Check, Please!

One aspect of baseball I’ve always wondered about is the check swing.  I know that basically it’s when a batter starts to swing at a pitch but then pulls back and doesn’t follow through.  But what decides if he actually swung or not?  Is there some imaginary line that the bat has to cross?  During the replay of a check swing, you’ll hear the announcers say, “He definitely went,” or, “He didn’t go.”  Went where???

I decided to research this further to find the exact definition in the MLB rulebook.  Well, guess what?  There is no rule in the rulebook!  Check swing is not mentioned anywhere in the rules.  The definition of a strike is “a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which is struck at by the batter and is missed.”  This is the rule that the umpire has to go by, so you can see where this is basically a judgment call.  They somehow need to decide if the batter swung, even though a swing is not defined.  Some umpires call it a strike if the player “breaks his wrists” meaning that he crosses the front of the plate with his wrists.  Others will call it based on how far the bat went (guess that’s where the imaginary line comes in).  Others will call it if they think the player had intent to swing (yes, seriously – what kind of a rule is that???).

Regardless, the initial call on a check swing is made by the home plate umpire.  If it’s called a ball, the catcher or manager can appeal to one of the base coaches to make the call since they have a better view of how far the player swung (1st base umpire for righties, 3rd base umpire for lefties).  They will often base their decision on whether or not they saw the end of the bat.  If they determine it was a swing, they will make the “out” gesture (clenched fist).  If they determine it was not a swing, they will make the “safe” gesture (arms outstretched to the sides).

Mike Krukow and Jon Miller were discussing check swing calls the other day, and they alluded to the fact that it is basically a judgment call.  Why can’t someone just define what a swing is?  It should be black and white and not up for interpretation.  There have been so many instances that I’ve seen where it looked like someone pulled back and they were called for a strike.  Come on, people!  Just write the rule!

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest (whew!), let’s get to some spit counts.  I know I’ve kept you waiting for a couple of weeks, so I’ll reward you with four today:

August 15th


–          Sandoval 5

–          Lincecum 4

–          Pagan 3

–          Theriot 3

–          Posey 2

–          Belt 2

–          Kontos 2

–          H. Sanchez 2

–          Hensley 1

–          Scutaro 1

–          Coach 1


–          Espinosa 8

–          Strasburg 3

–          R. Zimmerman 1

–          Morse 1

–          Harper 1

Game Spit Master General = Espinosa with 8

Giants Game Spit Master General = Sandoval with 5

That’s a total of 40 spits during a 3 hour and 20 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 5 minutes (ties the record for lowest spit count average ever).

The coach for the Giants who was caught spitting has been caught several times, but I don’t know his name.  He looks to be Filipino, and I think he works with the bullpen.  If anyone can enlighten me with his name, I would appreciate it.

During this game, they showed several close-ups of Stephen Strasburg, the pitcher for the Nationals.  He’s captured the nation’s attention because he is a star pitcher, but because he is so young, had Tommy John surgery (elbow surgery – I think I’ll blog about that someday), and pitched so few innings in 2011, they didn’t want to wear him out.   Thus it was predetermined that he would only pitch a certain number of innings this season.  This has never happened in the history of baseball.  He in fact pitched his last game of the season on September 8th, leaving the Nationals without their star pitcher for the rest of the season and probably into the post-season since they are in first place in their division.  This was the reason the cameras were on Strasburg a lot during this game.  And when the cameras are on you, you tend to get caught spitting.  Though he only accumulated three on-camera spits during the game, during one of his close-ups in the dugout, you could clearly see the wad of tobacco between his lower lip and teeth.  Bleeeeccchhh!!  Don’t these cameramen know when the shot is disgusting??

August 19th


–          Posey 12

–          Vogelsong 4

–          Pagan 3

–          Scutaro 3

–          Sandoval 3

–          Mijares 1

–          Bochy 1


–          Baker 3

–          Richard 3

–          Maybin 2

–          Cabrera 2


–          Umpire 1

Game Spit Master General = Posey with 12

That’s a total of 37 spits during a 3 hour and 5 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 5 minutes (another low spitting game).

August 24th


–          Pagan 9

–          Sandoval 6

–          Belt 3

–          Posey 3

–          Scutaro 2

–          Kontos 1

–          Vogelsong 1

–          Wotus 1

–          Clark 1

–          Mijares 1

–          Casilla 1

–          Theriot 1

–          Kelly 1

–          Bochy 1


–          Sheets 7

–          Jones 3

–          Bourn 3

–          Prado 2

–          Heyward 1

–          Johnson 1

–          Uggla 1


–          Umpire 40 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – all spits were from home plate umpire, Rob Drake)

Game Spit Master General = Drake with 40 (new umpire record)

Giants Spit Master General = Pagan with 9

That’s a total of 90 spits (!) during a 2 hour and 55 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 1.9 minutes.

