Uncle Charlie Yakker's Baseball Rants

A look into the mind of baseball fanatic.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why do I love baseball?

Seriously, I don't get it sometimes.

Everyone says that baseball is slow and boring. The fact is that steroids has ruined the game. It's no doubt the skyrocketing salaries have disconnected the game from the common fan. No one can dispute the "damn" Yankees buying their way to a championship---and the fact that baseball is unbalanced.

So, why do I love baseball? I'll tell you.

The game is so fast and furious; no one can see 'everything' at any one time. From the first pitch, it's 100 miles per hour. The pitcher must know the tendencies of the batter. "Can he hit the curve?", or "does he have a hole in his swing for the low and in slider". The batter walks to the back of the box and kicks immediately at the freshly chalked line. He's wondering, "What assortment of pitches does this guy chuck?” "Can he blow me away with a 100 mph fastball, or does he nibble on the blacks of the plate?”

Is the pitcher a southpaw, turning all the switch hitters around? Or does he have that sidearm action with a herky-jerky motion?

After the first pitch, all the research and all the preparation is out the window. Either the pitcher has it or he doesn’t. Either the pitch looks like a pea or a beach ball.

Wait a minute. Who is that guy in blue, behind the plate? Does he call the high strike or is he a going to require the ball to be thrown into a napkin box size strike zone? Does he let the batters murmur after a called strike, or will he impose his will by tearing off his facemask?

Now, after a 3-2 count, the leadoff guy does his job, taking pitches and drawing the walk.

The second man must find a way to move him over. Although, having that said, any good fan understands the philosophy of the visiting manager. We know we’re watching an American League game, but the manager has never lost his love for playing the National League small ball style. So, we’re forced to guess whether it’s a hit and run, straight steal or a bunt to move the runner over.

While your watching the batter plow his left foot into the box, pay attention, because he’s looking down to the third base coach for the same sign. (I won’t even go into the complexity of a sign). The man on first is also peering through the infield, over the pitchers head and past the third base bag for the same sign. If you look close enough, you’ll see several players on the opposing team, watching the same sign, but for different reasons. Stealing the sign is an art, but can give a decided advantage to your team.

As the batter now digs in with his right foot, he’s holding the bat in his front hand. Holding the in a similar way a golfer does when he’s checking the slope of the green. The batter has his rear arm extended too. The palm now flat in the umpires face.

“What the heck?” you might think.

Well, I’ll give you the short answer, “He’s asking for time out, time to step in, time to dig in and settle into the batters box.”

Anyone who doesn’t know better, might think it’s time for the pitch. But, knowledgeable fans do know better. The pitcher, standing on the grass licks his fingers, but he’s oh so careful not to ever touch his mouth while on the mound. Again, I won’t go into the details of rules on the mound.

The pitcher climbs on to the rubber and leans in to see the sign from the catcher. These signs can be simple, but with a runner on first, it might get a little complicated. The runner can indicate to the batter some clues as to the location of the pitch and if he’s lucky, he can also indicate the type of pitch. Although it’s common knowledge and a common baseball practice, it’ll get him bean ball if he’s caught.

You’d think it’s about time to see the first pitch of the at-bat, but wait there’s more! As the catcher flashes his signs, he shortstop and the second baseman are also looking in. They consider two factors, unless there is more, which I haven’t picked up yet. These two infielders then communicate with open and closed mouth signs, hidden behind a mitt of course.

I’ve read that some outfielders like to know the sign. That information is relayed by the middle infielders out to them. It’s an art that I don’t yet understand.

Somewhere in all this mess was a sign from the manager in the dugout. That sign is picked up and deciphered by the defensive players. It could tell the players to set up for the double play position. The first baseman usually takes a stance at the bag, so he’s holding the runner close to the bag. The “stance” is perfected and practiced so the ball can be received quickly and a then an efficient tag can be snapped down to the hand of a runner who got caught leaning.

If your not convinced that baseball is NOT slow, I can see that you read your way through the article.

In the future, I’ll tackle the other topics on my mind. For example, I might be able to shed some light on the topics of steroids, salaries and give my best reasoning for the Yankees spending habits.

I think the game is anything but slow.

To be continued…………Why do I love baseball.

Monday, August 07, 2006

MLB Umpires, my complaints revisited

As I watched an Angels/White Sox game tonight (no not the playoff games of 05), I wondered if anyone had a ranking thier thoughts on the WORST umps in the game.

I'll tell you right now, without hesitation, there is one ump I'll never respect and never appreciate. Doug Eddings.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth, Eddings, was behind the plate. Josh Paul, the catcher did his job. He caught strike three. Eddings called the batter out, but A.J. Pierzinguini ran anyway. Somewhere in the darkness, inside Eddings mask covered head, the out call aparently didn't count.

Without a doubt, its the worst call I've ever seen. One that broke my heart and pretty much ended the post season for the 05 Halo's.

9 months later, I find my self watching a make-up game for, of all teams, the Sox/Angels. I am getting a secret pleasure in watching the man behind the plate. Tonight its Cooper. For him it really makes it tough because its a make up, there is no one in the stands. I've hear louder chearing at a baby diaper changing contest.

I menetion the lask for enthousiasm in the stants because every jeer from the croud is crystal clear. CRYSTAL

One series or pitches, Tim Salmon watched a few close ones come in the area. None were called strikes. The fans came unglued. The pitchers were fired into the mit, very close to the plate. Each pitch got more boo's Seemingly the late shrunk to the size