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Morning Java: Low RISP, low reward?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column applauds four unsung heroes in the Pirates’ rise to first. At least one of those names is guaranteed to surprise some.

>> The weekly chat is today at noon, here on the blog. As soon as you see the post, you can submit entries.

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>> The series finale brings the Pirates another extra-inning lossKaren Price is in St. Louis.

One popular meme that’s emerged from the Pirates’ recent struggles — they’ve lost five of six going into this homestand vs. Arizona — is that all would be well if they’d only come up with a few more clutch hits.

Two problems with that:

1. Almost every conceivable analysis decries the mere existence of clutch. So start there.

2. The Pirates’ overall OPS is .702, and their OPS with RISP is .637. That’s not some colossal gap.

Sure, the .637 figure is the worst in baseball. And as such, whether you believe it to be coincidence or not, it’s got room to climb. But the infinitely more meaningful figure is the .702 overall, because that ranks 24th in the majors out of 30 teams … and that doesn’t allow much room for failure in the more visible moments.

Let me put it another way: If you’ve got an offense that routinely rolls out 5-6 runs, you’re not going to care in the slightest who’s clutch and who isn’t because it won’t be noticeable. It’ll look a lot like St. Louis’ rally yesterday off A.J. Burnett, where it’s just a bunch of hits strung together.

Here’s the rest of our baseball coverage.

Here’s Cardinals news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Diamondbacks news from the Arizona Republic.

Here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

>> The Steelers again lose Le’Veon Bell to a knee injury. Alan Robinson and Ralph Paulk are in Latrobe. That and much more can be found on our Steelers page.

Been pretty clear throughout camp that Mike Tomlin and staff are dying the give the ball to Bell. He even inched up the depth chart this week — tying Isaac Redman at the top — without playing against the Giants. Bizarre territory for a rookie.

But if Bell can’t stay on the field, Plan B needs to kick in sometime soon.

Meanwhile, Mark Kaboly wonders if four wideouts might be enough …

>> Pitt’s defense tries to get up to Seminole speed. Jerry DiPaola files.

>> A 6.6K run to benefit the Mario Lemieux Foundation?

Sign me up for everything but the running part, please.

>> The Flyers’ captain gets hurt golfing? What is that, like, comedy?

>> Penn State’s 2012 football season is chronicled wonderfully in this Wall Street Journal excerpt. If you didn’t already think the world of Bill O’Brien and Michael Mauti, you might after this. It’s the stuff of movies.

>> Most of the weekend will be spent at PNC Park with an aim toward Sunday and Monday columns. I’ll be part of WPXI-TV’s ‘The Final Word’ Sunday night. And then I’ll drive on out to D.C. to cover Steelers-Redskins on Monday night.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

418 Comments

  1. Nice column. I’ve also been meaning to say I’ve enjoyed the radio show, as well as your appearances on the other guys show. Great to listen to thru the iPhone App in the car.

    DK: Thanks, JD. Really appreciate that on all counts, especially the info about the car. Only in the past month have I started using the phone that way myself and … well, it’s something I immediately felt like I should have been doing a long, long time ago.

  2. More concerning, well to me at least, is the fact that in Burnett’s last 2 starts he was given a decent lead to work with, and then promptly gave it right back.

    I seem to recall him struggling in August and September of last year as well.
    Every pitcher has their rough spots during a season.

    AJ had pitched so well prior to this.
    Hope for the team’s sake he turns it around in his next start.

    • I’m with you 100% on that. The only worse thing is it was obvious he’d lost it, and Clint couldn’t get his ass out of the dugout.

      Those 5 runs should have been cut off earlier. Another effort from the bullpen wasted.

  3. BRING BACK THE PITCHFORKS!!!
    BRING BACK THE TORCHES!!!

    Wait a minit……………..

    Pirates 1-5 in their last 6.
    I believe they had the lead in all 6 games?

    With timely hitting, and good management decisions, I think they could have been 4-2, or 5-1.

    Arizona is coming to town on fire. Bucs need to straighten out, and just do their jobs.
    But, that’s baseball , I guess.

    • Yep, potential 5-1 road trip turned into a 1-5 trip. Twice in a row now that AJ has given if the game, promptly after being given a lead.

      These next couple weeks are a chance a get back on the horse before the Cards come in at the end of the month.

  4. I’ve been thinking this for a few weeks now. the Pirate announcers keep harping on the the RISP stat (mostly Greg Brown), yet they always fail to mention that, oh yeah by the way, the team is lousy at hitting to begin with.

    • Let me name two guys from the past – Tim Foli and some dude named Mazeroski – who usually averaged .250 to .275, but when they came to the plate with a RISP, it seemed as though they were career .300 hitters. They appeared dedicated and obsessed to get an RBI. Al Oliver also comes to mind but he was a more gifted hitter – but still clutch.
      I’m certain there were many others like these (whom I can’t recall). It wasn’t necessary to be Miguel Cabrera-like, these guys wanted to produce and did.

      It didn’t need to be a majestic line drive, simply a seeing-eye bounder worked as well.

      What they rarely did in these situations was strike out – unlike today’s over-rated characters, even our best. Foli and Maz usually 8th, and Oliver 2nd or 3rd.

      Maybe another level of CONCENTRATION, mingled with desire and talent.

      • usually batted 8th. . . . .

      • Bob,

        Your anecdotal evidence is on the whole kind of off the mark, except for one notable outlier.

        Mazeroski Career BA: .260
        Mazeroski Career BA w/ RISP: .254

        Tim Foli Career BA: .251
        Tim Foli Career BA w/ RISP: .249

        Ah, but I mentioned an outlier, didn’t I?

        Tim Foli 1979 BA: .288
        Tim Foli 1979 BA w/ RISP: .328

        But maybe that can be somewhat explained with this.

        Tim Foli 1980 BA: .265
        Tim Foli 1980 BA w/ RISP: .210

        Basically, in short…hitting with RISP is not what one calls a repeatable skill. Foli skyrockets one year, then plummets the next year. Average 1979 and 1980 together, and Foli hit .269 w/ RISP. So, ever so slightly above his career average.

        • Remember both batted eighth where seeing perfect pitches to hit didn’t routinely occur, with the pitcher batting ninth.

          • Further, I wasn’t aware RISP stats were kept then. I was purely going on memory – or fantasy

            • Yeah, no sweat. I had some free time at work this morning and decided to take a look.

              It’s like how I assume that Fred Taylor averaged roughly 200 yards a game on the ground against the Steelers in his career. It was only 84.9, which would translate to a nearly-1,400 yard season.

              So it wasn’t THAT bad.

              • Is this how the IRS and NSA spend their days?

                Why did I just have this overwhelming feeling I was being – watched?

                Big Brother?

          • As far as Foli is concerned, that’s simply not true.

            Tim Foli batted primarily second for the Pirates, according to Baseball-Reference.com. In 1979, he had 581 PA at 2nd, just 10 at 8th. In 1980 he had 530 PA at 2nd, and 10 at 7th and 9th combined. For his career, Foli batted at 2nd ~3500 times and at 8th ~1500.

            Mazeroski did, in fact, bat near the bottom of the line-up for the entirety of his career, so I’ll grant you that. That doesn’t change the fact that he wasn’t a terribly good hitter with RISP.

