Thursday, July 28, 2011

Uggla Crosses Mendoza Line!

Last night in a game the Braves took from the Pirates by a score of 2-1 Dan Uggla went 3 for 4 and raised his batting average to .205, thereby crossing the infamous 'Mendoza line', which is .200. The previous game, now infamous because of the blown call at the plate, Uggla went 2 for eight in the 19 inning contest, finishing with a BA of .199. Uggla crossed the line in the 105th game of the season. It is difficult to raise your BA later in the season, so it is obvious Uggla has somewhat righted the ship. Uggla has now hit in eleven straight games, with 14 hits in 50 at bats, which works out to a .280 BA during that time, which is about average for him according to his lifetime BA. He has had two hits in three of those games, and a single hit in the others, so he is not exactly 'on fire'. But it is over one hundred points higher than the .170's he hit for the first 90+ games. He has only drawn four walks during the streak as opposed to his eleven strike outs. Who misses Jeff Francoeur? I was able to watch four straight Braves games over the weekend, staying in because of the unbearable heat, and it became more than a little obvious that their main problem is swinging at balls outta the strike zone. The Atlanta home park is a pitcher's park and it is difficlut to hit it outta the park. Nevertheless, the Braves go up there trying to hit a 3-run homer, with the bases empty. What they need are batters who will work the count and put the ball in play. That is not Uggla's style.
As for the terrible call to end the 19 inning game...Well, the ump had been sweating behind the dish for over six hours. He gets paid the same whether he works two hours, or six. It is only human nature to be, in that position, predisposed to having a 'safe' call in your head, unless you have no other choice. How many times have you heard an announcer say something like, "It's a blow-out, and it's hot as hell, so you know the ump has expanded the strike zone." Then the color man pops in with, "You are so right, Bubba. A batter has got to know that and go up there swinging."
All calls are not the same in baseball. When the count reaches 3-0 studies have proven the umps will call a strike on anything near the plate. It's not right, but that's just the way it is. Deal with it.
Speaking of blown calls...Before the game last night, Sports Center did a countdown of the top ten worst blown calls in baseball. Number one was the infamous Don Denkinger call in game six of the 1985 World Series. Whew, it stunk up the stadium, and the smell still lingers. I was surprised that the non-call from the 1991 World Series when Kent Hrbek slam-dunked Ron Gant off of first base was only rated as the sixth worst of all time. That was not the only terrible call of that World Series. David Justice stumbled coming around third base and was call out for not touching the bag, when the replay clearly showed his toe kicked up white powder from the bag! Memory fails, but I seem to recall a Braves player called out for leaving third base early on a fly ball. Replay showed he did no such thing. It seems that all the bad calls went against the Braves because all of the bad calls DID go against the Braves! Granted, if the right calls had been made, we would not have had the fabulous game seven pitching duel to remember, which some call the greatest game seven in World Series history. Then again, if the Braves had won that Series, as they should have, then there would not be the knock against Bobby Cox, and the Braves, 'under achieved' in that they only one one World Series. Not to mention the 1996 World Series, game three, when the Braves relief pitcher, Nuke LaLoosh, chose that exact time to start 'thinking'. All the while Tim McCarver, the former catcher and one of the best baseball on-air men of all time, was explaining that Nuke should not throw his third best pitch in the situation because, "If you get beat, you wanna get beat with your best." Which was his fastball. Unfortunately, Nuke began to cogitate at that very moment. He was no Butch Cassidy, as the home run by Jim Leyritz proved conclusively. The Braves coulda been the team of the decade. Instead, they became a contender...
With their best hitter, Brian McCann on the DL, the Braves will need Uggla to continue to be average, at least. It's tough when your best hitter wears the 'tools of ignorance', because the probability of injury is so great. Ask the SF Giants.

No comments: