Mets Game 112: Loss To Giants
Giants 4 Mets 3
Parallel parking is a struggle for him. He loved The Godfather, Part III. At the supermarket, he brings 13 items to the “10 items or less” express lane. He eats pizza with a fork. He puts ketchup on his hot dogs … and he spells it “catsup.” Sliding glass doors get the best of him. He can’t shuffle a deck of cards. He’s The Least Interesting Man In The World.
Mets Game Notes
The taunting signs, I’m sure, had nothing to do with Hunter Pence breaking out of his slump and doing everything in his power to beat the Mets over the past few days. He doesn’t even know what The Godfather series is about, for crissakes!
I didn’t see this live, so I zipped through it on the DVR and missed quite a bit. However, a few teaching moments for the kiddies and the coaches out there …
Slight contrast in receiving styles of Travis d’Arnaud and Buster Posey. Posey, most of the time, attempts to catch a particular “side” of the baseball — something I teach instead of “framing.” The method is fairly simple: as the ball is coming in, the catcher tracks it and determines which half of the plate it will pass — inside or outside. Assuming a righthanded hitter is at the plate, if the ball will pass “middle in,” then the catcher will try to catch the left side of the ball in his fingers (thus, the pocket will be facing back toward the plate). If it will pass “middle out,” the catcher tries to catch the right side of ball. If it’s a pitch at the top of the strike zone, he tries to catch the “top” of the baseball (Anthony Recker did this effectively in Sunday’s ballgame to steal a strike). When properly executed, the glove should “stick” — in other words, the ball is caught and held in place with no movement whatsoever. I prefer this method because the catcher is not trying to fool the umpire, and umpires don’t like to look like fools. The idea is to reach out slightly and catch the ball when it’s a strike, rather than waiting back for it, catching the “back” of the ball (assuming the “front” is facing the pitcher), and then “framing” the glove back into the strike zone. Catching a “side” is quieter and generally more effective in my opinion. In consecutive innings, there were pitches in almost the same exact location thrown to the two catchers. Travis d’Arnaud waited for the ball, attempting to catch the back of it; to do so, his left elbow flew out to his left (away from the plate). However, the ball deflected off his glove and skipped away, allowing Pablo Sandoval to advance from second to third. Ron Darling called it “a lack of concentration” but I disagree; I believe it was a poor choice in technique. It was clear to me that d’Arnaud wanted to catch the back of the ball and kind of “ease” it back into the strike zone to “steal” a strike, but the ball tailed a little more than he anticipated, and once that happened, his hand and arm were not in position to react quickly enough to adjust. About an inning later, there was a high inside curveball to David Wright that was called strike three. Why? Because Posey caught the inside half of the baseball, when it was a strike (and it WAS a strike — it caught enough of the plate and was exactly at the baseline of the letters). It’s really hard to understand or see the difference from the center-field camera — you need to see it from the umpire’s view (which is the one that matters). It’s like night and day.
By the way, I’m not picking on d’Arnaud. In truth, he frequently seems to be trying to catch a “side” of the ball, and I’m betting it’s a new technique for him and he’s in the midst of learning it. I am aware of all the advanced stats suggesting that d’Arnaud gets or “steals” more strikes than most MLB catchers (it makes me want to vomit that it’s described as his ability to “frame,” as I hate the use of that word). However, I think his receiving skills can and will improve going forward, and I wonder if the “framing” metrics take into consideration the number of passed balls a catcher makes when attempting to “frame,” and if so, how much of an impact do those PBs have? I think he’s up to at least 10 on the season already, which is too many.
Another teaching lesson: fourth inning, d’Arnaud gets caught in a rundown between third and home, but Chris Young doesn’t advance from second to third. Darling said it was a “tough read” for Young, but, again (sorry Ronnie), I disagree. First off, Young needed to stray a few more steps off of second as that rundown developed, because there’s no way a fielder is going to throw back to second while there’s a runner caught between third and home — there’s too much at stake to lose focus on someone who could potentially score a run. Continuing with that in mind, the moment Brandon Crawford began to chase d’Arnaud toward home, Young should have broken for third. Why? Two reasons: again, the fielder is focused on getting that runner, and once the runner is going toward home, he HAS to be tagged, so all concentration is on making sure the runner is put out — in other words, there’s no worry by Young that Crawford might suddenly spin and throw to third. Additionally, once the fielder’s momentum is going away from third base, it’s going to take at least 3 seconds for him to tag the runner, stop in his tracks, change direction, and make a perfect throw behind him to third base. If Young is about 25 to 30 feet off second, he needs to only cover 60-65 feet in those three seconds (assuming the fielder’s execution is absolutely perfect). Every MLBer not named Ryan Howard or Bartolo Colon should be able to cover 60 feet in three seconds or less. Further, once a fielder commits to tagging that runner, he’s more or less conceding advancement of the runners, and if he can’t make a perfect throw, and be sure his throw won’t go wild and result in a run scoring anyway, he’s going to “eat it.”
Now you may be saying, “but Joe, how can a runner figure out all this in the short time that the play is happening?” Well, he’s not — it’s called mental preparation, and it’s what every single player on the field and on the bases should be doing during all that time in between pitches: going through possible scenarios that might happen after the next pitch is thrown, but be ready to react. And really, once a ballplayer has been through a few thousand games, he should already have most situations “filed away” in his brain — it’s not like Young had to figure all this out for the first time.
And no, I’m not necessarily picking on Young. Rather, using that play as an opportunity for a teaching moment for the youngins’.
Oh, and for another teaching moment related to that play … the situation occurred because Juan Lagares reached for a pitch down and away and off the plate, and he dribbled it to Sandoval. At the time, Lagares was ahead on the count 1-0, so there was no reason to be lunging and reaching (unless it was a hit and run, which I doubt highly). When you’re ahead on the count, and there’s a runner on third base, look for a pitch you feel comfortable hitting — ideally, a pitch that you can lift into the outfield. You’re looking for a sac fly at minimum, a long drive preferably, when you’re ahead of the count in that situation.
Another great teaching moment: if you can see the replay, watch Juan Lagares throw out Gregor Blanco at home in the seventh inning. It was perfect execution by both Lagares in charging the ball hard and letting loose with an on-target throw, and by d’Arnaud, who was set up in exactly the right place (inside the baseline, a few feet in front of the left corner of home plate, giving the runner a lane to the plate but in the right spot to catch and tag quickly). Where d’Arnaud set up, and how he tagged, is how catchers should have been executing even before the new interpretation of the rule book.
Since I’m disagreeing with Ron Darling today, I may as well pile on. I also disagreed with his feeling that the “rookie umpire” shouldn’t have reacted the way he did after the Mets bench started squawking after Lucas Duda was called out on strike three looking in the bottom of the seventh. Hey, I’m with anyone who believes that pitch was ball four — it looked to me like it was low. But home plate umpire Ben May called it a strike, and yes, I would have reacted too, and yes, I likely would’ve been tossed out of the game as well for arguing balls and strikes — and I would have expected as much, because that’s what happens when you argue balls and strikes. I get that many (most?) MLB managers grumble frequently about ball and strike calls, but, clearly, May heard something — or enough — to result in Terry Collins getting ejected. Darling’s “it’s a joke … man up …” comments were inappropriate, disrespectful, and condescending. Further, it excuses the jawing by the dugout, and suggests that talking back to the umpire is OK — as far as I’m concerned, that’s not a message to send to the kiddies, parents, and amateur coaches out there (remember, today’s recap is about teaching moments for the kiddies). Arguing with the umpire is less effective than trying to fight city hall — and we all know “you can’t fight city hall.” The crybabies have gotten their wish — there’s replay now. But guess what? For some calls, there is still a human element involved, and I’m fine with humans being imperfect.
Speaking of imperfection, did anyone expect Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia to be absolutely perfect in every outing for the rest of the year? Hey, it turns out that both are human. Stuff happens. What’s important is how each of these young fireballers respond in their next outings. Hopefully, they forget about it and get right back to doing what they’ve been doing all year.
One more teaching moment! In the top of the ninth, with Mejia in trouble, Dana Eveland starting warming up in the bullpen. Eveland threw 32 pitches in Sunday’s ballgame, less than 24 hours prior. The ASMI pitching recovery rules dictate that an outing of 27 pitches or more requires a minimum of one day of rest. That means one day off of the pitching mound. 32 is five more than 27, so that meant that Eveland should have taken the day off, and not tossed one pitch from a mound. Yet, he was warming up on a mound in the bullpen, and, had the game gone differently, might have appeared in the game. Note: these ASMI rules were not made to be broken — unless, of course, you want your pitchers broken.
Of course, MLB pitchers are superhuman and do not apply to any rules. Ha!
Hey guys, keep breaking rules in every way you can, then scratch your head and wonder why every other pitcher is going down with an elbow or shoulder injury. Those in MLB will continue to forge their cement heads forward. The rest of us can at least try to see if scientific research can keep arms safe. What do you have to lose?