Saturday, May 27, 2006

BOBBLEHEAD VOODOO


In the multi-tasking milieu of today’s New World Order, a ballplayer can get easily distracted having to work holiday weekends like this one.

Those oldtimers had it easy: Lots of days off riding in cramped, smoky trains. Cool-looking wool uniforms to keep the Summer heat close and comfy. They got to pee in outhouses. And they had no global warming, no terrorism, no SUVs. Hell, gas was a quarter a gallon!

But the biggest bitch about playing baseball on Memorial Day in the 21st Century is when the public relation flacks entice fans with a Bobblehead Night at the ballpark. Talk about a distraction.

Here are 30,000 people rattling a player’s figurine likeness every time he comes to the plate. What can be worse than that? It’s like a voodoo doll – and there’s not a single ballplayer that is not superstitious.

“It looks like their jiggling little dickies,” the Old Lady giggled during the Phils ill-fated tenth inning rally last night against the Brewers. The fans, forsaking an early start down the shore to collect their free prizes, were frantically shaking the loose-headed, springy icon, trying desperately to invoke animistic aid upon the bobblehead honoree, Chase Utley.

He was up with two outs in the tenth and looking at Shane Victorino standing on first after legging out an infield single. Utley was hexed so far. He was hitless on the night. It was 6-5. Defeat loomed, and it should not have come too this.

Maybe Milwaukee brought their own tikis of Bob Uecker, because they play Team Psycho as if they were the ’27 Yankees.

But Utley came through in the clutch, thanks to Satan or whatever, stroking a double to left and setting up the game’s eventual ultimate confrontation … with Chris Roberson at the bat.

Just what the bobblehead ordered, eh?

Rookie Roberson was standing there with the bases loaded and the game on the line because Corky Abreu follows Utley in the lineup, and there was no way the Brewers were pitching to him. After two wide pitches, they issued him a free ticket to first to load the bases.

Further rewinding the chain of unlikely causation, Rookie Roberson was there because he had pinch-ran for Baby Girl Burrell. The Fightless needed to mount a ninth-inning comeback to tie the game 5-5 in the ninth, the entire lineup failing to get a hit after the fourth inning and until the ninth except for Burrell. Chollie’s move worked, as Roberson raced in from second on a Ryan Howard double. Burrell has bad wheels, and if Old Backwoods didn’t send in Roberson and Burrell got nailed after The Howitzer’s shot, the possum pie just wouldn’t taste right.

Lastly, Roberson – who flew out to center to end the game – was standing there because Jimmy Rollins was distracted and was caught like a stag in headlights between second and third base after a base hit scored the Phils’ first run in the second. Without that fart, it would have been two men on with none out. The whole comeback might not have been necessary if Rollins didn’t kill the inning. The devil is in that detail.

There was another queer lapse:

All those springy bobbleheads must’ve obstructed the ENTIRE TEAM’S attention or eyesight when Brewers’ baserunner Ricky Weeks, stationed on second, took off like an impala to third base on what he thought was a hit to the outfield. But the ball was caught, so he had to beat a retreat, and fast. Nobody noticed he failed to re-tag third base after he passed it. You’re not allowed to do that. The rule is familiar to baseball men, even if they don’t worship at the bobblehead altar.

Nobody noticed that faux pas, notably Dingdong David Bell, who was standing there…not paying attention. If somebody – anybody – would have thought to appeal, Weeks would have been the third out of the inning. Instead, Weeks scored on a single by the subsequent hitter, Phillie-killer Geoff Jenkins. That gave the Brewers a 5-3 lead.

Those two distractions cost Team Bobblehead the game, plain and simple. The worse of the two, for my money, was Rollins flub. After six years of running the bases that was a bush league fuck up.

And it wasn’t even his Bobblehead Night.

5 Comments:

Anonymous ChuckM said...

I would say the Phils are snkaebitten at this point, except that they have nobody to blame except for themselves for not appealing the Weeks retag. Rollins baserunning gaffe was made moot by Carlos Ruiz GIDP and the play where Howard had his arm shoved off the bag and he was doubled off was made moot by the fact that the next batter was Nunez, a near automatic out. Mike Lieberthal has gotten a lot of grief for that 1.5 year period where he was useless with RISP, but I am going to be very happy to see his bat bat in the lineup on Sunday. These winnable 1-2
run losses are getting a bit wearying.

27/5/06 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Nat said...

Rollins screw-up was individual effort, but the non-appeal at 3rd required team effort -- and system-wide failure.

27/5/06 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nat,

According to the Dirty News, the staff did not know of Weeks missed retag until a video technicain came to the dugout and informed them and at that point it was too late. The chumpire said that had the play been appealed, Weeks would have been called out,therefore ending the inning. A friend of mine was at the
game and him and his pals caught the missed retag as it happened. So, fans in the stands caught this and none of the staff didnt? I wish when the Phils lose it would be a normal loss rather than dropping winnable games, especially via botched plays or as in last nights game, negligence on the staffs part.

27/5/06 10:12 AM  
Blogger Tacony Lou said...

All,

On the Rollins flub: You can't assume a Ruiz GIDP if Rollins is on second with no out -- even if he did, it doesn't end the innning.

On the Weeks missed appeal: Considering how many times appeals are made just to see if the umpire calls a runner out, it's amazing nobody on the field or dugout had an eye on the baserunner, especially this mistake-prone rookie. And especially a mistake the fans see from the seats.

28/5/06 12:48 AM  
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