Thursday, June 19, 2008

Encarnacion: En-car-na-cion

I am not sure if the Dodgers have asked their announcers, Steve Lyons and Charlie Steiner, to rave about their new starter Clayton Kershaw, or if Steiner is just desperately in love with him. Either way, it is kinda creepy watching Dodger games and listening to Steiner fawn over the poor kid, who incidentally was seven months old when the Dodgers last won a playoff series.

I occasionally work at KCAL as the profanity censor, and when I do I have to listen very closely for fans, players or announcers who fire off swears. Dumbest job ever, but they pay me so what the heck! So I can't just mute Steiner and watch the ballgame in peace. Well actually I could, but then he'd be muted for the rest of the viewing audience at home and while that would no doubt be well-received by the fans, I doubt KCAL would like it. I have to listen to him intently every single time he mispronounces Edwin Encarnacion's name, and every time he rambles dreamily about Kershaw's earth's-rotation-slowing curveball, or his strong, supple thighs.

Seriously though, Steiner can't say "Encarnacion." This is the third time I have worked a Dodgers-Reds game this year (once in April and twice this week) and he says "Encanarcion" every time. It is a subtle difference, I admit. But I noticed it in April and thought it was funny. After last night, when Encarnacion hit a solo home run and accounted for all of the Reds' offense (and was therefore mentioned a lot), I wanted to do that lawnmower trick from "The Happening" just so I wouldn't have to hear that human-turtle say that very simple, common name wrong again.

Apparently there was a fire alarm at the Dodgers' hotel yesterday morning and Steiner longingly told (and retold) the story of how Kershaw came down from his room in "gym shorts and a t-shirt" with no shoes on like it had been Marisa Miller (above) without a top on.

The only thing more annoying than this is that Steiner constantly misses plays when talking and tries out little catch phrases all the time. He missed the first pitch in Tuesday's game and on the second pitch said, "Pierre swings at the first pitch he sees and grounds out to Encanarcion." Is it that hard to pay attention to the first at bat of the game? Then last night I nearly threw up when Steiner tried yelling the catch-phrase, "Kuo, don't you know!" when Hong-Chih Kuo struck someone out (the best part of course being that it was a foul ball, so he wasted the line anyway).

Adam Dunn of the Reds is one of the left handed power hitters that always gets the shift put on when he hits. Before the game, Lyons apparently asked Dunn why he doesn't just bunt down the third base line, which I would require of my players if I was the manager in that situation. Dunn gave the same old line: "If we're down two in the eighth, I'll bunt. I do it 6-10 times a year. But they don't pay me to bunt, they pay me to get on base and drive in runs."

Dunn led off the second inning, trailing 2-0 with the shift on. He struck out looking. I don't think they pay him to do that either. Then he hit in the fourth, down 3-1. He grounded out. In the sixth inning he came up with first and third and one out and they still put the shift on. He struck out. They were giving him a free squeeze bunt for a run and a hit. By the time he came up in the eighth, they were down five runs and his bunt single wouldn't have mattered (but he flew out, just for good measure).

My final rant of the day is for Dusty Baker, the dumbest man in baseball. This is a man who once explained his disdain for the on-base percentage stat by saying that extra base runners "clog up the bases," but at least he ruined Kerry Wood's and Mark Prior's careers by overworking them. In the sixth inning, his Reds were trailing 4-1 and the Dodgers had runners on second and third with one out and speedster Juan Pierre hitting. Baker played the outfielders in like it was one out in the ninth with the winning run on third. Predictably, Pierre lifted a fly ball over the center fielder's head, two runs scored, and Pierre got a triple. Game over.

Had the outfield been at regular depth, this would have been an easy pop fly, likely not even deep enough to get the runner home from third. Of course, Pierre's swing was likely influenced by the defense that he was presented with, and he perhaps would not have hit the same pop fly had they been back at regular depth. But the point is that Baker positioned his defense so that the worst possible result was the most likely possible one.

I couldn't find a video or photo of Kobe Bryant wearing it, and I couldn't find the actual item on Nike's website, but when Kobe arrived in LA on the team plane yesterday, he was wearing a sweatshirt with a tire-tracks design on the front that was made to look like it had been run over a bunch of times. Never in human history has a person accidentally worn a more perfectly accurate metaphor for their professional performance.

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