Three Strikes You’re Out…Sometimes

Everyone is familiar with that old baseball standard “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” sung at every game during the 7th-inning stretch.  And you’ve heard the line, “For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ballgame.”  Well folks, I hate to break your baseball tradition bubble, but the song IS A LIE!!  Three strikes do not always make an out.  It seems like there is always an exception to the standard rules of baseball, and I’m slowly learning what these exceptions are.

Let’s talk about the possible outcomes of an at bat.  When you step into the batter’s box, there are several things that can happen.  If the pitcher pitches outside the strike zone and you don’t swing, it’s called a ball.  If you get four balls, you walk – this means you get a free ride to first base.  If you get hit by a pitch, you also get to walk to first base.  If the pitcher pitches inside the strike zone and you don’t swing, it’s called a strike.  If you get three of these strikes you are out WITH ONE EXCEPTION which I’ll discuss in a minute.

But what if you swing?  If you swing and miss it’s called a strike.  If you swing at a pitch and the ball goes to the right of the first base line or the left of the 3rd base line, this is called a foul.  If a foul is caught, you are out.  Otherwise a foul count as a strike UNLESS you already have two strikes.  If you already have two strikes, your count remains the same (but the pitcher gets credit for a strike for every foul you hit – just learned this today!).  You can foul until the cows come home, and your count remains the same UNLESS you have two strikes and you bunt foul.  A bunt is where you hold the bat loosely and tap the ball in front of the infielders.  If you have two strikes and you bunt foul, you are out (I did not know this until about a month ago).

If you swing and connect and the ball goes into fair territory, there are two outcomes.  If the ball is caught, you are out.  If the ball is not caught, you can run the bases UNLESS the ball is a popup in the infield and the infield fly rule applies (in this case you are out anyway – we’ll discuss the infield fly rule in another blog).

So we finally get to the exception to the three strikes you’re out rule.  Have you ever seen someone swing for a third strike and then start running to first base anyway?  Or have you seen a guy get a called third strike and then the catcher picks up the ball and tags him?  I used to think this was just the catcher rubbing it in that the guy was out (Ha, ha – we got heeeeeeem!).  Actually, the catcher is just doing his job.  If the catcher drops the ball on a third strike, the batter is not out.  He can run to first base if first base is open or if there is someone on first base and there are already two outs (got all that??).  It is still scored as a strikeout for the batter and the pitcher, but it is another way someone can get on base.  Rarely does the batter make it to first base before the catcher either tags him or throws to first, but it recently happened in a Giants game (unfortunately).  The batter swung through his third strike and Eli Whiteside thought he had caught the ball, but it actually bounced into his mitt.  The batter started to run to first, and instead of throwing the ball to first (where he had plenty of time to get the guy out), Eli started arguing with the ump that he had caught the ball.  By the time he stopped arguing and threw the ball to first, the batter had made it there safely.  Take home lesson – don’t argue with the ump while the ball is in play!

Now, on to the spit counts.  I have two for you today:

August 9th

Giants:

–         Sandoval 9

–         Keppinger 3

–         Meulens 3

–         Huff  2

–         Schierholtz 2

–         Casilla 2

–         Ross 2

–         Affeldt 1

–         Bumgarner 1

–         Wotus 1

–         Burrell 1

–         Bochy 1

–         Cabrera 1

–         Bat Boy 1

Pirates:

–         McDonald 5

–         Grilli 2

–         Cedeño 1

–         Doumit 1

Game Spit Master General = Sandoval at 9 spits

That’s a total of 39 spits during a 2 hour and 51 minute game for an average of almost 1 spit every 4 minutes.

All the Giants were getting in on the spitting action in this game!  And the players are setting an example for the young guys as a bat boy joined in on the fun.  I was really surprised that Bumgarner didn’t spit more.  I’ve seen him spit a lot more in previous games where he pitched.  But with Bumgarner, we have the introduction of what I call the snot rocket to the mix.  He will block a nostril with his finger and then blow snot out of the other nostril (sorry for being so graphic).  The only other player I’ve seen do this is Buster Posey.  Talk about gross!  But at least I understand the purpose of this – he needs to clear his sinuses so he can breathe better.  Still not sure about the purpose of spitting.  Also, Pat Burrell’s spit was the most disgusting to date.  He was in the dugout and some huge white wad fell out of his mouth. I’m talking if it was gum, it must have been about 40 pieces!  If it wasn’t gum, that boy has more to worry about than a foot injury!

