Why Does It Feel So Good To Be So Wrong?

by on May 26, 2012 · 9 comments

 

The seemingly rhetorical question may actually deserve an answer this time.  Why must reality dictate that what our brains believe to be “right” be so far on the bad side of “wrong”?  How can intuition fail so often?  More importantly, why do we lie to ourselves in an effort to convince ourselves (and others) that a bad idea is actually a good one?

No doubt that the laws of nature that prevent us from truly knowing the mind of another exist for a very good reason.  Thankfully, some people possess a great deal of skill at expressing their thoughts without words by the use of body language and various acts involving the breaking of solid objects.  When Tyler Greene struck out looking in the bottom of the 1st inning, Greene used the former to let everyone watching know that he lacked no amount of displeasure.

Imagine what went through Yadier Molina‘s mind during the bottom of the 4th inning.  David Freese led off the inning with a triple to deep center field.  Molina followed with an RBI single to put the Cardinals ahead 3-2 with nobody out.  Matt Adams singled to center on a ball that basically dropped amongst a group of Phillies, and Molina tried to sneak from 2nd base to 3rd base.  I say “sneak”, because that probably more accurately describes his attempt than anything else.  He wasn’t exactly “picking them up and putting them down” as the saying goes.   Moreover, he knew he was out by a long shot and practically gave himself up going into 3rd base as he greeted the tag like an old fishing buddy.

There were zero outs at the time Adams hit the ball.  Yadi made the first out of the inning at 3rd base.  That may not be illegal in the US, but it certainly vi0lates one of baseball’s most hallowed unwritten rules.  You simply do not volunteer to make the first out of an inning at 3rd base.  You especially do not volunteer for that duty when you run at the speed of continental drift.  That one falls completely on Yadi.  It was not simply a matter of aggressive play on a ball into the OF.  It was pure greed.

During the top of the 5th inning, Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch.  No real intent there, but Lohse displayed an obvious lack of control.  Consider it a warning sign.  Lohse manages to get out of the inning without any damage done and plods on through the top half  of the 6th inning as well.  At that point, the dimensionality of this tale grows uncomfortably complex.

I surmised that Mike Matheny might possibly face a decision about pinch hitting for Lohse.  Unfortunately, Lee set the Cardinals down in order and left the pitcher’s spot up to lead off the next inning.  Unfortunately for the Cardinals, that might have been where the game was effectively won for the Phillies.

The blame lies solely and squarely on the shoulders of Kyle Lohse, and every single person who saw the game should know it.  The real trick is convincing people to believe it.  This assessment has absolutely nothing to do with anything that happened prior to the top of the 7th inning.  Up until that point, Lohse had fought a legitimately savvy battle against a questionable strike zone and his own team’s questionable defense.  Then he started the top of the 7th inning, and he made a very, very common mistake.

He relaxed just a bit and threw a “get-me-over” first pitch to the opposing pitcher, and Cliff Lee turned on the ball.  If there was a single hitter in the entire Philly lineup who would pretty much be guaranteed to swing at a first pitch fastball over the plate, it was Clifton Phifer Lee.  Zero blame falls to Yadier Molina for calling the pitch.  Lohse gets 100% responsibility for easing up and guiding the pitch just a bit.  It was one of just a few obvious mistakes he made all night.  And it cost him.

The double by Pierre was practically predictable, and there was no real doubt that Lee would score from first on it.  He barely broke stride after getting a read on the ball, and he acquitted himself nicely in rambling around the bases.  The Phillies turned a potentially innocuous single into a no-decision for Lohse and a headache for Mike Matheny.

Boggs pitched fairly well in closing out the 7th inning, and he also pitched a scoreless 8th inning as well.  If there was a real positive to extract from this game, perhaps the work done by Boggs is it.

With 2 outs, Molina singled to center field against Jose Contreras in the bottom of the 8th inning.  After a pitching change, Matt Adams doubled deep into center field, and Molina headed for 3rd base.  For whatever inexplicable reason Oquendo was waving for Yadi to continue steaming for home.  Keep in mind that Molina had already traversed the lengthy arc from his secondary lead off position near first base all the way to 3rd base by this time without a break or intermission.  Maybe Oquendo’s guilty pleasure consists of attempting to beat the odds at home plate.  Regardless, the Phillies executed on defense as professional baseball players are known to do, and Molina was out by multiple yards of distance.

