Coping With Bad Baserunning

The Padres ended up losing to Colorado 4-2 yesterday.  They had baserunners, got some timely hits for once, but couldn’t break on top.  One particularly painful sequence occurred in the top of the sixth inning, when singles by Jedd Gyorko and Jesus Guzman placed runners on the corners and no one out.  Logan Forsythe strode to the plate.

Logan reached for a outside 2-2 pitch, rolled over, and chopped it to third.  Hilarity ensued.  Rather than attempting to describe it, take a minute and watch:

(Padres eventual last gasp on 14 August)

The club didn’t place another runner in scoring position during the game.  It also led to this query from the venerable Jay Posner:

Yes.  Yes there is.  TOOTBLAN.

What is TOOTBLANTOOTBLAN stands for ‘Thrown Out On The Bases Like A Nincompoop’.  TOOTBLAN was originally invented by a Cubs Blogger (Wrigleyville23, now defunct) to capture Ryan Theriot‘s base running hijinks.  Theriot, despite being a member of the last two World Series championship teams, is currently out of baseball, possibly due to his interesting choices on the base paths.

This entire play doesn’t merit a TOOTBLAN.  Gyorko was thrown out thanks to the contact play.  The contact play:  the runner on third breaks once the ball is hit in an attempt to score by forcing the infielder to throw to first.  It rarely works, yet teams continue to use it.  Gyorko went and was caught in a run down.

No, this TOOTBLAN is courtesy of Guzman.  On this play, he’d already reached second, but with Yorvit Torrealba chasing Gyorko back to third he attempts to take third?  What?  No.  A bad decision on multiple fronts:

  • Should Gyorko manage to return to the bag safely, and Guzman get to third safely, Guzman’s out.  Gyorko’s entitled to the bag.
  • Torrealba is closer to third than Guzman when Guzman decides to go all out for third.  Yorvit may be a slow human being, but with a head of steam he’s going to beat practically every human being to the bag from that distance.
  • Second base is still scoring position, and there’s only one out.  One, possibly two chances to score.  Granted, the next two hitters are Ronny Cedeno and Rene Rivera, not exactly Kevin McReynolds and Tony Gwynn, but you get the point.

As I mentioned in the game recap, the Padres didn’t threaten after this inning, managing only one more baserunner who stopped at first.  Sometimes plays like this cause a shake of the head.  Sometimes, that plus a longer than usual pull on your pint.  Every now and then, frustration from watching bad baseball produces the overwhelming urge to curse in a loud, attention-calling way.  You should not curse; think of the children and the damage it will do to your soul.

Use TOOTBLAN instead.  Kids think it’s funny, you’ll feel better, and explaining it provides an opportunity to use the word ‘nincompoop’, sadly falling out of common usage in the 21st century.

I’ve been posting sporadically about the Padres since 2009, and arguing against the contact play for at least that long.  Posts usually occur on Tuesdays and occasionally at other times.  Thanks to all of you brave enough to follow me on Twitter.

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