August 31, 2003

Before Saturday's game, Grady Little was asked if Pedro was "at complete, full strength?" Gump: "Yes, we feel like he is. He's ready to go today." However, after the game, Little said: "He wasn't 100 percent today. He's still a little bit affected by the sickness he had last week and it caught up with him pretty good there about the fourth inning. ... He just gets fatigued. The fatigue sets in much quicker than normal and that's exactly what happened out there today. ... We were hoping that it would all be behind him, but it wasn't totally." ... Which is it Grady?

Gordon Edes called Little's comments "hollow." He also seemed to praise Little for the McCarty move in the 8th, admitting that while the move "confounded observers" [McCarty had been 0-12 this year v. RHP] it "worked out splendidly." Yes it did, but there should be some caveat that it was a poor percentage move. ... Dave Wallace said Pedro was "gasping for air."

Ron Chimelis admits only "a pretty insensitive lout" would bash Pedro, but he willingly gets in line. "Even baseball's best pitcher is entitled to an off day. With the Red Sox and Pedro, though, it's never that simple. It's never just an off day. There's always an excuse. [Mentions Grady's flip-flop quotes] ... Martinez bristled at suggestions he wimped out of an Aug.21 start against Oakland. The suggestions were ridiculous, but they also resulted from years of accumulated credibility issues caused by his own cavalier approach."

Tony Massarotti thought Martinez looked "uncharacteristically sluggish, lethargic and disinterested." Mazz did call out the louts, though: "He was unfairly criticized for the absence by many who have no respect or understanding for the man's integrity as a competitor. It was an embarrassing Boston moment, the kind that validates claims of negativity and cynicism. ... If he is still sick, he should not have been out there at all."

In a game that needed no hyperbole, Bill Madden wrote that before Rivera struck out Mueller in the 8th, "the Red Sox were seemingly once again a pitch away from exorcising 80 years of demons." Puh-leeze. ... Now Torre thinks the Sox might be stealing signs at Fenway. Just in case, the Yankees changed their signs before the series. ... Lots of talk about Clemens's final Fenway start. ... Joel Sherman of the Post notes that Rivera threw 10 pitches with two strikes to McCarty, Merloni and Damon and could not finish any of them off (5 fouls; 5 balls). His only swing and miss was his final pitch of the inning. Since July 25, Rivera has permitted 24 hits in 18 innings and has five blown saves.

In the WTF Dept.: Manny Ramirez -- in an unaired segment from last Sunday's ESPN interview with Joe Morgan -- said that playing for the Yankees "is one of my biggest dreams right now. I know I've got a big contract here in Boston, but maybe when it's over, I'll go out there and try it."

Jim Donaldson wins the Dope of the Day award. His Projo column begins: "So, how do you like Pedro now, Sox fans? Suffice to say that the nickname on his plaque in Cooperstown won't be 'Yankee Killer.' Hopefully, the malevolent and malicious (as the super-sensitive Pedro and his easily-offended teammates see them) New England media [blah blah blah] ..."

Donaldson tries to show that Pedro can't pitch against New York by noting that the Red Sox have lost all 3 of his starts against the Yankees this year and: "In his last 10 starts against New York, going back to June 4, 2001, Martinez is 2-3 and the Red Sox are 3-7. In his last 16 starts against New York, dating back to June 14, 2000, Martinez is 3-6 and the Red Sox are 4-12."

This is ludicrious, but sadly, Donaldson is not alone. Bob Hohler points out that Pedro is "8-8 lifetime against the Yankees [and] 86-15 against the rest of the American League" and New York writer Mike Vaccaro has a "dirty little secret": "Martinez is hell against the Devil Rays and the Blue Jays, he is murder against the White Sox and the Orioles, he is larger than life against the Tigers and the Twins and the Tribe. ... But against the Damn Yankees, he is awfully damned ordinary."

From 2000-2002, Pedro started 14 games against the Yankees. In 94 innings, he allowed 64 hits, 27 runs, 27 walks and 122 strikeouts. The Yankees batted .188 and his ERA is 2.59. If that's "awfully damned ordinary," then I want 5 "awfully damned ordinary" guys on my pitching staff. And yet Donaldson, a high-honors graduate of the Joe Morgan School of Stat Analysis, looks at Pedro's 4-5 record in that time and bangs out a column.

Here are three of the no-decisions Pedro has received against New York:
Apr. 14, 2001: 7IP, 6H, 2R, 2BB, 9K
Sep. 1, 2001: 6IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 6K
July 7, 2002: 7IP, 5H, 1R, 0BB, 11K.
ERA for those 3 starts: 1.35. But those games don't count in Donaldson's analysis. I suppose Donaldson would say that Pedro is better at home this year (7-2) than on the road (3-2); yet his home ERA is 3.28 and his road ERA is 1.91. Donaldson is using 19th Century tools to solve a 21st century problem.

Another comment on Grady's quickness in sending PH to the plate: I'd love to get clarification on this. If Torre and Grady are both waiting for the other to make a move -- send up a PH or change pitchers -- what does the umpire do? There must be some sort of time restriction. The managers can't simply stand in their dugouts waiting (in vain) for the other guy to show his hand. So say this happened yesterday. The umps call Torre and Grady out to home plate. Who do the umps tell "What's your move? You've got to make it now." to? There must be a rule.

MLB Rule 4.15 says: "A game may be forfeited to the opposing team when a team: ... (b) Employs tactics palpably designed to delay or shorten the game; (c) Refuses to continue play during a game unless the game has been suspended or terminated by the umpire ..."

I looked for awhile, but found nothing about pinch-hitters and changing pitchers. My thinking: Grady is the one that has to make the first move, because the batter has an obligation to get into the batter's box within a certain amount of time. If he isn't in the box, the umpire can call ball 1 -- and more, I suppose, if it continues. The team in the field is simply waiting for the next batter to take his turn. Yesterday, Nelson was standing on the hill waiting to face his next man. I don't think Torre is under any obligation to remove the pitcher until he sees who Nelson will be facing.

If this is true, then Gump had no choice yesterday. If not, Grady is delaying the game and under Rule 4.15, the umpire could forfeit the game to the Yankees. [Hmm, now that could get Gump canned!] Grady merely waited (for example) 5 seconds to make a move rather than 15. For now, I'm changing my mind and saying Grady didn't jump the gun.

Finally, back on July 5, Clemens hit Millar and Nixon followed with a home run on the next pitch. Millar: "Try to beat us for once, instead of [going] five innings and [giving up] eight runs. It's not our fault. Make some pitches.'' ... Ortiz homered off Clemens later in the game. The Texas Con Man replied: "He has too much plate coverage. I am going to have to make adjusments the next time I face him." The New York Post added that "Clemens didn't elaborate on what he might do ... However, Ortiz may be wise not to get too comfortable in the box the next time Clemens is on the mound."

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