Because I often drop references to Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, comics and other similar fare, I get accused of being a nerd from time to time. It’s OK. I own it. Not gonna run away from that because I am who I am and I’m OK with that.
But if you ever thought to call me the biggest nerd writing about baseball, I would humbly ask that you go read Larry Granillo’s latest Wezen-Ball installment over at Baseball Prospectus, in which he breaks down — really breaks down — the baseball aspects of the 1998 “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode which featured a baseball game called “Take Me Out to the Holosuite.” If you haven’t seen it, the Deep Space Nine crew — the “Niners” — takes on a team of Vulcans called the “Logicians.” Here’s lar:
First Base – Worf
At first-glance, another fairly easy choice. As Sisko reminds his team early on, there are only two players on the squad who the Vulcans are not stronger than: Worf, the Klingon warrior, is one. Assuming he has the power of a corner-infielder, it makes sense for the biggest, strongest player on the team to play first. However, it is also well-established that Worf is a tremendous athlete and can run rather well. He is not Adam Dunn. Considering his overall athleticism and strong arm, a rightfield assignment would make more sense …
And yes, it goes on and on like that. It’s pretty glorious, actually.
But really, thank God Larry is already married, because I fear having this article tied to him for the rest of eternity wouldn’t do him any favors with the ladies.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.