Spicy Meatballls

When I look back on Opening Day 2007 a month from now, when the Nats are 10 games under .500, or ten years from now, when I'll have forgotten attending Opening Day 2007, I'll mainly remember two long home runs. Unfortunately, they were hit by members of the opposing team.

In the top of the fourth, Miguel Cabrera launched the pelota a really long way; the upper tank was the only thing preventing this particular horsehide sphere from reaching New Hampshire, or the Atlantic Ocean, or whatever direction it is RKF orients. John Patterson's day lasted about six seconds more---the time it took Manny Acta to hustle out to the mound and stop the bleeding. In the top of the seventh, Dan Uggla outdid even Cabrera. Uggla slammed Micah Bowie's pitch so hard it left those lame-ass 1990s FOX hockey trails as it climbed into the upper deck in left center.

Perusing the Hardball Times 2007 Annual recently, I noticed RFK's upper deck was assigned a "Moderate" rating---somewhat difficult, but a bit overrated. But I'm not sure these two shots were quite the types envisioned in that study. Uggla's blast, for one, was positively Ugglian. It traveled the full twelve parsecs.

I'm not Ray Knight admittedly, but I thought I'd break down the Patterson and Bowie breakdowns. The Gameday feature found at MLB.com is helpful in this endeavor; it provides neat little pitch locations for each at-bat. I thought about simply saving or screen capturing a couple of those graphics, but I respect a Major League Baseball Advanced Media copyright when I see it. Plus, I have no idea how to do that stuff.

So I'll do it my way:

Okay. Let's take this step by step. You see two batters, drawn to scale, as well as two bats, also drawn to scale. The boxes represent the strike zone; those might be off a little bit. And then we have the pitch locations on the home run balls. There are two things to observe about those pitch locations:

  • Both pitches are pretty much equidistant from all four corners of the strike zone; and
  • Uggla's pitch location is enlarged---intentionally so, I might add, to reflect that bugger was particularly inviting.
From this graphic [(c) 2007, Teh Fed], I think we can present a simple axiom. It might have escaped us previously, so let's take this slowly: Hitters tend to like the ball out over the plate, so avoid locating there if at all possible, especially if you either have nothing today or nothing period.

Of course, it's also helpful not to throw too many pitches completely out of the strike zone. You do that too much and you might, say, walk eight batters over the course of a game. This pitching is a tricky thing. I'd imagine that's why MASN hired Don Sutton.

* * * *

Speaking of MASN, it arrived in Richmond sometime late Saturday night. I discovered this some time later, and I was pretty thrilled to turn on Comcast-Chesterfield channel 43 and notice it had arrived. So I watched about ten minutes of Georgetown-Navy lacrosse, all giddy-like, until I noticed I was watching Georgetown-Navy lacrosse. Now, the mere fact that MASN was showing Georgetown-Navy lacrosse might call into question the necessity of MASN's very existence, but let's not dwell on that right now.

My limited experience watching MASN indicates to me the network has about three advertisers, the main one during the Nats broadcast window being the Nats themselves. Anibal Sanchez is supposed to fear something, but I can't remember what.

The pregame show is rather a mess. Johnny Holiday is smooth as always, but Ray Knight is just as vaguely articulate and deer-in-headlightsy as I remember him from his two or three ESPN stints. Sideline reporter Debi Taylor is either awful or a victim of awful technical/production values. Additionally, the interplay between the studio guys and Taylor is at best moderately awkward and at worst really awkward in a sexually frustrate male sense. After Taylor pointed out the wind was blowing around her hair and self-consciously acknowledged efforts must be made to control this problem, Holiday replied that she "looked just fine, really fine," or words to that effect. Then Knight stumbled over the word "video," pronouncing it "vido," which sort of rhymes with "libido."

Am I reaching here? Of course!

* * * *

Nook and Guzmania are hurt; to my understanding, both are on the DL, although I'm only aware of Kory Casto as a call-up at this time. (Update [2007-4-3 19:8:29 by Basil]: It's D'Angelo Jimenez. I should've figured.) Casto will bat second and play left. Hopefully, his big league debut will match that of Who's It out there in center for Florida. He can fly, and the Nats pitchers were doing everything in their power to make his a memorable debut.

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