View From The Bleachers

May 25, 2008

Paging Brant Brown, Paging Brant Brown…

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 5:33 pm

So the Cubs squeak out just enough runs to take a one-run lead to the ninth with their best reliever on the mound, one night after a heartbreaking marathon loss. He gives up a walk but has the Pirates down to their last strike before their best hitter lifts a long lazy fly ball to their superstar left fielder who camps under it. Cubs win and go home with the series win…

…except, the superstar can’t find it in the sun, the ball falls to the ground, the game is tied and Pittsburgh goes on to win in 11 innings. This blows.

The play, of course is very reminiscent of that fateful play 10 years ago where Brant Brown made himself infamous in a similar situation. Here’s some trivia for you guys out there: who hit the ball that Brown dropped? Who did the Cubs receive in the trade of Brown that occurred shortly after that play (hint: he figured prominently in today’s game)? And if you need something to make yourself smile after such an ugly loss, you can listen here to Ron Santo’s famous meltdown after the drop.

As if there is not enough talk about instant replay already, replays showed conclusively that Luis Rivas’ 1st-inning shot never actually left the park. The arguments against replay continue to baffle me. They amount to three different arguments really, only one of which means much to me. The need to preserve the “human element” in the form of judgment errors and the case that all reviews aren’t always conclusive – I just don’t get it. I’m all for preserving the human element – as in, I like to see the humans with gloves and bats decide the game by how well they play it. Call me old-fashioned. And the need to hold replay review to a standard of perfection is absurd. Now, the time issue is a real concern, but we have to realize it takes just as much (if not more) time for Sweet Lou to waddle out to the base umpires to argue these calls. In that time, the proper call would be made.

All the other sports leagues have instituted some sort of replay, with much success. Even in football, where the calls are much harder, even after replay. In fact I find the replay spectacles in both football and tennis very compelling as a spectator. Baseball should go beyond home runs (which is a given now, with all the talk about it) and institute it on base safe/out calls as well. The biggest problem that will arise is two-fold. First, would all plays be reviewable, or would there be a finite challenge system, just like tennis and football. Secondly, and probably more importantly, how do you deal with the problems with changed calls? For instance, in this game, Rivas was not taking anything for granted and running hard to third before he slowed up. Imagine a replay system was in place but the umpires had signaled home run, stopping both he runner and the fielders from continuing play. Then the replay overturns the home run – where do you put the runner. I am not arguing that this should stop replay’s implementation, only that there are many of these difficult questions to answer before it can be done well. (And I am not confident that the people running baseball will be able to answer them well enough to make this necessary improvement to the game – much the worse for baseball.)

– Having said all that, it does not really need to be said that a Luis Rivas at bat should never end with a home-run controversy, replay or no. This guy has a career OPS+ of 78, and Lilly could not retire him in 3 plate appearances and two home runs. For that reason alone, Lilly deserved to lose. Marmol and Lieber reminded us all that he is, indeed, Luis Rivas, by each striking him out on a pitch greater than a foot out of the zone.

– While Lilly probably deserved less luck than he got, Maholm pitched a very good game, and deserved a much better fate than he got. He was consistently ahead and really had just one bad inning. But his extended outing, while looking like it was heading for a loss in regulation, put the Bucs’ bullpen in good position heading into extra innings.

– I may be wrong on this one, but I think Xavier Nady’s name is pronounced like “Zavier”, not “Ex-zavier”. I find that annoying.

– I agree that Marmol got a tough earned run and a tough blown save, but in the 9th inning, he threw 30 pitches, and only 13 went for a strike. He wasn’t exactly dominant. What was Lou doing bringing him back out for a second inning?

– In fact his use of the bullpen is often questionable. You have a long game the night before, your bullpen is already short, and you need Eyre and Howry to go through the bottom of Pittsburgh’s order? Speaking of those two, I like how they seem to have their stuff together now – they will be valuable the rest of the season taking pressure off of Wood and Marmol.

– I’m to the point now where I was mad when Marmol walked Sanchez in the 9th, mostly because it meant that Nate McClouth would get a chance to tie it up. Here’s a trade that might make sense – Cubs offer Felix Pie and an advanced pitching prospect (Gallagher?) for McClouth. Would the Pirates do that?

– Here’s a note apropos of nothing – on MLB 2K8 for my Nintendo Wii, Fukudome’s name is Kazuhito Fortunado. What’s up with that?

– Some players are actually better than their statistics suggest, always doing little things and making the right plays when it matters. Their value is often over-rated by baseball management and sports commentators, but those skills have value nonetheless. Fukudome is possibly the prototype whose value exceeds what his stats would suggest. Well, behold Alfonso Soriano, the anti-Fukudome. Now, I like him as a player and am glad he is on the team. But, you just have to look only at his triple crown stats to see what he does for the team, especially now that he runs so gingerly. He is liability in the field, he does not get on base any other way, and he is not a good baserunner. What you see is what you get with him.

– It’s a little disconcerting that the Cubs have played so well, yet look at the possibiltiy of going into Memorial Day in second place (Go Dodgers! – today, anyway). They now look into a much more difficult part of the schedule over the next month, with nary a Pittsburgh series to be found. The pitching needs to step up, because the offense can’t be counted on to get 5 runs every single game.

