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April 2012

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Game 1 Recap: Can't Save the Ryan Dempster Gem

Written by , Posted in General

Nationals 2 @ Cubs 1

Box Score / Highlights

Opening day is always hard to watch unless it’s a blowout win. There is so much emotion involved for me. I liken it to the equivalent of when you give something up for lent that you so badly want. When it finally comes time to partake in it again that first time, there is so much hype that it can’t possibly deliver fully. For me, not watching spring training games is the lent for my baseball passion. As a result, when opening day comes I’m so jacked that I can’t think about anything else, which in turn leads to immense emotional angst when we lose in the fashion we did today. I came away from the loss with two main thoughts.

The bullpen is going to be a work in progress – Looking over the pen, is there really a guy in there that strikes fear in the heart of the opponent and relief in your mind that the inning is taken care of? When I look at the guys in this current pen, I don’t feel confidence yet in any of them. There is definitely potential there to be very good. Guys like Rafael Dolis and James Russell have a lot of upside from the right and left side and show the promise of being the setup men later this year, but they’re unproven. Jeff Samardzija, who came on in the second half of the season last year was a welcomed edition to the pen, but he’s now in the rotation. Andrew Cashner, who projected to be the potential successor to Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning is now a San Diego Padre. As a result, we’ll have to take a wait and see approach to what we have. I think the key, and it’s something I love about how the pen is constructed, is to continue to stay relatively low budget in the pen and develop guys on the cheap from the system. Guys in the pen are so fickle with their numbers so paying big money for big names is absurd to me. Because of that, I’m willing to give the young guys in the pen a pass. Guys like Kerry Wood and Marmol, who both allowed a run today, do not get the pass. Wood came in today with one simple job to do. Get one out. The situation not urgent as there were two outs and a simple runner on 1st. You have to be able to get the game to the 9th in that situation. There’s simply no excuse. Did the umpire call a tight zone? Sure, there is no doubt Wood was squeezed on a number of strikes, but you can’t let the umpire beat you. Looking at the heat map you can see that Dana DeMuth was less than reliable with the high strike, which was the pitch he squeezed Wood on in the 8th.

If you put yourself in that position, you deserve to get what you get. It’s just a shame that the pen couldn’t hold such a nice performance by Ryan Dempster.

Situational awareness has to be betterThere were several instances where I was simply shaking my head and the result on the field based on the situation. The first came in the bottom of the 4th when Soriano tried to steal 3rd base. At the time, there were two men on an just one out in a scoreless game. You have to know the situation. I don’t know if Soriano was sent or if he ran on his own, I got the impression from the Svuem press conference that he was sent. Either is inexcusable. Later in the game, after a triple that was nearly a game tying home run by Ian Stewart in the 9th gave the Cubs a shot to send the game to extras. At that point, you have one out and a man on third. In that situation, the expected run output is .967. It’s almost a lock that we tie that game. Why run on contact? I don’t see the point. Take the two at bats and try to knock a single to get the guy home. Don’t run yourself out of the game.

It definitely sucks to lose on opening day and it sucks even more to lose the way we did. It’s important to remember that it’s only one game and we’re not expected to win consistently anyway. I understand that, I just don’t like losing the way we did.

Archive of the Opening Day Live Blog

  • Doug Bagley

    bummer: I feel for demp & its a shame we let this one get away with walks and lack of fundamentals.  Let’s hope to get win #1 on saturday

    • Jedi

      Dempster’s going to have to suffer through a lot more of these before he hits a karmic balance – he’s done his fair share of Marmoling in his time.

  • Doug Bagley

    bummer: I feel for demp & its a shame we let this one get away with walks and lack of fundamentals.  Let’s hope to get win #1 on saturday

    • Jedi

      Dempster’s going to have to suffer through a lot more of these before he hits a karmic balance – he’s done his fair share of Marmoling in his time.

  • Seymour Butts

    I was watching the Wood “walk” on gameday. It was located by them well within the strike zone but had a green circle (ball) on the end of it. I can only imagine what Brenley had to say.
    Get on the band wagon early Find another home for Marmol.

    • Buddy

      Bob was probably too busy talking about crappy bands from the 1980s to notice the strike zone. 

    • Eddie Von White

      Brenley said that Wood had good placement, it was early in the year and he’d develop with time (my paraphrase). I thought he was making excuses, like he did when Baker made no attempt to field a grounder at first earlier in the game.

  • Seymour Butts

    I was watching the Wood “walk” on gameday. It was located by them well within the strike zone but had a green circle (ball) on the end of it. I can only imagine what Brenley had to say.
    Get on the band wagon early Find another home for Marmol.

    • Eddie Von White

      Brenley said that Wood had good placement, it was early in the year and he’d develop with time (my paraphrase). I thought he was making excuses, like he did when Baker made no attempt to field a grounder at first earlier in the game.

  • Jedi

    Who knows what’s going on in Soriano’s head while he’s standing out at 2B – it’s a dumb play, made dumber has a 3-1 count and eventually walks.  The running on contact thing bothered me most.  That is utter incompetence from either your manager or third base coach.  Either Dale is a moron and the play was “executed” as he desired, or Pat Listach fell asleep at the wheel and forget to scream in Joe Mather’s ear the game situation.  That’s a routine situational baseball play, and if Dale had him moving on contact then wow this is going to be a long season.

