The rat that changed baseball coverage on TV

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I want to say I knew this once. Or maybe posted on it once. But when you post several thousand things a year they all kind of blend together. Oh well.

Anyway, there’s a great story over at Sporting News which tells the tale of the famous shot of Carlton Fisk’s homer in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.  It was a shot that wasn’t supposed to happen because back then camermen were instructed to follow the ball, not the player’s reaction.  But in this case, something weird happened:

NBC cameraman Lou Gerard, stationed in the Fenway scoreboard and assigned to track the ball wherever Fisk hit it, had a problem.

A big, hairy, ugly, nasty problem.

“There were some rats running around,” he says. “With Fisk coming up, Harry Coyle, who was the director at the time, he told me, ‘Lou, you have to follow the ball if he hits it.’ I said, ‘Harry, I can’t, I’ve got a rat on my leg that’s as big as a cat. It’s staring me in the face. I’m blocked by a piece of metal on my right.’ So he said, ‘What are we going to do?’ I said, ‘How about if we stay with Fisk, see what happens?’

Meanwhile, we all get mad at Luke Scott for calling Fenway Park a dump.  Oh well.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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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.