Sunday, June 10, 2007
Stupid freaking tree-gnawing paddle-tail-having brown scruffy hideously-pinstriped cheap-hit-getting Beavers.
Let me tell you something: Zach Putnam pitched the game of his life. The game. Of his life. His fastball had sink on it like you would not believe if you didn't see it yourself. It seemed to fall out of the sky in a way you almost never see with a fastball; it almost looked like a curveball, except that I don't think it was. He was almost short-arming his pitches, which I guess is his way of keeping that sink on it (really 'sinky' pitchers are often sidearmers... see this kickass Hardball Times article for more on that).
It was like watching Derek Lowe when he threw his perfect game. I know how whacked-out that sounds, but I'm not kidding. It was the same. kind. of sink. I mean, pitchers get in trouble when they leave the ball up in the zone. Putnam hardly seemed to scrape the upper parts of the strikezone. It was MASTERFUL.
OK, obviously it wasn't a perfect game. Zach Putnam is not Derek Lowe (this makes it a lot easier to wholeheartedly root for Zach Putnam). There were a few walks, and in the end there was one hit. That was all it took. If you didn't see the game I can't impress on you how suddenly it was all over. A guy walked. There was a sac bunt to move him up to second. Putnam got another out, I think it was a strikeout. Then Joey Wong stepped up, dumped a single into left that was weakly thrown home by Derek VanBuskirk, not nearly fast enough to catch the runner, and that was that.
Maybe VanBuskirk thought it would come back to him quicker than it actually did on that weird carpet turf they have in Oregon, and his throw was off because of that. Maybe he just couldn't set himself properly. Maybe he never got a good grip on the ball. Maybe the animal spirit of a beaver rose from the ground beneath the turf and bit his ankles with its unnatural giant ghostly beaver teeth, surprising him enough to slow down the throw. Who knows?
That one hit, that was it for the Beavers. I mean that was IT. Zach Putnam threw 8.2 innings of HITLESS BASEBALL. He threw 129 pitches. It was.... I can't describe how amazing it was to watch him pitch this game. Maybe it's just that his delivery looks different when I'm not watching it through the back end of a camera, but he seemed to be pitching with a greater clarity of pitching than he has before. I guess that doesn't make sense. I can't really think of any other way to put it.
And you know what, there were a lot of dubious calls in this game-- A LOT, and some of them were SERIOUSLY off-- but I will give the homeplate umpire credit for one thing. He called balls and strikes based on where the ball was when it crossed the plate, not when it ended up in the catcher's glove. This is, of course, what they're supposed to do, but it doesn't always work out that way and can sometimes hurt a pitcher like Putnam, whose pitches often end up dragging dirt as they cross into Pickens' glove because they've dropped so far AFTER they've crossed the plate. The homeplate ump correctly called a lot of these strikes, and infuriating as some of his (and his crew's) miscues were*, I have to give him props for that.
The problem is that while Putnam was busy throwing this beautiful, miraculous game, the opposing pitcher was busy doing the exact same thing, and every time Michigan got men on they were unable to bring them home. Frustration? Yes.
I waited a long time after the game had ended to write this post, in the hopes of allowing myself to calm down a little, but I find that I'm beginning to get riled up again, so bollocks to that, I need to ask a vital question about the Oregon State uniforms, that question being: WTF?!
Gray. With dark pinstripes (I couldn't tell if they were black or dark brown or navy or what). With orange piping around the jersey front closure and collar that COMPLETELY failed to work in any way, shape, or form with the pinstripes. That would be a visual mess by itself, but the numbers were orange satin and were unreasonably large, on the front and the back, and they ALSO did not really work with the pinstripes... pinstripes and shiny satin, I think, is too many textures. THAT would have been horrible enough, but they ALSO had the letters "OSU" across the front, ABOVE the overly large and shiny numbers, in UNBORDERED WHITE, which failed to work with the pinstriping, the piping, and every color/texture already on the jerseys.
Their socks might have been black, but looked navy blue. Their hats might have been black, but looked a kind of dark faded brown. Neither shade of possible-black referred back to any color on the jerseys.
It's possible that the Michigan hitters were rendered so speechless by this sartorial horror that they were unable to muster up more than a few hits today. I would believe it. They also might have been hypnotized by the dancing layers of stripes and piping, or maybe by the shiny, shiny orange. Or maybe they were just terrified of the Oregon State people who designed these uniforms. Who knows what goes on in the sick minds of people who think this combination is a good idea?
I would believe almost anything after a game like that. Ugh. What a frustrating loss, what a frustrating waste of a pitching performance.
If you desire mental relief from this agony, I recommend bathing yourself in the fetid waters of yesterday's baseball mascot rant.
*Major miscue the first: Early-ish in the game, Joey Wong watched a pitch go by, too low to be a strike. The umpire(s?) called it a strike, saying he had gone around. Replays showed that he had barely flinched. Nobody seemed to know what the umpire(s?) had been looking at.
Major miscue the second: The leadoff Beaver in the 7th inning bunted inside the first base line. Putnam picked it up, threw it to first. Out. Only... not. The homeplate ump called the batter back, saying that the ball was foul because it had hit him (the batter) before he left the box. Replays clearly showed him bunting the ball a good foot or two in front of himself, well away from his body before it made its first bounce. The ball remained inside the baseline and Putnam picked it up inside the baseline and long before it reached first so... fair in every particular. Should've been an out. The kid ended up working a walk, so this could have been disasterous, but Mitch Canham grounded into a lovely double play for us to clear him off the bases.
Labels: baseball, Beavers, college baseball, loss, Michigan, NCAA, Oregon State, Wolverines