    • The corner coaches’ jobs are twofold…flailing and reminding.  Both plays blow in retrospect, but were not unsound baseball-wise.  Mather is our speed guy…he was brought in for the sake of scoring on contact.  Had he made the cut, Fast Batboy scores on the play and we talk about how smart Svowell must be.  Sori gets in under that tag on a bang/bang play and we don’t hear griping about his contract.  Both give credo to the buzz about the direction our coaching staff has headed…call me nuts but that is better than one win out of 162. 

      • Jedi

        With Campana it IS a gutsy call…with Mather it’s a foolish call.  Those guys do NOT have comparable wheels.

  • Jedi

    Who knows what’s going on in Soriano’s head while he’s standing out at 2B – it’s a dumb play, made dumber has a 3-1 count and eventually walks.  The running on contact thing bothered me most.  That is utter incompetence from either your manager or third base coach.  Either Dale is a moron and the play was “executed” as he desired, or Pat Listach fell asleep at the wheel and forget to scream in Joe Mather’s ear the game situation.  That’s a routine situational baseball play, and if Dale had him moving on contact then wow this is going to be a long season.

    • The corner coaches’ jobs are twofold…flailing and reminding.  Both plays blow in retrospect, but were not unsound baseball-wise.  Mather is our speed guy…he was brought in for the sake of scoring on contact.  Had he made the cut, Fast Batboy scores on the play and we talk about how smart Svowell must be.  Sori gets in under that tag on a bang/bang play and we don’t hear griping about his contract.  Both give credo to the buzz about the direction our coaching staff has headed…call me nuts but that is better than one win out of 162. 

      • Jedi

        With Campana it IS a gutsy call…with Mather it’s a foolish call.  Those guys do NOT have comparable wheels.

  • Mark P.

     Gotta be impressed with Demp–especially given his 9+ ERA last April–he deserved better today.

  • Mark P.

     Gotta be impressed with Demp–especially given his 9+ ERA last April–he deserved better today.

  • BLPCB

    Off-topic, but I met a guest today from Chicago (Sox fan) who thought Wrigley Field was called Wrigley Park

    • Was his name Jeff Gordon?

      • BLPCB

        I think it might have been a relative of Barry. Gordon called it Wrigley Stadium

      • I know but couldn’t resist nevertheless.

      • BLPCB

        Look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrigley_Park
        Holy crap. One of the managers at my place of work at Disney is from Patterson, NJ.

      • I knew a pastor from Paterson 20 years ago.

      • BLPCB

        NJ? I had a history teacher from Paterson, LA, 75 miles from Baton Rouge, and NOLA, very close to the oil spill

      • Where else were your teachers from?

      • AC0000000

        I think it might have been a relative of Barry. Gordon called it Wrigley Stadium

      • I know but couldn’t resist nevertheless.

      • AC0000000

        Look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrigley_Park
        Holy crap. One of the managers at my place of work at Disney is from Patterson, NJ.

      • I knew a pastor from Paterson 20 years ago.

      • AC0000000

        NJ? I had a history teacher from Paterson, LA, 75 miles from Baton Rouge, and NOLA, very close to the oil spill

      • Where else were your teachers from?

  • AC0000000

    Off-topic, but I met a guest today from Chicago (Sox fan) who thought Wrigley Field was called Wrigley Park

  • Doc Raker

    So I said to myself, SELF Dempster vs Strasburg today- time to make some money betting against Dempster. Couldn’t get that bet down, to busy not enough time, you are an idiot SELF, lost some easy money by not getting that bet down. With the help of 120mph winds blowing straight in  holding up 2 Ryan Zimmerman bombs from landing on Waveland Ave Ryan Dempster pitches 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Me and my SELF are pretty impressed. I said, Hey SELF you may be wrong today, maybe the Cubs win today, maybe they play 9 innings of good fundamentals and win a 1 run game SELF. The Cubs squeak out a run and are up 1-0 with 4 outs to go SELF, good start to the season SELF, glad I never got that bet down SELF, your a genius SELF. Me and my SELF are happy to see most popular Cub Kerry Wood come on in the 8th with 2 outs and a man on. SELF doesn’t even care Jeff Baker let the last out of the 8th roll by him, Kerry will pick him up SELF believes. Me and my SELF believe the Cubs can get this opening day victory. UHHHH SELF why do you do this to me, 3 walks in a row to allow the tying run to come in, your killing me SELF, you should know better, you should of got the bet down SELF, your an IDIOT SELF. Ah, Marmol, after getting 2 quick outs in the 9th Marmol gives up a double and a bloop hit to allow the go ahead run, of course SELF, this is Cubs baseball, should of bet today SELF, it was easy money. WOO, wait a minute SELF, me seeing an Ian Stewart triple, almost a game tying jack, we got a runner on 3rd with only 1 out in the bottom of the 9th SELF, pay attention me. Me and my SELF are now believing we can get this tying run in, new team, new manager, new fundamentals, a new era of winning the close games SELF. AHHH they sucked me in SELF, sucked me in, why did I let them suck me in SELF, running on contact on a ground ball to a pulled in 3rd baseman, my little leaguers dont even do that..AHHH SELF YOUR AN IDIOT!!!!!!!!WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME SELF!!!!!!!!SHOULD OF BET SELF, EASY MONEY YOU IDIOT! Me and my SELF should know better, sucked me in again, IDIOT SELF. Day off tomorrow SELF, we will get em Saturday, Saturday’s the day SELF, we got Garza going Saturday. I should lay some money down on Garza, SELF says he is our real ace. Easy money Saturday SELF.

