I was in town for a tech conference. My friend in Boise lined up two nice tickets to the game. I invited my dad down at the last second. I went to the conference on Wednesday while my dad watched his favorite team (Giants). On Wednesday night, we visited Salty Seniorita hoping to catch Shannon's show (missed it by day). We gathered some intel for Thursday morning's activities. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the minor and major leaguer's workout. Note: I am a huge soccer fan, but nothing beats getting so close to the team I follow so faithfully. As the guys got ready to play, dad napped in the car while I rounded up some Red Robin burgers. We watched the game together (first professional baseball game shared...Dad of 77 years and me of 48 years). It is never to late. Felix started strong and Ichiro did not disappoint (HR and 2 sliding catches). The game got out of hand, but I got to see most of the guys play. I have a ST 2012 hat with Mike Wilson and Carlos signatures. Memories. Also, watching Millwood interacting with teammates and coaches, I knew he had made the team. Ryan spent 20 minutes just shooting the breeze with some fans. Seager signed every autograph asked. Liddi is big. The Condor is tall. Carlos is huge. If you get the chance, even for one day, go to ST and watch these guys from just a few feet away. Just amazing. Sorry, I missed you Jeff. I was hoping to run into you. Blessings.
=== White Knuckle Dept. ===
Felix was in the middle of his second big rallied. Cindy axed, um. So what's wrong with him, Dr. D. I dunno, I mumbles, same as Felix hisself did, after the game. Hard to tell from here.
Just then, a right hand batter suffered two strikes, and I told Cindy, OK, he'll want this guy. Check this out. ... curve... BOUNCES. Easy take, count 2-2.
Next three pitches, the guy fouls off, easily. WHAAAaaaaaa? The third one is even smoked down the 3B line, deep. This is Larry Bernandez or what? Next pitch, long double, pounded deep down the LF line. "Why are they all hitting it to the same spot?", she asks. I'm not at all annoyed by this question....
First chart we look at, on Brooks, is this one rat cheer: the pitch speed scatter. Notice that not only is Felix 89-91, but also his offspeed stuff is 86-89. There is no nice white separation band on this picture. In fact, Felix' fatballs are classified by F/X as changeups. Check it out.
You've got the first 70-80 pitches, basically all thrown from 86-90 mph. Also known as "batting practice velocity."
=== Dr's Diagnosis ===
Take one more Felix start and call me in the morning. If Felix' velocity chart looked like this on Opening Day, then yes. Your 2012 Seattle Mariners are in deeeeeeep doo-doo.
Odds are 20:1 that it will not. Odds are that Felix was not interested in the game, or that he had "flu-like symptoms" brought on by a pitcher of margaritas, or that his 6 IP last time out gave him a bit of a dead arm, or whatever.
A pitcher's body just doesn't feel quite up to snuff, that can happen. They're in gear-up mode. But the 90% probability, the Prime Computation, Thufir Hawat, is simply lack of interest.
You'll remember Randy Johnson getting blasted in the first half of 1998, one KO after another, and the SECOND! the second that he went to Houston, he ripped off a bunch of 15-K shutouts.
First thing: the scouts ripped the Unit, deservedly so, for "pitching with a complete lack of interest."
Second thing: notice baseball's CONFIDENCE in this diagnosis, that his trade value suffered not a whit from Johnson's terrible first half. The scouts and GM's were simply, "He doesn't want to pitch. Let's go get him." That's all.
There are times when neo-saberdudes, themselves never having competed at anything, scoff at the idea of chemistry in sports. Dr. D wouldn't begrudge them this blind spot if it weren't expressed with a curled upper lip .... ::big smile kiddies::
At the far other end of that spectrum, there is ... me. I sometimes wonder if there is any OTHER difference between Dustin Pedroia and Willie Bloomquist, other than state-of-mind. Consider rookies who performed terribly, and who now don't. What is the difference between rookie Carlos Pena, and MVP Carlos Pena, he of the 1.000 OPS? It's between the ears.
Felix pitched with a lack of interest yesterday. He threw batting practice. The Sox, not a little amazed at the situation, took one inning to comprehend the alternate reality, and then were all over that slop. You can well afford to assume there's nothing wrong. Unless and until he does it next time. :- )
I'm chill. Betcha Jay-Z ain't!
That's an interesting line about "watching Millwood interacting," you had him on the 25-man. I don't doubt it for a second.
Jim Bouton wrote that the 1964 Yankees won because "they were the only team that knew how to win a pennant." Have had the nagging feeling that Kevin Millwood, in 2012, knew exactly how to make a team.
Little quotes like "If I'm in the clubhouse, it will be part of my role to say things when needed, just like with any other veteran." Pitch-perfect. Millwood carries himself like he's part of the team, and next thing you know, he just is.