Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ides of March

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than with Michael Kay? Who cares about conference tournaments?


March 15, 2008 - 1:15 p.m. ET
Spring Training Game 15
Legends Field, Tampa, Fla.
Play-by-Play: Michael Kay
Color: Paul O'Neill

Open: On the newfound Yankees-Rays rivalry. "It actually all got started on this field."

  • ACTUALLY? Actually. What are the odds that a rivalry formed this month on one of the two team's fields?

"When we come back, lineups, first pitch and most importantly, baseball."
  • Kay loves to make believe that the first pitch doesn't count as part of the game. Let's see how long this lasts this season.He's been doing it for a while.
Top first: Kay tells us the temperature is "around the 80s." [Nice, so it could be in the 70s or the 90s. That narrows it down] When Ian Kennedy takes the mound, his 2007 numbers come up, and Kay calls Kennedy's 15-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio "great."

  • It's not. In fact, that's lousy. But remember what Kay said, we'll come back to that.
Bottom first: Jeff Niemann on the mound for the Rays. His Triple-A strikeout to walk ratio? 123-46. Kay calls it "good." See? We came back to it.

Top of the second: Who comes up with these graphics? Here's the "Scouting Report" on the Tampa Bay Rays:

  • Ray of Hope
  • Depends on Pitching
  • Haven't won yet
Wow, what insight. You know Kay pushed for that Ray of Hope line at the production meeting.

As for the "haven't won yet" part, Kay backs that up with some solid info:

"Only time they won 70 games was with Lou Piniella was in 1994, they went 70 and 91"
  • Little-known-fact: Four years before they existed, the Rays won 70 games for the only time in their existence.
A few pitches later, "I misspoke. It was '04, not '94 when they won 70 games." Excellent job.

Bottom second: O'Neill comes through again! Kay tells a story of Alex Rodriguez's mother's persuading her son to play baseball instead of basketball.

"Mothers always know best. [To Kay]: Did your mother buy you a notebook? ... 'Put your bat away, son'? Get you a karaoke machine to practice on?"
Kay: "I'm not even going to engage you on this one." That's because you have no chance, Michael.

Kay reveals his parents asked him to leave them alone. I'd love to get tips if they were successful.

Top third: Talking about Billy Traber, warming up: "There's Traber, he's pitched with Cleveland."
  • That's the truth, but not the whole truth. Look down in that media guide, Michael, and you'll see he also pitched for the Nationals in 2006 and 2007, well after his Indians season in 2003.
Top four: On Mariano Rivera: "He's 37 years old, he signed a three-year contract in the offseason."
  • He's 38.
Kay quotes Bill James in talking about Rivera's pitch selection. Have to give credit where credit is due.

Bottom four: Hideki Matsui lines out to left. Since he went the other way, Kay invariably pipes up with, "That's a piece of hitting." Any ball that goes the opposite way and comes close to being a hit is a "nice pitting of hitting." Write that down, kids. Kay should start doing instructional videos.

Top five: "I'm going to throw a stat at you, Paul." [Kay and stats, not a great combination] Turns out LaTroy Hawkins has a 9.64 ERA at Yankee Stadium. According to Kay -- so check the facts -- that's the highest of any pitcher in the past 50 years. Kay's challenge for O'Neill? Find out why that is.
  • O'Neill, bless his heart, points out that the Yankees have had a, well, good lineup over the years. Maybe that had something to do with the ole boost in Hawkins' ERA. He doesn't go into sample size, but it really doesn't seem that remarkable for a pitcher with a career 4.68 ERA to have one of 9.64 in 28 innings against a perennially good team.
On Larry Bowa's refusal to wear a helmet as a third-base coach: "Joe Torre had to talk him into it."
  • Had nothing to do with MLB's saying it would eject him from every game in which he didn't wear it.
On Jorge Posada's catching: "You know how much it meant to have [Roger] Clemens say how Posada was the best catcher he ever threw to.
  • Yes, that Roger Clemens, an embodiment of credibility.
On cue, Posada throws out Akinori Iwamura. Kay's take: "Iwamura tagged himself out."
  • That sounds awkward.
Bottom five: Ah, a promo for what YES show to miss next. Captain's Corner.
  • O'Neill: "Is this your show, too? We'll have to get a YES2 and 3 for all your shows."
Top six: Everyone's favorite pitcher, Kei Igawa, makes his appearance. "The one thing we noticed about Kei Igawa last year is that he left a lot of pitches up."
  • Really? The one thing? He displayed a complete inability to do anything a big-league pitcher should be able to do, and Kay makes it seem as though Igawa hung a few curves every now and then. Sounds like another disc in the Michael Kay Tells You How to Play Baseball DVD set, available April 1 wherever laughable ideas are sold.
"Could the difference between the Japanese leagues and the majors be that big?"
  • Let's see. Igawa leads the league in strikeouts in Japan and can't stay in the bigs here, despite getting more than his share of opportunity. Japanese starters don't exactly have a track record of success. The difference is probably big.

Bottom seven: I'm like a hitter. I don't need these last two weeks of spring training, I'm ready to go now."
  • No comment.

Final score: Rays 7, Yankees 2

"Oh, what a play!":1-for-1. Iwamura's diving stop of a hard smash clearly merited the Kay superlative.

"Fields, fires!": 1-for-1. Eduardo Nunez made a nice play in the hole.

Wait, that was Ruben Rivera?: Mariano Rivera's 38, not 37. Rays first played in 1998, not 1994.


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