Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White
Sunday, August 10, 2003
How Sweet It Is! (and the Curse of Being Right... at least for a day)
I've never killed anything with my car before. Except probably some unfortunate bugs that didn't have the God-given sense to fly into oncoming traffic. Today was my first small mammal: A squirrel decided to play chicken with my Toyota Corrola as my wife and I returned home from a date to see a certain pirate movie at the cinema. It was his death wish as his reflexes were akin to that of Craig Biggio into an inside fast ball. And this poor little fella wasn't covered in body armor. No, I slowed down as I saw him in plenty of time. But he froze. I tried to straddle the little sucker, hoping maybe he'd stay frozen. Well, he ain't moving now. There was a thump felt on the back rear tire and my wife Corinne, the animal lover, just freaked, as, low and behold, the certainly now unmoving squirrel appeared in the rear-view mirror. As the house was just a hundred yards away, Corinne insisted we get a shovel and bag and give the suicidal squirrel a proper burial. Driving back to the scene of the accident, we found a pretty gruesome sight, which I won't describe for the sake of our inexperienced-to-the-cruelty-of-nature readers. We prayed that the oncoming traffic would miss guy and not make our duty all the more stomach-churning. We, well pretty much I, scooped him up and we headed back to the backyard. If I wasn't feeling guilt-racked enough, now I had this nagging feeling we were "dumping the evidence." This isn't illegal, is it? It was solemn funeral. Corinne said a prayer and had me whistle taps. Overall, it was pretty shocking and traumatic event.
But all nightmarish visions of a vengeful horde of angry squirrels attacking me in my sleep disappeared when I logged onto my computer and saw the status of the game: Top if the 7th inning. One out. Yankees 4, Mariners 2. Runners at 2nd and 3rd. Bret Boone vs. Jeff Nelson. After jumping ahead 0-2, Nellie reverted back to his favorite trick of inflating the ERA for his fellow pitchers, in this case Rocket and Old Man Orosco, as Boonie ripped a single to right, scoring both Wee Willie and Ichiro! Nellie blows the lead. Tie game. Boone advances to 2nd on the throw home. Rightie Edgar goes down swinging. Two out. Leftie Olerud is given first on an intentional walk. Cammie works the count full and draws the walk. Bases loaded. Winn (.804 OPS versus lefties, .694 versus righties) jumps ahead in the count 2-0. Nellie comes back with a couple of called strikes to make it full. I swear, my ESPN 30-second game update screen updated like 20 times waiting for that next pitch with the count 3-2. Finally... Winn singles to left. Boonie scores. Olerud scores. And not only has Nelson allowed his 2 inherited baserunners to score, he's allowed 2 of his come to come on home. Mariners 6. Yankees 4. Wilson launches a long fly ball to right, unfortunately into Delucci's glove to end the inning.
Mateo and Rhodes gave back the runs in the bottom of the inning, but the M's bled a couple more runs from the Yankees' bullpen for an 8-6 win and a series win in Yankee Stadium. Series wins in the Bronx are great in August. They'd be even better in October.
Mr. Torre, please take notes. The following is an observation that could prove vital to your team:
Opposition versus Jeff Nelson when the bases are empty - .184/.271/.289
Opposition versus Jeff Nelson with runners on - .303/.350/.348
Opposition versus Jeff Nelson with runners in scoring position - .410/.460/.487
Fact: Bringing in Nellie in mid-inning with runners on, particular in scoring position, nearly guarantees they score. Bizarre, isn't it? It's almost like he figures, "Hell, it ain't my ERA if they score." That's certainly a selfish thing to charge a player with, and I never got that vibe from Nellie before, but you can certainly read the numbers that way.
If I were managing Nellie, I'd use him only the start the inning or for a certain matchup with the bases empty. Case in point: Torre's use Friday night. Nellie started the 8th inning and struck out the side. Today, he inherits runners and blows the game. Oh, the moral responsibility of being right.
Now I'll go to bed and try to dream of October sweeps in New York instead of man-eating squirrels.
(Disclaimer: Blogging may be light to sporadic as my sister, brother and his girlfriend visit this coming weekend and I squeeze 40 hours of work into four days in the meantime to get some time off with them.)