Thursday, May 06, 2004

Nine by Nine, 05.05.04

1. In Karen Guregian's editorial this morning, she suggests "as former talk show host Arsenio Hall might say, Pedro's got to 'get busy' ". Hu? You're allowed to quote Arsenio Hall? In a newspaper? I think this is Karen's idea of a little "personal flair", but I mean, come on. What was her editor thinking? "Oh, looks like Guregian made an Arsenio reference in her article. Again. Well... it doesn't really have anything to do with her argument, it's not very funny, and it feels altogether out of place. Yeah, I think I'll leave it in." The Ninth rubs its eyes wearily.

2. It seems like there is a small difference in Byung-Hyun Kim's windup. After he brings his hands down to his belt, he has added a pause. If he makes it too long it would be balk, but now it's just sort of a delay. Is it meant to throw off a hitter's timing, or give a second chance to focus in on the strike zone? Frankly, no idea. Interesting to note however. At least to me.

3. It is very important to play with confidence. It's a truism for life, but in this case, it works for baseball. When players believe they will be successful, things tend to go better. Not because of some psychological, metaphysical jumbo mumbo, but because they can let their own talent take over. When you're worried about screwing up, you're stiff. You don't want to make a mistake, you're cautious, and you play conservatively. It sounds like blabber, but think about it in your own life. Say you're trying to talk to a fine lady, do you succeed when you're worried about saying something dumb, or when you don't really give a care? Fine ladies like those who don't give cares. When players trust their own abilities and believe that eventually, much like a fine lady, the game will come to them, they're usually right. It's not a stat, or even a fact, just a belief. BK Kim, very often, lacks confidence. You can see it in his face. You can almost tell when he's going to implode because he just looks like failure. His face has this "rather be hiding" thing going on, and his pitches are coming out stiff and underthrown. He believes that sooner or later he's going to screw up, or he's afraid that he will, and it brings his play down. Kim is still very young, and when things aren't going his way, that's clear to see. He's 24, pitching in a weird country with a very demanding team. That's a concern. Unless he can address things mentally, The Ninth fears the worst.

4. Indians second baseman Ronnie Belliard plays an alarmingly deep second base, which is more akin to a short right field, being about 10-15 paces behind the standard position. He claims to have learned this from former Indian Robbie Alomar. Did he also learn how to decline in skill long before expected? Or maybe Robbie taught him how to spit on umpires? How about having Hall of Fame talent but being passed around the league like a stinky potato? Just wondering.

That was oddly caustic.

5. Bill Mueller got moved back to the eight hole two days ago, and he's had a couple of good days. Billy of course spent the majority of his batting title season in the same slot, and had great success. Could it be that he actually hits better when his name appears lower on a piece of paper? Rob Neyer, noted columnist and skeptic, is fond of saying that offense is more a question of who is in a batting order than where they are, and that certainly seems logical. Other than higher hitters receiving more at-bats, it's difficult to mathematically explain how a hitter's place in a lineup could directly effect their performance in any way. But it does seem to happen with some players. Curious. Let's see how Mueller does if left at 8 for a prolonged period.

6. If you can't bust your slump against Jeff D'Amico, then you can't bust your slump. The Ninth bets dollars to donuts however that the o-ffense looks weak again this eve. Hope I'm wrong, but one bad pitcher is still just one bad pitcher.

7. In the bottom of the eighth, Jerry Remy, for some odd reason, decided to man the tv camera that had been in he and Doughnuts' booth for the series. It was a funny enough bit, complete with screw ups, mis-haps, and witty banter. It was a little annoying when actual events happened in the game and Jerry was expected to capture them on camera, but it was a good time in all. Throughout the experience, Orsillo was getting on Jerry pretty good, offering unwelcome critiques and analysis, but Remy was oddly quiet, apparently concentrating on his task. When Remy got off the camera however, oh did things change. "You know I've never done this before, Don!". "You were busting on me hard for a full half inning!". "I'd like to see you try to zoom in!". It had that awkward tone of sort of joking, and Orsillo tried to laugh over it, but Jerry wasn't doing any joking. It's that kind of thing where you happen to accidentally find something your buddy is really sensitive about and it's sort creepy..."hey man, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were so serious about tuna fish. I won't bring it up again." And you try to laugh, and they try to seem not angry, but you both know that really, they're angry. And it's weird. That's what it was like. On national tv. Awesome.

8. Tony Cloninger has been BK Kim's roaving pitching instructor throughout his rehabilitation. A 400 pound Southerner and a tiny Korean man driving around the northeast in a rental car, going from ballpark to ballpark. How do you explain that at a road block? NBC, I know you have an opening in your schedule....

9. Eh, the ninth note is overrated anyway.