Stephen Strasburg is faking the umps out

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Interesting story over at the Wall Street Journal:  it seems Stephen Strasburg’s pitches have so much movement on them that they’re frequently deking umpires into calling pitches balls that really are strikes. There are lots of neat quotes from the umps and examples of previous pitchers who had this problem such as a young Dwight Gooden and Jeremy Bonderman.

And while I’m sure some of you will take issue with umpires calling pitches based on where they expect them to go based on where they actually go, the problem makes sense. People are conditioned to comprehend things based on what came before. If you’re seeing something unprecedented, your mind is going to try and fit into some old box before it can make sense of the new thing.  A big curve that starts way the hell out of the zone? No way that comes back, your brain thinks.  It’s understandable.

But it’s also a little terrifying.  I mean, if the umps in the article are right and that they’ll eventually adjust and stop missing calls with Strasburg, it suggests that he will be even more dominant going forward, doesn’t it?

Ye Gods.

Manny Machado to face another team that doesn’t like him very much

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Brewers fans booed the living heck out of Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado during the NLCS. They had reason to, of course, as Machado turned in a couple of pretty dirty plays. To Machado’s credit, he embraced the role of heel pretty well by grabbing his crotch in the crowd’s general direction in Game 7. I can’t say I want my kid doing that, but (a) Machado is not my kid; and (b) If you’re gonna be the bad guy anyway, you may as well own it, so thank you Manny. You provided us with some entertainment.

You might think that the ill-will toward Machado is over now, but that may not be the case. Because if you remember back to April and May of last year, there was a good bit of it between Machado and the Red Sox.

In a series between the Orioles and the Red Sox in late April 2017, Machado slid hard into Dustin Pedroia, injuring him. Despite the fact that Machado seemed genuinely concerned about Pedroia, suggesting no ill-intent — and despite the fact that Pedroia seemed OK with the play — Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head later in the series in retaliation, earning a suspension.

Fast forward a week, when the teams met again, and Chris Sale — the World Series Game 1 starter — threw behind Machado, resulting in a warning being issued. Machado would later homer in the game, which one thinks would help bring some resolution to all of that, but after the game was over Sale’s pitch was still sticking in his craw.

As was the F-word. A lot of F-words were in Machado’s craw too:

That ended up being the end of all of that, but one wonders if Machado still harbors some ill will. Or if Barnes does. Or if Sale does. My guess is that even if they do harbor some ill will, or if Machado harbors ill will toward them, everyone will keep a lid on it because this is the freakin’ World Series and no one wants to hurt their team over a more than year-old beef.

But I bet the Fenway Faithful let Machado hear it. Keep a camera on Machado, Fox.