          • Foli actually batted 2nd…Garner was the 8th place hitter

        • One of the key points I attempted to stress – and failed obviously – is they didn’t strike out. Again memory/fantasy.

        • Also in his brilliant year of 1979, we also won the WS as you will recall. Maybe a little clutch hitting does go a long way

  5. Plan B does need to go into motion regarding RB, as it’s clear Le’Veon Bell is not what we thought he was.
    I’m tired of hearing guys getting hurt.
    Go with the one’s that can stay out on the field and let it happen.

    SO sick of hearing this guy went down, and that guy went town.
    It’s a rough game, but these guys are barely old enough to buy a beer!
    Come on!

  6. I wonder how much of the last-ranked RISP OPS is attributable to what must be a league-leading number of bunt attempts with runners on second base?

    Half-joking aside, the Marte bunt in the seventh, when factoring in score/situation/etc., was to my eye the worst such decision of the season. And there’s no lack of candidates.

    DK: Yes, Clint Hurdle is a terrible manager. Amazing they’ve overcome his idiocy 71 times.

    • “…was to my eye the worst such decision of the season.”

      My friend, it’s time to admit you’re ready for glasses.

    • Is this post coming from Federal St?

    • Dejan,
      I agree with you. I am sick of hearing people complain that Hurdle is such a poor manager. The Pirates have one of the best records in baseball and have a two game lead on what many consider the best team in baseball. What do they want? Do they realistically believe this team would be like 35 games over .500 with another manager of their choice? Get serious, people!

      Baseball is a game with so many intricisies that nearly every decision a manager makes can be questioned. That is what makes every pitch exciting in a race like this. Those are probably the same people that say they love baseball, but add that they can’t sit through an entire game on TV.

      • No, Thundercrack, I am not a Pirate Front Office apologist. I dont think DK is either. And I say this with all due respect to you, Thundercrack. I respect your thoughts as I have read your insightful comments on here for a long time.

    • Yes I agree with you Konstantin, especially on the play of Marte in the seventh. You do not take the bat out of the hand of one of the guys you hope to count on, and concede an out with a bunt.

      We have such an abundance of offensive talent we can afford to merely throw an out down the drain.

      So now we are going to credit every game we have won to Hurdle, but don’t dare criticize him in a loss! Balderdash, I say!

      • The Rule of 54 usually applies; teams win that many, and lose that many, and the third batch of 54 belong to the manager and his “genius”.

        Hurdle is squandering his allotment.

        • “So now we are going to credit every game we have won to Hurdle, but don’t dare criticize him in a loss! ”

          Bob, Really?
          Black and White positions. No Gray area for observations? 0 mph or 100 mph. No speed in between for observations?

          “We” can give credit due to Hurdle without thinking he is a genius on every play. Color me gray while driving 50mph.

          • Apparently you paid no attention to DK’s comment above. I was somewhat rebutting that.
            Scan up – you’ll see it!

          • Dad:

            Although I do agree with this post, there have been many instances that people on this very blog have said the following:

            Criticism of Hurdle is over the top,
            he has them 71-48, give him a break,
            are you criticizing Hurdle for (fill in the blank) move…..REALLY???
            this team is 71-0 when Hurdle does nothing, 0-49 when he does! (that’s for you, DK)

            So there is the “black and white” on both sides.
            I criticize Hurdle when appropriate, praise when appropriate.

            He has done both good and bad, so there is room for both praise and criticism…………… regardless if some people object to it.

            • Plan—how are any of those examples black and white. And of course there’s room for criticism.

              I’m flummoxed.

              • Sorry to flummox you.

                They are black and white when a commenter uses them in the context that criticism of Hurdle really isnt allowed.

                Look at #3 specifically……….. there are those here that are incredulous when Hurdle is criticized in certain situations, as if he is above any criticsm.

        • that’s not the rule of 54, Bob. I’ve never heard anyone say a MANAGER and the few decisions he makes during a game really count for ONE THIRD of the game outcomes. Geeze. and what, no hate Barmes today? or do I need to scroll down?

    • Are we CERTAIN Marte was instructed to bunt? I was in the car at the time, and didn’t see how early he squared, but is it possible Marte did this on his own (a la Ronny Cedeno – God help us).

    • Straw man, Dejan.

      Bunting there, down a run in the 7th inning, was awful.

      DK: Did you read the column?

  7. Thank you for your work. Rooting for your loved one. Winnipeg had E. Davydov on Sega in ’94. Beast against me.

    DK: Thanks, Bill, on both counts. Mom expected home today after a fully successful heart surgery Thursday morning. Thanks here to all who put well wishes up on my and her Facebook pages. Very kind.

    And yes, Evgeny Davydov one of many NHL 94 players — Jets or otherwise — who were badly out of whack with reality. But none more than Pat Falloon and the expansion Sharks. (With whom I raised many a Cup, I must confess.)

  8. Didn’t expect that fourth inning from A.J. Won’t make anything of it — it is what it is.

    Time now to cool off some red-hot rattlesnakes. Then, one last swing to the west coast. Outside chance I’ll make s sortie to SD with the kids to root on the Bucs. Will check cash flow, this time next week and decide.

  9. DK,

    Good news about your mom and the surgery. My mom had heart surgery in 2010 and that is scary stuff. Glad she made it through.

  10. The Pirates are 6-6 in their last 12 games. Interestingly enough, that includes stretches of 5-1 and 1-5. Last week, they were the hot team; this week Arizona is. Yes, the Pirates had leads in 4 of the last five losses. In the game they did not have the lead, they had 4 hits in the first inning without scoring a run. At the end of the day though, they have still won a lot more than they have lost, and they are fun (and sometimes frustrating) to watch.

  11. I should know the answer but it’s been so long since we’ve had a Sept that counts. Rosters expand to 40 on 9/1 but the AAA season and playoffs go to mid Sept – that means too bad, Indy?

    • Anyone they want will be up, the AAA team playoffs don’t mean squadoosh.

      • Thx, I presumed that is the case. Though I also expect the big clubs want to do ‘right’ for their minor league clubs. Everyone is focusing on the position players but I see greater help come from arms – the bullpen has been abused lately.

  12. Run Marte back to AAA. I can’t take his swinging at sliders a foot out of the strike zone anymore.

    It’s watching the entire career of Craig Wilson, in just a few at bats.

    I’m sad.

  13. Jeanmar Gomez? Ok, but he’s hardly 1-A in reasons the Pirates have won. That might be why he is unsung.

    Liriano is singing the entire choir’s parts right now.