As though that wasn’t good enough, Molina decided to make a half-hearted effort to knock the ball out of Carlos Ruiz’s glove.  In replays, Molina obviously showed very poor tackling form and failed to wrap up.  He also forgot to drive with the legs, and he really didn’t keep his head on the target.  If anything, he really threw a shoulder in Ruiz’s direction and deflected off of Ruiz.  To Ruiz’s credit, he held on to the ball, and he accepted a conciliatory pat on the rumpus from Molina.

What the what?

I cannot advocate human on human violence without good reason, but if you are going to drop the hammer, then you better freakin’ drop the hammer.  One does not simply plow into a catcher.  It is sheer folly.  You either drop him like a bad habit (or at least try), or you just stand there and allow yourself to be tagged.  Seriously, you are risking injury to both the runner and the catcher by choosing to create a collision.  With Molina obviously out by so much, the wise choice was to decelerate and live to fight another day.  The more “manly” approach was to throw a shoulder into Ruiz and try to score.  Molina chose something in the middle ground which one must imagine can only be described as a place occupied by indecisive people who can’t order the right latte at Starbucks.  In the entire written history of mankind, the “manly” approach has failed to accomplish anything except maybe get a few of us a night or two on the couch or a trip to an ER at 2:00 after eating “all those hot wings”.

In all seriousness, the good baseball play does not involve trying to demolish the catcher, unless you absolutely positively have to have that run.  Otherwise, life and health are far too precious for relatively high speed of overly large, muscled men in pajamas.  I would extend this principle without exceptions, but my morality ends at the point my favorite team has a shot at a playoff win or something of equal importance.

Thus, we find ourselves watching the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 runners on base, 1 out, and Tyler Greene at the plate.  Quite unceremoniously he struck out looking on a pitch that appeared to every human being blessed with sight as a ball.  Joe West had struck yet again.

So, a bunch of other baseball stuff happened, and then Jason Motte served up a fattie to Hunter Pence who took out time from his day job as Syd from Ice Age to play baseball in his pajamas.  Despite his odd routine prior to each at-bat, Pence often entertains the home crowds with a modicum success at making a baseball depart a wooden object with great velocity.  His 355 foot home run really was met by a collective “meh” by the Busch Stadium crowd that seemed to really understand the lack of gravitas of the moment.  Although the rest seemed anticlimactic, it should be noted that most of this story never should have taken place.  If only Kyle Lohse had made a better first pitch to Cliff Lee, maybe the Cardinals cruise to a 3-2 victory.  Didn’t happen.

Yadi knows he lacks foot speed, yet he twice attempted to advance in situations where a faster man may have chosen a more prudent course of action.  Matheny left Lohse in the game, and he possibly did so only because the pitcher’s spot was due up first in the bottom of the inning.  Keeping Lohse in the game saved the effort and confusion involved with a double switch.  Huzzah!  Did he really gain anything in the end?  After all, he had to bring in Boggs anyway.  Yadi had an open shot at his counterpart, Carlos Ruiz, and he gave it a real 75% shot.  Why bother?  Tyler Greene let the bat sit on his shoulder practically as strike 3 was called on a questionable pitch.  He must have had some sense of deja vu.  Knowing the Joe West “it might be over there” approach to calling strikes and balls, why did Greene not take a more defensive approach?

The answer to all these questions is the same thing.  It just feels so good at the time, and it isn’t until we find out how wrong we were that we fully understand the measure of our actions.

This rambling mind-number regurgitated game recap brought to you by the makers of those great postage stamps in the 70′s.

Kidding.

Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more fanciful game recaps!

Also, congrats to @chuckiefick on getting the call to the big show.  Please forgive me in advance for butchering your name over and over and over again (sometimes on accident even). #TeamFickieChuck

 

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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{ 9 comments }

Bob Hudgins May 26, 2012

Sorry, those pitches to Greene were right down the middle. He’s close to the plate and has a hole in his swing on pitches in, (which he knows).
I’m not a fan of Joe West but I thought his strike zone was better than most lately.
Interesting piece.

OtterMatt May 26, 2012

His zone in the 8th and 9th innings was pretty damn poor. Unfortunately, I can get away with calling “consistent’ pitches and that’s all, because I’m not at the MLB level. With Joe’s experience, he should know what a damn strike is, and 2-3 inches ain’t a strike. I’m seriously starting to wonder if Joe’s taken too many fouls in the mask in his career, cause he doesn’t always seem like he’s all there.

