Sunday, October 24, 2010

Strike Out Looking, and they're going to the World Series!

For the first time in baseball history, that line above was used twice, by at least four different announcers, to describe the final out in this years NCLS and ALCS. Even more amazing, the 2 batters that went down looking are arguably some of the best hitters the game of baseball has ever seen, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, and Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Philles. With those few words, and the batters respective immobility, the 2009 opposing World Series teams (Yankees and Phillies) went down, sending two underdog teams to the 2010 World Series (Giants and Rangers in case you missed it).
Now, in the case of the much maligned (deservedly so) A-Rod, the Yanks were down 6-1, there were no runners on, and 2 outs. Really his backwards K was rather insignificant in a game where his team was completely out played. However, for sir Howard, it was bad; there were 2 runners on, Brian Wilson, the Giants closer had given up 2 walks, there were runners on 1st and 2nd and his team was only down by 1 run. Ryan had a chance, a big one, he fouled off a pitch and it was 3-2, and he blew it/ Wilson threw a gem of a pitch. Yet, it is amazing, this kind of an ending to the League championship series - and for you #s geeks out there below is a chart of how rare this is in post season baseball (only happened 10 times). Also check out Baseball Reference's blog about it were you can do even deeper dives into the #s.

What's worse?? -

As some of you know I spent the first 3 years of my career working in Baseball TV, and all of my life loving the game. One of the many things you do working in baseball, is talk about baseball. I had the good fortune of working with a bunch of guys (and a few women, very few women) who truly loved the game. I distinctly remember one heated and deep discussion we got into one night about the worst way to get out in a game. There was the theory that fouling out with bases bombed and your team losing by 1 run was the worst way to go down, or a double play to end the game with runners on was surely the worst way to go, I know someone brought up just the situation Ryan Howard found himself in yesterday tap a little roller do anything, or watch a pitch down the middle sail by. Strike out looking? Man does that stink, or is it an act of hubris? The other clear moment in my mind, besides the dear A-Rod, was another winner of a ball player, SeƱor Carlos Beltran in '06 for the Mets. The stadium is on fire, a pitch down the middle, 2 strikes on him, and he lets #3 go by! Then that's it for the Mets season. Is there a link between these 3 men? A strange coincidence? The amount of pressure is huge, the call could be questionable, you could go back and watch those pitches over and over again and say "well it was a bit low, a bit outside", but honestly, anyone who has played the sport before knows, you stick your bat out to do something. If it's close go for it. But not Alex, Carlos, and Ryan. I suppose they can sleep better at night knowing they gave up none of their individual principals by swinging at a pitch they felt was out of their strike zone.

Food For Thought, and what do you think is the worst way to go down? Backwards K, K, weak foul up to 1st?

Below is the chart about how many looking K's have happened in a Post season interesting mix of players.

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