  14. JAL’s Opus 17 (Don’t you worry about me) Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NfSN0akFtw

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dHVOMzdPYm9wUEJtdVJ0WWUzVWhFc2c#gid=0

    5 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013draft

    BLOGS and such

    6—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: What Could Be the Solution to the RISP Problem?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/first-pitch-what-could-be-the-solution-to-the-risp-problem.html

    Prospect Watch: Rojas Collects Three Extra Base Hits, GCL Pirates Face Halladay

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/prospect-watch-rojas-collects-three-extra-base-hits-gcl-pirates-face-halladay.html

    MLB to Expand Instant Replay in 2014, Yet the System Is Flawed

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/mlb-to-expand-instant-replay-in-2014-yet-the-system-is-flawed.html

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Cardinals beat Pirates in 12, take series

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/8/15/4625928/cardinals-beat-pirates-in-12-take-series

    8 Rumbunter

    MLB’s Expanded Replay Plan Is A Bad Idea

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/08/15/mlbs-expanded-replay-plan-is-a-bad-idea/

    Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher Tony Sanchez on The Rumbunter Podcast

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/08/16/pittsburgh-pirates-catcher-tony-sanchez-on-the-rumbunter-podcast/

    9 WHYGAVS

    Game 120: Cardinals 6 Pirates 5

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/august-2013/game-120-cardinals-6-pirates-5.html

    10 The Green Weenie

    Pirates Go Down In Twelve 6-5

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/08/pirates-go-down-in-twelve-6-5.html

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Cardinals 6 Pirates 5

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/08/cardinals-6-pirates-5/

  15. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 USA Today

    Really? MLB says replay will speed up pace of games

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/08/15/bob-nightengale-mlb-instant-replay/2662897/

    13 KDKA

    Colin Dunlap: Marte’s Drop Could Turn Into A Positive

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/08/15/colin-dunlap-martes-drop-could-turn-into-a-positive/

    14 Dailey American

    Curve pitcher Kingham appears on DA Live

    http://www.dailyamerican.com/sports/somerset/curve-pitcher-kingham-appears-on-da-live/article_975d5558-061d-11e3-a4f1-0019bb30f31a.html

    15 Rant Sports

    Don’t Get Too Excited With Cincinnati Reds’ Run

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/08/15/dont-get-too-excited-with-cincinnati-reds-run/

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates vs Diamondbacks Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130816_ARI@PIT/diamondbackspirates-preview

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Holliday sinks Pirates in the 12th

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/holliday-sinks-pirates-in-the-th/article_42b64c11-2502-5791-a24c-10343f22832f.html

    18 PBC Site

    Pirates’ walk-off loss to Cards closes gap in Central

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_08_15_pitmlb_slnmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Liriano’s comeback could net another honor

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130815&content_id=57083566&notebook_id=57083226&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Sweetspot

    Burnett, Martin key to Pirates’ title hopes

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/39162/burnett-martin-key-to-pirates-title-hopes

    20 Fangraphs

    Expanded Replay Probably Coming, Probably Flawed

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/expanded-replay-probably-coming-probably-flawed/

  16. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers rookie RB Le’Veon Bell suffers knee injury in practice

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/8/15/4625740/steelers-rookie-rb-leveon-bell-suffers-knee-injury-in-practice

    Steelers injury update: Thursday practice brutal for running backs

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/8/15/4625874/steelers-injury-update-thursday-practice-brutal-for-running-backs

    22 Steelers Depot

    Tight Situation at Tight End Could Have Significant Roster Implications

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/08/tight-situation-at-tight-end-could-have-serious-roster-implications/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger admits transfer window frustration but won’t buy for the sake of it

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/10246932/Arsenal-manager-Arsene-Wenger-admits-transfer-window-frustration-but-wont-buy-for-the-sake-of-it.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 15th August, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-15th-august-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points 8/16: Look at Bottom 6; Golf Is Dangerous

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/8/16/4626520/pens-points-8-16-look-at-bottom-6-golf-is-dangerous

  17. DK,
    I really enjoyed today’s column. When I read your post here about what your column was about I thought “didn’t he just write one about that?”

    “To gauge public sentiment, the Pirates are 0-49 when Hurdle makes an actual decision, 71-0 when he simply watches.” – Beautiful. And I totally agree.

    ‘Fact is, Leyva has been brilliant as the infield instructor.’ Brought tears to my eyes.

    (glad to hear your mother’s surgery was successful)

  18. DK
    Nice article. I was at the 14 inning marathon and immediately had to count to 10 to remain calm when Cutch didn’t run on contact on Alvarez’ single. You are correct though, overall they (the 4 mentioned) are rather unsung. Especially Gomez in my opinion. Is your show on 93.7? I can get that on Itune radio (I live in Indiana) and would like to listen to it.
    Keep up the good work!

  19. KISS bought a piece of an Arena Football franchise?

    Perfect.

    Not real football. Not real rock.

  20. Indeed, prayers for your mom and family, Dejan.

  21. DK, thanks so much for the WSJ article suggestion; I might have missed it otherwise. As one of the blog’s few PSU grads, this was an amazing read. Author Bacon captures so well the irony and hypocrisy of the NCAA under Emmert. The greatest irony of all may be that a year later, Penn State’s public image may be higher than Emmert’s and the NCAA’s is. But that is what happens when people like O’Brien, Mauti and Zordich are in one place and Mark Emmert is in the other.

    May we never again see crimes like that of Sandusky at any university in the future. May those still responsible for what happened at PSU be held accountable. May the NCAA find competent leadership. And above all, may victimized children everywhere find safety, justice, and peace.

    • DK, I also echo the prayers for your mom and your family in her time of recovery.

    • From one PSU grad to another, Right On!

      Kudos to all who stayed! From O’Brien, to Zordich, to Mauti and others, they manned up and fulfilled their commitments even though, the brain trust let them down with sins, both of commission and omission. Parents and alum alike should be very proud.

      Here’s hoping the real, true victims of this whole sordid mess are getting the help they need to put their lives back together!

  22. Love the much needed attitude that AJ brought to town last year and his leadership role since. Was in favor of his signing from the start for those very reasons. I just think we need to see how the balance of this season plays out before rushing to sign him for 1-2 more years @ 9-10+ mill per year (or more). He wants to wait to see where he is at season’s end and we should too.

  23. I just love that because some guys like Hurdle & Marte have been good at their jobs and have really helped the team, you can’t criticize them when they screw up. I’m afraid the “let’s not keep score & give everyone a trophy” crowd is taking over.

    Cue Ray Stevens.

  24. After eight recent games, the Cardinals now know they are in a fight to the finish. I hope that all of us on this blog can realize the same thing. There will be no collapse this year, and I will take these next six or seven weeks over the last 20 years combined.

    Lets go get the Snakes!

  25. Let’s take a deeper dive regarding RISP Batting average vs non-RISP or total batting average.

    The NL average BA is .251 compared to RISP BA of .250 – basically no difference.
    But comparing the Cards, Reds and Pirates is striking.

    Cards total BA is .273 but their RISP BA is 60 points higher at .333
    Reds total BA is .246 while their RISP BA is about the same at .248
    but Pirates total BA is .245 while their RISP BA is much lower at .224

    If you compare RISP BA with non-RISP BA the disparity is even worse
    Pirates hit .252 when runners aren’t in scoring position compared to .224 when they are

    The Pirates have 1007 at bats with runners in scoring position with 292 RBIs.
    The Reds have 1001 at bats with runners in scoring position with 365 RBIs
    The Cards have 1023 at bats with runners in scoring position with 439 RBIs

    if the Pirates were able to maintain their average of .252 with RISP, they would have 28 more hits this year which would translate into 36 more runs (an 8% increase). That increase would move the Pirates from 11th in the league in runs scored to 5th.

    • Interesting stuff. The ABs are there to be had; the results are lacking.

    • Nice Carmen…points out what most of us who have watched a lot of the series know.

      Think about what the Cardinals do to win games against the Pirates…It’s nothing pretty…the bludgeon you with singles and slip in a double with multiple men on base. That’s it – Their starters have no clue how to keep the Pirates from putting runs up in bursts….their bullpen looks much better. They are one of two teams (the other is the Reds) that it’s hard to say “just let us get to their pen”, because in all honesty, I’d rather watch them bust Miller or Westbrooke to pieces.

      How do the Reds get up on the Bucs…seems to me it’s usually an ill-time mistake pitch to Phillips or Bruce…they do it at once and use their staff (starters and pen) to keep the Pirates in check. They squander opportunities just like the bucs do with men on base and often times go completely to sleep after a 1 run lead.

      There is nothing scary about Cardinals starting staff right now….I know many would disagree but if you can scatter what you give up to their offense, they are just not nearly as big a threat as the Reds in my eyes…and that may be simply because the Pirates staff has been solid up until recently. The Cards string all those those hits together against weaker pitching, but look far less potent against guys that “pitch”. The Reds are capable of bombs, and that is what get’s scary this late in the game.

  26. Still awaiting Jandy’s comment on Claude Giroux.

  27. Well. Hubby surprised me with tickets to the Curve Game last night. And what a great evening to go. Perfect weather. $2 beers on Thirsty Thursday, best steak sandwiches in the state.

    Bromburg pitched a gem of a game….8 innings, 102 pitches, hitting 89 mph a good bit. 2 hits (none until the 6th inning) 1 walk, and 7 strike outs. Nice job. Was a joy to watch. Cutler (catcher) threw out 2 or 3 attempted steals. Only one was successful. Like the Pirates, they left too many on base…9. Kasparek pitched the 9th, and man, is he tall. You guys will love him. At 6’8 he looks like Paul Bunyan out there!

    The Curve didn’t score until the 8th inning. Mel Rojas had 2 doubles and a triple on the night…and man, can he run fast. Left fielder. Dickerson also had a double.

    With no score thru 7 innings, it was starting to look like extra innings. Glad it didn’t get to that point.

    The fielding was very, very good. Turned a lot of double plays. Dent was charged with an error on a hard hit ball at third…but I think he did a good job just to stop the ball from going into the outfield and limiting the damage to a single.

    Lookin’ good!

  28. Dejan, I am very happy your mother’s surgery was a success, and that she is home. Count your blessings, and enjoy every minute of every day. God bless.

  29. Allow me to echo Jandy’s sentiments. Continued good health & keep her close.

    • Let me echo everybody else’s sentiments, DK. And very happy everything went well, for your mom, you and the rest of the family.

  30. Dejan,l kudos to you for giving kudos to those 4. Good job. Enjoyed the article.

  31. Has anybody noticed that Cincy is 8-2 in their last 10 games and have won five straight ?

    Big series for Arizona as well as they chase the WC teams.

    Pennant races are fun, folks.

    Best win of the season ? Easy. Dejan’s Mom !

  32. Surprisingly, I’ve known a number of people who have gotten hurt on a golf course. Anger, frustration and alcohol are a tricky mix !

  33. Enjoyable column and wonderful news about Mom K.

  34. I only had time to glance over some of the comments in todays blog and yesterday game blog so maybe I’m wrong but it seems as if the themes are Hurdle is a horrible manager, The Pirate’s glaring weaknesses that they will not be able to overcome and because we now lost 5 out of 6 collapse III is inevitable.

    Hurdle is not a horrible manager. Yes he used most of his bullets in the 6th inning and it may or may not have cost them later. I’m not saying I agree with his strategy just that I’m not sure why a run in the 6th inning is any less important then a run it the 8th or 9th especially in a 1 run game.

    As for pulling AJ a few hitters earlier that is easy to say in hindsight but up until that point he got through 4 innings with a low pitch count and no runs given up. I don’t think many managers pull their number 1 or 2 starter after giving up 2 runs. The Cardinals stuck with Wainwright for 7 innings the other night after he struggled early. He has for the most part pushed the right buttons this year and has been wonderful handling the bullpen and the clubhouse chemiistry.

    As far as weaknesses go yes they exist just like they do for every team. For example the Cardinals can’t hit for power, can’t hit lefties and can’t get into scoring postion by stealing a base. The Pirates do a lot of things well. I would rather look at it as they can win because of those things instead of they won’t win because of this or that.

    As far as collapse III goes I can’t even comment. Until they prove otherwise some people will just feel that way. I don’t. I’m not saying it can’t happen just that I personally don’t expect it.

    Just my two cents which may only be worth 1 cent.

    • well said + many

    • Thank you Nate. I don’t agree with Clint all of the time, in particular on the bunting (GRRR), but he is making the most out of the hand he has been dealt.

    • What do you think would have happened to the Earps at the O.K. Corral if they used all of their bullets too soon?

      Up above Thundercrack had a humorous stat which I believe and am thrilled to acknowledge; Pirates are 71-0 when Hurdle just sits and watches, but 0-49 when a decision is required.
      I’m still laughing – with my wry, and sweetly acerbic sense of humor

      • Dearest Mr. Hasis.

        That stat can be attributed to DK…in his column this morning.

        And we CAN agree on one thing: it is humorous

        Isn’t it better when you laugh.

      • The Clantons would have died even quicker… :) For the record, I would also not have pinch hit that early.

        • I also would not have pinch hit, but I definately see the logic in doing it either way. I don’t think it is the worse decision ever.

          Another thing tough about the AJ thing is that it was the fifth inning and not the sixth. If he gets out of the jamb he is in line for the win. It is hard to take that oppertunity away from a guy who has given so much to this team and been given loses when he gave up just 1 or 2 runs over 7 or 8 innings.

          • He didn’t just pinch-hit, he went ALL-IN in the sixth with everyone, just about. He left no – or few options for later

      • I get your point, but what if they died with bullets still left not shot. The same people who think that Melancon should be used in the 9th because it would be the worse thing in the world to lose without him being used think you must save all your left handed matchup hitters for later in the game. What if they only pitched right handed relievers later in the game and you didn’t use Gaby in the one instance it made sense.

    • Bob, let me try to address your 3 “memes” above.

      -Agreed Hurdle is not a horrible manager…….. but he isnt a saint (Hi Jandy), and is not above criticism. Yes, he has done wonders with this team, hell, he looks like the reicarnation of John McGraw, Connie Mack, Fred Clarke, Danny Murtaugh, and Chuck Tanner combined, compaer to Sleepy John Russell. But he has done some simply inexpicable things strategy-wise. As for pulling or not pulling a pitcher………….. Yes, AJ has earned the right to try to work out of jams, but yesterday’s game, it was clear—even without the benefit of hindsight— that he just was not going to be able to get out of that one. He was getting hammered, and even though he did well the first 4 innings, that didnt translate to the 5th. It is the managers job to correctly use the pitchers for all nine innings, and that didnt occur yesterday.

      -Agreed every team has weaknesses. The Pirates main weakness happens to be hitting, and in the playoffs, good pitching beats good hitting. Yes the Pirates have great pitching also, but they wonr go far in any playoff series scoring 1 run, and/or leaving 14 men on base. Just is not a recipe for success.

      -As for collapse 3, I really dont think that will happen. But, because ot the past 20 years of struggles, and the past 2 years of collapses, I will not sit here and blame any fan if they feel like collapse 3 occurs. With some people I dont like their “world is coming to an end” gloom, but if any Pirate fan thinks a collapse is possible, so be it. Pirates fans, more than any other teams fans, should be cut enormous slack when it comes to this, after what many have endured.

