A potential ninth-inning rally for the Rays was sabotaged in Thursday’s game against the Orioles when Evan Longoria was ruled to have passed Ben Zobrist on the basepaths on what otherwise would have been a double.
Down 6-2, the Rays had runners on first and second with none out and Longoria up. Longoria hit a long fly to left-center that barely escaped Adam Jones and Nate McLouth and rolled all of the way back into center field. Zobrist, who was on first, was unsure if it would be caught and headed back to first base to tag up. After the ball got away, Zobrist and Longoria were practically side-by-side running towards second, though Zobrist did get there first.
It appeared the end result of the play was an RBI double, with Longoria on second, Zobrist on third and Sean Rodriguez having scored. However, the umpires then called Longoria out for having overtaken Zobrist.
Whether Longoria in fact did that was never quite clear. From the Rays’ camera behind the action, it didn’t look like Longoria ever truly overtook him, but the angle wasn’t very good. It was also unclear how any of the umpires made the call when all seemed focused on the ball in the outfield. Regardless, it wasn’t the best of ideas for Longoria to try to keep pace with him.
After the play, Orioles closer Jim Johnson retired two of the next three batters to end the game at 6-3.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.