Monthly Archive for April, 2010

Podcast 8: Baseball’s Only Fixie

In this episode, we call out pitchers calling out hitters, debate Barry Zito’s hipster factor and remind most of you that you are tired of talking about the AL East.

Plus, all you Zune owners can now download the mp3.


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30 for 30: Silly Little Game

ESPN took a break from its coverage of the NFL draft to acknowledge the National Pastime in Silly Little Game, a part of its 30 for 30 series of films. Silly Little Game is a documentary about the founding parents of Rotisserie baseball. The story is re-told through the magic of interviews with scions and gauzy reenactments.

Both Eric and I are on the heels of reading and discussing Fantasyland, a book about fantasy baseball from ancient times through this very second, so this recent renaissance of the history of Rotisserie just seems to keep going and going.

I’m not totally up on the public’s view of the 30 for 30 series, except for the occasional bout of extreme praise that I’ve heard here and there. I’m not much for college sports or Al Davis stories, so I haven’t made a solid effort to watch any of them until Silly Little Game predictably caught my eye. I consider it a success when long form storytelling makes it into the popular culture.

The production value of Silly Little Game is a few notches above the typical Behind the Lines or whatever crappy Fox Sports docudrama of the week that they used to show after I got home from baseball practice. The goofy, improvisational dialogue and fast and loose historical reenactment style definitely owes something to the drowsy recreations of Drunk History. And I am surprised at how funny this film actually is. I haven’t–since the days of Olbermann and Patrick riffing on highlights on Sportscenter–associated ESPN with laughter.

The many interviews with the founding fathers and mother are the highlight, though. Dan Okrent and his compadres reminisce about the first draft, the unanticipated obsessions that developed around Rotisserie baseball, and the labor involved in gathering statistics. They are joyous reminisces, too, which for some reason the film decided unnecessarily to sour by including the subsequent failure to monetize the game. I’d have been happier with the narrower story scope, and Okrent himself admits near the end–refreshingly–that it was probably better off that they made no money, as they had only started out to have fun.

The film not only tells the story of the first Rotisserie season, but it also addresses the challenge of visualizing fantasy baseball in a creative way. Floating numbers and actors playing Bill Buckner and random relief pitchers, and the film gleefully cheesifies the mental life of a Rotisseries baseball addict. A little self-consciousness can go a long way, and it separates this cheerfully schlocky dramatization from, say, an episode of Rescue 911. Directors Adam Kurland and Lucas Jansen don’t truly believe that a mad rotiserrieman spun madly at his gyrating poultry as Dan Okrent narrated the nascent rules of the game that would rule the world, but it makes for good documentary.

I’m a sucker for nostalgic gatherings of intellectual types, so this is all right up my alley and I could listen to these folks tell stories all day long.

Bryce Harpers and Joe Mauers

Along with three friends, I am coaching a Little League team of seven, eight, and nine year olds. All four of us are in our early twenties. Needless to say, we are the only coaches in the league without kids of our own. Our goal? Utter domination. Throughout the season I will keep Pitchers & Poets readers updated on the goings on surrounding the team.

Bryce Harper is seventeen years old. He will most likely be selected with the first pick by the Washington Nationals in June’s MLB Amateur Draft. As he continues to hit baseballs arguably harder than any other person his age ever has, his myth only grows. When he was sixteen, Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His talents are so blatant that denying them would be akin to denying the existence of gravity.

Young Shawn Green is nine years old. He will most likely be picked first or second for soccer or football at an upcoming recess. As he continues to hit baseballs farther than any player on our team, his spot in our batting order only improves. To my knowledge, Young Shawn Green has yet to grace any magazine covers, but if he ever does, it will probably not be Sports Illustrated. One possibility is Chess Life, as he will be missing our game next Saturday to compete in a statewide tournament.

There is a catch with Bryce Harper. Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus recently wrote about fears surrounding his mental makeup. Every baseball professional who has scouted Harper, Golstein writes, “genuinely dislikes the kid.” One GM even calls Harper “the anti-Joe Mauer.” It is perfectly possible, as Rob Neyer points out, to be both a great baseball player and a lousy human being. And it is certainly possible that Harper will turn out to be a good person – after all he is only seventeen. Either way, like many other child prodigies, his story can be a cautionary one.