      • again, well said.
        But I still won’t panic and have heart failure when we lose. :D

        • No Jandy, I dont blame you.

          Specifically to your point……… sometimes when I post a comment, there inevitably are some on here telling me (and others) to “calm down”, “relax”, and my favorite, “chill”.

          I am a fan of this team. That being said, I dont “live and die” for it. I am certainly not going to jump off my couch, oh wait, that should say bridge. I live for the important things, family, the outdoors, helping others when I can. (already was a good Hippo, and walked 4 miles today, more this afternoon if my legs will allow me). I certainly dont need some joker telling me to relax over the Pirates. The Pirates are a diversion to me, thats all.

          Hope your morning is a fine one, our Blessed Blog Saint. :)

          • Hipposter, my friend, you head is on straight. SO is mine. We’re doing something right.
            When the posters disagree too vehemently, I just turn to the ol’ ignore button. Best thing to do, my friend :)

            It’s Friday, so this morning was already good. I’m bustin some tail, and not keeping up here very well, but oh well. Life is good :D

    • Your two cents are exactly my two cents, so that gives us almost a nickle.

      I chuckle when the same bloggers gripe that Clint ‘used his bullets too soon in the 6th with pinchhitters’ but at the same time erred in not pulling his starter in the FIFTH INNING when he was still leading 4-2.

      Pick a side, any side folks, but you know what happens to chickens who keep crossing the road.

  35. “Few programs in college football at the time could have claimed a richer tradition than Penn State’s. It looked like Camelot—but only from the outside. Almost every Penn State senior I talked to last season repeated some version of the following: “We felt like we were protecting an image. And only we knew it.”

    Although Sandusky is certainly responsible and accountable for his own actions “protecting an image” is exactly what the leaderhisp of Penn State, including their beloved head coach, were all about. Shame on them.

  36. I’m sure someone could figure this out (fangraphs?)

    I wonder what the production of the Pirates’ lineup would be if there was a .300 in the middle of the batting order.

    How many runs would we score if our top 6 hitters raised their average 10-30 points?

    How many runs would we score if our overall RISP average increased by 15-20 points.

  37. Danny Murtaugh once said:
    Danny Murtaugh: “Why certainly I’d like to have that fellow who hits a home run every time at bat, who strikes out every opposing batter when he’s pitching, who throws strikes to any base or the plate when he’s playing outfield and who’s always thinking about two innings ahead just what he’ll do to baffle the other team. Any manager would want a guy like that playing for him. The only trouble is to get him to put down his cup of beer and come down out of the stands and do those things.”

    Now instead of putting down his beer, it would be stepping away from his computer.

  38. Morning All -

    Glad to see the Clemente bridge reopened this morning. Last night was a little brutal.

    I must admit I’m on a roller coaster of emotions at times with this team. But once I put the bottle down and come back to reality I realize the following:

    1. We are in first place as of August 16 and will be as of August 17
    2. We may not end up in first place; heck may not make the playoffs
    3. We are 11 wins away from finally breaking the streak!!
    4. We are winning despite losing a top 3 starter and an all star closer
    5. We are winning with a rotation that includes a guy coming off tommy john, one that was pegged for the minors in Jeff Locke, and one that was doing his best to be the next one armed man in the fugitive in Liriano.
    6. We are winning despite ourselves; for the most part of the season we managed to over come our weaknesses as a team by doing the little things right

    7. Lastly and most importantly you are mighty loyal fans; good or bad — the core group of you are good people and you know who you are (and yes that includes you NMR). Its kind of odd to feel like your experiencing some small part of pittsburgh history day by day with people you’ve never met. But I’m glad to contribute from time to time.

    LETS GO BUCS!

  39. Where is the Solheim Cup thread ?

    • Over there —————————>

      Right next to the thread on the open tryouts at steelers camp today for running backs

  40. I gotta remember to set a reminder for the noon chat. I really wanna ask DK about how Jay Bell could be getting sniffs for the Washington job but Searage does not get one ounce of recognition from anyone. I feel like I’m championing the Ray Searage for promotion campaign.

    • I think Rizzo, the Nats GM, used to work for the Diamondbacks during the same time Bell was a coach (maybe player too) there.

      It seems like very few pitching coaches get a lot of recognition – except for Leo Mazzonni.

      Maybe Ray Searage isn’t interested in being a manager.

      • Dave Duncan used to get loads as well, but I think he retired as a package deal with LaRussa. Or, did he end up somewhere else?

    • I would rather you champion the Ray Searage under the radar not getting any recongnition campaign. I don’t want him going anywhere.

  41. I don’t get this attempt to deny the existence of clutch. Can anyone seriously claim that Michael Jordan and Mario Lemieux didn’t step up their game in clutch situations? Or, as someone asked on Twitter yesterday, what’s the difference between Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, aside from performance in the clutch?

    Is baseball just different from all those other sports in that somehow clutch performance doesn’t exist in MLB? Are we really supposed to believe that every MLB player handles pressure exactly the same, and therefore every player should be expected to post the exact same numbers with RISP as they do with no one on base?

    If that argument were true then, in theory, you could turn every relief pitcher into a closer and they would perform exactly the same as if you used them exclusively in the 6th inning. Obviously, that is not reality. Some people have the mental makeup to be closers and handle that late-inning pressure, and others don’t.

    I am very skeptical of this argument that clutch performance doesn’t exist but would love to have DK or anyone else enlighten me on this issue. I would also love to read some of the studies that have been done on the topic, since apparently “every conceivable analysis decries the mere existence of clutch.” Can anyone point me in the direction of any such articles?

  42. DK this is very personal, and today especially for your Mom and you.

    This is an excerpt from my daily and nightly prayers (my own words);
    Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, especially those who are sick, who are troubled or who are in need. And all of the beautiful people who have never known You, and all of those who may have turned away from You,
    Have Mercy on them.

    This may have been more appropriate to email, but Christ has said, “If you speak my name where there are more than two people gathered, you are blessed.”

    Thank you for indulging me.

  43. I heard in Philly that the local hospital they stopped all surgeries and made everyone wait in line in the ER so that Giroux could have his hand operated on.

  44. ZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. Did Liriano cost himself a shot any shot in Cy Young voting with that game in Colorado? I know Kershaw is dominating but just wonder how much he hurt himself with that game.

  46. Dejan,

    What many in the sports media have missed (or ignored) about Penn State, is that the majority of alumni come together for football games to see friends and family. I am 50, and my friends I met at PSU are my best friends today. Football games are a way we see each other every year, as we are all scattered around the north east. And YES, we support our team! That has never meant that football was the center of our lives, which is the way we’ve been portrayed.
    The WSJ articles speaks to what PSU is about for many of us….loyalty, friendship, etc. that’s what being a PSU alum is to me.

    • Susan;

      Very well said. But let me ask this… do you know all 100k fans that go to every game? Seems to me that Penn State basketball, and hockey could use some fans if its just about getting together with friends and family.

      • Not saying your not being sincere. I totally believe your comments but you could see how outsiders might view that statement and I believe that would hold true for any major university that has a winning tradition.