Everybody was getting in on the spitting for the Giants, including most of the coaches!  And why does Rob Drake (the umpire) spit so much?  He shattered the previous umpire record of 18.  How can he concentrate on the game when he is lifting his mask after every pitch to spit??  If he’s chewing, he really needs to quit so he can focus.  I really think they need to monitor these things, especially since every one of those spits was caught by the camera (for my disgusted eyes!).

September 8th


–          Posey 8

–          Sandoval 5

–          Belt 1

–          Scutaro 1

–          Cain 1

–          Casilla 1

–          Huff 1

–          Bochy 1

–          Pagan 1

–          Meulens 1


–          Ethier 8

–          Gonzalez 5

–          Capuano 3

–          Cruz 3

–          Belisario 2

–          Ramirez 2

Game Spit Master General = Posey with 8

That’s a total of 44 spits during a 2 hour and 55 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.4 minutes.

Thanks to all the umpires in this game for keeping their spit in their mouths!  Buster is really starting to establish himself as one of the predominant spitters.  Even though Pablo holds the record so far this season, Buster puts up big numbers every game.  There was a game the other night in which he just never stopped.   Too bad I didn’t count that one.  Maybe it was a good thing because I didn’t have to focus on all those spits!

During an episode of Inside the Clubhouse, Ryan Vogelsong mentioned that he eats chicken enchiladas the night before a game for good luck.  I love that!  Apparently he knows every good Mexican restaurant in the cities that they travel to.  Ryan Theriot mentioned that he used to eat two grilled cheese sandwiches smothered in syrup the night before a game, but then at around age 30, he started getting too fat so he had to discontinue this ritual.  What a crackup!  I love how superstitious my boys are.

I have been noticing so many of the boys’ rituals on the field lately.  Have you seen Pablo pretend to get an arrow from his back and shoot it whenever he gets a hit?  And Angel saluting the dugout when he gets on base?  I love that stuff because it tells me that my boys are having fun out there.  Have you noticed any others (besides the three outfielders coming together and jumping in the air when they win)?  Let me know.

At the game I attended on August 26th vs. the Braves, I witnessed something interesting in the stands.  There was a couple sitting a few rows down from us, and the guy kept nodding off throughout the entire game!  The poor guy behind him kept having to deal with his head on his knees!  Then to top it off, his wife was sitting there playing solitaire on her phone during the entire game.  Why the hell did they go??  If you’re not going to be a good fan and cheer my boys on, give up your seat to someone who will get into the game!

Did you guys see the amazing play that Pablo and Brandon Crawford made on August 28th during the Astros game?  If not, check this out!  Those two are unbelievable!  I’ve never seen anything like that in my life!

I got to go to the Dodgers game with my sister on September 7th.  As usual, we had a fantastic time, and the boys won the first game of the series!  Always love to hear Tony sing!  I made a sign for us that read, “Sister Gamer Babes,” and it had the word “Giants” in a heart and said “Beat LA” on the side.  They were broadcasting the pregame from right outside the ballpark that night, so Keen and I tried to get in the shot.  Before they started shooting, Comcast SportsNet Anchor Greg Papa saw my sign and read it.  He asked if we were really sisters, and I said, “Of course we are!”  Then he said, “No, I mean ‘sisters’”, and then he proceeded to make the sign of the cross!  I said, “Definitely not!”  That was fun!  When they started shooting, Keen and I were able to get on TV!  That’s my second time!  Thanks to Ginny for taking a picture of her TV so that I could see us on there.  During the game, we experienced a new cheer in honor of the recent hottest Giant on the team, Marco Scutaro.  One guy behind us would yell, “Marco!” then another guy would yell, “Scutaro!” just like they were playing Marco Polo!  It was a crack up!  By the end of the game, we were all doing it any time Marco came up.  So much silliness and fun!

Beat the Streak update:  I’ve taken over the lead and am now sitting at a streak of 16!  WOOHOO!  And it still continues today (hope I’m not jinxing myself).  Still no takers for the Coke offer if you can beat me.  Come on!  There’s still time left in the season!  Hoping that I can hold off my brothers and my cousin and win that free dinner!

Can you believe that the magic number for my boys now stands at 13???  Can you believe we’re even talking magic numbers this soon??  I am soooooo excited!  They are going to pull it off this year!  Ginny and I are already talking about taking the day off work to go to the parade!  Wouldn’t that be fabulous if they could do it again??  Trying not to count my chickens yet, but it’s sure tough not to.  Good luck with the D-Bags this weekend, Boys!  At least take the series this time.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  Knock out the snake!



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