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. . . . it ain't got that swing

what a great time to be a baseball fan. last night i watched the first three innings on mlb.tv, spent the rest of the evening with my family, collapsed asleep reading to a three-year-old, dragged my useless friday-night-shell of self off to bed . . . and was still able to see the late innings of last night's game this morning, courtesy mlb.tv's archived files.

beats hell out of a box score and a bowl of cornflakes.

anyone who's been reading curveblog the last few days may know where i'm headed with this . . . . . eckstein. i'll say up front that i think he had a tougher, smarter at-bat in the eighth inning last night than either edmonds or mabry. but i have one quibble, the eternal one: why the hell wasn't he ready to swing on the first pitch?

to reset: eckstein's up there with two outs and the tying run out at second base; a single knots the score. it's an rbi situation -- we need a basehit, not a baserunner -- and the pitcher, roberto hernandez, can't afford to dick around because walker and pujols await after this batter. eckstein has to go up there looking for a pitch over the plate -- and be ready to swing the bat.

eckstein faked a bunt.

and predictably the pitch was hipbone high and on the outer half -- the kind of pitch he should have been looking for, a pitch tailor-made for a pesky overachieving shortstop to slap over the second baseman's head for game-tying single. eckstein showed some discipline up there and did get himself a couple of pitches to hit later in the at-bat (esp. a sloppy breaking pitch way up), but they came on 2-2, after he'd gone into hunker-down mode. he battled, and the at-bat lasted lasted 8 pitches, but the best hitting opportunity was the first pitch -- and eckstein was taking all the way. for no reason . . .

ok, i'll get off the poor kid's case for a while and move on to other things, but i'm going to keep watching. and i hope y'all will watch his at-bats closely too and, if the fancy strikes ya, share your observations in a diary (see the righthand sidebar). by september maybe we'll have this all figured out and we can present our findings to tony and jock.

and now i think i hear a bowl of cornflakes calling . . . .

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there's an excellent cubs blog in the SportsBlog Nation, bleed cubbie blue, which is always a good read but is especially good when the cubs are in pain. not such a good read today; the cubs won, and bcb blogger al yellon was at shea last night enjoying the cardinals' misery. his quick-n-dirty: "A game was picked up, and the Cardinals aren't the same team without Scott Rolen. . . . Things are good."

ugh. read it anyway. i'm thinking al and i will be hearing a lot from each other this summer . . . .