        • Of course I can’t speak to the motivations of 100k people, and its silly to even expect me to.
          My friends and I recently got together for a beach weekend. PSU football came up for maybe 10 minutes. And it was a mix of men and women at the beach. All PSU alums. I know my comments don’t fit the narrative that’s become so popular, but it happens to be true.
          Any fan base has fans who are over the top about their team. But to lump all PSU alums in that category is just not correct.

      • Thomas Jefferson,

        Not much tailgating/interaction opportunity at basketball and hockey.

        Football always on weekends when time commitment and travel are easier.

        Comparing apples and Volkswagens!!

        • Can’t argue with you Groat; but I can argue with the fact that football has and always will be the center of the PSU universe for many individuals.

          I have no gripe with that. Pissing people like NMR off on here is at the center of my universe at times!

    • Thank you for this comment, Susan. The most infuriating thing about the whole “should they cancel the season” debate last year was the argument that people who wanted Penn State to continue playing football somehow valued football more than the safety and welfare of children. That was a bizarre and unfair portrayal of PSU alumni & fans.

    • Thank you, Susan and Scott both. Well said.

  47. Wait just a minute.

    The Giroux story said he hurt his finger in a “golf outing” In Ottawa,
    Its Canada, they dont golf. They cant golf on frozen tundra.

    I think he hurt it in an unauthorized hockey game.
    After all , it is their national sport.

  48. Morning, Guys (And Dolls)!

  49. Just caught a flash on CNBC that at 10:50 AM today – in about a half an hour – Pirates owner Bob Nutting will be on. Could be interesting.

  50. http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/71712/about-last-night-carpenter-hammers-pittsburgh?ex_cid=grantland33

    Maybe this was alreayd talked about, but I dont like it.

    “We’re still getting used to playoff atmosphere baseball,” said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. “Obviously I have some experience with it, but a lot of guys on the team were terrified. Pedro Alvarez begged me to keep him out of the game. But I insisted that he had to learn what it was like sometime. And yeah, we sort of threw the guys in the deep end by coming to St. Louis. But that’s the only way you learn. Not by dipping your toe into playoff baseball and then running back to the clubhouse like a child.”

  51. After reading DK’s column this morning, he had to have gotten lost somewhere in the Pirates announcers lounge, where Steve Blass was holding court.

    And man, did they give him some bad Kool-aid

  52. Gonna need one you awesome people to re-post this for me in today’s game thread.
    Thanks in advance.

    TRIP-TRIP-TRIPLE PLAY FRIDAY!!!

    ******PLEASE READ WHAT IS WRITTEN BELOW******
    PLEASE PLACE YOUR “WAGERS” AS REPLIES IN THIS COMMENT BOX
    Makes my job a helluva lot easier when I don’t have to hunt to find everyone’s “wagers”

    Max “wager” is 100 units on any single line.
    All “wagers” must be in multiples of 5 units.
    Play as few or as many lines as you’d like.
    As always, this is for fun and entertainment purposes.

    NEW PLAYERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME & ENCOURAGED!!!

    Line #1
    Total RUNS SCORED by the Pirates in tonight’s game
    Line is 4.5

    Line #2
    Total INNINGS PITCHED by Mark Melancon this weekend against Arizona
    Line is 1.75

    Line #3
    Total WINS by the Pirates this weekend against Arizona
    Line is 1.5

    Please Note – All games must be considered official games in order for line(s) to be valid. Any postponement, cancellation, or suspension of game(s) will void line(s).

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    71 Down, only 11 more to go!!

    Anything is possible if a person believes
    Mark 9:23

    KEEP CALM & BREAK .500

  53. MLB now says it has evidence A-Fraud got ahold of Boigenesis documents, and leaked other players names to the media.

    What a maroon!

  54. Cliches are suffocating and often full of it. But I’ll try and float this one; Managing a baseball team is a somewhat like packing a parachute – in baseball make a mistake and it could cost you a game; with the parachute, a mistake, well, the price is a lot heavier.

    Lose too many games and there as well, the price gets real heavy.

    The moral: Mistakes hurt real bad.

  55. Thanks to Smiz for this nugget. Since 2009 AJ Burnett’s August ERA is over 7.00.

  56. Ok gonna head to the chat; gotta get at least one question in

  57. It looks like the Pirates are 18th in OPS with .704. Not 24th.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/batting/sort/OPS/order/true

    They are 24th in runs. Maybe I’m missing something. But the gap between OPS and runs scored speaks to their trouble with RISP. Solution? Beats me.

  58. I asked DK if he got to skip the line at the DMV in his chat; but he’s avoiding my question…

  59. We can spin it all we want, but the bottom line is this road trip could turn out to be the turning point of the season. I hope I am wrong, but you don’t come off a home stand like the one they just did, and go 1-5. You have just given back everything you earned on the home stand. I’m sorry, championship clubs don’t do that. And that is what we are talking about here, a wish for a championship caliber club, not just an above .500 team. When you have the second best record in baseball, that should be your expectation. I am proud of the way they bounced back Wednesday night, but you have to step on the Cardinals throat when you get up 4-0. Cannot blow that lead. Bottom line is the Pirates could have swept the series, and at the very least took 2 of 3, period. I don’t care that it took the Cardinals “12 extra innings and every bead of sweat” to win the series. That is irrelevant when you lose the series. A loss is a loss. Moral victories don’t win divisions…..

    • I’m trying to remember where we stood when St. Louis showed up in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. Oh yeah, we were in 2nd place by a few games. I guess the Cardinals didn’t step on our throats, either. The Reds were actually ahead of us for much of the season as well. But, they are now behind us.

      Anything could happen here. We all know the stakes. We are 8-5 vs. St. Louis this year. They are a ;perennial WS contender and frequent winner. We are 7-6 vs. Cincinnati, and they have been a pennant contender for a few years now.

      I wish we had played better in St. Louis and not absolutely given at least one of the games away. And, I’ll bet St. Louis wishes they had not played so badly the last 3 weeks. It is the ebbs and flows of a close, 3-team divisional race.

      • My step on the throat comment was in regards to putting someone away in the course of the game, not the whole series. Yes, the Cardinals were up on us two games when they came to town, but I don’t recall them blowing leads in games on us because we jumped on them first. The only game they won in that series they got out in front of us and put us away. My point is not necessarily that we are losing games, it is the alarming way we are losing them by blowing lead after lead. We lead two of the three in Colorado, and three of the three in St. Louis but only won one game on the trip. Two more wins should have come out of those leads. Not asking for perfection in holding them, baseball don’t work that way. But holding half the leads would have made a difference between us being up 5 games right now, not 2.

        • I hear you on the nature of these recent losses, Darrell. Excruciating to lose games where you feel like it is under control. Our theme all year has been to get leads and hold them. That has changed this week. But, I think we’ll get back to holding leads – at least, I hope so.

          I just think that with 162 games, there will be a lot of clunkers. Ours are bundled together this week. Lost some games we should not have lost. Questionable performance in some situations, and questionable decisions as well.

    • And you know what Darrell? The 9-2 homestand, where the Bucs took 4 out of 5 from the Cardinals could very well be the “turning point of the season”… it catapulted the Bucs INTO first place for the first time all summer and got them over the hump of having August success and silencing some doubts.

      Guess what? We won’t know for about a month. We can go back and forth on here that the Bucs are one more loss away from another horrible collapse and clinching #21… or list a slew of reasons that this season is different and they are playoff -bound.