    • Seymour Butts

      Schizophrenia is a bitch

  • Doc Raker

    So I said to myself, SELF Dempster vs Strasburg today- time to make some money betting against Dempster. Couldn’t get that bet down, to busy not enough time, you are an idiot SELF, lost some easy money by not getting that bet down. With the help of 120mph winds blowing straight in  holding up 2 Ryan Zimmerman bombs from landing on Waveland Ave Ryan Dempster pitches 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Me and my SELF are pretty impressed. I said, Hey SELF you may be wrong today, maybe the Cubs win today, maybe they play 9 innings of good fundamentals and win a 1 run game SELF. The Cubs squeak out a run and are up 1-0 with 4 outs to go SELF, good start to the season SELF, glad I never got that bet down SELF, your a genius SELF. Me and my SELF are happy to see most popular Cub Kerry Wood come on in the 8th with 2 outs and a man on. SELF doesn’t even care Jeff Baker let the last out of the 8th roll by him, Kerry will pick him up SELF believes. Me and my SELF believe the Cubs can get this opening day victory. UHHHH SELF why do you do this to me, 3 walks in a row to allow the tying run to come in, your killing me SELF, you should know better, you should of got the bet down SELF, your an IDIOT SELF. Ah, Marmol, after getting 2 quick outs in the 9th Marmol gives up a double and a bloop hit to allow the go ahead run, of course SELF, this is Cubs baseball, should of bet today SELF, it was easy money. WOO, wait a minute SELF, me seeing an Ian Stewart triple, almost a game tying jack, we got a runner on 3rd with only 1 out in the bottom of the 9th SELF, pay attention me. Me and my SELF are now believing we can get this tying run in, new team, new manager, new fundamentals, a new era of winning the close games SELF. AHHH they sucked me in SELF, sucked me in, why did I let them suck me in SELF, running on contact on a ground ball to a pulled in 3rd baseman, my little leaguers dont even do that..AHHH SELF YOUR AN IDIOT!!!!!!!!WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME SELF!!!!!!!!SHOULD OF BET SELF, EASY MONEY YOU IDIOT! Me and my SELF should know better, sucked me in again, IDIOT SELF. Day off tomorrow SELF, we will get em Saturday, Saturday’s the day SELF, we got Garza going Saturday. I should lay some money down on Garza, SELF says he is our real ace. Easy money Saturday SELF.

    • Seymour Butts

      Schizophrenia is a bitch

  • cap’n obvious

    I’m assuming that I am SELF…since Raker and I discussed and agreed on all of the above via phone during the 9th.  Why hold a bunting tournament for the media during the first week of camp and then not run the squeeze play when it is most obviously necessary in the 9th inning on opening day?  When you have crap for player talent, you do the fundemental thing to score the tying run and play the 10th and beyond, assuming no Marmol.  If Kerry Wood only threw 5 innings in the spring to save his arm, why use him today?  He couldn’t find the strike zone with 10 spotlights and a team of National Geographic explorers.  Demuth might have squeezed him on 1 pitch.  Maybe.  When you’re walking the ballpark, you don’t get that call.   Dempster’s 10 K performance was nice, but let’s not lose our heads…it was the Nationals and, as Raker stated above, Zimmerman hit 2 balls that land in Evanston if the wind isn’t blowing.  If Jeff Baker isn’t a first baseman, as pointed out by Brenly,  WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING THERE, and with a $400 custom embroidered 1B glove?  No excuse for that mess.  Nice triple by Stewart at clutch time.  Just as I was perusing my Eastbay catalog for some long distance walking shoes, Mather inexplicably takes off on the easy grounder to third.  I guess while the Cubs were in Mesa, Listach must’ve zipped over to the rest home in Tempe for a few chats with Wavin’ Wendel Kim about coaching third.  UP THE MIDDLE PAST THE PITCHER you score on a ground ball with less than 2 outs.  For 173 years of baseball that’s how it has been done.  But not with our Cubs.  They have a better way. 

    Did anyone catch the Sun Times magazine cover photo with Theo walking on the water of Lake Michigan?  Pretty rational stuff there.  I think it’s stupid, but if I were religious, I might be offended.  This guy is so over-hyped and over-rated, I can’t concieve of a way this can end well for him or the Cubs.

    I’m sticking with 90 losses for this team, and hoping against all hope we don’t get to 100.  If you can’t beat the Nationals after a great pitching performance…who can you beat?

    • Seymour Butts

      A man who walks on water does so because he can’t swim.

  • cap’n obvious

    I’m assuming that I am SELF…since Raker and I discussed and agreed on all of the above via phone during the 9th.  Why hold a bunting tournament for the media during the first week of camp and then not run the squeeze play when it is most obviously necessary in the 9th inning on opening day?  When you have crap for player talent, you do the fundemental thing to score the tying run and play the 10th and beyond, assuming no Marmol.  If Kerry Wood only threw 5 innings in the spring to save his arm, why use him today?  He couldn’t find the strike zone with 10 spotlights and a team of National Geographic explorers.  Demuth might have squeezed him on 1 pitch.  Maybe.  When you’re walking the ballpark, you don’t get that call.   Dempster’s 10 K performance was nice, but let’s not lose our heads…it was the Nationals and, as Raker stated above, Zimmerman hit 2 balls that land in Evanston if the wind isn’t blowing.  If Jeff Baker isn’t a first baseman, as pointed out by Brenly,  WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING THERE, and with a $400 custom embroidered 1B glove?  No excuse for that mess.  Nice triple by Stewart at clutch time.  Just as I was perusing my Eastbay catalog for some long distance walking shoes, Mather inexplicably takes off on the easy grounder to third.  I guess while the Cubs were in Mesa, Listach must’ve zipped over to the rest home in Tempe for a few chats with Wavin’ Wendel Kim about coaching third.  UP THE MIDDLE PAST THE PITCHER you score on a ground ball with less than 2 outs.  For 173 years of baseball that’s how it has been done.  But not with our Cubs.  They have a better way. 

