Pet peeves — everybody’s got them, whether it relates to work, driving, or ordinary run-of-the-mill things that irk you to no end. Baseball is no exception.
Baseball is easily my favorite sport, and when played the right way, it’s a beautiful thing. However, there are several pet peeves in baseball that always get my goat.
Here are just a few of them:
- The Chicago White Sox relinquishing runs immediately after they have a big inning offensively. Nothing squashes the momentum quite like a pitcher who thinks it’s his God-given right to quickly surrender the runs his offense just put on the board. Case in point: Odrisamer Despaigne ceding three runs in the bottom half of the first inning on June 22, immediately after the Sox opened the game with four. If the Sox shut them down that inning, there’s a great chance they win the game; however, the Texas Rangers carried their newfound momentum to victory instead.
- Pitchers unable to get anybody out after defensive miscues. Physical errors are a part of the game, and it’s how well a pitcher pitches over his team’s mistakes that determines the result of the game. Now, I’m not talking here about a pitcher relinquishing three unearned runs because an outfielder committed a three-base error with two outs. I’m talking instances when there are two out and nobody on, a fielder makes an error, and the floodgates are now open. A case in point: Sunday when Yonder Alonso made an error with two out, and Iván Nova promptly served a crispy tater to Danny Santana. What was a two-run inning suddenly became an insurmountable four.
- Hitters bailing out pitchers. Imagine this: A pitcher is on the ropes, bases loaded, two outs, and the pitcher’s been wild. The pitcher is the one who’s in trouble, right? Wrong. Well, that’s what the hitter obviously thinks, anyway, because he flailed at the first pitch he sees — a fastball about seven inches off the plate that induces a worm-killing grounder to the second baseman to stifle the rally.
- Hitters unprepared to let it rip on a 3-0 count. The hitter’s got a 3-0 count and is given the green light to swing away. He should be ready to offer his biggest swing, provided of course that the pitch is in the zone. However, too many times, the hitter gets a 3-0 cookie and is later than a rush-hour commuter on the Dan Ryan. This happens more often than you think— I remember this most vividly in a recent game at Kansas City when Alonso encountered this same situation; he fouled the pitch to the opposite field, did the same with the next pitch, and was out on the next one. If you’re not prepared to let it rip if given the green light, you really shouldn’t be swinging.
- Fielding faux pas. As mentioned, even defensive wizards make physical errors. However, it’s the mental errors that irk me to no end. An outfielder losing the ball in the sun because he decided not to don his sunglasses, or players not calling each other off on an easy pop-fly, ultimately allowing the ball to drop or even worse — a head-on collision risking serious injuries to all involved. Calling for a ball is taught in the earliest stages of Little League if not earlier, so why is it so difficult for a major leaguer to do it? Other frustrating mental miscues on defense are pitchers who don’t cover first on a grounder to the right side, or players who don’t back up plays as the situations dictate. Finally, throwing the ball to the wrong base, preventing your team’s chances from getting a double play.
- Walking the weakest hitter in the lineup. It never fails — a pitcher opens the floodgates by finding it increasingly difficult to throw strikes to the weakest bat in the lineup. If you throw strikes and he gets a hit off you, then you tip your hat. But just to put a .200 (or worse) hitter on base without making him earn it is just asking for trouble.
- Speaking of walking hitters, one of my biggest pet peeves has to do with LOOGYs. These guys are often asked to face just one or two batters, and it irks me relentlessly when they actually walk the hitters they’re called in to face.
- TOOTBLANs — getting thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop. This covers a wide range of baserunning mishaps: Getting picked off, rounding a base too far, ignoring the third-base coach trying to score and being gunned down by 40 feet, getting thrown out at third by the shortstop on a grounder with nobody out. Again, most of these are fundamental issues that are taught relatively early. This also includes not taking extra jumps on a line drive, because the runner failed to recognize the positioning of the defenders prior to the pitch. Another example of a TOOTBLAN is the inability to realize how many outs there are — the inability to get a good jump on a hard liner with two outs can sometimes make the difference in a close game. Just taking a simple look at the scoreboard would prevent mistakes like this from occurring. An especially big TOOTBLAN pet peeve is when a pinch runner actually gets picked off.
The difference for me between a pet peeve and an annoyance is simply that a pet peeve shouldn’t have happened in the first place. An annoyance is something that I just simply find bothersome or too often happens on a regular basis: Beers that you have to take out a second mortgage to buy, the wave, beach balls, fair-weather (or simply unknowledgeable) fans who couldn’t tell you half the players on their teams’ rosters (i.e. Cubs fans).
I know everyone has baseball pet peeves out there that I’ve failed to mention — I’m curious to learn what some of them are.