Big Game Garza and other thoughts
Philosophers have long marveled at the mysteries and quirks of the human mind. This began many years before they listened to
*So, during Sunday night's Game 7, while Big Game Garza** was pitching the Rays to their first World Series, we all heard Buck Martinez say many odd things. But this especially baffled me:
"There are two positions on the field where you can have a positive impact without hitting. Catcher and shortstop."
Now, I don't really want to delve into the logic of this statement, in large part because I fear that it will be like some inescapable language maze*** and I'll end up wandering the dark forever. I'm assuming that Buck was simply repeating one of those baseball chestnuts about how catchers and shortstops (and ONLY catchers and shortstops) offer so much value as defenders and leaders and role models and good-will ambassadors and scrappers that they don't even have to hit baseballs with bats in order to help the ballclub. They can beat you with their minds. And their power to turn invisible.
No, what struck me about it was how utterly confident Buck sounded saying this; he said it like he was simply reciting a fact he had picked up. The last president to not graduate from college was
**OK, so seriously, isn't Big Game Garza a better nickname than Big Game James? For one thing, it's more original than Big Game James. Second, it has a nice alliteration thing. And, third, it's actually true. Garza was fabulous in Game 7. I saw him pitch a couple of times this year, and though he had some good outings and flashed some good stuff, I cannot remember him dialing up the fastball like he did Sunday night.
Think about this for a minute:
You can do this with hitters too.
But let's stick with pitchers. It's an obvious point but: This team is pretty much built to beat the Yankees and the Red Sox for the next five years. The Rays are just the 10th team since Pearl Harbor Day to have three young starting pitchers with Adjusted ERA+'s of 118 or better.
1. Tampa 2008 (James Shields, Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir)
There are some mixed reviews in there, of course. The '85 Mets, of course, became the historic '86 Mets. The two Oakland teams became Moneyball (starring
The Rays really could have FOUR NUMBER ONE STARTERS next year. I gotta be honest with you, I don't care if the Yankees****** spend a billion jillion shmillion dollars, I don't care if my friends Bill and Allard create some new scouting-statistical nirvana in Boston. I'm not sure anyone is going to beat a team with four No. 1 starters.
***I have this irrational fear that I will get stuck in one of those cornfield mazes and never be able to find my way out. I say this is an irrational fear because, quite honestly, I don't really foresee a scenario in which I will ever be in a cornfield maze. I don't believe I've ever been in one in my life, and I can't imagine that at any point I'm going to say, "Hey everybody, I've got to run some errands today but first let's stop at a cornfield maze and get lost!" But somehow this fear sticks with me. I also have a fear of ventriloquist dummies, but this is not irrational. This was infused in me by the movie
****I just saw an email from one of Tommy over at Outs Per Swing where he wonders what I think of a comparison between B.J. Upton and the young
I think Upton's remarkable and I do mean remarkable sense of the strike zone at such a young age separates him from Davis. He walked 97 times at 23 years old. There have only been 22 players in baseball history who have walked 95 or more times during their age 23 year. The list is loaded with great players including:
So more than half of the list went on to have, what I consider to be Hall of Fame careers*******. And the rest ain't too bad either
Point is, I think Upton's patience at the plate is something that could make him a big star in this league for many years. On the other hand, I don't think Upton or perhaps anyone else is as talented as the young Eric Davis when talking about power and speed and talent. I mean, it still blows me away to go back and look at Davis' first two full seasons especially because they weren't all that full:
1986: Davis hit .277 with 27 home runs and, get this, 80 stolen bases. The amazing part he did it in 132 games and 487 plate appearances. That's just awe inspiring. If he could have played at that level for a full season, he might have hit 30 homers and stolen 100 bases. And he was just 24 years old and had no idea what he was doing.
1987: Davis hit .293 with 37 homers, 100 RBIs, 120 runs scored and 50 stolen bases (he was caught 6 times). And the crazy thing is he played in even fewer games than he did in 1986. He missed 33 games. He could have hit 40 homers and stolen 70 bases with a full year. It's insane.
I think Upton is a remarkable talent. I think Upton could end up being a better player than Davis because of that strike zone management. But I don't think I've ever watched anyone with more raw ability than the young Eric Davis.
*****I have to say, I've really enjoyed Ron Darling's commentary during the playoffs. He has not only wrapped bandages around some of the verbal wounds his partners caused, but I thought he added quite a few original thoughts to the process.
******Have you noticed a sudden increase in
*******I sure hope that the voters are going to wake up on
OK, are we done with the Pozterisks? We are. Whew. Man, it's funny, the only point I really wanted to make in this post was that I woke up Monday morning with the
Good, now that song is stuck in your head too. See that's not a lot of fun. I really would like that song out of my head. I wonder if there's money to be made with a "get this damn song out of my head" business. I could just see people coming into the place, desperately humming "Electric Avenue" or "Pocketful of Sunshine" and begging, "Can you please help me?" The process would no doubt involve a hammer. We really don't know our own minds.