Dennis May 26, 2012

Thanka for reading, Bob.

The pitch data that I saw during the game showed several pitches to Greene more than 2-3 invhes off the plate. The same could be said of a few other batters, though. The point was that Greene knew the zone hadn’t helped him all night, so it made little sense to rely on a close pitch to go his way.

As far as hole in Greene’s swing, I think it an odd way of describing his hitting. He’s one of the few who can turn and pull an inner half fastball yet still hit a breaking pitch the other way. If anything, his problem seems pitch selection more than actual mechanics right now. Watching him at Memphis has given me an appreciation for what he beings to the team, even if he has yet to demonstrate it all.

PH8 May 26, 2012

Bernie wrote about this the other day. Greene has definitely struggled on pitches inside, and not just this year.

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-greene-has-fun-outside/article_3d21692a-a41d-11e1-a6dd-001a4bcf6878.html

Justin Adams May 26, 2012

Good read. My take right now is, if Juan Pierre is having his way with my team, I gotta find a new hobby!

Dennis May 26, 2012

Juan Pierre is an absolute stud at the plate and would not appreciate this at all, and I’d watch what you say about him…..if he was big enough to do anything about it. :)

OtterMatt May 26, 2012

How is Yadi getting thrown out at home his fault? It was Oquendo who sent him, it’s not like Yadi can or should be looking over his shoulder to decide for himself to run or not. Maybe the play at 3rd was a little over-eager, but at home, he’s absolved of that one.
And I still find your logic more than slightly disturbing. The “don’t half-ass it” approach can apply to running hard, trying for a ball near the stands, or avoiding check swings, but plowing the catcher? If there’s a long line at the movie theater for tickets, I don’t choose between leaving submissively or kneecapping everyone in line with a bat so I can go first, but that’s the vibe I’m getting from your suggestions.
I know what you’re trying to say, but it doesn’t apply in that situation, and to say so tells me that that’s a situation you’ve never been in yourself. I have, on giving and receiving ends, and you try to dislodge the ball, sure, but “all or nothing” ends up ruining careers and lives. And no, it’s not that there’s no safe way to hit the catcher. There is, and Yadi pretty much did that.
I’m also sure his coaches would disagree with you, since Yadi’s worth more than pretty much any catcher in baseball right now, so why push him to go beyond what he can do safely?
/$0.02

Dennis May 26, 2012

Your metaphor has no logical connection to the scenario from the game at all.

I’ve been in both situations as well, but I’m amazed at how you can assume what I have and have not done based a short article. I coach youth baseball, and I basically preach that the team’s runners try to score without hitting the catcher at all. For our catchers, I tell them to prepare themselves by protecting themselves with the equipment they have and be prepared to roll with in the same direction as the force applied.

Your lack of reading comprehension is killing me, though. I’m not suggesting that Yadi decapitate Ruiz or anything like that. I am saying that drilling the catcher at less than full speed involves almost as much physical risk as drilling the catcher at full speed. If you aren’t going to go full speed, then don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are saving lives by going 90%.

“Nothing” does not ruin lives and/or careers, so you are absolutely in the wrong on that one. Yadi might have been given a hard time for being out by so much, but I can almost bet there would have been praise for avoiding a collision on a not-so-close play.

There is no “safe” way for 2 humans to run into each other on a baseball field during play. Just knocking a catcher backwards into the roll that most catchers do can cause a concussion.

Amazingly, you’ve taken a piece about how much our own perceptions can lead to bad decisions, and you’ve turned it into a long comment thread about yourself. Really?

OtterMatt May 26, 2012

That’s all as may be, but I think you should have just lead with “avoid the tag” and call it at that. To suppose that someone should go full bore if they feel like it comes off as cavalier. At least, it does to me. Also, I wasn’t presupposing, I was indicating what I was reading from the statements. That’s all.
I’ve been plowed by some big dudes (and my god, does that sound wrong out loud…), and you can handle it in a safe manner. There are no guarantees, of course, but avoiding a tag can just as easily injure the runner by straining joints. Hell, people break and dislocate fingers all the time just sliding headfirst on a steal.
And I really don’t think I was hyping myself. I used a bit of hyperbole, but that’s what it’s for. Suffice to say, I disagree with your points, and I’ll just leave it there.

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