August 10th

Giants:

–         J. Sanchez 7

–         Sandoval 3

–         Rowand 1

–         Whiteside 1

–         Vogelsong 1

–         Huff 1

–         Ross 1

–         Stewart 1

–         Affeldt 1

–         Ramirez 1

Pirates:

–         McKenry 5

–         Walker 3

–         Lincoln 2

–         A. McCutchen 2

–         Karstens 1

–         Paul 1

Misc.

–         Umpire 2

Game Spit Master General = J. Sanchez at 7 spits

That’s a total of 34 spits during a 3 hour game for an average of 1 spit almost every 5 minutes (the lowest spit count average to date).

For the first time, I observed something that I thought was impossible:  McKenry (the Pirates’ catcher) twice spat through his mask.  I’ve looked closely at Eli Whiteside’s mask before, and there is no way he could accomplish this same feat.  The mask covers his mouth, so he needs to lift it in order to spit.  McKenry must have a specially designed spit-allowing mask.  I also noticed today that Pablo Sandoval chews tobacco while he is at bat but chews gum while he is playing in the field.  Any thoughts on this one??

Something happened in the game on Wednesday that I didn’t understand.  A ball was hit and went to Huff where he tagged first for an out.  There was a runner caught between 2nd and 1st, and Huff and Cabrera were trying to tag the guy out.  At one point, Cabrera threw to Huff, he missed the ball, and the ball rolled into the dugout.  The outcome was that this runner (who was originally on 1st) got to advance to 3rd.  Huh??  I’ve done some research, and it looks to me like he should have only gotten one base because the ball went out of play.  This would have put him on 2nd.  Can anyone explain this to me?

I’ve got an addition to your scorecard abbreviations.  DP stands for double play.  This means that the batter hit the ball and two outs resulted.  I also once saw the letter P used.  I’ve looked it up, and the only P abbreviation I’ve come across is pitcher, but that wouldn’t make sense in the way it was used.  The only thing I can think of that would make sense is popup.  Any other suggestions?

Donna commented on the Fight Club blog.  She writes, “About the fight: Jeff and I were watching the game and he said, “Oh, look. A hockey game broke out.” The Phillies are a tough team, both in ability and attitude. They’re holding a grudge over the playoffs last season, and over the series we took from them in Philadelphia. They came here looking for blood, and our boys knew it. Whiteside went out there, ready to protect his pitcher, and the bouncing was just showing how primed and ready he was. BTW, did you notice how Bochy was holding Timmy back, away from the main melee? He didn’t want his skinny starter getting broken out there. Lol”  Great observations – I always love reading your comments, Donna.  Regarding the hockey comparison, I was wondering what the differences are in penalties for being overly aggressive in a hockey game vs. a baseball game.  I have no clue about the rules for hockey – if a fight breaks out, do you just get a time out or do you actually get fined or suspended?  The results of the Giants vs. Phillies fight were that Shane Victorino was suspended for 3 games and fined and Eli Whiteside, Ramon Ramirez, and Placido Polanco were fined.  Nothing for Pablo – I guess they decided he didn’t connect.  Did some research into the fines, but can’t find the amounts.  It just says, “Fined for an undisclosed amount.”  I’m so curious as to how bad these fines are.  Anyone have any idea?

I got the chance to meet Ryan Vogelsong and went to my first minor league game this week, but I think I’ll hold off on the details until the next blog.  This one is getting pretty long already.  Congratulations to Chris Stewart for getting his first major league homerun on Tuesday.  Keep it up – we need your bat!  Hope the Giants can get it together and win lots of games on the road.  I’m going to pull out all the stoppers and predict a 7-3 record during the next 10 away games.  I’m hoping their drop to 2nd place in the west will light a fire under them.  GO GIANTS!!

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