    Did anyone catch the Sun Times magazine cover photo with Theo walking on the water of Lake Michigan?  Pretty rational stuff there.  I think it’s stupid, but if I were religious, I might be offended.  This guy is so over-hyped and over-rated, I can’t concieve of a way this can end well for him or the Cubs.

    I’m sticking with 90 losses for this team, and hoping against all hope we don’t get to 100.  If you can’t beat the Nationals after a great pitching performance…who can you beat?

  • RichBeckman

    Uhh…good morning. Geez, I had a strange dream last night.  I dreamt last season ended and there was a big overhaul of the Cubs’ front office and management and there was going to be a new approach to the game of baseball in the new season.

    I turn on the game and nothing has changed.

    Raise your hand if you knew Soriano was out with his first step.

    Raise your hand if you knew Mather was out with his first step.

    Raise your hand if you thought starting Baker against a right hander was nuts.

    Raise your hand if you were flabbergasted when Baker still took the at bat against Lidge.

    And Castro is batting third where he delivers the poorest numbers of any other spot in the batting order (his one hit was a complete fluke).

    I’m going back to bed.

    I don’t care if they lose, I came into the season with low expectations. But I did have expectations that there would be better decision making. Maybe tomorrow.

    • Jedi

      Rich, if LaHair isn’t available who is playing first after you pinch-hit for Baker?  I guess you could say we didn’t actually have anyone playing first for 9 innings so what difference would it make who we stuck out there in the 10th – but I think that’s why you didn’t see Baker yanked.  Maybe you could stick Valbuena over there…but his numbers against righties are terrible.  The sad fact is that having already burned DeWitt there wasn’t a better option than Baker at that moment.  It’s the major drawback of platoons around the diamond, we’re always going to be saying that so and so shouldn’t be facing Pitcher X.

  • RichBeckman

    Uhh…good morning. Geez, I had a strange dream last night.  I dreamt last season ended and there was a big overhaul of the Cubs’ front office and management and there was going to be a new approach to the game of baseball in the new season.

    I turn on the game and nothing has changed.

    Raise your hand if you knew Soriano was out with his first step.

    Raise your hand if you knew Mather was out with his first step.

    Raise your hand if you thought starting Baker against a right hander was nuts.

    Raise your hand if you were flabbergasted when Baker still took the at bat against Lidge.

    And Castro is batting third where he delivers the poorest numbers of any other spot in the batting order (his one hit was a complete fluke).

    I’m going back to bed.

    I don’t care if they lose, I came into the season with low expectations. But I did have expectations that there would be better decision making. Maybe tomorrow.

    • Jedi

      Rich, if LaHair isn’t available who is playing first after you pinch-hit for Baker?  I guess you could say we didn’t actually have anyone playing first for 9 innings so what difference would it make who we stuck out there in the 10th – but I think that’s why you didn’t see Baker yanked.  Maybe you could stick Valbuena over there…but his numbers against righties are terrible.  The sad fact is that having already burned DeWitt there wasn’t a better option than Baker at that moment.  It’s the major drawback of platoons around the diamond, we’re always going to be saying that so and so shouldn’t be facing Pitcher X.

  • RichBeckman

    Oh, you can all put your arms down now.

  • RichBeckman

    Oh, you can all put your arms down now.

  • Bringing Kerry freakin’ Wood back was whose idea again?

    • BLPCB

      Woody’s. He refused more money to go to other teams

  • Bringing Kerry freakin’ Wood back was whose idea again?

    • AC0000000

      Woody’s. He refused more money to go to other teams

  • Buddy

    Kerry Wood was wild? Carlos Marmol lost  a game in the 9th? I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you!

  • Buddy

    Kerry Wood was wild? Carlos Marmol lost  a game in the 9th? I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you!

  • Lizzie

    Like @RichBeckman:disqus  I had very low expectations, especially with wins and losses. I’m also not one to think the sky falls down every time the Cubs lose a game. So it’s not that at all, for me. I don’t care if they lose. My only expectation was to see change. That’s it. Even one wee little tiny change. Change SOMETHING, ANYTHING. The only thing the Cubs succeeded in showing me yesterday is that they’ve changed precisely nothing.
     – Bad baserunning. Check!
     – Poor defense. Check!
     – No offense. Check!
     – Bad relief pitching. Check!
     – Horrid fundamentals. Check!
     – Jeff Baker playing one of his many positions only semi-well. Check!
     – Jeff Baker swinging at the first pitch he sees. Check!
     – Everything excused and rationalized away by Bob Brenly. Check!
    (To his defense, I do know he is paid well to do this and if that was my job description I’d be doing it too.)
    All in all, exactly the same Cubs I’ve been watching for years! Will be super easy to recap. In fact if time gets tight we can probably write our recaps before the games even start!

    • Eddie Von White

      Couldn’t of said it better myself, Lizzie.

    • Gymjok

      Bill Murray funny. Check!

