angels are facing a right-hander means that Maicer Izturis is due to start at second over Howie Kendrick. However, Scioscia better have some sort of new plan in store, because a weaker lineup is hardly what the Angels need right now.
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Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