September 17, 2002

Quote of the year

Last night's two California showdowns lived up to the hype, with both games coming down to the final at bats.

In addition to being a great game, the Dodgers/Giants contest brought us what I believe to be my favorite quote of this entire season.

Dodgers up 7-6. Two outs. Ninth inning. Bases Empty. Barry Bonds steps to the plate.

The television camera flashes to the Dodgers' dugout, where their manager, Jim Tracy, says (or more accurately, mouths):

"There's no way I'm going to pitch to this motherf---er."

First of all, that is the quote that should go on Barry Bonds' Hall of Fame plaque.

And Tracy didn't pitch to him, intentionally walking Superman to bring the winning run to the plate in Benito Santiago.

And that is why Barry Bonds is the best and most feared player in baseball.

Teams are so afraid of him that they are willing to put him on base as the tying run in the 9th inning, just so they don't have to pitch to him!

And it worked, as Santiago struck out to end the ballgame.

I think Dusty Baker is a very good manager, particularly when it comes to his people skills or clubhouse managing or whatever you want to call it.

But sometimes his roster construction and lineup selections leave a bit to be desired.

He has, in Barry Bonds, a man who is getting on base at a higher percentage than anyone in the history of the sport.

Wouldn't it just make sense that you would want your best "RBI men" batting behind someone that gets on base that frequently?

Instead, Baker batted Jeff Kent in front of Barry Bonds last night, as he has done often this season.

And who batted behind the greatest on-base machine in baseball history last night? Who was responsible for driving him in?

Benito Santiago, followed by Tom Goodwin, followed by J.T. Snow.

It has been shown that lineup order does not make a huge amount of difference over the course of a season, and I think I believe that.

However, with a player as extraordinary as Barry Bonds is right now, all theories about lineup construction and its importance pretty much go out the window.

And certainly the order of a lineup can make a difference in a single game, which is exactly what the Giants need to be focusing on at this point, producing their best possible chance to win in each of the remaining games this season.

When you have a guy with a on-base % near .600, you should probably avoid having Benito Santiago, Tom Goodwin and J.T. Snow as the guys batting behind him, in charge of knocking him in for the 60% (actually slightly less because some of that is home runs) of the time he is on base.

My Giants lineup?

Versus righties:

Kenny Lofton

Barry Bonds

Jeff Kent

Damon Minor

Reggie Sanders

David Bell

Rich Aurilia

Benito Santiago

Versus lefties:

Ramon Martinez

Barry Bonds

Jeff Kent

Reggie Sanders

Benito Santiago

Tsuyoshi Shinjo

J.T. Snow

David Bell

So, instead of having some of your worst hitters (like Tom Goodwin and J.T. Snow) bat directly behind the man who is on base more than anyone ever, you have some of your best hitters (like Jeff Kent and Reggie Sanders) who are more able to drive him in during the many times he is on base.

And in each lineup, you bat Bonds second, instead of leadoff, so that he has about a 35% chance of having someone on base when he comes to the plate.

Adjusting the lineup might only make a difference of only 1 game over the course of a season, but at this point, that 1 game looks pretty damn important.

Barry Bonds, annihilating the competition to the tune of .372/.580/.811.

Test him for steroids. Test him to see if he is human. Make him the MVP. Make him President of the United States of America.

Do whatever you want, but just watch him and realize that you are watching Babe Ruth (with a little more plate discipline).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, whatever you do...don't pitch to that motherf---er!

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