So far as I can tell, there is no catch with young Frank Thomas. His bat speed leaves much to be desired, as does his foot speed. His focus on the diamond is questionable at best. Sometimes he occupies himself between plays by digging holes in the infield, others by building dirt mounds. In the dugout, he enjoys climbing chain link fences and other such silliness. Yet young Frank Thomas can really hit. Line drives jump off his bat. He can also play guitar. He missed a game last week for a recital.

To get as good as Bryce Harper has, as quickly as he has, requires a determination bordering on the inhuman. Sacrifices must be made: other sporting interests fall by the wayside, social lives get put on hold, schoolwork becomes less than a priority and any other interests are relegated to the distant background. These sacrifices, for all their benefits (likely tens of millions of dollars of benefits), come at the expense of, well, a well-balanced humanity.

There appear to be no young Bobby Fischers in the bunch.

The Killer Bees roster is not short on balance. Young Shawn Green has chess tournaments, Young Frank Thomas has guitar recitals, half-a dozen more have soccer practices; all of them, it seems, have Pokémon in their lives. This is an extracurricular world, and Little League coaches are just living it.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an essay on the mechanics of coaching: “This post is not about building character,” I wrote, “this is about building baseball players.” Well this post is about character, I suppose. Character is not something that can be coached – unless you are willing to engage in absurdities, which we are not. Character is something that goes far beyond what Little League coaches who see these kids only a few hours a week are capable of. So how do we address it?

First off, the way to address character is not by teaching it. Little League is not Sunday school. Our job is not moral instruction. By third and fourth grade, these kids have an idea of right and wrong. They know how to listen to their coaches and they know not to hit each other in the head with the baseball bats. That said, character is not something to ignore completely.

As coaches, we try to se a good example and encourage positive behavior. We try to be fair and consistent with the kids, we try to keep our swearing in check. And we try to commend them for cheering one another on, and supporting one another when things go wrong. But beyond that, how do we address it? How do we fulfill our league-assigned duty as Double Goal Coaches? The lines of sportsmanship are blurry, as we discussed after last week’s post on getting blown out. We want to foster a desire to succeed, partly so the kids will learn to cope with both victory and defeat (there is no avoiding failure in baseball). But we also want to teach perspective.

Of course perspective is easy when baseball is just one of a dozen activities every week. These are the joys of the short attention span. We won a very close, exciting game last week. For five innings, the Killer Bees were locked in. They knew the score, they knew the outs, they even knew the counts. But five minutes after snack was handed out, it was on to piano lessons, on to Pokémon, on to play dates. Win or lose, home run or strike out, it’s the same story.

There are no Bryce Harpers on this team. Nobody cries, nobody taunts, nobody hits 450 foot line drives. We are more easily distracted than easily set off, more oblivious than we are anxious. The Killer Bees, it turns out, are populated by a bunch of Doug Glanville and Ross Ohlendorf and Bernie Williams types. It turns out that we resemble Joe Mauer – a multi-sport superstar in high school and amateur musician –more than Bryce Harper.

Mauer’s well-roundedness has always struck me as a result of his varied interests, his awareness of the fact that the cliché is true: it’s only a game. Unfortunately, there are not, as Neyer points out, many Joe Mauers in the world of baseball. Perhaps that’s why displays that people playing baseball are more than ballplayers come as a pleasant surprise to me. Perhaps that’s also why I’ve been so surprised by the character of the Killer Bees.

The credit for this, of course, goes to the team’s parents and schoolteachers and other more durable adult role models. They are the ones who instill balance. For us, coaching character is as easy as instinct. Tell them they did a good job. Remind them that winning is no big deal, don’t worry about the score. The rest of it is taken care of by the sum of all their other experiences. It’s taken care of in the places where a kid like Harper may not have spent enough time. It’s taken care of at soccer games, at guitar practice, at chess club, and at the dinner table.

Podcast 7: The Perfect Trade

In Podcast #7, we mourn the retirement of Eric Gagne and contemplate the decline of David Ortiz.  We can’t help getting all hyperbolic over Jason Heyward, and bringing Casey McGeehee and other overachievers down to earth. We ask the age old questions: talent or athleticism? Scouts or stats? What’s it like to hug Matt Kemp? How does it feel to live in Jason Heyward’s massive shadow? (That’s you, Matt Wieters). Most importantly, we contemplate the perfect symmetry of the Josh Hamilton — Edinson Volquez trade and it’s possible impact on the economy.

