The Kiss Cam just can’t win

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Via BTF comes a column in The Faster Times about the Kiss Cam at AT&T Park. Specifically, about how it’s a totally heterosexual affair, and how that’s not cool:

If the Jumbotron at AT&T Park is to be believed, there are no gay people in San Francisco.  Either that, or the city’s sizeable gay community includes no baseball fans.  The evidence of this is that during the sixth inning of every game, the filler between innings is something called the Kiss Cam.  The Kiss Cam consists of couples from the stands being shown on the giant screen in centerfield.  After a few seconds, the couple generally notices they are on the screen and kiss each other.  The crowd then cheers and the next couple is shown.  The couples on the Kiss Cam invariable consist of a man and a woman.  Same sex couples are seemingly never shown.

Which sounds like a fine complaint until you remember that the biggest problem with the dumb kiss cam is that it’s so often employed as a means of spreading casual homophobia. The operator thinks it’s cute to put it on two guys — presumably heterosexual guys — in order to get hoots and hollers from the crowd and to sow homphobic discomfort.

Call me crazy, but I don’t have a lot of faith in the operator of a kiss cam to distinguish same-sex couples from just a couple of buddies going to the game. At least unless they screen camera operators for gaydar when they’re hired. As a result, the effort to make the kiss cam an equal opportunity affair is just going to present another opportunity for people to be stupid about sexual orientation and stereotypes and stuff.

In light of that — and in light of the fact that the kiss cam is kind of a dumb idea regardless of how well the operating is executed — how about just scuttling it?

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.