Who was the dude in the white shirt at the Braves-Nats game?

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The most remarkable thing about he Braves-Nats game last night was not
that Atlanta got to Stephen Strasburg a bit. It was not that the Nats’
defense melted down. It was not even that Tim Hudson quietly shut down
Washington.  It was the tall guy with the white polo shirt.

Anyone who watched the game on TV knows who I’m talking about. It
was a fan sitting in the front row behind home plate, just to the left
of the left-hand batter’s box.  Before most pitches by Strasburg he
would stand up with his arms out, or up or waving or whatever in an
attempt to distract him. After pitches by either pitcher — called
strikes by Strasburg and balls by Tim Hudson, mostly — he would stand
up with his hands on his head or his arms out in a “safe” motion or a
“c’mon, WTF?!” motion or some other random and distracting
gesticulation. He was quite a sight.

I wasn’t alone in noticing this: people all over Twitter were
commenting on it. One Nats fan told me that the Washington announcer
mentionined the guy, saying “You’re in a $300 seat.
Act like a man.”
By the seventh inning he cooled it
a bit as someone apparently complained and an usher warned him, but he
didn’t stop completely.

We all get annoyed at the random cell phone
wavers, but this guy was a different kettle of fish entirely. I went
from annoyed to strangely trasnfixed at his dedication and back to
annoyed. Now I’m mostly just curious. I want to know who this guy is and what motivated him.

My guess is
that, due to where those seats are, he’s someone rich, glamorous and
important like, say, the son of TV weekend weather guy. Maybe a non-equity
partner at mid-range law firm using the managing partner’s tickets.
Possibly a big-wheel latex salesman. As for motivation: I’m guessing he
was either interested in distracting Strasburg, attracting lady-folk or
breaking the record for the most Bud Lights consumed on a Monday night
(Atlanta division).

So, if you have any tips as to White Shirt Guy’s identity, please
pass them along to the HardballTalk i-Team (i.e. me) so I can try and
track him down for an interview or a feature story or something. I
promise I’ll be fair and let him tell his side of the story and
everything.

UPDATEI’m apparently not the only one who noticed.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.