  • Like @RichBeckman:disqus  I had very low expectations, especially with wins and losses. I’m also not one to think the sky falls down every time the Cubs lose a game. So it’s not that at all, for me. I don’t care if they lose. My only expectation was to see change. That’s it. Even one wee little tiny change. Change SOMETHING, ANYTHING. The only thing the Cubs succeeded in showing me yesterday is that they’ve changed precisely nothing.
     – Bad baserunning. Check!
     – Poor defense. Check!
     – No offense. Check!
     – Bad relief pitching. Check!
     – Horrid fundamentals. Check!
     – Jeff Baker playing one of his many positions only semi-well. Check!
     – Jeff Baker swinging at the first pitch he sees. Check!
     – Everything excused and rationalized away by Bob Brenly. Check!
    (To his defense, I do know he is paid well to do this and if that was my job description I’d be doing it too.)
    All in all, exactly the same Cubs I’ve been watching for years! Will be super easy to recap. In fact if time gets tight we can probably write our recaps before the games even start!

    • Eddie Von White

      Couldn’t of said it better myself, Lizzie.

    • Gymjok

      Bill Murray funny. Check!

  • Eddie Von White

    All I could think about was how Baker was “untouchable” in the off season. I think I might of heard him getting booed.

  • Eddie Von White

    All I could think about was how Baker was “untouchable” in the off season. I think I might of heard him getting booed.

  • Doc Raker

    Baker should of caught the ground ball. Wood should of gotten an out before he walked 3 guys. Dejesus should of caught the 9th inning double. Marmol should of had a scoreless 9th. We should of been able to get Stewart home from 3rd with 1 out in the 9th. Typical Cubs, finding ways to lose. Why do I let myself even hope it could be different?

    • We’ll be fine once Rami heats up.  

      • Buddy

         Just wait until Lance Dickson and Earl Cunningham make it to the show!

  • Doc Raker

    Baker should of caught the ground ball. Wood should of gotten an out before he walked 3 guys. Dejesus should of caught the 9th inning double. Marmol should of had a scoreless 9th. We should of been able to get Stewart home from 3rd with 1 out in the 9th. Typical Cubs, finding ways to lose. Why do I let myself even hope it could be different?

    • We’ll be fine once Rami heats up.  

      • Buddy

         Just wait until Lance Dickson and Earl Cunningham make it to the show!

  • Doug S.

    Nice start by Dempster, happy to be wrong.
    Tough start for the Cubs.
    Really angry after the game yesterday. Welcome back baseball?

  • Doug S.

    Nice start by Dempster, happy to be wrong.
    Tough start for the Cubs.
    Really angry after the game yesterday. Welcome back baseball?

  • Gymjok

    I’m sure I’ll get roasted for this BUT-
    I disagree with the contact play being a bad call.
    I would guess many teams in that situation would call for the contact play.
    But especially the Cubs. When your offense is not that great, you need to be aggressive on the bases.
    Dale will be aggressive this year.
    You live by the sword, and sometimes you die by the sword.

    • Doc Raker

      There’s aggressive and then there is stupid. As a base runner standing on 3rd the play is in front of you, the base runner can be expected to read the play. I see no reason to tell a base runner on 3rd to go on contact when the infield is pulled in.  Soriano trying to steal third with 1 out was agressive, running on contact from 3rd base on a one hopper to a pulled in 3rd baseman is just bad baseball.

      • Gymjok

        Yes it would be bad baseball if he went on a one hopper to a pulled in 3B if no play was on. As a base runner on third-yes you read the play in front of you IF no play is called BEFORE the pitch.
        The contact play is is a preplanned play.
        Saying he should not have gone on a one hopper to 3B on the contact play is like saying the runner should not have gone on a suicide squeeze because the pitch was too bad to be bunted.
        It’s a calculated risk when a play is put on.
        Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
        All I was saying is Dale being aggressive(not the runner), by calling for the contact play, was not a bad play to put on in that situation, especially with this particular team.

      • Doc Raker

        I don’t think calling the contact play was appropriate. That is over coaching, let your players and 3b coach read the play. I have little leaguers that can read that play. Base runners need to read plays, running on contact was a bad baseball call. Should the runner have run on contact if a line drive was hit? Of course not, he is expected to read the play.

      • BLPCB

        In Little League, we would take the next base once the throw was made. Like a runner on 2B, with 1B open, ball hit to 3B or SS, the runner would wait for the throw to be made, and then take the next base.

      • Gymjok

        It’s not a matter of being able to read the play.Reading the play is normal base running. The contact play is a specific preplanned play.You can’t do both.If you are going on contact you don’t know it’s going to be a line drive.That’s one of the chances you take with a preplanned play.It has it’s risks and rewards-again just like another preplanned play-the suicide squeeze.If Dale had called the suicide squeeze ,would you say that he was over coaching? Are you saying the contact play should never be used?

      • Doc Raker

        I would never call the contact play. I never heard of a contact play until recently and I have been playing the game for over 40 years. I think the contact play is systemic of over coaching. Excluding the squeeze play why would you ever want a base runner to run without reading the play? What do you really gain, 1 step, maybe 2 and risk an out on the bases. A team works so hard to get a man to third base and then you gamble on the contact play with all that risk and very little benefit.

