Dali Meets Federman

What the heck happened this weekend? It was a Dali painting wrapped in a Federman novel inside a flaming bag of… well, it was weird…

  • Four separate rain delays on Friday night caused the game to be suspended after 1 a.m. Saturday and didn’t resume until that day’s regularly scheduled contest.
  • The game went 11 innings because Nick Hundley committed an error and a passed ball that led to the only two runs — both unearned — the Dodgers scored in regulation.
  • Tony Gwynn Jr. mistook Pat Neshek for Trevor Hoffman in the 11th and singled home the eventual winning run.
  • Gwynn also scored the winning run in Saturday’s actual game.
  • Saturday’s actual game ended in the stupidest way imaginable. Down 4-0 in the ninth, the Padres managed to load the bases against closer Jonathan Broxton. Cameron Maybin then hit a slow roller toward third baseman Casey Blake, who plowed into Chase Headley as Headley was running from second to third. Headley was called out for interference, game over.

The Headley/Blake collision (best viewed through the Hubble Space Telescope, and perhaps even still occurring) was the bizarrest of the bizarre. It took some time and assistance from folks who know better than me to figure out, but the applicable rules are 7.08(b):

[Any runner is out when --] He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball… A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.

(emphasis mine) and 7.09(i):

[It is interference by a batter or a runner when -- ] He fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball…

In other words, if you’re an infielder trying to field a baseball that enters the imaginary baseline, your right to field the ball supersedes the baserunner’s right to use said baseline, so clear debris as necessary. This doesn’t sit well with me, but it is the rule. Quoth Headley:

It was a smart play by Blake. I slowed and gave him a path. He made a side step and came into me. He did it in a way that he got the call.

The real lesson: It sucks to get beat on a wet, cold weekend at home. And Gwynn may well be the second most exasperating player I’ve seen (he’s got a long way to go to catch Ruben Rivera).

On the bright side, the Padres managed to avoid getting swept, thanks to an unexpected late-inning offensive burst on Sunday. I missed all but the very end of this one but did note two encouraging items.

With nobody on and one out in the eighth, Hundley fell behind, 0-2, to right-hander Lance Cormier before drawing a nine-pitch walk. Later that same inning, with two out, Maybin drove a 3-2 pitch to deep right-center field for a triple.

If Hundley continues to exhibit that kind of patience and Maybin keeps using the entire field (recall that his game-tying homer against Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin on Opening Day came to straightaway center), positive outcomes will follow. Here’s hoping…

* * *

  • Release point notes (Hardball Times). Max Marchi has fun with PITCHf/x.
  • Baseball program will continue at UC Berkeley (UC Berkeley). This is great news. [h/t Hardball Times]
  • The Rookie Effect (Baseball Prospectus). I haven’t had a chance to digest this yet, but Brian Mills’ article looks potentially useful and interesting.
  • Manny Ramirez’s Legacy, and the Fate of the Rays (FanGraphs). Ramirez, one of the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history (I’ve got him at no. 6 or 7), has retired. Apparently it was either that or sit out 100 games due to a positive drug test. Remember when the Cleveland Indians developed an insane amount of talent in the early-’90s? Ramirez and Jim Thome are Hall of Famers, Albert Belle would have been if not for injury, and Kenny Lofton (originally a member of the Astros, but still) can make a reasonable case in a “90 percent as good as Tim Raines” kind of way. You know who was part of the trade that sent Lofton from Houston to Cleveland? Former Padres right-hander and current Fort Wayne TinCaps pitching coach Willie Blair.
  • The Retirement of MannyBManny (SI.com). Speaking of Ramirez, Joe Posnanski offers his thoughts.

Meanwhile, down on the farm…

  • Opening Day Madness (Baseball Prospectus). Kevin Goldstein notes Keyvius Sampson’s six perfect innings and Logan Forsythe’s two-homer, four-walk night.
  • Sampson, 20, long on talent (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Speaking of Sampson, he blames last season’s triceps tendinitis on poor mechanics but says those issues are behind him: “This year, I’m looking at repeating my delivery and just go out there and stay consistent.”
  • Improvement by-the-numbers (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Everett Williams worked out with Ryan Ludwick over the winter. Here’s to better things from both in 2011.
  • Tate’s fate (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Sticking with the outfielder theme, Donavan Tate is hitting .400/.471/.533… If only the season lasted just four games…
  • Dominican Castro trying to perfect his pitches and English (Arizona Daily Star). Simon Castro got torched (4 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 SO) in his season debut. Not sure about his English…
  • Snapshot of … LHP Aaron Poreda (Arizona Daily Star). Poreda talks about his struggles. I hope he can get his “mojo” back but I’m not holding my breath.
  • Closer takes long road to Tucson (Arizona Daily Star). I like Evan Scribner, whom the Padres acquired in a trade for Tony Clark back in 2008 (thank you, Kevin Towers).

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7 Responses »

  1. Simon, welcome to Colorado Springs, enjoy your stay… – And people say baseball in Denver is crazy!

    Interesting note about Tate, after striking out 41 times in 90 at-bats last season (45.6%), Tate has now gone three consecutive games without a K (2 in first game). Again, as Geoff pointed out, small sample size and all, but still…

  2. I was really starting to dread the season after the first 2 games, but game 3 brought back a lot of hope. The Padres keep putting together quality at bats, and in the first 2 games, had nothing to show for it, but finally, some of those well struck balls found something besides an outfielders glove.

    That said, is Hundley’s improved offense a reasonable trade off for his defensive regression, because he looked terrible behind the plate this weekend. Even in the win on Sunday, his throws to 2nd looked like he was throwing to the CF.

    Also, I was kind of snickering about the big Frazee paint can in LF all weekend, because I don’t think i’ve ever seen a ball hit that far in Petco by any one, let alone a padre. Ludwick’s monster blast aside, do you think anyone even comes close to it this year, or is it the safest promotion ever?

  3. After hearing the announcers, I wondered if I was the only guy that thought that Headley was definitely out on that interference play. The play was relatively close, but Blake by rule has a clear path to a hit ball. He didn’t go out of his way to impede Headley, and the ball was in the baseline when contact was made. If it had been hit slower and wasn’t in the area yet, and all other factors were the same, I see it as obstruction by Blake.

    Usually what happens on a play like that is Headley would dodge around him, stay within the baseline, then get called out for going outside the baseline just becauses Blake had position, kind of like a bag vicinity play on a forceout or double play.

  4. @Adam: I have been watching Hundley’s defense since someone (was it you? sorry, can’t remember) brought it up earlier and, yeah, I’m a little concerned about his technique. I heard somewhere (again, can’t remember the source) that Brad Ausmus was working with him the other day, so maybe that will help. Regarding Hundley’s offense and defense in the early going, I’m trying to remind myself that we still don’t have many data points after two weeks.

    @LynchMob: Thanks for the link. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a team have its first six batters collect three or more hits in a game. I’m not sure which is weirder: that Beamer Weems knocked two homers or that he committed two errors.

    @Frank: It looked to me like Blake initiated contact, which was the root of my initial frustration. But after reading the rules carefully, I realized that it didn’t matter because the fielder has the right of way. The umpire absolutely made the right call, and as you say, Headley’s best option would have been to angle behind Blake en route to third base.

  5. Double or Nothing

  6. I just watched the video of the Headley/Blake incident … the only other aspect is determining that it was Blakes ball to field … it looked to me like it could have been ruled a ground ball to the shortstop … there’s a boundary there somewhere … I’m OK with the ump’s ruling … but it was close …