Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bad Teams Find A Way To Lose, Class A Division

Never piss off a bipedal fish with a hot dog cannon
Bad teams find ways to lose.

I went to see the Carolina Mudcats the other night. A relative of my wife's was in town for the first time, we wanted to show him a good time, and we picked up my dad and my nephew on the way out to Five County Stadium for a Saturday evening contest. The weather was lovely, post-storm blue skies, the opponent was the loaded Rangers affiliate the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and it was Miggy Cabrera Bobblehead Night for all kids 14 and under. My nephew, who is ten, had been discussing the desirability of a bobblehead versus a toy bat with my wife on the way in, was ecstatic.

Now, a Mudcats game is fun, but that doesn't mean the Mudcats are good. They have one superstar prospect in shortstop Francisco Lindor, a recent first-round pick in Tyler Naquin, the "incredibly raw" Luigi Rodriguez and some guys that even a baseball junkie like me hasn't heard of.  As of tonight, they're 20-42, worst record in the Carolina League and eight and a half back of Salem. One team's been eliminated from playoff consideration in the Carolina League so far; the Mudcats are it.

And you watch, and you see why. You see Charlie Valerio slam a rocket off the right field wall and get thrown out trying for second, killing a rally. You see an ill-advised throw to third base on a double steal late in the game, and when the throw sails wide, you see the Mudcats give up half their lead. You see a runner sent home on a short fly ball to center that barely drops. He's out at the plate by 20 feet, and when he tries to bowl the catcher over, Myrtle Beach backstop Pat Cantwell just picks him up and drops him. He's not going anywhere, and neither is the team.

They ended up coughing up their 2 run lead late, then getting steamrolled by a 4-run Myrtle Beach 10th. Lindor performed as advertised, giving the strong suspicion that he is in fact Spider-Man on a couple of plays near second base. It was a fun game to watch. My nephew got a hamburger and some ice cream; my wife got a beer and a couple of hot dogs. All in all, it was a good time, and we'll be back again, but never did we think that the Mudcats would hang on to win. Not when they were banging balls off that right field wall, not when they were lighting up the radar gun, never.

Because bad teams make mistakes when they don't have to, and those mistakes cost them games. They run themselves out of rallies. They give the other team outs and runs. and you watch a couple of those mistakes here and a couple there, and even when they don't look like they mean anything, you can tell there's more on the way. More when they count.

Which is sad. I wanted the Mudcats to win. But bad teams find a way to lose.
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