One of the great things about a baseball game is – there’s no sure thing.
The game is all about adjustments, and this starts with whose available and who’s not, going into season. There are, of course, a myriad of projections and behind the scenes prior to the start of every season, but that would that would too be labor intensive for this topic.
First off, the only reason for playing the game in the first place is to win. Fun, good times had by all, and ice cream all around for everybody appears nowhere on the box score – period. So in order to win, keeping track of who’s who, what everybody else has (your competition) and who’s healthy and who’s not, is a must. Now all this is an ongoing process that can involve some heavy duty thinking – or not, depending on budgets and other stuff, and can be a real crystal ball adventure.
Ok, all that being said, game after game is a constant up again, down again slide rule kind of thing. Some guys are great during away games, but yet their only cooking after four batters, kind a like fitting in. Not a good choice for a closer, to be sure.
The clubs that I coached with didn’t have exhibition games. All our games were, as we called it, “gate money games”. So we started and ended our seasons by going with what we had – hit the ground running.
We had a limited pool of staffers that had a pretty good idea of who we were up against, game after game. Some of those players across the field were on our roster at one time.
Now here’s the fascinating part of the game –
1. The opposing lineup is usually known for certain tendencies.
2. The umpire behind the dish is known for certain tendencies.
3. My backstop had good chemistry with some pitchers, worse with others.
4. I had a stable of pitchers will varying degrees of inventory.
5. Every pitcher had a crash and burn that depended on certain things like mood swings, personal issues, and that old favorite.. clubhouse politics.
6. The club will have better performance at some away games than others, and even home games can be iffy under certain circumstances.
Ok kiddies, buckle up and play ball…. It’s all in the game plan for this day – right? Not so fast. There’s another club with the same transmission, shifting gears like crazy anticipating everything of your game plan, and they’re dealing with the same up and down slide rule.
So, a pitching rotation is selected for today’s game. The man on the hill is facing a known high heat chaser – but ya gotta tease this batter first, work fast, don’t get in-and-up with anything right away. The backstop notices a minor adjustment in the hands and arm set of the batting – not good. Chasing high heat is out. But, this guy will be a sucker for a curveball and junk. Now the pitcher knows he’s dealing with the top of the order – good bat speed, good hand-eye-coordination. So his backstop gives the duce, the pitcher shakes it off, the Skipper glares back at the backstop – the ole number one with a little altitude outside. Again the pitcher shakes it off. The catcher calls.. “give me a minute with Shirley here …”, the umpire grinds and nods yes…. the pitcher heard the remark… didn’t appreciate it… and the pitcher turns and walks to the back of the mound with his back facing his backstop. The pitcher won’t face his backstop for any conversation – keeps looking down at the ground, swiping his cleats in the infield weeds. The umpire starts to walk out and the meeting in the center of the infield is over.
The backstop returns, squats and gives the duce, the pitcher delivers high heat, the batter swings and misses – strike one. The backstop gives the ole number one – with altitude up and away, the pitcher has that “told ya” look, but – crack of the bat and … “tonight’s weather forecast calls for balls in the sky.”
Later on the inning ends (thank God) and both men return to separate ends of the dugout and neither will talk to the other.
I can’t help but flash through my mind all the work and planning, all the player selection material that was pawed over, all the skull sessions – do this and do that, all to end up with number #1 and number #2 at opposite sides of a dugout, knowing full well they’re going to be screwing with each other from here on out.
OH YEAH, THINGS ALL WAYS GO AS PLANNED. :disbelief: :disbelief: