As spring time blooms, a couple of things come to mind, one of which is not very good. And that's hay-fever and backyard baseball. Hay-fever obviously is the bad one, and to be honest, I just have a wall of snot in my nose and my eyes have hit a perpetual stage of itchiness. But backyard baseball has brought a level of saber-metric thinking that I never would have thought had been possible.
Fellow Baseball Jungle writer (despite the fact that he doesn't post much anymore) Simon and I have had a rivalry at many different things, and baseball is no different. We play 7-game series and game one was on Sunday.
My house seems to have the perfect dimensions for a game of baseball. You see, we have a sort-of long driveway, and in "right field", there is a stone wall that is about 3 feet tall, which leads to center field, where the wall is represented by a bunch of trees. In left field, we have my actual house. When hit over the house, it is declared a home run, but you can hit it off what has been nicknamed "The Aqua Monster", for its extreme similarities to that of the Green Monster in Fenway Park and it is called "The Aqua Monster" for my house's light blue color. The name of the house (or stadium): Mike's Cold Hard Lemonade Stadium.
The game is played with tennis balls to ensure that no windows and other things are not broken. On the left and right sides of the property are two groups of bushes, and when hit into, it is declared an out. If a ball hits a car, it is also out. There is a small skateboard ramp that my brother uses which resides right where the pavement of the driveway meets the outfield grass, and if the ball hits it, it is considered an out and a Top 10 play on Sportscenter.Anything that is hit over the house, in the the threes or over the right field wall is a home run. The hits are declared hits depending on where the ball landed and how it was hit. The runners are assumed to be your Average-Joe runner, meaning that they would score on a non-bloop hit to the outfield from second base. The game is played in six innings.
I can not recall every moment of the game but the final score was my team (The Crookers) over Simon's team (The Dickle-Doos) 11-6. That is actually a pretty low scoring game, usually the games would end up in something like a 30-27 offensive brawl.
The more notable things that happened were as follows:
- I had a 100% HR/FB rate. That is "luck" to the extreme. More specifically, I had a grand slam and two solo shots. The grand slam and the second solo shot were both hit into the center field trees while the other solo shot just barely went over the right field fence, A.K.A. Dustin Padroia type homer. The ball was left up high in the zone, and I knew that that I had gotten under it, but as I stated before, luck was on my side and the ball cleared.
- Simon struck out a total of eight times, seven of which came on the curve that I would drop in. If I had to guess, I would say that Simon's SwStr% was probably around 25%...he was bad.
- Simon also used a combination of his good eye and my inability to consistently throw strikes to draw walks, getting on nine times via the free pass. Yes, he had more walks then strike outs.
- He even squared up on a ball once and sent a two run shot that over the house left. I put a fastball low in the zone, just as I wanted but he put a good swing on it and sent it out.
- Not only did I have a lot of help from the homer runs, I also really lucked out on stranding runners. If I had to guess, I would say that my LOB% might have been around 90%. That was a huge reason why I was able to limit his runs despite all the walks (I walked in two runs).
- In the bottom of the 4th, I was in a high leverage situation. I had the bases loaded (again) and two outs with a 1-2 count on me. Knowing what happened last time, Simon was trying to keep the ball low and hope that I would hit the ball to the bushes, or the cars or to the ramp. Well, not only was I getting my way with my HR/FB%, I also got BABIP'd and I put a nice swing on a low fastball, sending a ground ball right back up the middle that missed the ramp by probably about six inches. If I hadn't gotten so lucky, the scored would have stayed at 8-5 and Simon could have still been in the game. Instead, two runs scored and I went up 10-5.
I took the first game of the series on the back of "Crook Lee's" fantastic 5 inning, 7 hit, 5 run, 8K performance. You must remember that this was an pretty low scoring affair so that is actually considered a good start. "Crook Halladay" pitched the last inning, giving up one walk, a hit (which went through both cars for a BABIP-type hit) and one run.
Game 2 will be on Wednesday, May 4th at 2:45 at Mike's Cold Hard Lemonade Stadium. The Crookers will be sending "Crook Canks" to the mound while Simon has yet to decide on his starting pitcher.
*NOTE: Being the baseball nerd we are, I would like to clarify that Simon and I pretend to be these pitchers but with different names. Hey, don't make fun, if you played in this baseball league, you would be tempted to do that too.