      There is a saying, and it’s good one, that momentum is only as good in baseball as your next game’s starting pitcher… no need to watch much more than the Pirates pitching the next few weeks…the offense is what it is, not a juggernaut, capable of doing a bit more but unlikely to do something they haven’t done for 4+ months. The Bucs have built a strong record despite the offensive shortcomings… they will continue to win if their pitching holds up.

  60. Missed the game yesterday, as I had to conduct 18 holes of … biz-a-ness in the afternoon. Waited quite awhile to even check the score. I actually picked the perfect time to check, because it was 5-4 when I looked for the first time. Sure glad I didn’t check when it was 4-0 because you know how that goes. No matter how many games you’ve seen over the years, you mentally put a game with a 4-0 lead in the 5th or 6th inning in the W column – at least I do. It was much easier to accept the blown lead since I never knew we led until the lead had already been blown.

    I didn’t bother to watch the replay in the evening, or even to follow up on the details much. Just a quick glance at the box score. What a tough roadtrip. Blowout loss in game 1, followed by 4 very tough losses (by a total of 5 runs) in 5 days. Then, I got up this morning and … surprise, surprise … the sun was overhead.

    42 games left and still in 1st place. We remained a flawed team, but 1st place flawed is the best kind of flawed.

    • Jim,

      I agree with the above, but regarding the word “flawed”, the Pirates still have the third best record in baseball. (I know you know this). Every team has its challenges (except maybe that Yankees team that won 125 games counting the playoffs). The Pirates manage to overcome those challenges more often than not.

      I read a long time ago that playoff caliber teams win 2/3 of their games at home and 1/2 on the road. The Pirates are right there in both categories.

      There haven’t been too many times in the last 20 years that I have been enticed to stay up until 1 in the morning to listen to a Pirates game. (Sshh, don’t tell my wife.) It’s more fun to enjoy the good than suffer through the bad, so I plan on expecting to win until the Pirates change my mind.

  61. So the Pirates are a .500 team on the road. They have 22 games left. If they can keep that .500 pace it puts them at 82 wins. 20 games left at home… 12-8 record leaves them with 94 wins on the season which might not be enough.

  62. he ignore everyone else but answered cosmo:

    12:49

    Comment From cosmo
    Do you receive any preferential treatment at the DMV?

    12:50

    Dejan Kovacevic:
    I don’t get even preferential treatment at my local comics shop that I’ve been frequenting — that’s Eide’s on Penn Avenue, Downtown — for the better part of my life.

    LOL

  63. Comment From Jimmy
    Favorite TV theme song?

    1:00

    Dejan Kovacevic:
    Old: “Happy Days”

    Fairly recent: “Teen Titans”

    Current: “Phineas and Ferb”

    Seriously, don’t even come near me. You’ve been warned.

    OK, Dejan is the coolest nerd I know. It used to be Spidy, but he’s been de-throned :)

    • That comment from Dejan on favorite TV theme songs had me involuntarily shaking my head!

      I am speechless!

      DK: And I left out “Barney Miller.”

      • Sandford and Son. I whistle it daily.

        Adventure Time>Phineas and Ferb

        • The Andy Griffith Show.
          I whistle that daily.

          Muppets > Adventure Time> Phineas and Ferb.

        • This has no bearing to anything, but it is about baseball (peripherally), and it is about Sanford & Son, Osh.

          My favorite episode was when Rollo (great TV name, BTW) tried to palm off a faked Jackie Robinson autographed baseball on Fred. Fred almost bought into it until he looked at the spelling, and this exchange followed:

          FRED: “Wait, how do you spell Jackie Robinson?”
          ROLLO: “J-A-C-K-Y.”
          FRED: “That’s how you spell Jackie Robinson. But, that’s not how Jackie Robinson spelled Jackie Robinson.”

          I believe Fred then proceeded to chase Rollo around the junkyard while wielding a bat or some other weapon.

          • Jim, I don’t remember that episode, specifically. But I loved that show. Not shown that much anymore. I loved the way Redd Foxx walked.

            I still remember my older brother playing me a record of his stand up. Filthy stuff! Quite shocking because I only knew him from that show. Pretty tame by today’s standards, I guess.

            • Ahhh those were the days. My Dad LOVED that show..laughed until he cried.

            • It was a great show, Osh. He did have that funny affected limp. I bet it is still on TV Land, if you get that channel. Most of the old shows are on there.

              I agree on Redd Foxx’s stand-up act. Quite raunchy for the time.

      • Can you hum a few bars of the Barney Miller theme song, DK? Ok, type a few bars. I can’t remember it. But, Sanford & Son was a classic.

    • My Favorite is WKRP in Cincinnati!!!

  64. Regarding the existence of clutch, or lack thereof, I’ll give it a shot. My take is that clutch absolutely does exist in the actual moment. What I mean is, when the game is on the line, and a guy is facing a tough pitcher and he finds a way to get the barrel of the bat to the ball to drive in a key run .. I think that is absolutely a clutch performance. If the pitcher is able to bear down vs a very tough hitter and make a perfect pitch when the game is on the line, I have no problem defining it as a clutch moment.

    I shudder to use the word “sustainable” here, for obvious reasons. But, I am going to do it anyway. Labeling a player as a clutch player in baseball is hard for me to do simply because there are very few players over the course of a career who have much better averages in so-called clutch situations than in all situations. I have read studies on it, and the conclusion in baseball always seems to be that “clutch” performances are not sustainable. I’m guessing this St. Louis team, which is on track for the highest avg. with RISP in MLB history by a wide margin, is not comprised of the greatest hitters of all-time, nor is it comprised of a bunch of guys who have some innate ability to hit much better in pressure situations. They have just managed to hit better in tough situations this year. It doesn’t mean they aren’t earning their hits, only that there is a very good chance they won’t sustain it throughout their careers.

    I don’t discount the notion that there could be rare examples of players who actually can focus more, and who do find a way to do their best in the toughest situations. I would not want to say it is absolutely impossible. But, then I always wonder why those players who are able to will themselves to do better wouldn’t be able to similarly will themselves to always do better. If they were able to find a way to hit .400 in key situations, why would they not be able to carry that over to all situations?

    • It’s an intangible, thus ‘clutch” cannot be measured or tracked.
      :)

      Mother Theresa’s version of “hell, I don’t know!”

    • I just cannot see how “clutch”-ness extends to pitchers. By your definition, pitchers are required to be clutch or they blow games… see Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli (from 2 months ago).

      • I would say if the pitcher puts the ball exactly on the edge of the plate where it cannot be hit, or he totally fools the batter with changes of speed, or anything else that induces a softly hit ball or a strikeout at a key moment – to me that is getting it done. If someone wants to define that as clutch, Kevin, I can live with that.

        I wonder if someone would define a pop fly single to win a game as a “clutch” hit, but call a line drive into a double play at that same key moment “not coming through in the clutch.”

        I think that is what Jandy meant when she said it is something intangible, and I said it is in the eye of the beholder.

  65. Maybe all of you were Ito this yesterday while I was out, but what are your thoughts about expanded replay? I think it should be great, and I was surprised to see that the umpires have to agree for it to take place. MLB gives umps way too much say in the game – and they are Not the game.

    • Biggest drawback is the amount of time it could add to the games.
      I like the idea that something proactive is being done. These umps get some simple stuff wrong. It would help straighten things out.

