Tag Archives: Tim McCarver

Game 1. Paper Tigers Tamed by a Panda and a Bear (Barry Zito that is)!

So today I’m making a huge batch of caramel corn getting ready to settle in for the first game of the World Series, and still pinching myself trying to figure out how the Giants ended up in the series.   It wasn’t supposed to be this way.   I had it all figured out a few months ago that either Washington or Cincinnati would be representing the NL this week and I was fine with that.  I mean spread it around.  I’m still reveling in our 2010 World Series victory and nothing will ever take that away.

But fate intervened and the San Francisco Giants survived the regular season and so it begins.  Tim McCarver was in usual form and talked non-stop for five minutes about the miraculous powers of the unbeatable, unstoppable Justin Verlander, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, and the additional weapons in the form of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.  And I agreed.  I figured we’d lose the first game for sure, and probably the next two also, and then win the last four in a row.  I don’t know why, but that’s the way the Giants have been doing things in San Francisco lately.

“Barry Zito 1st Game 2012 World Series”

You all know I don’t write about the game per se, or the  scoreboard or statistics because they’re so readily available but there’s always some little thing that stands out, something that grabs my attention.  And there was a lot of that surrounding those wild and crazy Giants tonight;  Pablo Sandoval’s incredible first three at bats ending in three home runs, Barry Zito’s revival with one of the best curve balls in the game (what a performance!) and Gregor Blanco’s two incredible diving catches in right field and much more as they came together perfectly as a team.

“Verlander with pitching coach, Jeff Jones, in 3rd Inning”

But I’m still smiling when I think of Justin Verlander standing on the mound in the bottom of the 4th inning,  when Manager Jim Leyland walked out of the dugout, to the mound, and asked Verlander for the ball.  All the time Leyland was walking from the dugout towards Verlander, the cameras were on Verlander and all that time he had a smile on his face.  And it wasn’t a smirk.  It was a smile as if to say, “Wow, where the hell did these guys come from?”  because I think he was just as surprised as the rest of us were.  I’m a Giants fan and I’m sure I’m supposed to act like I knew they were going to do this, but I didn’t.  I don’t think anyone did, except maybe the Giants themselves.  I’ll bet the bookies in Vegas were sweating through the entire game because when I read the odds in the paper this morning it said “Tigers over Giants ~ Odds: -178, or something like that.  I don’t even know what that means?  Who’s ever seen odds like that anyway?  This is the same Tiger team who beat the New York Yankees in 4 straight games  in best of 7 this year to win the AL Pennant and get to this World Championship Series.

What I liked about Verlander’s attitude was his calm, cool and in-control demeanor.   Here’s a guy that’s a two-time Cy Young winner, had an incredible season and is probably used to everyone patronizing him and agreeing with everything he says and does.  But he didn’t appear angry or upset or anything, even though I’m sure he was disappointed.  He appeared to take it all in stride, like “It’s okay.  I’ll get them next time”.  And there’s a good chance he will.  And with a smile he walked to the dugout to watch the rest of the game.

I love my Giants and they played a fantastic game tonight, and I’ll watch it again, maybe twice, before I go to bed.   And tonight they beat the Detroit Tigers fair and square by a score of 8-3.   But I sure wasn’t expecting it.  It was a surprise.

And I sure hope I’m surprised three more times  just like this  in the remaining games of the  2012 World  Series.   Way to go and thank you Giants.  Whatta game it was!

So You Think it was a “Good Clean Play” …..

“Courtesy of HoopIndiana”

I’ve got this thing about umpires.  My dream is to write a really great comprehensive book about past and present umpires, their challenges and what they mean to the game.   So last night’s NLCS game between the Cards and Giants gave me some new fodder.   Here’s my thoughts on that Matt Holliday attack on Marco Scutaro at 2nd Base in the 1st inning and subsequent play:

1.  THIS WAS NOT A SLIDE.  All the commentary from the pundits, coaches, teammates and Holliday himself describe the play as a slide ~ a “late” slide, but a slide nonetheless.  That’s crap.  A baseball slide by definition means hitting the ground face or feet first and it just didn’t happen here.  Look closely at the first part of the video above.  Matt Holliday made an intentional leep with both feet firmly aimed at Scutaro with, by his own admission, intent to disable him to keep him from making a play.  There was no slide.  He turned himself full force into a  6’4″, 235# human projectile aimed directly at Scutaro’s 5’10” 185# frame with intent to disable.

2.  HOLLIDAY’S RESPONSE.   “You’re trying to get to the second baseman and obviously trying to knock him down so he can’t turn a double play.  As long as you’re in the baseline, it’s within the rules.”   And he’s right.  Rules state that a runner can take out a fielder as long as the runner is close enough to be in contact with second base while doing so. 