      • Gymjok

        Doc I appreciate your honesty in saying you don’t have a lot of experience in knowing about the contact play.
        Maybe after you learn more about the nuances of the play you’ll get to see it’s value in certain situations.
        The step or 2 that is gained, combined with the pressure it puts on the defense to make a good play, is the difference in scoring or not on many ground balls. The difference it makes is small, which explains why we as armature players don’t use it (which also might explain why you and Cap’n aren’t real familiar with it), but makes a difference at the professional level.
        Cap’n asked later in the post about it, and I tried to explain it there. I don’t know if reading that will help knowing about this play, but I thought I’d let you know it’s there in case you wanted to read it.

      • Doc Raker

        It is over coaching at any level. If the ball is hit on the ground to a middle infielder the runner scores either way, by reading the play or by getting the extra step on contact. The runner is out on a ball hit directly at a corner infielder ONLY IF RUNNING ON CONTACT- what is the advantage? Also, by running on conact the runner is also out on a line drive to any infielder which he would not be if he was reading the play. Big league coaches make mistakes all the time and buying in to the value of the contact play is a mistake, just like all those big leaguers that bought into the value of the sac bunt. Big league decisions do  not always equal what is best. The great thing about baseball is the Cubs will find a different way to lose today inwhich we can argue about that tomorrow, and I will proabably be right then too:)

      • Gymjok

        LOL on the probably right then too.
        But to answer your question about what is the advantage-
        maybe if we turn it around and look at it from the opposite side it might make more sense to you.
        First let me make a correction-the middle infielders were in also-so saying he’d score on a grounder there any way without the play would be incorrect.
        So turning it around the contact play is not on-and the runner just reads the play as usual.The ball is hit not directly at an infielder-but a little to his left or right.Without the play on- the runner definitely can’t score while the fielder gets the second out at first. Now you have to rely on the next hitter to get a 2 out hit to get the run home. 
        The advantage is- with the play on- he has a decent chance of scoring on that grounder- whereas with no play on -he has no chance.(p.s.as far as a line drive-it’s not the same as on a hit&run play where the runner is definitely out-with the contact play the runner  still has a chance to get back safely).

      • Doc Raker

        Maybe so, maybe some upside in that situation, over all I don’t like the play. If pulled in infield make it go through.

      • Jedi

        Totally agree Doc – when your only runner with 1 out in the 9th is at third base and you trail by a run, you don’t send him on contact. And if you’re going to make that stupid decision, he needs to be getting a decent secondary lead…Mather was barely past the cutout by the time the Zimmerman fielded the ball.  The play at home wasn’t even close.  A suicide squeeze makes more sense in that situation with those players than going on contact does.

      • Gymjok

        I saw it differently. I thought he had a good lead. A good secondary lead. And got a good jump.It really doesn’t matter. The reason it wasn’t close at home is because it was a hard hit ball right at the 3B.
        As far as a suicide squeeze with “those players”- Baker was the guy at the plate. I don’t remember him being known for his ability to bunt.
        Not all 1 out-in the9th-down by 1- man on 3rd are created equal.To just say you don’t use the contact play in that situation I believe is incorrect.It should be considered as one of the options. Given Baker was at bat,Byrd was on deck and Lidge was pitching, the highest chance to score was the contact play with the squeeze having the lowest chance.

      • Jedi

        The suicide squeeze comment was highly sarcastic – neither of those options made sense with those players.  Mather is NOT Campana…he’s not a guy who has the speed to make those plays.  You need to watch it again, because all of Mather’s weight is on his back foot when the ball is hit, by the time he transfers his weight and gets moving the ball is being fielded, it’s a horrible jump.  Going on contact should be specifically reserved for elite runners in certain situations…this wasn’t one of them.  And with one out, no one else on base, and chasing one run – I don’t care if Usain Bolt is the runner, the wise decision is to let the path of the ball dictate whether the runner tries to score.  Why run into your second out at home? – you’re doing them a favor…make Zimmerman field the ball and whip it across the diamond, and then make Lidge face another hitter.

      • BLPCB

        Really? You wouldn’t send Usian Bolt? He could probably get to home in 2.5 seconds. With a good lead, he could probably do it in 2.25 seconds.

      • Gymjok

        Wasn’t meant to be sarcastic at all.
        I was just responding to your saying the squeeze was a better option than the contact play.
        As far as his jump-again-it’s not important as to which one of us saw it more correctly or who was running-anybody is out on the type of batted ball.
        The speed of your runner at 3rd is only one of many factors to consider when deciding whether to use the contact play or not in a particular situation.
        Considering all the factors in this particular situation- I guess I’ll just agree to disagree that I think this situation was one that the contact play gave us the highest chance to score and you didn’t. 

  • Gymjok

    I’m sure I’ll get roasted for this BUT-
    I disagree with the contact play being a bad call.
    I would guess many teams in that situation would call for the contact play.
    But especially the Cubs. When your offense is not that great, you need to be aggressive on the bases.
    Dale will be aggressive this year.
    You live by the sword, and sometimes you die by the sword.

    • Doc Raker

      There’s aggressive and then there is stupid. As a base runner standing on 3rd the play is in front of you, the base runner can be expected to read the play. I see no reason to tell a base runner on 3rd to go on contact when the infield is pulled in.  Soriano trying to steal third with 1 out was agressive, running on contact from 3rd base on a one hopper to a pulled in 3rd baseman is just bad baseball.

      • Gymjok

        Yes it would be bad baseball if he went on a one hopper to a pulled in 3B if no play was on. As a base runner on third-yes you read the play in front of you IF no play is called BEFORE the pitch.
        The contact play is is a preplanned play.
        Saying he should not have gone on a one hopper to 3B on the contact play is like saying the runner should not have gone on a suicide squeeze because the pitch was too bad to be bunted.
        It’s a calculated risk when a play is put on.
        Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
        All I was saying is Dale being aggressive(not the runner), by calling for the contact play, was not a bad play to put on in that situation, especially with this particular team.

