My virtual friend* Jonah Keri alerted me to something interesting from last night’s Rays-Orioles game. I didn’t see it live, but I just went back and watched the highlight on MLB.tv and I agree that it’s interesting enough to be worth passing along.
*While my previous professional life involved meeting real people, life as a blogger basically entails talking to people on the Internet all day. Jonah is one of those people who — if we were insurance salesmen or consultants or something — I would have met in person a long time ago, but because we’re both basically Internet baseball people, we’ve only chatted, exchanged tweets and emails, etc. There are a lot of people I know like that, actually, and henceforth I’m just going to refer to them as my “virtual friends” until I’ve actually had the chance to meet them in person. After all, what if I met Jonah tomorrow and we hated each others’ guts on some visceral level? Would have hated to call him my friend without knowing that!
One out, seventh inning, Rays up 8-4, runners on the corners and Miguel Tejada at bat. Tejada hits a ball into right center that Rays’ right fielder Ben Zobrist had to run for, but totally should have caught. Instead, it hit off his glove and skipped to the warning track. Jonah watches a lot of Rays games these days — for good reason — and says that it’s a play that Zobrist usually makes.
Zobrist goes after the ball, but it’s B.J. Upton — not Zobrist — who is, in Jonah’s words “hustling his ass off.” Upton beats Zobrist to the ball, grabs it and throws it in.
It’s a little thing in the course of a long season — and it didn’t end up saving any runs here — but how often do we hear about B.J. Upton hustling? Never, really, but you can be damn sure that the moment he loafs he’s going to be all over ESPN and the blogs and everywhere. For that matter, if Upton just let a ball doink off his glove like Zobrist did — which did end up costing the Rays runs — I’m guessing he’d get a lot more flak for it than Zobrist did.
Again, not a big thing, but I think it’s worth noting that B.J. Upton hustled last night.
Every year the playoff schedule is announced, every year people complain. And it’s understandable why they do. After six months of games starting at around 7pm — bam! — the playoffs come and you’re either staying up late or tuning in early to watch your local nine.
Of course, the reason for this is that Major League Baseball has two fundamental problems to deal with when the playoffs come around (a) the country is big; and (b) baseball is local and two-thirds and more of the fans don’t have a local team to root for in the playoffs. As such, baseball has to make a schedule that somehow deals with teams — like the Mets and Dodgers — who have big time differences between their home fan bases while trying to rope in as many national viewers as possible.
This means compromises and weirdness like, say, the first couple of Mets-Dodgers games starting after 9pm Eastern time on Friday and Saturday. Or the Texas Rangers starting a game at what, back home in Texas, will be 11:45AM. Which, admittedly, aren’t great start times, but do we expect Dodgers fans in L.A. to fight Friday rush hour traffic and be home in time to watch a game featuring the local team any earlier than 6pm? Seems like a tall order.
Anyway, the early round schedule was just released and you can see it below. If you are so inclined you can find all manner of inconveniences here. Sure, if you don’t have a job — or if being online and watching baseball all day is your job — Friday’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back playoff games are pretty sweet. But otherwise, just plan accordingly and do the best you can.
And remember: no one gives a rip about these schedule issues about ten minutes after the games start:
Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.
Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.
Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at: