Losing with dignity and Bad ball hitters
Y'all called me out on a couple of things yesterday that has pretty much pissed me off and literally caused me to lose sleep. And out of everything in life, my wife and kids, the Cubs, ribeye steaks with thick marbleing...the most important thing in my life is a good nights sleep, Because if I don't get it...I GET cranky. Yep, even more so than usual.
One of the things, though, I got to give you. I do not lose gracefully. Yep, I was the same guy who preached about "earned autonomy" when we were 5-2. Then, when we lost two games in a row, I'm bitchin' about Geo Soto and his lack of productivity. There's a reason why I am like this, I've told you before, and you all dismissed it. When I've told you about the literal thousands of losses I have seen in my life, about how each and every one has worn my psyche down just a little bit, like the millions of years of erosion allowed the Colorado River to carve out the Grand Canyon? Well, all you twenty-somethings, who didn't live through the 70's and early 80's (and in some cases, the Jim Essian era and the Tom Treblehorn era), told me to get over it, that none of that has any bearing on THIS year's team, blah blahdey blah.
I guess all I can say about this topic is, hey, if you can forget about the past, file it away in its own compartment, and just focus on 2009, well God bless you, my friend. I WISH I could do that. I will admit right here and now that your point of view is no less valid than my own. Twenty years from now, look me up, and we'll talk.
The second topic, that I commented on last night, but I found to be intellectually unsatisfying, is the notion amongst many of you, including some Founders of this Site, is that aggressiveness at the plate = Corey Patterson-esque failure. Uh, did you happen to see noted Plate Aggressor Alfonso Soriano start out Opening Day with a bomb? And then win last Saturday's game with a bomb? Then win yesterday's game with yet another bomb?
The game is full of "Bad ball hitters", from Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn to Vlad Guerrero to Ichiro. Soriano is another one. So was the Great Sammy Sosa so many of you cut your teeth with. Remember Manny's bomb he hit off of Sean Marshall last year? Wasn't six inches off the ground when it left his bat?
Point is, I believe that many of you are radical disciples of the OBP, and being fans of this team over the years, I can't really blame you. God knows we needed somebody to come along after the Baylor and Baker years. Yes, we lost many hundreds of games the past ten years because we could not hit situationally; we had no ability to draw a walk to put runners on bases; and we had bucket-dragging mopes like CPat to swing with wild abandon at any pitch thrown his way. I myself have been out here several years railing on about the Cubs' inability to situationally hit. I was like a proud papa last year when we led the majors most of the year in OBP. It had never happened before in ANY of our lifetimes, and to conclude, I am just as happy as you are that plate discipline is now a priority in the Cubs organization.
I will even go as far as to insist for most Cubs hitters, that plate discipline remain the TOP priority in their game. For the Theriots and Johnsons and Fukudomes of the world, OBP is the biggest weapon in their game, and I don't want to be construed as someone who wants to eradicate OBP.
But back to situational hitting. When you are one of our "power" people, with runners on the bases and the game on the line, what the situation calls for is a big hit. It may be different if, say, a Ryan Theriot walks up with bases loaded, one out, 8th inning, in a tie game. The chances of him hitting a bases-clearing long ball are slim to none. If the pitcher then starts off with three balls, then I would expect him to be cautious with the next one or two pitches.
Milton Bradley, I understand, his just as well known for his OBP as he is for his SLG. If you lined up our 13 position players in order of discipline vs. power, he straddles the fence in the middle. But when he noticed that he got boned on the call for strike one, he needs to shift his thinking. He is an intelligent man, and is capable of thinking on his feet. And, we don't know, whether or not he had any history with this particular pitch-caller. Probably, knowing him, he has. So he HAS to realize that in this particular instance, his personal strike zone has been somewhat expanded. That means that his usual sense of pitch perceptions cannot be relied on anymore, which means that he needs to protect the plate with his BAT! He needs to swing at anything close, and concentrate on putting it in play in a region of the field that will produce some runs.
In other words, shift from being a discerning hitter to an aggressive one.
No, not THAT, the goats cry. You've just turned Milton Bradley into Corey Patterson!!
You know, I hope that isn't true. I hope Bradley has more skill than Patterson. For what I told Byron last night still sounds good to me today. It wasn't that Patterson swung at bad pitches - it was that he couldn't hit them. Patterson's main problem was that he had no idea what he was trying to do out there - he just wanted to swing as hard as he could. That works just fine for Zambrano, but when you occupy 600 plate appearences a year, you need a plan. I give Bradley credit for having an idea about his at-bats. However, if his plan on Thursday was taking a walk, well, I think he needs to be a bit more ambitious. We're not paying him to take bases-loaded walks.