3.   HOLLIDAY HAD NO INTENTION OF SLIDING.  Holliday’s “regret” that he didn’t start the slide earlier really doesn’t hold water.  He had no intention of sliding to begin with.  He held back on the slide intentionally, waiting for precision timing to do exactly what he did. 

4.  TOUGH GUY REPUTATION.   It’s acknowledged that Matt Holliday is well  known for his tough defensive plays.  Tim McCarver stated in his  post game coverage that Matt Holliday is one of the “toughest sliders” in the National League.   Tough slider huh.  What’s that compared to a non-tough slider?   Maybe a little unethical, dirty, bush league, not too classy?    

5.  MLB RULES AND THE UMPIRE’S ROLE IN THE GAME.  Well, okay then.  MLB Rules allow a runner to take out a fielder as long as the runner is close enough to be in contact with second base while doing so (my translation).  But remember, he was no longer a runner.  And his “slide-that-was-not-a slide” was late ….. so late as to injure a player and enrage the fans.  So where’s the umpire’s role in this scenario? 

“I’m Thinking, I’m Thinking”

After the play, the umpires convened near second base to discuss, as in “what should we do if the Giants pitcher decides to throw a retaliatory pitch, like “at the head” of Holliday when he comes up to bat”?   And what if it did happen and that retaliatory pitch permanently disabled or,  heaven forbid, killed the batter?  I’m not trying to be over-sensational here but this could happen and it has happened, granted a long time ago, but still.  

6.  MLB RULE 9.01(d) GIVES UMPIRES BLANKET AUTHORITY.  It states that each umpire has authority to disqualify any player … for unsportsmanlike conduct or language and to eject such disqualified player from the playing field.  How often has that happened?  I mean, really.  Oh sure, someone swears at the umpire and he’s outta there in a New York Minute.  But a good clean play like this one?   Not a chance.  This would be comparable to football’s unnecessary roughness penalty or the unsportsmanlike conduct or more appropriately the “late hit” penalties which are designed to prevent debilitating injuries.  But, of course, you don’t see that in baseball, even though the umpire has full authority to make that call.  

So here’s a challenge to the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association.  ( I issued the same challenge to them back on February 23, 2012, “……Getting the Umpire Out of His Comfort Zone” but for some reason I’ve never heard back from them.

” ….. this is something that falls on the  Major League Umpires Association.  They’re the only ones who can get this violent aspect of the game  under control and they don’t need any rule changes to do it.   If they’d start bouncing players out of the game when they resort to these retaliatory pitches and the unnecessary violence at the plate and elsewhere, the players would get the message and it would stop.  The question is, will they?  The answer is,  probably not.  They’d have to move  a tad out of their comfort zone and who the heck wants to do that?”

Note:  I wrote this originally with an inference that Halliday was “out” before he made his “slide”.  In reality, the tag  on the base had been made, but the  umpire had not yet called the play and we all know you’re not out until you’re called out.   I’ve since deleted the reference. 

Game 1. Texas Can’t Hold ‘Em!

“Who would have thought it?  Cardinals 3, Rangers 2.   I had almost as much fun watching the sports pundits after the game as I did watching the game itself.  Well, almost.”

What better quote than using the exact opener I used on last year’s Game 1 blog replacing, of course, the Giants with Cardinals.    I watched the media before the game throughout the day and the odds were 80% in favor of Texas “going all the way”.  And, of course they may, but at least the odds are right now, today, just a little in favor of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Winners of Game one go on to win it all  in 60% of the World Series played to date.

One of the memorable quotes from the game, “It’s a five letter word S- T- R- I- K- E ” as only Tim McCarver could utter at the end of the 6th inning.

For those who like to know about the key moments, here are two, courtesy of NPR’s Tom Goldman’s report for Morning Edition:

Chris Carpenter on a "Defensive" slide into 1st Base.

“— The coolest play came in the first inning. Cards pitcher Chris Carpenter covered the bag at first base, and had to dive to the ground to get the ball tossed his way by first baseman Albert Pujols. “Carpenter dove for the ball and as his long frame hit the ground he tagged the base with his glove hand, at the same time pulling his pitching hand away to protect it from the batter’s oncoming cleats,” Tom says. “How cool to see a pitcher getting dirty.”

The play, Tom added, “served notice that the game, perhaps the Series, is going to be a diving for every out, clawing for every run affair.”

Allen Craig's "off the bench" hit to score the winning run.

— The biggest play came in the sixth inning when Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa sent pinch hitter Allen Craig to the plate in place of Carpenter. Craig’s hit to right field was dropped by Ranger outfielder Nelson Cruz. That drove in the winning run. LaRussa’s savvy use of his bench and bullpen came through again.”

Game 2 – Tonight at Busch Stadium, St. Louis at 5:05 pm televised on Fox.