Special cameos from Shawn Carter, Turtle from Entourage, Jaime Moyer, and Celine Dion. Update: Not to mention my (Eric’s) favorite actor of all time, Danny Trejo

If the spelling of Ty Wigginton’s last name has confounded you for years, get this podcast in your ears:


PnP Conversations: No-Hitting and the Tight Rope

Ted: Eric, Ubaldo Jimenez threw the first no-hitter of the year, which creates a great opportunity to discuss one of the more distinct accomplishments that baseball has to offer. I can’t think of another accomplishment in sport that receives so much attention for preventing something from happening. No shutout by any goalie, dominant number of blocks from a basketball big man or NFL defensive wall has quite the cultural cachet as the no-no does.

I still get all tingly when a pitcher throws a no-hitter. What is it about the feat, and the watching of the feat, that is so dramatic and compelling?

Eric: I have always admired the basketball Triple Double because it comes with a sense of completeness — it highlights balance and teamwork and efficiency. But rebounds are far less romantic than strikeouts. The great thing about the no-hitter is that it’s a high-wire act. With every succeeding batter the odds of it actually happening get slimmer. The other thing is that like a high-wire act, a no-hitter allows for a certain amount of wobbliness.

Ubaldo Jimenez walked a precarious six batters when he threw his no-no. That’s far from a perfect game. The perfect game is a different feat, a symmetrical achievement that borders on the artistically genius (I wrote about it here). A no-hitter like the one thrown by Jimenez is as much about guile, as much about nerves, as much about fear, as it is about pitching.

When pitchers throw perfect games, they look invincible. But when they throw no-hitters, they look human. That’s why I won’t let go of my high-wire metaphor. Have you seen Man on Wire by the way? I’ve been meaning to check it out on Netflix Instant.

Ted: I have seen Man on Wire. You will love it for the same reasons you’ll love the 1978 Expos: if you’re into the 70s and eccentric French people.

I don’t know if I’m buying your starry eyed vision of a 6-walk no-hitter. When I heard that little side note about the free passes I felt the feat was that something of a gold-plated clunker, to get the credit for a no-no when you’ve let six men on base. After all, the point of a no-hitter is that you dominated the opposition, not that you gave up an inordinate number of free outs. There’s a point at which it becomes a gimmick, like saying a guy just threw a no-doubler or a no-balker.

Now obviously I’m exaggerating; it was still a dominant performance. But can we put this into the canon of great performances? I suppose it doesn’t matter: it’s really fun to watch a pitcher walk the tight rope.

Have you ever seen a no-hitter in person? I haven’t, and I wonder what it’s like. Thoughts?

Eric: This is the point in our conversation when I inevitably tip my cap to the blogosphere’s ghost of the Expos, Jonah Keri. Moving on, I don’t know if I buy your sudden sabermetrically induced skepticism. It’s a no-hitter, not a no-walker. Have there been 1-hitters or 3-hitters pitched better than Ubaldo’s no-hitter? Probably. But they aren’t magic.

In other words, I don’t think the idea is that you dominated. The idea is that you didn’t allow any hits. NO HITS! I don’t see it as a gimmick at all. The no-hitter is not about retrospect. It’s not about analysis. It’s about the moment. Some accomplishments grow greater in scope as we look back on them. No-hitters are at their most dynamic as they are occurring.

I haven’t seen a no-hitter in person. But this is why I’ve always wanted to. I don’t think there’s any sporting achievment I’d rather see in person. I saw Fernando Tatis take Chan Ho Park for two grand slams in the same inning. I saw Ichiro break the single season hit record. But I’d trade both to see a no-hitter in person. I can only imagine the shivers and the tension and the elation at the end of it all.

What about you? If you could see any baseball achievement in person, what would it be? I know you’re a fan of the cycle’s mystique.

Ted: I feel fortunate to have actually seen the achievement I most wanted to in person: Craig Biggio’s 3,000th hit. As you’ve very effectively pointed out, that one was about retrospect, not about the tension of the moment. If you’re talking single-game variety achievements, I’d most want to see Josh Wilker throw out the first pitch at a Vermont Lake Monsters game.

