By Rich Herrera – @RBIRich
Hurrah the Rays have finally defeated the Yankees at their own game. For years and years the Yankees had led baseball in having the longest games in baseball. Way back in 1998 when I was working for the Oakland A’s the Yankees games would mean that we would be at the ballpark for at least 3 plus hours no matter what. Why did their games take so long? Lots of veteran hitters that looked at as many pitches as they could. They waited you out, drove the pitch count up for your starters and got to your middle relievers and crushed your bullpen. This was one of the first things Billy Beane realized and led him to create Money Ball. For the Rays this season it just means long dull mind numbing games. Instead of hitters with good eyes getting into bullpens, we see Rays pitchers struggling with their command and way too many pitches thrown and bullpens being used in the 5th and 6th inning way to many times.
Money Ball style baseball isn’t really that sexy. It is not based on hitting towering homers, it is about taking what other teams don’t value and using that undervalued part of the game for a great value. If I can find value in getting guys who get on base, well I am going to get lots of guys that have a great eye and draw walks. Guys like that go the other way with pitches and hot baseball up the middle. You know what these guys don’t do, they don’t hit for power, they don’t hit homers, they hit for singles and some doubles. If they hit for power everyone one else in the game would covet them and they would demand big money and your couldn’t afford them.
So where did the Rays find value? For the Rays its playing sound defense, and having solid pitching, and a few hits now and then to score just enough to runs to barley win. That is the Rays formula of success. Is it exciting, do you sit on the edge of your seat? Not really. Wow how many times do you see MLB Network breaking into regular programing to show a hitter grounding into a 6-4-3 double play, in the 4th inning of 1-1 game? Almost never. How often do you run to MLB.com to see a hitter pop up to the left fielder? Again not really.
At the end of the day it is dull as dish water if you are looking for lost of flash and dash. The Rays used to steal enough to make things fun, but those days left with Carl Crawford and BJ Upton. In the end Rays baseball is what it has always been, pitching and defense. Unless you like pitchers duels you will fall asleep on most late night road trips on the west coast.
The only thing worse than this style of baseball is losing baseball. So here are our choices for the Ray,s new school pitching and defense style or trying to play old school traditional baseball by looking for big bashers first and everything else later. In other words trying to be like the Yankees. I don’t know about you, but when I walk in to International Plaza as much as I want to shop in all the great stores in the mall there are some stores I just can’t afford. So if you want exciting old school baseball, it would be like me walking into that store and all I can afford is a shirt, a jacket, a great tie and belt, but could not afford the pants, shoes and socks. I’d look pretty silly walking down the street with no pants and that is what the Rays would be if they tried the old school way. They would have or two stars and a lot of empty spots in the lineup.
When the pitching lets you down in this style of baseball. Ouch! Last night was a slow dull boring game. Look back at the 4th inning with Jake Odorizzi on the mound, The A’s hitters saw 40 pitches in that inning and they didn’t even score a single run in that frame. Even I will lose train of thought in a 14 pitch lead off at bat that ends up in a walk. Give Derek Norris credit he was clean-shaven when he came up to the plate.
So what are the Rays to do, some say blow it up and start all over and get rid of this style of baseball, but before you jump on that bandwagon take a quick pause and remember the days of the Hit Show, those were the days weren’t they? Does anyone have Jose Conseco’s cell phone number, or how about Vinnie Castilla, how did that work for the Rays.