We're overdue for some well-played baseball
ANAHEIM -- Sitting here looking at the Rock Pile in Angel Stadium, waiting for Jered Weaver and the Angels to keep breathing against the Yankees, makes a guy wonder how much more bad baseball he is going to see today.
That’s right: Bad baseball, because there has been so very much of it so far in the post-season. Bad umpiring as well, but we should all be used to that by now. Umpiring assignments are supposed to be based on merit. Then look what happens, more glaring mistakes. Then again, seeing as how generally sloppy umpiring has become, maybe these jobs really are based on merit.
Anyway, "bad baseball’’ doesn’t mean fielding errors. Errors are part of the game and they will never be removed. Throw in some cold to frigid weather, as there has been back East, and clanks multiply and the Angels blew that second game in the 13th inning when Maicer Izturis made an ill-advised throw wide of second base trying to turn an impossible double play. But that’s not what this is referring to. It’s just dumb baseball and look at plenty of examples, in no particular order.
The Twins, for instance, ran the bases like drunks against the Yankees. They ran themselves right out of the series. The Twins are a good team, too, and usually play the right way. You never used to see the Twins grow (and/or keep) a player like Delmon Young, who throws to the wrong base at a critical point in the game, leading to an inning unraveling.
But how about the Angels, a team also known for playing the game the right way under Mike Scioscia? Look at their blunders: Juan Rivera throwing the ball in blindly from left field, allowing a big inning to brew . . . Rivera apparently trying to field a ball with the back of his knees . . .Erick Aybar failing to take charge and letting a popup drop for a run . . . Aybar again not getting close to the second-base bag on a routine double play and getting called on it (and that was a gutsy and correct though seldom made call by the ump, to give him proper credit.)
There’s more: Yankee Alfredo Aceves, who has been lights-out, coming in to an extra-inning game and walking the leadoff batter . . . Mark Teixeira swinging at a 3-0 pitch with two on and none out and popping up . . . Jorge Posada stabbing at the ball behind the plate, then not hustling after a wild pitch . . . Brian Fuentes giving up a game-tying home un in extra innings on an 0-2 pitch . . . John Lackey walking a ninth-place hitter leadoff off an inning in a tie game, then throwing away a courtesy pickoff throw.
Look, too, at the National League, where the Phillies’ all-star second baseman, Chase Utley, can’t turn a routine double play. Twice. Then the Phillies go ahead and lose to the Dodgers on a bases-loaded walk . . . There are plenty more examples not even counting whatever happened in the Phillies’ 11-0 rout of the Dodgers Sunday night. A guy in the air the entire way who never saw a pitch asked somebody at LAX how the game went and wasn’t exactly warmly welcomed.
Whatever else happens today, let us hope for some well-played baseball for a change. It’s warm enough, at least, and we are overdue.
Back out in California, only a few days after spending some time here chasing a slightly smaller ball at the Presidents Cup. There’s an off day in this Yankees-Angels series Thursday and, strictly for research purposes, wouldn’t it be great if a part-time golf writer could talk his way on to Trump National, the new coast-hugging course drawing great reviews here?
Speaking of excellent coast-hugging golf experiences, I made a re-visit to Half Moon Bay earlier this week, about 350 miles up the coast from here but easily reachable from San Francisco.
Half Moon Bay was always a nice, enjoyable place to play, with a terrific finishing hole high atop ocean cliffs. A few of us golf scribes played there the day after the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and had a fine day. But it has gone up a very nice level now with an Arthur Hills-designed 18 holes, naturally called the Ocean Course, that run south of the big Ritz Carlton Hotel that dominates the property.
It’s a big, rugged but highly playable resort course, ocean visible from every tee, with the highlight the final three finishing holes. They run along the very edge of an enormous cliff, at least 100 feet high, that drops straight down to a sandy beach. It’s no place to hook a shot.
California is a tremendously scenic state, for visitors of the golfing persuasion. You’ll never find anything for golf that will beat the eye candy of the Monterey Peninsula and the courses there, but HMB, about 100 miles to the north, takes its best shot with this new course.