      • Doc Raker

        I don’t think calling the contact play was appropriate. That is over coaching, let your players and 3b coach read the play. I have little leaguers that can read that play. Base runners need to read plays, running on contact was a bad baseball call. Should the runner have run on contact if a line drive was hit? Of course not, he is expected to read the play.

      • AC0000000

        In Little League, we would take the next base once the throw was made. Like a runner on 2B, with 1B open, ball hit to 3B or SS, the runner would wait for the throw to be made, and then take the next base.

      • Gymjok

        It’s not a matter of being able to read the play.Reading the play is normal base running. The contact play is a specific preplanned play.You can’t do both.If you are going on contact you don’t know it’s going to be a line drive.That’s one of the chances you take with a preplanned play.It has it’s risks and rewards-again just like another preplanned play-the suicide squeeze.If Dale had called the suicide squeeze ,would you say that he was over coaching? Are you saying the contact play should never be used?

      • Doc Raker

        I would never call the contact play. I never heard of a contact play until recently and I have been playing the game for over 40 years. I think the contact play is systemic of over coaching. Excluding the squeeze play why would you ever want a base runner to run without reading the play? What do you really gain, 1 step, maybe 2 and risk an out on the bases. A team works so hard to get a man to third base and then you gamble on the contact play with all that risk and very little benefit.

      • Gymjok

        Doc I appreciate your honesty in saying you don’t have a lot of experience in knowing about the contact play.
        Maybe after you learn more about the nuances of the play you’ll get to see it’s value in certain situations.
        The step or 2 that is gained, combined with the pressure it puts on the defense to make a good play, is the difference in scoring or not on many ground balls. The difference it makes is small, which explains why we as armature players don’t use it (which also might explain why you and Cap’n aren’t real familiar with it), but makes a difference at the professional level.
        Cap’n asked later in the post about it, and I tried to explain it there. I don’t know if reading that will help knowing about this play, but I thought I’d let you know it’s there in case you wanted to read it.

      • Doc Raker

        It is over coaching at any level. If the ball is hit on the ground to a middle infielder the runner scores either way, by reading the play or by getting the extra step on contact. The runner is out on a ball hit directly at a corner infielder ONLY IF RUNNING ON CONTACT- what is the advantage? Also, by running on conact the runner is also out on a line drive to any infielder which he would not be if he was reading the play. Big league coaches make mistakes all the time and buying in to the value of the contact play is a mistake, just like all those big leaguers that bought into the value of the sac bunt. Big league decisions do  not always equal what is best. The great thing about baseball is the Cubs will find a different way to lose today inwhich we can argue about that tomorrow, and I will proabably be right then too:)

      • Gymjok

        LOL on the probably right then too.
        But to answer your question about what is the advantage-
        maybe if we turn it around and look at it from the opposite side it might make more sense to you.
        First let me make a correction-the middle infielders were in also-so saying he’d score on a grounder there any way without the play would be incorrect.
        So turning it around the contact play is not on-and the runner just reads the play as usual.The ball is hit not directly at an infielder-but a little to his left or right.Without the play on- the runner definitely can’t score while the fielder gets the second out at first. Now you have to rely on the next hitter to get a 2 out hit to get the run home. 
        The advantage is- with the play on- he has a decent chance of scoring on that grounder- whereas with no play on -he has no chance.(p.s.as far as a line drive-it’s not the same as on a hit&run play where the runner is definitely out-with the contact play the runner  still has a chance to get back safely).

      • Doc Raker

        Maybe so, maybe some upside in that situation, over all I don’t like the play. If pulled in infield make it go through.

      • Jedi

        Totally agree Doc – when your only runner with 1 out in the 9th is at third base and you trail by a run, you don’t send him on contact. And if you’re going to make that stupid decision, he needs to be getting a decent secondary lead…Mather was barely past the cutout by the time the Zimmerman fielded the ball.  The play at home wasn’t even close.  A suicide squeeze makes more sense in that situation with those players than going on contact does.

      • Gymjok

        I saw it differently. I thought he had a good lead. A good secondary lead. And got a good jump.It really doesn’t matter. The reason it wasn’t close at home is because it was a hard hit ball right at the 3B.
        As far as a suicide squeeze with “those players”- Baker was the guy at the plate. I don’t remember him being known for his ability to bunt.
        Not all 1 out-in the9th-down by 1- man on 3rd are created equal.To just say you don’t use the contact play in that situation I believe is incorrect.It should be considered as one of the options. Given Baker was at bat,Byrd was on deck and Lidge was pitching, the highest chance to score was the contact play with the squeeze having the lowest chance.

      • Jedi

        The suicide squeeze comment was highly sarcastic – neither of those options made sense with those players.  Mather is NOT Campana…he’s not a guy who has the speed to make those plays.  You need to watch it again, because all of Mather’s weight is on his back foot when the ball is hit, by the time he transfers his weight and gets moving the ball is being fielded, it’s a horrible jump.  Going on contact should be specifically reserved for elite runners in certain situations…this wasn’t one of them.  And with one out, no one else on base, and chasing one run – I don’t care if Usain Bolt is the runner, the wise decision is to let the path of the ball dictate whether the runner tries to score.  Why run into your second out at home? – you’re doing them a favor…make Zimmerman field the ball and whip it across the diamond, and then make Lidge face another hitter.

