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Soup of This Day #174: You’ve Got To Let Me In Or Let Me Out

April 28, 2012

Big Papi in the batter's box
Big Papi looking to start a conversation on the mound in a game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, July 7, 2006. Ortiz’ line that day featured 2 hits for 2 runs and 2 RBIs – That’s something to talk about – Photo: SecondPrint Productions, 2006. SecondPrint Productions is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

My wife is not a sporting type of person.

I don’t mean that she’s bad at sport, it’s just that it isn’t the thing that she likes to focus her talents on. If making soft toys for her son, or cupcakes for morning tea or teaching high school science were sports then she’d be an Olympic champion. And a worthy 1 too – All of these things are eminently practical.

I on the other hand like watching sport and then talking about it, preferably with as many mixed metaphors as I can squeeze into the can of sardines that is 1 of my blog posts. None of this is particularly useful. Metaphor twisting doesn’t enchant my son, feed people at a morning soiree or educate the sons and daughters of Western Australia. It does none of those things and it yields no income.

Yep, that’s right – I churn out this stuff for free. Thank me later.

In spite of all of this my wife takes the time to indulge my obsession. She reads most of what I write and if her eyes occasionally skip over an element of minutia then that’s ok – It’s not all gold. Sometimes it’s the opposite of gold.

Not all of it gets written either. My wife will testify that on occasion I’ll just start a discussion with her about sport. Mostly this will involve me talking while she does practical stuff – The other day I talked for a bit about bench staff heading out to the mound to talk to the pitcher while she did something useful, like got our son clothed.

It’s not that I don’t think that staff should go out to talk to the pitcher – It’s just that sometimes I wonder about what they could be saying. For instance a pitcher has just thrown 14 consecutive balls – Out goes the Manager:

Manager: ‘Yeah Fred, I think you need to maybe work in some strikes there.’

Fred: ‘Ok’

Pause

Fred: ‘So you really think the ball thing isn’t working?’

I figure almost every time it’s a lot more complicated than that – The Manager might be going out there to offer up some advice – Maybe he’s spotted a little something to bring things back on track, like a mechanical tweak or a bat’s weakness. Perhaps he’s just out there to find out if the pitcher is ok – That the hurler has confidence in himself and what he’s aiming to achieve. It could even be that the Manager is looking to impart that confidence – Let the guy on the mound know that the bench has his back.

Sometimes though you do wonder – 1 time I was watching an FA Cup Final between Cardiff City and Portsmouth. The broadcast was via Australia’s really quite good SBS and they had drafted in their own team to handle the match rather than rely on someone else to do it for them. Part of that team was Mark Bosnich, an Australian former Premier League keeper with Aston Villa, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Because of his experience Bosnich was doing expert commentary, providing a recent player’s insight into what was going on. Or not.

Pompey kicked off the 2nd half a goal to the good, having taken a 37 minute lead via veteran Nwankwo Kanu. With this as a backdrop 1 of the commentary team asked Mark what the Cardiff City Manager might have told his troops at half time. His answer, based upon his experience, has stuck with me ever since – I can’t remember it word for word but the gist of it was:

‘He will have told them to focus on offence and to score a goal.’

Which is good advice. Hardly ever does a team win a football match when they finish it on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline. It seems blindingly obvious but apparently they would need to be told that a goal was a good idea. Presumably Mark had heard this himself from a Manager during his career and therefore thought we should know about it.

So I’m not entirely convinced that the advice given by team management is always useful and thus I rambled on about this to my wife for a bit.

This morning I added some more thoughts to the mix for for her. The Red Sox were playing the White Sox in Game 2 of their series in the Windy City. At the time I was talking it up the Chicago outfit was leading 3-2, top of the 6th. John Danks was on the mound and he started that inning in a shaky fashion, snagging Dustin Pedroia on a fly to left before giving up a walk to put Adrian Gonzalez on 1st and then a wild pitch to advance him to 2nd. That latter bit became redundant because Danks then issued a walk to Kevin Youkilis.

Next up was Big Papi.

Big Papi had form with Danks. Recent form. He’d in fact sent 1 of his pitches a lazy 402 feet to just beyond the right field fence in the 2nd. The lefty hurler threw a 1 and 2 changeup that stayed inside – Which is pretty much where the lefty Big Papi wanted it.

At this point in the 6th there was a coaching visit to the mound. I kind of figured that Danks was about to be pulled and said this to my wife.

It turns out that I was wrong – Danks stayed out there and gave up a single to Big Papi.

And then a single to Cody Ross, scoring Gonzalez. 3-3, bases loaded, 1 out.

Danks stays out there and for a bit this looks like a good move as he gets Kelly Shoppach swinging. 3-3, bases loaded, 2 outs.

And then there’s a bases clearing double from Darnell McDonald. 3-6, runner at 2nd, 2 outs.

And then there’s a Marlon Byrd single and McDonald streaks home. 3-7, runner at 1st, 2 outs.

The horse has bolted but now the White Sox seek to slam the gate shut – They pull John Danks and go to Nate Jones, a reliever who to this point has not given up a run this season.

And it works – Mike Aviles is called out looking.

Fast forward to the 7th and the Red Sox again have men at 1st and 2nd, with 1 out and none other than Big Papi at the plate once more. Jones faces more or less the same scenario as Danks but this time the outcome is a little kinder – Big Papi flies out to center.

I’m not saying that the same outcome would have worked for the White Sox in the 6th but the evidence is a little interesting at the least. For the record Jones gave up 2 more runs in the 7th, his 1st runs of the year, before he too was pulled and Chicago got out with a 3-9 deficit.

Had the White Sox had that Big Papi out an innings earlier then it might have been a 3-4 deficit going into the 7th and with Mike Aviles up next (1 from 6 on the night) rather than Dustin Pedroia (2 from 4 with a run). It gets you thinking that maybe the White Sox could have been close enough for a rally.

As it happened the Red Sox added a run for padding after the 7th while keeping the White Sox under the cosh for a 10-3 win.

I wonder what was said to Danks on that 6th inning visit.

A couple of days ago I forgot to do something – I’d unloaded a piece of furniture from my wife’s 4WD but hadn’t put the rear seats back up and I hadn’t re-installed The Noah’s booster seat. It wasn’t deliberate, my head just wasn’t screwed on right and I’d skipped over that stuff in the rush to get to work.

My wife wasn’t spectacularly amused. She’s 32 weeks pregnant and climbing through a 4WD arranging the seating wasn’t something she wanted to be doing.

She sent me a text message.

I apologised and acknowledged the half-arsed job I’d done. She texted back:

‘Poor form Longworth72. Might have to send the pitching coach out to have words with you.’

I’m normally not fond of being told off but she was right and I’m pretty proud of her for using the terminology in the right context. She really does listen to me.

And I’ll take that visit from the pitching coach, especially if she’s made cupcakes.

You’ve Got To Let Me In Or Let Me Out

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