I can’t believe hockey season went longer than basketball season – and they both go on too freakin’ long. Congratulations, Mavericks! Next year, try to close it out sooner.
On to more important sports.
Baseball can make anyone an obsessive-compulsive about statistics. I was in Nashville for a customer meeting, and after my wife mentioned she was late for the AirHogs game, I thought “This is the South. There has to be a baseball game around here somewhere.” So, a couple minutes with Google later, I found the Nashville Sounds – the Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A team, and they play a couple of miles from my hotel. As an added bonus, the Round Rock Express was in town, so I could see a Texas team, specifically a Texas Rangers’ team.
Side note – parking $3, ticket $14, beer $6, beef brisket sandwich & fries $7. Total $30. I think that’s under my meal limit.
This was a pitchers’ duel – the Express had three hits but couldn’t score any runs. The Sounds had one hit, but it was a home run, so they won 1-0.
I looked at the stats at the end of the game – Scott Feldman, the Express starting pitcher (on rehab assignment from the Rangers) went 5 innings, walked 2, struck out 5, gave up no hits. He only faced 17 batters and he only threw 73 pitches. (I was surprised he came out, actually.) Derek Hankins came on in relief and faced 7 batters. He didn’t walk anyone, struck out 4, got 2 to ground out (the six outs that made up his two innings of work), and gave up one hit – a home run. 24 pitches, 17 strikes … one over the fence. Beau Jones closed by getting three batters out – two ground-outs, one fly-out. Three up, three down. So, three pitchers, a one-hitter, a 1-0 loss.
For some reason, I’m now just obsessing about this. 4 out of 7 struck out. 57% strike-out rate. 17 strikes out of 24 pitches is 71%. 1 pitch out of 24 is 4%. 96% not bad is usually good, but not in baseball. Almost three-quarters of his pitches were strikes, but he still lost the game.
On the other hand, if three pitchers can limit your opponents to one hit, don’t you think somebody should score them some runs in support?
I am going to try to stop obsessing now.
The other thought wandering around my head lately has been how a team is directed – inward or outward, and does it make a difference to the fans? With the change in managers in Grand Prairie, the team seems much more focused on the game – not that they weren’t focused over the last few years, but it seemed like they were more accessible to the fans. Once the game started, that was it – it was heads down, back to work, but the rest of the time, they either chose to interact with the fans or were directed to do so.
It made being in the Booster Club fun, because the players were always around, and they recognized the booster club members.
This year, they’re off to a great start and they’re kicking the crap out of some of their opponents, but sometimes the fans almost seem to be an afterthought. They are circling the wagons and the team is in the center. While I do think it helps minimize the possible prima donna issues on the team, it means the team is looking inward and not outward.
I assume that a lot of the attitude trickles down from the management – do they see the team as family entertainment playing a game or as a unit that must win all the time? (A related question – is the manager supposed to be a baseball evangelist who draws fans to the park or a general waging war, assuming victory alone produces fans?)
So, a question I’ve been asking myself – Is it preferable to follow an average to above-average team that will acknowledge the fans readily and interact with them when possible or follow a championship quality team that apparently doesn’t know you’re there?
I’m too old to hang with the players or try to keep up with them, so it’s not about socializing for me. There are quite a few players (and a few alumni) who are on Facebook, so I can ask questions and get feedback. A few of the guys will always say “Hi” before the games. It’s just I’ve sensed the overall mood has changed.
I’m not sure I prefer winners who are playing for themselves. I think I would prefer winners that were playing for the fans.
Maybe I’m thinking too much about baseball.