Monday, May 18, 2009

Blyleven's analytical limitations

I've pretty much given up grousing about the Twins announcing crews, radio or television. They're bad, and they're not going anywhere, and I have to accept that reality. John ("there's a drive to left right center field") Gordon and Dan Gladden, on the radio, seem deeply involved in a conspiracy to keep us from knowing what's going on.

But I still want people to understand the limitations of the announcers, because for many of us, they're our conduit to the action. 

When Jesse Crain committed a balk in the 13th inning on Wednesday — a mistake that could easily have cost the Twins the game — Bert Blyleven went on at great length about how Crain hadn't come to a complete stop. Wrong.

Rule 8.05 lists 13 reasons to call a balk. Blyleven knows one of them. When a balk was called on him, Blyleven was almost always guilty of violating 8.05(m) — the rule requiring a complete stop from the set position. Crain on Wednesday violated 8.05 (j): "If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when ... (j) The pitcher, after coming to a legal pitching position, removes one hand from the ball other than in an actual pitch, or in throwing to a base." No matter how many replays FSN aired, Blyleven talked about the stop rule.

Move on to the eighth inning of Sunday's game. Matt Tolbert — not an outstanding hitter — is up with the bases loaded and two outs. Brett Tomko — not an outstanding pitcher — falls behind 2-0. The next pitch is high, and Tolbert hacks away anyhow, hitting a mighty popup and killing the rally. Dick 'n' Bert go into defense mode, chattering about how Tolbert sat out Saturday's game because Gardenhire wanted him to be more aggressive. Me, I'm grumbling about the lunacy of giving a .171 hitter (Tolbert's average entering the game) the leeway to wreck the inning. 

But Gardnehire cited that at-bat — and a similar one by Carlos Gomez — in telling the Star Tribune's Joe Christensen that he's going to have to start giving certain hitters the take sign.

Moral of this story: When listening to the Twins announcers, understand that they are always going to soft-pedal the Twins flaws. Their job is more to market and promote than to describe. And in this corner, all four have pretty much exhausted their credibility.

No comments:

Post a Comment