Some cynical part of me thinks that a no-hitter is best appreciated from home, via television. That’s where the mastery is clear, after all. From the stands, most pitchers look the same, as do most pitches. The results would be engaging, obviously, but the true depth of the accomplishment goes out the door. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to be there, just that the experience is profoundly different. It’s very likely that I am over-thinking it. I’d love to see a no-hitter in person.

Having no-hit myself with 18 walks, logic-wise, we’ll just have to agree to agree. No-hitters are as awesome as eccentric French people and the 70s.

Weekend Reading: World Domination Edition

200 in Roman Numerals is CC

This is our 200th post.  So before we get to the  Weekend Reading portion, Ted and I wanted to try something new: namely request feedback. This is both general and specific request. Generally, feel free tell us some things about the blog. How is it doing? What do you like/dislike?

Specifically, we want you to suggest topics for the podcast. We are always looking for relevant and interesting topics. If there is anything you’d like us to discuss, please post it into the comments section of any post, or shoot us an email at tips(at)pitchersandpoets(dot)com.  Also, after listening to said podcasts, you are always free to tell us how dumb/smart/funny/lame we are by comment or email.

An example of this would be this (very minor spoiler alert): In yesterday’s Podcast 6: Jackie Robinson Day I bemoaned the Red Sox taking so long to integrate their team. I was, however, unable to recall the name of their first African-American player, Pumpsie Green. That’s the kind of thing we rely on you folks for: knowledge.

Onward with the links…

  • The Rogue’s Baseball Index has never been in higher gear. This week, we brought you The Official Sponsor, Old Milwaukee, and The Fantasy Paradox.
  • At least one person is reading: Larry Granillo of the idiosyncratic Wezen-Ball brings us the complete history of Old Milwaukee (“the title bestowed upon the eldest active member of the Milwaukee Brewer roster”).
  • Meanwhile, Ted is exploring his new found Mariner fandom. Every Day Ichiro is as flashy as a thousand  Japanese Paparazzi cameras at Safeco Field, and far more contemplative.
  • It’s not baseball, but it’s still a blog. I’ve joined a few friends in exploring HBO and David Simon’s  new series TremeWhat About Treme?
  • MLB Network take’s the words “Filler Content” to new, trance-inducing heights (Walkoff Walk).

Podcast 6: Jackie Robinson Day

In Podcast 6, Ted and I discuss Jackie Robinson day in critical (not critical as in negative, but in critical as in we are doing criticism) terms. We also contemplate the obligations of broadcasters as they call no-hitters, the nature of Chicago White Sox fans, and the pace of play between the Yankees and Red Sox. Plus, cameo appearances from Frank Deford, Mark Mulder, and Mel Gibson.

Put on your No. 42 jerseys, America, and turn up the volume:


Beekeepers and Blowouts

Along with three friends, I am coaching a Little League team of seven, eight, and nine year olds. All four of us are in our early twenties. Needless to say, we are the only coaches in the league without kids of our own. Our goal? Utter domination. Throughout the season I will keep Pitchers & Poets readers updated on the goings on surrounding the team.

My previous Killer Bees update was more philosophical. The following is quite simply, a recap of our last few games:

We have played three games now. The first was an exhibition for the league’s Jamboree. The Jamboree was supposed to be a big party and a double-header, but gray skies and frigid weather cut things to one game. The weather also forced the league to do without the pomp and circumstance of roster introductions, and the Mariner Moose to cancel his appearance at the field, much to the chagrin of the Killer Bees roster.

For our Jamboree game, we faced a team that will heretofore be known as the Beekeepers for three reasons: 1. They are much larger than the Killer Bees. 2. They easily control the Killer Bees. 3. They are very mean to the Killer Bees. The game went fine defensively and on the mound. But we were beaten soundly (I don’t really pay close attention to the score). Our Zach Greinke struggled with his control, but our Roy Oswalt impressed. The game was never a major blowout, but our batters (including our Frank Thomas) struck out looking an alarming number of times. The Beekepers also —portentiously– ran wild on the base paths.

Two great interactions from before this game:

Young John Kruk screaming to friends on another team (not the Beekeepers): “MUFFINS MUFFINS MUFFINS MUFFINS”
Coach (and author): “Hey John Kruk, why are you yelling muffins?”
Young John Kruk: “Because it’s annoying them.”
Coach: “It’s annoying me, too.”
Young John Kruk: (Silence)

Young Corie Koskie: “Drop and give me 10 pushups!”
Young Eric Bruntlett: “No, you drop and give me 20 pushups”
Young Corie Koskie: “No, you drop and give INFINITY PUSHUPS”
Young Eric Bruntlett*: “Infinity is not a number, it’s an idea. You can’t even do infinity pushups.”

Due to spring break, our regular season opener was against a patchwork team that included a few callups from AAA (a younger coach pitch division). Young Brad Radke started for us and was lights out in his two innings. The bats woke up too, possibly due to pregame wiffle ball batting practice. Another highlight from young John Kruk, spoken before the game: “Hey coach, doesn’t that cloud look like Yoda?” We went on to win easily, with strong hitting and pitching performances from players about whom we had some doubts.

At one point in the 5th inning of this game, a player on our team who I’ll call Young Craig Biggio was taking his defensive turn on the bench. We had just allowed the opposing team its first run of the game. At this, Young Biggio rose to the front of the dugout and screamed out to his teammates – showing a remarkable sense of perspective – “Hey guys, don’t worry, it’s only 17-1. We can still win!”

Game two of the regular season was a rematch with the dreaded Beekeepers. We lost by a score in the double digits. Here is how the Beekeepers scored their runs: base on balls, steal of second, steal of third, overthrow by our catcher to third, run comes home. This was a fine strategy until the lead opened to be about ten to nothing. Aside from hitting and pitching very well, which the Beekeepers players certainly deserve credit for, they piled on by taking bases on every wild pitch. There was even a delayed steal at one point.

They just kept running. And it became absurd. At one point, the father of young Eric Bruntlett ours came over to the coaches and thanked us for not “tainting the souls of these children” like the opposing coaches. Finally, late in the game, we were able to get a few base runners on and apply some pressure of our own, scoring our only two runs this way.

The game, however, was slightly revelatory. It marked the return of a player I’ll call Junior Joe Mauer. Junior Mauer is not a catcher because he is a lefty. However, much like The Joe Mauer, he is America. He pitches. He hits. He has a good attitude. He just turned nine. Junior  Mauer’s return from vacation on the East Coast could very well mark a turning point in the Killer Bees’ season.

More importantly, by watching some opposing coaches run up the score, we learned something about who we did not want to be as a coaching staff. We do not want to make this primarily about winning – not at this age at least. It’s important the kids know that there are consequences. It’s important that they are competitive. But at this age, it’s far more important that they improve, that they swing the bat hard, and get in front of the ball, and play fundamentally aggressive baseball.

We’ve been in two of them, but we are definitely not here to teach the kids about blowouts.

*Stanford graduate.

Along with three friends, I am coaching a Little League team of seven, eight, and nine year olds. All four of us are in our early twenties. Needless to say, we are the only coaches in the league without kids of our own. Our goal? Utter domination. Throughout the season I will keep Pitchers & Poets readers updated on the goings on surrounding the team.

Radio, Radio is a Sound Salvation

This was originally posted over at Every Day Ichiro, which chronicles my new turn as a Mariners fan, and as an AL fan in general.


Part of being a fan is listening to local sports radio. I am even right now listening to 710 AM KIRO Seattle.

I love sports talk radio (it being a subset of talk radio, which I also love, in the way that you love something that remained a part of your life as you moved from child to adult). In Chicago and in New England, a better part of those regions’ broad character came through in the personae of the sports talk radio hosts. The pride and the humor from 670AM in Chicago’s Boers and Bernstein–still the funniest radio I’ve ever heard–and the acerbic self-flagellation of the pre-World Series Boston guys whoever they were. I link these indelibly with my experience living in these places. Deep truths emerge from hours, days and weeks of listening.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, I am still collecting this metaphysical data. I don’t yet have a bead on the psyche of this place. What I think I know so far is that Mariners fans have been through years of hard times and inept management under Bill Bavasi. Now, with Jack Z and his flurry of handyman-style moves and his several big moves, they are optimistic bunch.

What I also think I know is that these fans are analytical. On 710 this morning, I already heard one caller who discussed the manner in which the team is meant to win. They aren’t meant to hit, he said, they’re meant to have great pitching and great defense. In other words, the problem isn’t that the Ms aren’t scoring enough runs, it’s that they’re aren’t preventing enough runs. That’s heavy, and it shows a lot of a) patience and b) smarts on the part of the fans. There’s a method, here, and Ms fans are willing to give over the fate of their fandom to that method.

