At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Get the bat off your shoulder, Cody

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 16, 2012

Daniel Bard pitched 6 and 2/3’s innings on Patriots Day, yielding only 1 run.  He struck out 7 and walked 7.  It is too bad that he lost, 1 – 0.  Had the Sox won, a 4-game sweep of the punch-less Rays would have offset the 1 – 5 start they recorded in Detroit and Toronto.

Cody Ross had a bad day, too.  The game ended with the bat on his shoulder and called strike three nipping the outside corner.

Jerry Remy disagreed with the way Larry Vanover called strikes this day.  The Rem Dawg has a lot of company. There are at this moment enough Vanover bashers to fill the blogosphere.

How bad is this Ump ?  Vanover doesn’t come up on the lists of deficient arbiters via google searches – as do CB Bucknor or Tim Welke.

But one wonders.  The NY Daily News reported 8 days ago that Jason Bay was called out on strike 3 by Vanover on a ball “that was clearly not a strike.”  And the normally reticent Bay actually beefed about the call.

As far as Bay was concerned, it was bad enough that he had to face Stephen Strasburg and hear the taunts of Mets fans over his slow start at the plate.  Being called out on a ball that was not a strike was salt in the wound.

Vanover is a seasoned veteran.  He is in his 19th year in MLB.  He has umpired in 1 All Star Game, 3 Championship Series, 2 Division Series and 1 World Baseball Classic. 

He is ranked on www.statfox.com as the 11th out of 66 umps for most frequently having a K occur when is the home plate umpire – called or swinging K’s.  Vanover averages 17.5 K’s per game.

Vanover is far higher up the ranks when it comes to calling a base-on-balls.  He is the 3rd highest out of 66 umps in giving a man his base.  He averages 10 BB called per game.

Let me tell you what I saw from my bar room view of the NESN broadcast.  Cody Ross allowed pitches to pass that looked less than 3 inches away from the black.  I would never presume to give batting instruction, but I think you have to swing at those.

And as for Mr. Bard, he seemed to be on the receiving end of the same fraternity paddle.  His pitches came within 3 inches of the black.  They were called balls.  I’m not a pitching instructor, and I know this isn’t completely fair to say, but I think when you come that close to the plate you have to take responsibility for not getting even closer and removing all doubt.

So I would not judge Mr. Vanover too harshly or quickly.

I’ll tell you one thing.  I really liked what I saw from Mr. Bard today.  He was a stalwart for 6 innings.  You can second guess Valentine for not pulling him earlier.  It doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that the kid contributed a quality start from the 5th spot in the rotation.  Last year, no. 5 starter Tim Wakefield started 23 games.  He gave us 3 starts of this caliber in the entire 6 months of the 2011 season.  That’s 1 great start about every 7 starts.   This kid already has one in his 2nd start.

I think we are going to see many, many more from Daniel Bard.

Go Sox !

POSTSCRIPTS:  Yesterday’s odd triple play in the Dodger-Padre game is worth watching.  A bird’s eye view might show the ball first landing behind the plate in foul territory, but that perspective isn’t available and this one went down officially as a 2-5-6-3 triple play.  Anything can happen in baseball.  Check it out at:  http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120415&content_id=28774198&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

Michael Kay is an ignorant gas bag.  Not every day and in every way.  But he sounded like a moron when he chastised Dustin Pedroia for saying that Bobby Valentine’s public criticism of Kevin Youkilis is “not the way we do things around here.”  Kay opined that Pedroia’s analysis was not too swift because “the way they do things up there got their manager fired last year.”.  Kay showed how little he understands Dustin Pedroia, because if he did, he’d have said Dustin is a great player and great team mate, but it would serve everyone best if Dustin  stayed out of this messy, messy situation brought on by the narcissistic Mr. Valentine.  Question:  What kind of fool decides to stir the pot when the team he manages is on a winning streak ?  Answer:  The kind who lives to be in the white hot camera light.  That’s Valentine. 

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