Something Wild: Bucs, Yinzer Zealots ready for THIS

From the moment the Cardinals bounced the Pirates out of the division race — really, from the moment they took a 6-0 lead in the third inning of that Sept. 30 game — I was thinking and saying, “This is actually a good thing.”

My reasoning: Now the Bucs would have a full week to focus on and gear up for the Wild Card Game and Jake Arrieta. Over-thinking anything is another danger, but at least they won’t have the challenge on having to hit the reset button after a last-day elimination, as last season. And we all know how “settling” for Wild Card status turned out that time.

Even by staying alive with a win in the night portion of that Sept. 30 doubleheader to move within two with three to go, the Bucs weren’t going to catch St. Louis, which would have had a far different weekend in Atlanta had the games mattered. It would’ve been the set-up for another last-day disappointment.

No, thank you.

But in all sincerity, this first step could be the hardest of the entire postseason. So consider how stoked and confident the Bucs will be if they do get past Arrieta.

Can they? They aren’t going to beat him, because the likely Cy Young Award winner has been remarkably consistent. But they could out-pitch him. It might have to be a 1-0 or 2-1 game. Gerrit Cole has that in him.

I’m looking forward to a Blackout, 40,000-strong. The Cubs have the Bleacher Creatures in their Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh can show them a whole park-full of Yinzer Zealots. Let’s see how they deal with it.

8 Comments

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Mr. Singer,
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In terms of getting ready for Big Jake, is the following technologically possible ?? I’d think it would be. And along those lines, have you any information or heard any rumors that the Buccos — or any other team — are moving in this (see below) direction ??
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One would suspect that between now and Wednesday’s game, a *lot* of time is going to be spent looking at video of Mr. Arrieta’s pitching. Opposing batters have been studying videotape of pitchers they will face, by now, for years and years and years.
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otoh, that alone seems sooo hopelessly 20th century. Wouldn’t it be possible to take that actual video footage — filmed from whatever angle and distance — and then digitally transpose it using various computerized algorithms into a life-size (or even larger than life-size) version of Mr. Arrieta (or of any pitcher) as seen through the eyes of the batter standing there at home plate. (Or maybe that’s being done already, I don’t know.)
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I would think that should have plenty of advantages. Sure, the batter sees the same thing in “real time,” during a game, facing a pitcher. But the ability to see the same thing, at one’s leisure, without all the distractions and game-time, at-bat pressures. And discuss it with your fellow batters. What does Pitcher X or Pitcher Y do to try to add deception to his pitches ?? Is there a way we can focus in and minimize that attempted subterfuge ?? And watch it over and over again. Looking for perhaps minor “takes” that might give away what kind of pitch is coming . . . You could even have different computerized “images” — one when Arrieta is throwing a fastball, a different one when he’s throwing a curvy something, another different one when he’s throwing a change-up. Right there on a big screen, to be studied and learned from, specifically from a batter’s vantage point.
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Wouldn’t that be the very best way for batters to familiarize themselves with the pitcher (or pitchers) they will be facing ??
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Or maybe those digital transformations are being done/used already. I simply don’t know. I would image your readership (count me in on that) would love a detailed article by you prior to Wednesday’s game laying out precisely what is done, how often, when, and how intensely, by Buccos’ batters to get ready to face Big Jake Wednesday night.
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Hitting pun intended. If you think that kind of article is right in your wheelhouse, then thanks in advance !!
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With two innings to go, it looks as if the Astros have a very good chance of beating the Yankees. Which would be yet another example of the visitors beating the home team in the Wild Card game. Someone needs to explain to me why this so often happens. Since 2012, that would make it five visitor wins, and only two home-team wins. (Assuming the Astros hold onto their lead.)
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So whatever happened to the notion of home team advantage ??
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In retrospect, maybe it would have worked out differently if we had used Mr. Happ to pitch the Wild Card game. As I feared (well, not feared, per se, let’s say nagging, troubling worry) Mr. Cole did not start the game, nor remain, calm, cool and collected. He as much as said so afterwards, and should be praised for his honesty:
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“I couldn’t really get into a good rhythm,” said Cole. “I wasn’t able to make pitches when I needed to. The two home runs were bad. I was trying to figure things out out there, trying to find something to go to, something to work.”
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He’s still a darned good pitcher who will get only better. And on a trajectory, so far, much better than Mr. Arrieta’s. Lot’s of people seem to forget (or at least not talk about) the fact that Big Jake was borderline terrible his first four years with Baltimore, amassing a 20-25 W/L record. And every year he was with that organization (at the Big League level), his ERA+ got worse and worse. From 2010 to 2013 —
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89
83
68
57
Yikes !!!
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And then he went to the Cubs and immediately started to turn everything around (108, 150, 219 this year).
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Maybe a little ironic that a team — the Buccos — which prides itself on its own turnaround successes, gets beat in this year’s Wild Card game by maybe the biggest turn-around success story in recent memory. That may be positively karmic ! Double yikes !!!
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And to get beat, offensively at the plate, mostly by a 21 year old rookie who this time last year was playing in the Arizona Instructional League . . . Silly Cubs’ management. Don’t they know (a) to never play rookies in important late season (or post-season) games, and/or (b) if a guy is only 21 years old, then he needs *at least* another 2 – 3 years in the minors. Rushing (??) Schwarber to the majors only now guarantees that his entire Big League career from here on out is ruined, absolutely ruined.
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After all, look at all the terrible things that have happened to Manny Machado in subsequent years after *he* was brought up to The Big Club at the age of 20 . . .
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Oh well . . .
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How can you win if you can’t score. would not have mattered who pitched for pirates. Pirates were over rated all year. How can you win a division when you finish 9-10 against Milwaukee and 7-11 with the reds. Pirates need to take care of their own business. Clearly cubs were better team. Wait till next year.

Hey Tom-
Soo great seeing you in that throng outside PNC last nite before the game. What are the chances?!
I’m only one of many broken hearts, but on to next year. Sadly, the Cubbies deserved the win!
Hope we correct the Branson Problem in the offseason.
Let’s get together for a cold one! We’ll be at the Carlton House tonite (Thurs) around 6pm.

Really, what were the chances amid that mob? It was awesome running into you. Wish we all had a better night, though. The last day of baseball is always sad; when it comes in the postseason, it is brutal, like an open scab.

Yes, Tom! It will be a long postseason!

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So who gets the most votes for the Buccos’ MVP this year ?? I suppose it will be Mr. McCutchen, he has the highest WAR (fangraphs’ version) of all Buccos’ player. Mr. Kang has the second highest. Mr. Cervelli, the third highest, and Starling Marte, the fourth highest.
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otoh, Francisco Cervelli has the team’s highest “Def” (Defensive rating) score, and Mr. McCutchen’s is actually negative !!
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http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2015&month=0&season1=2015&ind=0&team=27&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=20,d
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Alternatively, can that Buccos’ MVP award be bestowed upon a pitcher (e.g. Mark Melancon, or Gerrit Cole), or to “the bullpen” as a whole ?? I know that WAR for pitchers isn’t as highly respected as it is for position players, Nevertheless, Gerrit’s WAR this year is just a shade lower than is Andrew McCutchen’s . . .
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Hmmm . . .
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And who gets to vote for that award (and who doesn’t). Inquiring minds want to know !!
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As for the off-season, for die hard baseball fans it really doesn’t begin until the Winter Caribbean Leagues are finished. But yes, that month or so until pitchers & catchers report is indeed borderline insufferable, unbearable, and seemingly interminable — all mixed together . . .
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Bummer to the max . . .
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