– Have a great and safe holiday, everyone!

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail

  • Doug

    Sorry that I tend to only post after Cubs losses, but these last 2 have me steaming!!!
    But we’ve got to move on.
    Next up please…

  • edo

    can we start a day minute second countdown to when sorryons contract is over its gonna be h..elll for 6 years of watching him attempt to play left fiel, if you can call it that … strikeout 5/6 times at bat not bunt… or steal or get base hits except by accident when he is swinging for the fence…
    But god forbid he doesnt bat first because it may offend his ego… or god forbid we put a defensive sub in for him because after all he is a superstar ( in his head at least)

    anybody know tonya hardings bodyguard ..maybe we can hire him to hang around the players door after the game

  • jose

    We will regret the day we signed AFonz for the contract he has. It is too much and too long and we have already seen his best days. He has lost his legs and he will never steal 30 bases again. All we can hope for is that his HR’s will off set his K’s and fielding. The big prayer is that if we make the playoffs he will be in one of his hot streaks and help carry the team. If he is in one of his cold streaks, we are in BIG trouble. If we want a role for Edmonds, we should make him our fourth OF. At least his glove is valuable. With the game on the line in the late innings, Edmonds should replace Afonz in LF. Can Cedeno play LF?

  • Rich Beckman

    Did Soriano have sunglasses on?? I can tell from the lowlight that he is wearing glasses after the play is over, but they are not dark.

    Flip-downs??

    Did he get them flipped down??

    If he doesn’t have sun glasses on while trying to catch that ball…well, that is just beyond belief.

  • Mike

    You can not take a superstar out of a 1 or 2 run ball game. I know many of you will say that Soriano is not a superstar, but he is. He really is one of the best players we have on this team. Taking him out for Edmonds is not good. Would if someone else blows the game? Now, we have one of our best bats out of the lineup, and one of our worst in there.

    Get off Soriano’s back. He has already won a lot of games for us his year, and there will be many more to come. I’m not getting on his back for blowing this game. I hate it when everyone wants to crucify him when he does something wrong.

  • Roger – Fan

    Yep, hard to believe. Poor Ronny, poor, poor Ronny. Well, must be the year of Cubbie Occurrences…

    Hard to believe a ball player who has played most of his life in Porto Rico, where the sun never goes down in the sky, can lose one in the sun.. Amazing..

    Lets see now if I can figure out the left field situation for the Cubs this season (and for the next 7 years)….
    Sorry-ano, cannot play in the cold weather because his mussels will stay to stiff and he could get cramps???
    And we would not want him to stretch before games because he might pull something????
    He cannot play in damp weather because he could slip and tear something????
    Now he cannot play in sunny conditions because he could get what, a sun stroke??? A head injury, what ?? You tell me.

    If I am right here that leaves this morons playing time to dry, desert condition night games when the temperature is between 75 and 80 degrees. Therefore limiting his playing time to 2 night games in Arizona this year and for the next 7 years. Although its possible that Las Vegas could have a major league team within the next 5 years, extending his playing time possibly to 4 games. And we know how well he hit in Arizona during the playoffs last year, what was he 0 for 9..? Well done.!!

    Here is my theory on why he is running gingerly on the field and base paths, lost another ball in left, gets picked off the bases, cannot seal a base, and strikes out a lot.

    He’s caring around in his pocket the $136 million dollars he got from the Cubs, in cash, in his pockets, while he is playing and is afraid that some of that money could fall out of his wallet if he ran to hard. Or, some of that $136 million dollars he caries in change in his back left pocket, and the added weight creates a balance problem while swinging the bat. Which also explains why he might be less incline to slide with that lump of change in his left pocket, and that bulging wallet of cash in his right, could pull a hammie, or bruise his ass. Nothing worse than having a bruised ass left fielder, now is there!

    If I do my calculations correctly. If he takes the $136 million dollars in payment in nickels, that would weigh about 10 tons, the equivalent of 2 Brinks trucks. Which is the coincidentally, the number of games he should be playing for the Cubs each year, and we know that brinks rhymes with stinks, and thats what we have in left field. The numbers never lie… Take this superb analysis to the bank. Just like Sorry-ano is doing to the Cubs, taking them to the bank.

    Well maybe its not that bad, we only have him signed to play left field until the year 2014.. Which coincidentally is Ryan Bran and Josh Hamilton’s Free Agent years. So their is hope, right?

    You know what I say, when things are going bad with the Cubs, Kill The Umpire. Which reminds me of the Army, you know the running, jumping, climbing trees part. Good, I’m glad your coming with me on this.

  • jose

    Why can’t you take Afonz out of a game? Is that written some where? Is he so special that he gets to make the rules? Late in the game, he is a liability. If the game is tied he stays in because if he is hot, he can win the game for us with his bat. But if we are ahead by one run, he needs to go sit for a better defensive LF. I am sorry but no one has confidence that everything hit to him is going to be caught. He has one strong outfield attribute, a strong arm. That’s it.

  • Mike

    But then would if someone else screws up the game in the 9th and we need him to be in there but we took him out?

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