Buck Showalter has done plenty of unconventional things as a manager – both with the Baltimore Orioles and before. However in general he’s a fairly traditional guy when it comes to the game of baseball. While yes he’ll occasionall call for an IBB with the bases loaded or something like that, for the most part the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone and so forth.
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If I were Showalter however, one thing that would frost me uncontrollably would be the fact that my team is so suspeptible to freak things beating them. And here’s the thing; I’m not necessarily blaming the Orioles in a sense. Look at last night’s game, or heck even look at last year’s ALCS against Kansas City. There are just some things for which you cannot prepare.
And yes folks, I’m referring to how the O’s were bled to death by bloop singles last night – as one example at least. But that was the story of last year’s ALCS, and similar freak things have been the story of various losses this year. And not all of them are freak accidents per se. In general the conventional way of thinking tells us that solo home runs aren’t going to beat you in the long run. But when you lose a game 3-1 which includes the opponent hitting two solo homers, they do turn into a problem.
Similarly, bloops and dying quails into the outfield aren’t going to beat you. But combine that with a lead off walk, and it might turn into a problem. The Orioles are very good – and I mean incredibly good – when it comes to the positioning of fielders. The infield shifts are one thing, but Showalter pays such close attention to detail that guys move a few steps here and there on every hitter, and sometimes every pitch.
This of course is due to the fact that statistics are showing that this guy hits the ball to this area for the most part, and even that perhaps if he makes contact with two strikes it seems to always fly to this part of the field. But that leaves the Orioles suseptible to the unexpected. What do you do when a guy loops a broken bat single into the outfield, or a swinging bunt down the third base line when the infield is back? That kind of throws the numbers into file 13, if you know what I mean.
All we can say is that in any sport (as in any facet of life perhaps) we should expect the unexpected. And by that I don’t mean that the O’s shouldn’t defend to the statistics and so forth. They absolutely should. However what can be done is to limit what can be limited. If not for the lead off walk in the eighth inning last night, Minnesota might score only one run – maybe none at all.
Furthermore, perhaps if in the backs of the minds of the players (and coaches) they’re thinking that something strange could possibly happen, they might be a bit more prepared for it. Believe me folks, I’m a pretty conventional guy myself. I thus always say that if you want to “defeat me” all you have to do is do something totally unexpected. (If you’ve heard the term think outside the box…well, I am “the box.”) Perhaps if he’s thinking that a swinging bunt could possibly be coming down the line, Machado might be a step quicker in fielding it.
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That all might be a bit of a stretch, because players are pretty nimble on their feet as it is. But in a controled environment (such as a practice) you generally don’t have to worry about that. Games aren’t controled environments, and as is the case in the real world things sometimes happen. They may throw us off when they do, but the fact is that if you want to cease being seen as a victim of circumstance you have to do everything in your power to avoid being the victim of anything.