Wednesday, June 30, 2004

4,000 and 1 strikeouts 

First off: Congratulations to Randy Johnson on reaching 4,000 strikeouts last night. A tremendous accomplishment for an athlete whose dedication to his craft is very enjoyable. We're lucky here in Arizona to have watched him pitch these past few years.

To continue, however, I need to make an embarrassing admission:

I didn't watch and barely heard any of the game last night.

It happens, of course. Other things get in the way and you're not able to pay attention to the game.

So when I picked up the Republic in the driveway early this morning I wanted two questions answered:
1. Did Randy get his 4,000th?
2. Did the D-Backs win or lose?

And the paper answered those questions (that is #1 -- yes, #2 -- lose, 3-2). But when I tried to find the answer to the corollary to question #2, that is:

2a. How did the D-Backs lose?

That answer was nowhere to be found. Not in the main article, not in the notes. Only by reading the boxscore did I find out that the winning run was given up by Johnson on a homerun to Khalil Greene.

Now, I understand the desire to not focus on the downsides of the game -- the 11th straight loss, for example. But if you're going to blast the weakly performing offense, the error by Cintron, and the missed bunt sign by Hairston, can't you at least mention the homerun? Or maybe the decent pitching performance by Sweeney? It might put the picture of a ticked-off-looking Johnson on the front page of the paper into a little more perspective. It's not like you shied away from tough articles -- this article talks about fans' reactions to the possibility of a Johnson trade.

Again, congratulations to Randy on the 4,000th strikeout. But when it came to covering the game, the Republic struck out.

On the subject of bases-loaded situations and the D-Backs' missed opportunities, yes, the D-Backs seem to have been bad in these situations, but let's look at the statistics. To begin with, they rank 11th in the NL in bases-loaded opportunities, just shy of the median. So at least they're not awful in getting into those situations.

But statistics bear out the impression that when presented with those opportunities, they fail. They've generated just 31 runs from 64 bases-loaded opportunities. The 31 runs ranks them 14th, as does their .484 runs per opportunity and .450 OPS. (The Dodgers are abysmal -- 21 runs in just 55 opportunities with a .320 OPS; the Mets are sort of between us and the Dodgers.) Unsurprisingly, we are tied for last in number of walks (1), though our strikeout percentage is not so bad. And, yes, we hit into a lot of double plays -- only the Cubs hit into more double plays as a percentage of opportunities (12% vs. our 11%).

Despite the fact that statistics seemed to confirm our gut feelings, I'm still not happy.

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