Goatriders of the Apocalypse

DLee Must Be More Assertive In His Role

Derrek Lee in the dirt

Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

Wins that feel like losses?  Yeah, I know last year at this time we would have lost this game, along with some other Losses That Felt Like Wins.  Gotta tell you kids, this one still doesn't sit well with me.

Ted Lilly has got to go after hitters with seven-run leads.  I assume he HAS pitched with a big lead before?  Wouldn't have known it with all the picking around he did.  Cubs fielders have got to be able to catch and throw the ball.  That includes YOU, Ronnie Cedeno. 

Ronnie?  Ronnie!  Hey, mister?  Wake up, Mr. Cedeno.  Yes, you.  Please come up to the front here, where I can keep my eye on you.  Please pay close attention to me, I know it is hard for you to focus.

RONNIE? EYES FRONT!

I'd speak slower, but that isn't fair to the rest of the Cubs, now is it?  No Child Left Behind, my ass.

Anyway, these things will happen, and I guess Soriano is going to hit an Olsen twin's weight for awhile.  One thing DID happen yesterday, though, that just like a big zit on the middle of my cubemate's forehead, I just can't ignore it.  Hell-to-the-NAWWW I ain't goin' to lunch with you, wearing THAT big-ass thang!

Top of the tenth, tie score, obviously.  The Riot walked and stole second.  Soriano struck out, but Ward pinch hits and blocks out the sun with his enormous ass, and reaches on an error.  Pie pinch-runs and steals/takes second.  Derrek Lee, therefore, is batting with one out, and two men in scoring position. 

First base is empty.  They're not going to intentionally walk you in this situation because more baserunners might equal more runs if things get jiggy.    They might try to walk you anyway, semi-intentionally, pitch away from you and hope you chase, or hope the umpire is in a fantasy league where he has Matt Copes and his brother-in-law has Lee, and call you out on a ball three inches outside of the zone. 

Which is pretty much what happened.  Now, I didn't see it, I was stuck in my car listening to the g-d Pittsburgh radio feed.  Desipio Andy says the pitch was in the LH batters box.  The stiffs on WPGH or whatever said it was on the 'corner'.  Heh.  Byron's friend, who was watching, said Lee should have swung, and that's the picture I'm going with.

Derrek Lee is the third hitter on a supposed pennant contender.  He is being paid quite well for his efforts.  He was the batting champ of the whole NL.  Even though Soriano is the highest paid, Ramirez is considered to be the RBI machine, and Fukudome is the most hyped thing since Britney's air panties, Lee IS the heart of the Cubs' offense.  He is NOT being paid to take walks.  He is NOT being paid to load the bases in this situation, having the bat taken out of his hands, and setting up the force at any base.  He is getting PAID, to drive in the runs, and win the damn ballgame!!!

I can't joke around about this.  If THIS is going to be the team that finally breaks through a century of frustration, then the team leaders must start performing beyond reproach, and doing all the things they must do to win every last game within reach.  Lee HAS to swing the bat in this instance.  He HAS to do everything he can to DRIVE in those runs.  On two strikes, if the ball is ANYWHERE close, you have to attempt to lay the bat on it, and, geez, foul it off if that's all you can do. 

Like I said, let the midgets on the team take the walks.  Let Fukudome take the walks.  You, Derrek Lee, are being counted on to PRODUCE!  Swing the damn bat!

To conclude, I discussed this with Byron, who pointed out that Ramirez then struck out to end the inning, and shouldn't he bear the same blame? 

Well, as we all saw in the 8th inning of Game Six (shaking head still to this day), we saw the chain reaction that occurs when one player does not comport himself in the manner that the rest of the team expects.  Alou throws a tantrum, then Gonzalez boots one, then Prior serves up the meat....I'm not saying that the Ramirez strikeout is ABSOLUTELY directly related to the Lee strikeout.

But after having followed this team the past 39 years, you can sense the ebb and flow of motivation, enthusiasm and momentum of this team.  Once Lee failed to execute, Ramirez' lack of execution was not only unsurprising, but almost EXPECTED. 

Now, the strikeouts in the 10th were nowhere near as stupid as the Pirates' botched bunt play in the ninth.  But hey, that's their poostain to wipe up.   

My thoughts on this post:

Stupid. Wrong.

Uh, Lemonhead?

Could you be more pacific? Saying "Stupid. Wrong." is just stupid. And wrong.

I think he was trying to say

I think he was trying to say that his thoughts are stupid and wrong, which is probably why he didn't express them.

Lemon, don't be so hard on yourself. We welcome all opinions on Goat Riders, even the stupid and wrong ones.

I just wanted him to explain

What was stupid and wrong? Was it that:
- Lee was right to want to coax a walk to load the bases?
- Lilly was not nibbling around the plate with a 7 run lead?
- Soriano is hitting higher than Ashley Olsen's weight?
- I haven't been watching Cubs baseball for 39 years?

Because he's right about that one. It's more like 38. I zaggarated.

You axed for it...

Ok I agree that my comment above was reckless in its brevity, and I commit to being more verbose both in what follows here and in future comments.

I understood the point of this article to be essentially that Lee's taking of a close pitch on a 2 strike count in a critical game situation somehow amounted to a failure to demonstrate leadership for the team. I don't think that's true, and I think it's quite a stretch to use that one incident to suggest the Lee somehow isn't living up to some standard.

