Saturday, July 14, 2012

Giants Snap Losing Streak, and A Brief Argument Against Home Plate Collisions

(Updated below)

There's nothing like winning the first game back from the all-star break, especially after that awful 1-5 road trip through Washington and Pittsburgh. Sure, the All Star Game was a hoot and all, with the Giants lighting up the scoreboard, but there are plenty of skeptics who will consider the game meaningless. And if your team isn't contenting--then, sure, it is meaningless (zing!).

But I'm sure that the Washington Nationals will appreciate home field advantage when they defeat the Texas Rangers in six this year. Wait a moment! Who typed that? There are so many things wrong with that sentence. Do we really have to watch another World Series with the Rangers? And, of course, the Giants are on their way to the playoffs, so don't even consider it...

Now, where was I? Ah yes, so the Giants snap their two game losing streak, and they did it with style. Madison Bumgarner continued to be Madison Bumgarner, at one point retiring thirteen straight Astros. I know, the Astros are even worse than before--that is, sans Carlos Lee. But if you recall last year--of course you do: after he embarrassed the Giants on August 25th, you were outraged that the Giants gave up Henry Sosa for Jeff Keppinger, see how alternative-universe-y things got?--you can't just expect to automatically defeat wretched teams. You're definitely afraid of what's going to happen tonight when Tim Lincecum takes the mound, but if we could cherry-pick numbers for a moment, Lincecum has 3.99 ERA at home with opposing hitters hitting .227/.322/.330, while opposing pitcher Lucas Harrell's away numbers are 2-5, 6.59 ERA,  with opponents batting .293/.348/.467.

And Buster Posey's home run in the bottom of the first. I missed most of the Barry Bonds era, which overlapped with some of my non-baseball watching peregrinations, so that was the first time I've ever seen a ball land 448 feet out in dead center.

The only blemish was Pablo Sandoval's collision at home plate. It was the first test for Giants fans, who haven't seen, from what I can recall, a Giants runner collide with a catcher since Posey returned. I couldn't think of anything but Posey's collision. I've gone on record that it's time to change, but read Grant Brisbee's more extensive arguments.

I don't really care whether Chris Snyder is cool with it or not, there's no place for collisions in baseball. Ryan Theriot can't tackle José Altuve to avoid a double play, and Alex Rodriguez can't slap the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove on his way down the first base line. The rules can change, catchers can be protected, and run-covetous teams (including ours) will still figure out ways to score runs. You'll see. I can already tell that you're making excuses, but think of whether you'd want to use them in other situations. To wit, your arguments boil down to:
  1. Anything that the Giants do is good, even if we're pissed when anything happens to Posey (this is the universality-be-damned approach).
  2. The status quo is good (i.e., baseball should never change, which is false).
  3. Victim blaming (catcher in the way, he was asking for it, etc.--If you're a decent person, I shouldn't have to explain to you why this argument is fucked up).
See, you don't exactly like where that's going, and you wouldn't use these arguments in the rest of your life. So scoff if you like, and pretend that what happens on the diamond stays on the diamond, but you know that I'm right.

Update (8:30pm):
Alex Pavlovic on Bruce Bochy's response to the home plate collision:
Bochy talked to Posey about the way Chris Snyder blocked the plate last night. It was kind of a refresher course for everything Posey was taught in the spring. [...]
Bochy said he has never had the “no collisions at home” conversation with his position players, even after he was so vocal last year about Posey’s season-ending injury. But he added that he would pull a guy aside if he thought a runner went at the plate the wrong way.

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