      • AC0000000

        Really? You wouldn’t send Usian Bolt? He could probably get to home in 2.5 seconds. With a good lead, he could probably do it in 2.25 seconds.

      • Gymjok

        Wasn’t meant to be sarcastic at all.
        I was just responding to your saying the squeeze was a better option than the contact play.
        As far as his jump-again-it’s not important as to which one of us saw it more correctly or who was running-anybody is out on the type of batted ball.
        The speed of your runner at 3rd is only one of many factors to consider when deciding whether to use the contact play or not in a particular situation.
        Considering all the factors in this particular situation- I guess I’ll just agree to disagree that I think this situation was one that the contact play gave us the highest chance to score and you didn’t. 

  • Gerg

    At least the bullpen is in mid-season form.

  • Gerg

    At least the bullpen is in mid-season form.

  • Mark Strickler

    Some thoughts I had on the game – Dempster pitched a very artful game, he was using a pitch that looked like a “cut scroogie,” a fastball that tailed back in to righties and he used it superbly on the outside corner to righthanded batters.  Strasburg clearly didn’t like fielding his position, if we see that guy again we need to make sure we are taking advantage of the middle of the infield.  As for the baserunning fatalities – I’d rather we be risktakers than play station to station baseball.  Finally on the late inning blowup – Wood is clearly not ready and should not be used in 8th inning situations until he has more control over his pitches.  And Marmol continues to be a walking disaster, I’m growing tired of his little dog and pony show and thinking it might be time to send him packing while he still has some value.  This game was nothing less than or more than what I’d expected, the whole culture has to change and it isn’t going to happen overnight.

  • Mark Strickler

    Some thoughts I had on the game – Dempster pitched a very artful game, he was using a pitch that looked like a “cut scroogie,” a fastball that tailed back in to righties and he used it superbly on the outside corner to righthanded batters.  Strasburg clearly didn’t like fielding his position, if we see that guy again we need to make sure we are taking advantage of the middle of the infield.  As for the baserunning fatalities – I’d rather we be risktakers than play station to station baseball.  Finally on the late inning blowup – Wood is clearly not ready and should not be used in 8th inning situations until he has more control over his pitches.  And Marmol continues to be a walking disaster, I’m growing tired of his little dog and pony show and thinking it might be time to send him packing while he still has some value.  This game was nothing less than or more than what I’d expected, the whole culture has to change and it isn’t going to happen overnight.

  • cap’n obvious

    in 38 years of organized baseball, I’ve never heard of this contact ‘play’ Gymjok speaks of.  There is a suicide or safety squeeze play…there is go on contact with 2 outs, and then there is up the middle past the pitcher with less than 2 outs.  You never go on contact to the corners, because you will be out a very high percentage of the time…often by a lot…as evidenced by Mather.  With a big league closer on the mound, assuming contact on any pitch in any count, except on a bunt, is just plain stupid.

    • Gymjok

      With the contact play you don’t assume contact before the pitch and just go from 3rd.
      You are correct-that would be just plain stupid.
      The contact play is a preplanned play called before the pitch is made.
      The way it works is- with a runner on third and less than 2 outs(almost always with 1 out,not zero outs)when contact is made by the hitter- instead of the normal base running of waiting and reading the ball off the bat and reacting accordingly-with the contact play- the runner does not wait. He goes IMMEDIATELY as soon as contact is made(hence the name contact play).Since you are going immediately- you don’t know where the ball is hit to. You’re giving yourself a chance to score on a ground ball that you normally would not be able to score on. The idea is to put pressure on the defense to have to make a good play to get you out. There are more types of ground balls in the infield in which the play will be successful then not.So what you’re doing is giving yourself an added way of scoring a run.The type of grounder that has the least chance of working is a hard hit ball directly at the 3B,1B or pitcher. Unfortunately that’s what happened on this play. If the ball was a little to the left or right of Zimmerman the play has a good chance of working. Hope that helps.

  • cap’n obvious

    in 38 years of organized baseball, I’ve never heard of this contact ‘play’ Gymjok speaks of.  There is a suicide or safety squeeze play…there is go on contact with 2 outs, and then there is up the middle past the pitcher with less than 2 outs.  You never go on contact to the corners, because you will be out a very high percentage of the time…often by a lot…as evidenced by Mather.  With a big league closer on the mound, assuming contact on any pitch in any count, except on a bunt, is just plain stupid.

    • Gymjok

      With the contact play you don’t assume contact before the pitch and just go from 3rd.
      You are correct-that would be just plain stupid.
      The contact play is a preplanned play called before the pitch is made.
      The way it works is- with a runner on third and less than 2 outs(almost always with 1 out,not zero outs)when contact is made by the hitter- instead of the normal base running of waiting and reading the ball off the bat and reacting accordingly-with the contact play- the runner does not wait. He goes IMMEDIATELY as soon as contact is made(hence the name contact play).Since you are going immediately- you don’t know where the ball is hit to. You’re giving yourself a chance to score on a ground ball that you normally would not be able to score on. The idea is to put pressure on the defense to have to make a good play to get you out. There are more types of ground balls in the infield in which the play will be successful then not.So what you’re doing is giving yourself an added way of scoring a run.The type of grounder that has the least chance of working is a hard hit ball directly at the 3B,1B or pitcher. Unfortunately that’s what happened on this play. If the ball was a little to the left or right of Zimmerman the play has a good chance of working. Hope that helps.