Sunday, May 3, 2009

Radio Night

Game 21: Bulls 1, Clippers 14
Game 22: Bulls 6, Clippers 10
Season: 13-9

Now would be the time to write something clever or insightful or even deeply philosophical about the last two games.

How about — Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrgh!

That’s better.

I came to last night’s game with the semi-insider knowledge that Columbus was in trouble. Three of the key players from Friday’s game had been called up by the Indians. They would have to go to the bench in a big way. Guess what? The guys on the Columbus bench decided it was their turn to shine. They jumped on two early errors and literally ran away with it. A 9th inning rally by the Bulls wasn’t enough.

So let’s talk about the radio broadcast.

I really like Neil Solondz, the Bulls radio broadcaster. In previous seasons I have had the chance to compare him to some of his AAA colleagues and he’s the best of those I’ve heard. Good at balls and strikes. Informative on player’s background. Not too speculative.

In the first five innings or so last night, however, he was joined by another broadcaster whose name I didn’t catch. I think they may have been calling the game for TV at the same time. So there was much more back and forth. My problem is that they spent almost all that time trying to explain away the less-than-stellar performance of David Price. Yes, it wasn’t his fault that Brignac and Olmedo opened the game with two throwing errors. OK, I get that. But what about the three steals, three walks, and four hits? And reaching his pitch limit (75) in only 3+ innings? And how many times did he have two strikes and was unable to close the deal? Neil and his partner seemed to spend more time on Price’s potential than on the reality in front of them. Even going to the great length of commenting on his athleticism when all he did was handle two simple come-backers and toss them to first (that was just after getting tagged for a double, but before walking a batter, and getting pulled in the 4th). Price isn’t really showing us much this year.

Neil Morris at Indy Week made a similar observation.

On the other hand, for the later part of the game Neil was joined by Gary Hunsicker, a Rays executive, and between them they did a terrific job talking about baseball and the Bulls. Including, I should add, some sharp comments from Hunsicker about how the Bulls were going to have to come together as a team to get things back in order. (So maybe I should back off my earlier comments a bit.) Since I was listening at the same time I was trying to watch the game, I’m not going to claim what follows as direct quotes of Hunsicker, just paraphrasing. If either Neil or Gary sees this and disagrees, I’ll be happy to correct them. Other Hunsicker comments:

  • Reid Brignac: Hunsicker noted that scouts have been pointing out to him for years a difference between a Latin and North American approach to playing shortstop and that Brignac exemplified the North American approach (i.e., get behind the ball to make the play). Very high on Brignac’s potential.
  • Very complimentary of Chris Richard and what he brought to the Bulls. He noted that, unfortunately for Chris, first base was a position essentially reserved for big strong guys (and Neil pointed out that the Rays’ Peña was having a great year). Thought that there was a place for him in the big leagues.
  • Really high on Matt Joyce (who got a home run and two singles last night before striking out with bases loaded in the 9th). Said that Gabe (didn’t catch which Gabe, TB has two of them) should be looking over his shoulder.
  • And vented over the 75 pitch count limit, and pitch limits in general. Noted that Major League Baseball had been shown up in the World Baseball Classic, that the season is too much of a grind at major and minor league levels.

I’m wondering how much the Bulls have missed the energy of Jon Weber batting leadoff these last two games and, forgive me, not having Elliott Johnson in the game?

Lastly, the reclusive rehabbing Rays right-handed reliever Isringhausen did not make an appearance. Is pulling a muscle while on rehab make you a rehabbing rehabber?


  1. Can you explain why Price's results have seemed so mediocre so far? Is he experimenting with pitches? Trying to throw the change-up more than usual in order to refine it? Is there any rumor that he is hurting at all? Is his velocity down? Is he unable to command the fastball?

    I know that based on hopes and expectations his results have been unsatisfactory. But since I am not ready to accept the notion that he doesn't have the talent or the commitment, I am curious as to why he seems to be having problems. I suppose it might simply be a slump that all players go through but wonder if those closer to the action see something else going on.

  2. Based on radio guys' comments he is not experimenting with pitches. If the radar gun is right his velocity is actually up from his usual. Impossible to get inside his head. Maybe the low pitch count has him anxious and trying too hard. He sure looks uncomfortable on the mound, nothing like the guy who was called in from the bullpen while up in TB last year. I'm sure he'll get it together, just bothers me when everyone seems to be making excuses for him. Sure would be nice to see him twice during one of these home stands, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen.