Game 5, Mariners at Athletics
Chris Young vs. Dan Straily, damn it, 7:05pm
The A’s had changed the pitching order, but the recap went on as normal. Some of the audience thought that the change itself must be wrong. Others sat forward in their seat, wondering when the Post would acknowledge the error. Kids just looked at each other, at first confused, then with a brimming sense of excitement. They picked up on the tension, and were simultaneously excited by the breach of protocol – the sense that established orders were falling before them- and the more mundane excitement of seeing someone fall on his face.
Eventually, the Post waved his arms, stopped talking about Straily’s change-up, and sighed. With another gesture, the house lights came up. The excitement of the older kids was peaking now; the illusions were falling away one by one, and they would KNOW something others didn’t. The Post stepped to the front of the stage, then, his right hand on the edge, he hopped off. Younger kids were completely confused, but excited as well – the Post was going to give them a high five, maybe? Others just demanded answers. In a low, somewhat quiet voice, *so* different from his character’s, the Post explained that he was really Jed Billings, that he was from Tukwila, and that he was an actor hired to explain things like pitch fx and cutters and fly ball rates – things that didn’t make any sense to him. “I’m actually more of a NASCAR fan, to be honest” he said, his left hand wiping off a thick smear of stage makeup from his eye and cheek. One kid murmured to a friend, loud enough for several to hear, “I TOLD you he’s a robot,” Another asked if the Post was always an actor – if there’d been a real life person there, before time, technology and life’s demands led to the hiring of an actor most famous for non-speaking roles in check-cashing advertisements. “I think so, yeah, probably, but I haven’t asked too many questions. It’s fun – I’m glad I have lines!” “So who’s writing all of this,” demanded a mother who’d brought her two young sons, one of whom was crying by now. “Marc does, I guess. I’ve never met him.” “So why couldn’t you have got a NEW script, one with Jesse Chavez and not all of that stuff about Dan Straily?” demanded a voice from the back of the room. “Because,” said Jed, his smooth, rosy-cheeked complexion now replaced by pallid skin and a five-O’clock shadow, “They’re written well in advance. If a team makes a change, we don’t have time to fix it.”
A very young voice said something, but there was too much cross talk and Jed couldn’t hear. He raised his chin a bit, inviting the kid to repeat himself. “I still believe in you, Post! I know that was Straily last night. Tukwila isn’t real.” The crowd didn’t know what to do, and Jed stood there for a moment, mouth open, like he was searching for the right words. The silence was broken by the young fan’s older brother, a boy of about 12. “You’re so STUPID, Henry. GOD.” and he smacked his younger brother on the back of the head.
Ok, I’m reasonably sure it’s Dan Straily tonight, so if you’d like to read more about Straily, please refer to last night’s game preview. If they change it again, I probably won’t get to it, as I’m going to try and make the Rainiers’ opener.
Chris Young is a fly-baller whom you’ve read many, many words about thus far. It’s exciting, I guess, that he was throwing 88, which is a phrase I’ve never thought I’d write. He’s been a very good pitcher at times, and has succeeded in environments both built for his skillset, and those seemingly designed to frustrate it. The M’s have been playing a bit shorthanded in the rotation, and honestly, they and the Rangers have only needed to stay close to the pack in April/May. Both teams figure to be slightly better later on – unless further injuries complicated the picture, obviously. A fast start, of course, would be even better.
1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Hart, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Morrison, RF
8: Ackley, LF
9: Buck, C
Ok, Ok, actual baseball information. I was going to make a separate post about this, but not sure it deserves one. The biggest storyline in last night’s game was Sean Barber’s strikezone. You can read about here, or here, and hey, even TNT beat writer Bob Dutton posted a link to the Brooks Baseball strikezone map. It was, and should be, a pretty big deal for M’s fans. Barber was making his MLB debut behind the plate, and hey, he can only get better.
This morning, Jeff posted this classically Jeff post at Fangraphs about two pitches right down the middle of the plate, the exact center of the zone, that umps have called balls. It’s great, and you should read it; laughing at the failures of others isn’t the most noble of things you could do with your time, but I’m telling you, RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE. One of Jeff’s examples came in a game ump’d by Chris Fagan on 4/2. Fagan, in that game, was also making his MLB debut behind the plate, and in the comments of that post, some aggrieved Washington Nationals fans pointed out that his zone was comically low (the 2nd of the two GIFs in the post seems to provide evidence of this). What happens if you look at Fagan’s strikezone map (it’s here) and Barber’s from last night (here)? They look freakishly similar, especially to RH Hitters. If anything, Fagan’s was somehow *worse,* or rather, more consistently bad, as opposed to INconsistently bad.
I mention this not to let Barber off the hook, or to shrug my shoulders and give a muted “Robot umps now” war cry. It’s just that the two guys just called up both made fools of themselves in the exact same way. Is the PCL/IL strikezone noticeably lower? Have umpires noted that too many youngsters called a lot of high strikes in the past, and so they’ve made the top of the zone a point of emphasis? Or, when you’re nervous, and thousands of people are waiting on your call, is it just easier to keep quiet, as opposed to making the definitive, clear strike call? That is, do new umpires try to let the players decide the game, and in so doing, call the game in a really odd way? Thoughts?
No, seriously, Barber was bad. It’s probably not good if you’re a new umpire and you stick out like a sore thumb on a graph like this.
As reported by…everyone, I just wanted to reiterate that Hector Noesi was DFA’d today. This means his total fWAR in an M’s uniform is -0.7. By BBREF, it’s probably about double that (it’s at -1.3 for 2012-13). Our not-terribly long regional nightmare is over.
Both the Rainiers and the Jackson Generals were rained out on opening day. That’s always tough; home openers draw big crowds, and I’ve attended some extremely wet and cold openers at Cheney. For them to postpone a game, it really has to be coming down.
The Clinton game today’s already been postponed due to cold. Beavan and Anthony Fernandez start for Tacoma, with Stephen Landazuri taking the hill for Jackson.