Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reality TV and Baseball

Now I know for some of you baseball is the ultimate reality TV, but here is a story that marries an old passion and the new ball & chain for this pink-hat (aka reality tv and baseball). While other sportswriters commented on Casey Kelly living up to the hype, in today's Boston Globe Christopher Gasper wrote about lefty pitcher Dustin Richardson coming in under the radar. There were two important points to his story.

One, Richardson is nasty against lefties. This seems to have put him in the running for a spot in the Sox bullpen again. Yes, I said again. Richardson actually pitched relief in three games for the Sox last season and didn't allow a run in 3 1/3 innings. Bluehats might say, what about lefty Hideki Okajima? Well, Gasper and your plagiarizing, paraphrasing pinkhat have an answer. Okajima, along with fellow set-up man Daniel Bard, is needed as a bridge to Papelbon and can't be sacrificed as a mere lefty specialist. This means that Okajima is needed to pitch in between the starter and the closer (Papelbon) because the Red Sox feel he can pitch decently to right and left-handed hitters*. The Red Sox aren't going to waste Okajima by using him against just one batter in order to "match up" a lefty pitcher with a lefty hitter.

Except for his initial short-season, Richardson was a starter in the Sox minor league system. Richardson seems to be looking at relief pitching as his ticket in "the bigs" as he called it, and has "no complaints right now" about not being a starting pitcher.

Sidenote, and then I'll get back to my list: Richardson played between Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. I've got to get my head around this... there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball split into two leagues with three divisions each of teams from the East, Central, and West. That's 30 teams, two leagues and 6 divisions. Teams from the National League and the American League didn't play each other during the regular season until 1997 when interleague play was introduced. One big difference between the two leagues is that pitchers in the National League are required to bat while the American League has designated hitters. BoSox fans love when the Sox play National League teams on the road** and their favorite pitcher steps up to the plate (when the pitcher gets a hit and when the team wins of course).

Most players start in the Minor Leagues. Each team has up to six levels (Rookie, Class A Short-Season, Class A, Class A Advanced, Double A, and Triple A) each divided into several leagues. The Red Sox have the Dominican Summer League Red Sox, Gulf Coast League Red Sox, Lowell Spinners, Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs, and Pawtucket Red Sox. Each plays in a different league, for example the Portland Sea Dogs play in the Eastern League and the Pawtucket Sox play in the International League.

Whew. Now that you've forgotten I was making a list...

Two, in 2006 Richardson made it to the finals of an ESPN TV show where contestants dealt with the cranky, tell-it-like-is Coach Bobby Knight for a spot on the Texas Tech BASKETBALL team. He chose to not pursue Texas Tech, however, because he was gearing up for the baseball draft in 2007. Now that's reality TV.

*I asked Dave if this was true and he made me go to ESPN and look up Okajima's splits against right-handed and left-handed pitchers. Last year his batting average against (BAA) was .167 against lefties and .309 against righties. I am not going to even start to research what those numbers mean- this is just an FYI for my true, blue bluehat readers.

**Interleague play follows the home field rules.

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