    • It’s a labor issue. Probably only doing it because they are legally required to.

    • if I was an ump, I think I’d be both upset and relieved. One… such a system takes alot of the “blame” off the ump if people suspect a bad call. With a system in place, an ump can be more confident in his calling. He should be confident anyway but there’s a fallback just in case… On the other hand, I’d be pissed because it sounds like MLB is saying UMPs make 3+ mistakes per game… and I just don’t see it. I would instead suggest (as an ump) to limit it to a single challenge.

      • I can see some umps making 3+ mistakes a game. This change with the review should eliminate either these umps or their “mistakes”.

      • That’s still less than one mistake per ump – are you sure?

      • I think this will help. Managers, instead of arguing which accomplishes nothing and takes valuable time, can simply challenge when they want to, the NY center reviews it and makes the call. No one argues. No doubt there are missed calls in every game or at least CLOSE calls that are argued in most every game.

        This should help most in terms of the “attitude” the umps often display… instead of taking the position…”wow that was a bang-bang play, I think I got it right, but if you want, take a look at replay and see”, they too often take the position “go back in the dugout, you dirtball manager.. no doubt I got it right, wasn’t even close, you can’t see from over there, go sit down, don’t get in my face, don’t question me ever because I’m perfect and never miss any call… I’m also never out of position”.

        • Crematorium,

          Interesting approach in your 1st sentence.

          I do not think I have EVER had the thought during a managerial argument, my team or the opposing team, that the argument was wasting valuable time.

          I have thought that frequently during football replays.

      • Could be MLB made it 3 so the umps could bargain them down to 2. Who knows?

  66. I missed the earlier Frankie V. discussion. As I was driving to the office today, I avoided MLB Radio and instead opted for some “feel good” music on XM. Who Loves You Pretty Baby came on moments before I reached the office. Talk about a great song to start your day. Inspired song writing, for sure.

    • what channel is that Jim? I mostly listen to xm61 for bluegrass junction and more rarely xm75 for classical pops… and even more rarely to xm89 for MLB talk and whatever the NHL canada talk channel is.

  67. Charlie Manuel – OUT
    Ryne Sandberg – IN

    Happiest guy in Philly ? Claude Giroux.

    • Charlie was a genius a couple of years ago, if I recall correctly. :-)

    • Didn’t think that would happen until off season.

      The handwriting——or graffiti——was on the wall.

    • Glad Ryno got a shot! One of my all time faves.

      • He could field . . . . . anything he could reach. Never left his feet!

        Now . . . . . can he manage . . . . . without leaving his feet?

        • he’ll likely go by the seat of his pants ;)

        • Groat:

          Got my SI yesterday in the mail. College Football Preview.

          This is on the cover:

          “THE RISE OF THE NERDS (See Stanford, Northwestern, Vandy, even Duke)

          “even Duke” lol

          • Gives me chills! Seriously!

            How come your Bucks got rid of all my Dukies? JJ Redick and Mike Dunleavy both “gone with the wind.”

            I think Redick should flourish with the Clippers and Chris Paul.

            • Oh, the Bucks….

              I know we’re not supposed to compare sports but can you say, “2010 Pittsburgh Pirates.” Their GM didn’t even vehemently respond to a question that accused the team of tanking this year’s season for a top pick in next year’s rich draft.

              The Hawks matched the Bucks offer to Jeff Teague and Brandon Jennings left for Detroit. All after letting Redick go. Disaster.

              I really like the Clippers. Serious threat to win it all, especially with their new coach. Paul is almost as good as Russell Westbrook. :)

              • Oshkosh b’gosh!

                Your last sentence made me laugh——out loud.

                76ers are being accused already of tanking 2014 for #1 Pick. Doug Collins quit. Gonna be some B-A-D teams in NBA this year.

                I wonder if this is the year that Timberwolves turn the corner?

    • Texted my Philly fan buddy – he said its not Charlie’s fault, “they’re old and they s–k!”

      He said he’s going to buy a Pirates hat.

  68. For Super Sleuth SeanAY

    Maz had the unofficial title of “the best No. 8 hitter in baseball”, probably dubbed by the official Gunner. This may have given me an untrue recall of his real stats.

    Foli was easily remembered for his clutch performances in 1979, which obscured some of his less successful seasons.

    In any event, I thank you for the research and facts.

    • Bob:

      To your point earlier, Maz had arguably the most clutch moment in MLB history. To some people, doing something so incredible like that can mean a guy is “clutch” forever. I can’t argue with that. I think he was 23 at the time. He beat the feared Yankees, right after the lead had been blown in the previous inning, right? Greatest moment in MLB history,no doubt.

      And I do recall how good Foli was that magical ’79 season. Important hit after important hit. I seem to recall him literally throwing the bat at the ball sometimes on a hit and run and coming up with key hits. Thanks for the reminder.

      That’s what I was trying to say about my definition of clutch. I think it is hard to sustain for anyone over the course of a career, but in the moment or in a bunch of key moments in one stretch or one year, I don’t deny it.

    • I can’t get back to you right now. I’ve got a wire on this this Serbian reactionary extremist in a Starbucks that I can’t get away from.

  69. McCutch is not Clutch!

    He ought to have at least 90 RBIs by now with Marte in scoring position so much with doubles, triples, and stolen bases.

    If I remember right, 12-13 of McCutch’s homeruns are singletons. RISP is very low.

    McCutch is not Clutch! (And, as much as I like him, he can’t run the bases either, as shown against the Cardinals when he was at 3rd with 0 outs.)

    • how many of Pedro’s HR are singletons, sir groat?

    • So, I had to check on Cutch w RISP, year-by-year.

      Following are his slash lines (Avg/OBP/Slug%/OPS:

      2013: .282/.378/.371/.749
      2012: .326/.442/.533/.975
      2011: .285/.387/.550/.937
      2010: .255/.364/.351/.715
      2009: .324/.441/.634/.1.075

      Overall career slash line in all situations:

      .294/.376/.488/.864

      I admit that I could not figure out how to set the parameters for career and splits simultaneously to find out what his career slash line is for RISP. Someone can hopefully help me there. But, I bet his overall career #’s are close to his overall career RISP #’s. If anything, it would appear his OBP goes up in RISP situations. Maybe teams tend to pitch around him, and, thus walk him more?

      So, what is the conclusion? Did Cutch forget how to be “clutch” this year? It seems to me, using the eye test, that he does seem to be swinging at more pitches out of the zone in RISP situations this year. He seems to be falling behind in the count very often, and when you are behind in the count, any hitter has a much lower batting average because he is forced to widen his strike zone and swing at “pitcher’s pitches.” When you are ahead in the count, you are much more likely to be able to wait for a pitch in your zone and drive it – thus increasing your chances of a hit.. Maybe Cutch is chasing too much because he feels the need to drive in runs as the main main in a struggling offense this year. I would say that is open to interpretation. Maybe he was doing a better job of being patient and setting up the pitcher rather than being set up BY the pitcher last year.

      I think it is a fair argument to have. I will stand by my position that clutch is not something you can sustain for a long period of time. The great majority of hitters fare pretty close to the same in RISP vs. non-RISP situations over the course of a long career.

  70. Ants Marching!

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    {except for McCutch, who is staying at 3rd}

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