Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 3/23/14

  • March 23, 2014

We’re two games into the 2014 MLB season, and and that’s two individual games, not two full days of action. Kirk Gibson is therefore alone atop the egregious blunders standings for the new campaign. Gibby is an inspirational guy with his grit and toughness. He’s pure old school and a manager who will get his players to go all out every day. He’s also absolutely terrible, in my opinion at least, in his handling of pitchers in game.

I’ve always maintained that I don’t think I’m any kind of strategic wizard. My stance has generally been, if I can see it, then any big league manager should as well. In fact, they’re supposed to see what I can’t, not the other way around.

We’re through four innings of last night’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks game and it’s crystal clear to me that Arizona starter Trevor Cahill is toast. His command was not good at any point in this game, and he was really laboring in the fourth inning. I assumed Gibson might also see this and would bring out a relief pitcher for the fifth inning. After all, it was just a 3-0 game, hardly an insurmountable margin, and the idea at this point is to keep your team in it and hope to rally later.

Gibson left Cahill in to start the fifth inning. I know why. Gibby knew the pitcher’s spot was due up in the bottom of the fifth, and he figured to try and get one  more frame out of Cahill and then hit for him. Bad move. Cahill walked the only two Dodgers he faced in the fifth, and each eventually scored.

Gibson could have simply brought in Josh Collmenter to start the inning. He could have tried anyone else for one frame and then hit for that pitcher in the bottom of the inning. He could even have double switched if he wanted Collmenter for multiples and didn’t want to have to hit for for him after just the one inning. Instead he exercised the worst option, which was to do absolutely nothing, and the result was a 5-0 deficit rather than 3-0.

Did it matter? Well, the Snakes ended up scoring five runs against the LA bullpen. We’ll never know if the decision ended up costing the Diamondbacks a possible win. But it sure didn’t help their cause.

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I gave out the Dodgers as a lean on Saturday, so it wasn’t an official play, just an opinion. I’m a disciplined player, and perhaps a little too stringent on obtaining value, but I’m just not much of a splasher when it comes to baseball. In this case, it cost me a winner, but over the course of a full season I consider this tendency to be wise, at least in terms of the way I approach things.

The April baseball special is now available via the “buy now” feature on this page. There is a guarantee with this offer. For all the particulars, please email me at cokin@cox.net. Note that the remainder of the basketball is included, although full disclosure mandates that I add the tournaments have not been good for me. But baseball is upon us, and I’m looking forward t the usual solid start to the season.

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Winner with Louisville as the Saturday free play. The Sunday comp will be on my personal play card.

03/23 04:10 PM  CB   (729) STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (730) UCLA

Take: (730) UCLA -9

Stephen F Austin is an NCAA Tournament winner! Great job by this squad with an improbable rally and an eventual overtime win over VCU on Friday night. That’s 29 wins in succession for the Lumberjacks, and an opportunity to be a true Big Dance Cinderella with the upset today.

I’m going to have to rain on the parade and say that the clock strikes midnight right here for Austin. UCLA maintained its extremely impressive recent play with a convincing win over a red hot Tulsa entry on Friday. I thought the Bruins were the best team in the PAC-12 at the end of the season and that opinion is even stronger now.

Bigger is not always better in basketball, but the size difference between these teams is enormous. The Bruins are going to play heir eight-man rotation with size galore. The Lumberjacks are always outsized to some extent, but it’s really glaring here, and far more than in the VCU game on Friday.

The physical disadvantage isn’t the only obstacle for Austin today. They’re also going to have to find a way to stay sky high mentally. I got the impression that the Friday win was kind of a mission accomplished deal for the Lumberjacks. Plus, the victory was achieved in amazing fashion, with the stunning regulation rally and the frantic overtime conclusion. That’s a potential bounce situation for even the biggest name teams. For one completely unfamiliar with the national spotlight, it’s a potential bounce scenario of mammoth proportions.

Stephen F Austin was a winner for me on Friday, but I’m not going to have a problem biting that hand that just fed me. I just cannot see the Lumberjacks staying with the surging Bruins today. I’ll be laying it with UCLA.