Do I wish that Derrek Lee had reached out and put the ball in play? Or smoked one for an opposite field homer? Of course! And I absolutely get the same slightly uneasy feeling about the game, and the blowing of a 7 run lead in general, so I can commiserate in some sense with the psychology of Rob's perspective. However, I draw the line of my criticism at telling the players what pitches to swing at! Derrek Lee is a professional, with (at least relative to the rest of this team) a pretty good command of the strike zone, and presumably some knowledge of his own limitations. Any little leaguer has heard "2 strikes now, swing at anything close" and Derrek's understanding of this little chestnut I'm sure exceeds any of our own. So he didn't swing, it happens. You can bet Derrek watched the tape of the pitch, and thought about what he could have done. The debate over whether the ball was or wasn't in the zone, suggests it was a pretty good pitch, maybe upon further review Derrek would say he wanted nothing to do with such a pitch. If that's the case I'm fine with it. Even if he would say he blew it and should have swung y'know what? I'm okay with that too, D Lee can adjust, and it's only APRIL.

Part of the reason I'm inclined to sort of come to Derrek's defense here, is because it's just Rob going after him and not Chris Young (not that he needed my help then), another reason is that Derrek has looked great so far, and if taking that one pitch (or even others like it) is the price we pay for a season of ball smacking (watch it!), I'll take it.

As for the effect it has on others, esp. Ramirez, if they can't handle watching one of their players make an out, even if he is the leader, then THEY (and not Derrek) are the ones who suck. Part of their job is not to be moved too much by the little ups and downs of an at bat/game/season, that's their problem and if they fail to perform because Lee struck out looking, well EFF them.

Alright, people are asking me to do work now, so I'm going to leave this with whatever typos are above, and whatever fallacies or redundancies exist in the above argument. No hard feelings mmmK?

Well, I asked for it.

And it was delivered. Thank you.

I will say, though, that your argument does lack in the areas of sports psychology.

Out on Desipio, I floated out the same argument, and they kept throwing "35 jacks, .330 average" at me, the shorthand of your argument. That Lee is a productive hitter, and that there are more deserving fish to fry.

But we are talking about winning pennants here, at least I am. I don't care what Lee did last year, and I don't care what his line says at year end. If THIS club is going to break through and do what no other Cub team has done in over 60 years, Lee and Ramirez and some of our other Fantasy League Darlings MUST step up from their normal comfort zones, and take control unlike anything they have ever done before.

I have watched Lee for four years now, taking walks in key situations, when action was needed. In late innings, with runners on the bases, we don't need yet ANOTHER baserunner. We need the streetsweeper...we need a hit. If the bases were loaded, then maybe he takes. All a walk would have done for us is load the bases. I can't count on both hands how many times he has done this in the late innings the past four years.

As for the ripple effect, you are crazy if you don't lend any stock to it. SURE, the next guy (Ramirez) is supposed to be a professional in his craft, but a key phrase we use here at work is "Do you operate in a silo?" Are we really to believe that disappointing execution by one teammate isn't going to rub off AT ALL on the others? Have you ever played a team sport, or participated in a team activity or project? For most of us, the ripple effect is real.

Sure, Ramirez SHOULD have stepped up, and I am not giving him a pass that he didn't. I'm just saying that, somehow, it upset me less. I was expecting it. I'd prefer he prove me wrong.

Once these guys start proving me wrong, then they are THAT much closer to winning championships.

This is a very similar

This is a very similar criticism that used to be levied at Ted Williams. He was such a disciplined hitter that he seemed incapable of ever allowing himself to take a hack at a close ball, no matter what the scenario dictated. Still, he was a great player. I wouldn't call D.Lee "great," but he remains "good." Let Fuku be the clutch thumper.

The Red Sox won exactly ONE pennant during Williams' career

Of course, that was the heyday of the Yankees, but still. The Red Sox had horses too, dude, but couldn't climb the hump. I don't want to have that happen here.

Final rebuttal

So I would add just this:

I remember Lee as being a pretty clutch hitter in 2005. So discounting the injury year of 2006, and (granted this is more of a stretch) 2007 as a year where he was not quite himself, I'm willing to entertain the notion that the real Derrek Lee is somebody who can be relied upon in situations like this. I would agree that it was not true last year, and if you're not inclined to believe that was due to some lingering effects of the injury or distraction caused by concern for his daughters health or something then you'd probably be more frustrated by the walk taking.

As for sports psychology, I absolutely believe in it, but I would point out that it's a pretty easy argument to fall back on and it's pretty hard to prove or disprove. In this particular case, I would say I weigh such arguments less because: it's April in a game with very little big-picture significance; it's the Pirates; and because Lee's performance--while disappointing--wasn't that big of a deal, either in the context of the game, or the season--it was only the second out. To me, in a season, or postseason there are FAR more psychologically demanding moments and while I believe in sports psychology, I'm not sure I believe this particular moment makes for a very good case study.

Ultimately you're right these types of moment are the kind that determine which side of the success-failure line a team end up on, but it's typeS let's not tear Lee a new one because of this incident against the Buccos in April, in game we won.

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