In the meantime, worry is setting in on the radio. Brock and Salk are wondering if it’s too soon, or if it’s too late, or if it’s up or it’s down. Don Wakamatsu has let loose a couple of sound clips, saying things like “feeding off of one another” and “guys are pressing right now.” These are the misgivings of a tortured fan base that is afraid of its own optimism. “Let’s not everybody freak out yet,” the blogs are saying. The more calls for calm, the more unnerved the hoi polloi becomes, I think.


The new modern problem with sports talk radio is what I might call Bill James disease, in which one must second guess every assertion by the mainstream media members who are speaking for the most part off the top of their heads. To wit: Salk said something like “Ichiro will see a lot of pitches because of all of the foul balls.” Now, this might be true, I don’t know. I tried to check on Fangraphs without much success. But the point is, I don’t really believe it when Mike Salk says it. Not because I don’t trust the guy, but because I don’t think he’s committed his life to having command of these facts and figures. Hell, I wouldn’t trust myself if I said that, no way.

Once I start to pay attention to these passing assertions, they appear everywhere in sports talk radio. Each remark–blinks of an eye in the hours and hours of radio talk time–could warrant ten spreadsheets and a panel of experts to suss it out. Do I need to know if it’s true or not? Why can’t I treat the radio like it’s a conversation with a friend, meaning imbued with trust, forgiveness and merriment? Because I’ve got Bill James Disease, that’s why.

Seeing Things New

Is it a cliche that every time you watch a baseball game you will see something that you’ve never seen before? I am putting this old rhubarb to the test, in any event, as I have already watched more baseball more closely this year than any I can remember (playoff games excluded).

This is because I started a personal project called Every Day Ichiro, chronicling my year in being a new Mariner’s fan. A tad specific for Pitchers and Poets, it involves watching a lot of Ms games, with specific focus on Ichiro’s at bats and overall presence.

More importantly for PnP concerns, I see things. It turns out that when you watch just about every inning of a baseball game, strange things will happen. Rare things, things that will legitimately surprise you. I thought I’d run through a few of those, as well as some other notable moments from the young season:

  • During yesterday’s Mariners-A’s game, Adam Moore scooped up a bunt with his mask. It was a most unremarkable gesture. He didn’t catch a ball over the fence with his mask, or throw the mask up in the air to deflect an errant ball the way every Little Leaguer has done, only to have his catch buddy tell him that’s illegal. He simply bumped an already stopped ball towards himself. Despite the insignificance of the mask-tip, the umpires after a quick meeting granted the baserunners a base apiece. Chad Pennington, who reached base on the bunt, ended the play with the rare infield double.
  • Matt Tuiasosopo battled through a 13-pitch at bat in the same A’s game. During that at bat, he popped two balls into Oakland’s acreage of foul territory. Two different players muffed a foul ball apiece, each taking one off of the heel of the glove and granting Tui TWO free lives at the plate. He struck out swinging.
  • Milton Bradley tipped his hat in a show of gentlemanly good cheer when Rajai Davis stole a home run from him.
  • Moving away from the Mariners: Jason Heyward. I mean. Are there any superlatives left? I had the good fortune of catching Heyward’s Homer live on TV on Opening Day, and felt that perhaps unjustified sense of the beginning of Something. It was chilling; I jumped up and did a lap around the living room, swelling with the urge to talk to somebody. I called my friend Seth in Atlanta, who had luckily taken a day off from work. I think I woke him up from a midday nap.
  • In a game between the Dodgers and the Pirates, outfielder Reed Johnson came barreling home and executed a near-perfect hook slide as catcher Ryan Doumit caught the incoming ball and tried to apply the tag. Johnson looked safe. As he got up in a cloud of dust, though, he and Doumit both were looking to the umpire, who had yet to make a call. The ump was just standing there, without doing a thing. The Nation looked to him for guidance, and all he offered was your basic man-waiting-for-a-train stance. Suddenly, Doumit got it, and jumped at Johnson to tag him out. Johnson had never touched the plate, so the play was still live, and there had been no call for the umpire to make.
  • Mark Buehrle Superstar.