Crafted Sports Report: To Pitch or Not to Pitch

By Chris Craft
Updated: May 31, 2006

ATLANTA, GEORGIA— For one man to be walked a league record 198 times is the ultimate ego boost. The scrappy California Angels are now faced with the decision that National League teams have faced this whole year. Whenever the big lefty comes to the plate with his side full of shiny black armor, all the fans get their cameras ready and the opposing manager’s heart rate speeds up a bit. My challenge to Mike Scioscia is to give the fans what they want and to challenge his pitchers to take on this monster.

My take is that if you treat this man like a god, he will perform like a god. There’s going to come a time that you have to face Mr. Bonds and all the confidence that he has mustered up as a result of his opposition cowering in their dugout will definitely come back to hurt the other team. Let’s face it, putting someone on base is not good. I personally wouldn’t feel confident with putting a potential run on the path. Most pitching coaches believe that walking a batter is the worst thing a pitcher can do – a free pass to first without even giving yourself or your team a chance of getting through 1/3 of the inning.

We all know that baseball is a mental game reinforced by statistics and strategy. Aside from the statistics, the mind comes into play with this situation. I already mentioned the confidence that Barry gains after each walk, but let’s not forget the people behind Mr. Bonds that have been treated as “easy outs” the whole season. Think back to when you were in little league and your team jeered the skinny kid on the other team as he approached the plate by yelling, “eaaaasy ooout.” In a more mature way, this is what the league has been doing to those behind Bonds, but instant karma has had it to where those players are ultimately destroying the opposition. Benito Santiago has reinvented himself and has been playing top-notch baseball both offensively and defensively.

There are situations like: no runners on base and 2 outs where walking Bonds might make sense; but walking Bonds has seemed to be more of a hindrance than a solution. My suggestion is to think ‘outs’ instead of trying to take the round-about path to beating the Giants. I have a good feeling that California’s more established pitchers will pitch to Barry, but those homerun-throwing prone pitchers and most of the relief pitchers besides Percival will cause the Angels to think twice about pitching to him. Game 1 is this weekend, so we’ll see then the strategies that the Angels will employ for Mr. Bonds. On a final note, talent will not win this World Series; this one goes to the team that’s best managed and will not be scared of taking risks on the base path. Sorry Barry… Angels in 6.