Watch enough baseball games and you get as good at predicting things the same way you know who the killer is when you've watched a million detective shows. There are just some things you know are going to happen because you've seen them a million times before. For those of you who need a shortcut so you don't have to watch a million baseball games and still want to look smart at a party or in the bar, here's a short list of things you can guarantee when watching a baseball game:
When a batter watches a grooved fastball right down the middle for strike one, he is almost sure to strike out on a breaking ball in the dirt. This used to be called the "Alfonso Soriano Rule" in the Fan's house. Now it's probably the "Mark Teixeira rule." Be careful now that you know this one because it will drive you freaking crazy.
When a runner is on second with no outs, a batter will be universally praised by the broadcasters and in his own dugout if he grounds out to the right side of the infield. This is the "Giving Yourself Up" rule. In other words, the batter gave himself up to move the runner to third where the runner can score on a fly ball. The reality is that the play itself is self-defeating. No team ever gets more runs by making more outs. Oh, and you can guarantee that the color guy in the broadcast booth will say something like: "Those are the little things that never show up in the box score."
Outfielders who lazily throw the ball in to the infield after a single never pay for their sins. They can nonchalantly flip the ball in, sometimes with a lollipop arc and the base runner will never take advantage of that casual laziness. You might see it happen once in a decade.
Caucasian ball players are never accused of not hustling. If a player is accused of such a crime, whether it be running to first on a ground out or anything like that, it's always an Hispanic or African-American guy. Hey, white guys dog it too you know.
Young starting pitchers always throw a lot of pitches. There should be a primer for young pitchers coming up from the minor leagues that says, "Hey, you are getting this promotion because you threw strikes and got outs. Pitch the same way in the majors." But they never do. It is downright common to see a rookie pitcher with 45 to 50 pitches after just a couple of innings. Hey, man, this is your shot. You have a better shot succeeding in the strike zone than by walking people and getting behind in the count.
Every pitch even remotely close to hitting the dirt gets thrown out of the game. If a pitcher throws a splitter, you might as well just put a can of baseballs right next to the mound and save time. What a waste. Families can't afford to put gas in their cars, but they throw out seven dozen brand new baseballs every game.
If a team employs a shift against a batter, eight times out of ten that shift will work. Drives this observer stark raving loony. Yes, this is also the Mark Teixeira-when-batting-left-handed rule. HIT IT THE OTHER WAY!
When a relief pitcher walks the first batter, a run will score. That's just the way it is.
Whether a game is meaningful for a team or not, a left-right-left combo in the batting order will always mean at least two pitching changes in the late innings. Doesn't matter if the team is the Astros or Braves, you know it's going to happen.
This one is similar to the first one: If a left-handed reliever throws a called first strike to a lefty batter, the third strike will always be one of those Whiffle Ball curves that make a lefty batter look like an idiot. Why do lefty batters always fall for that?
If a batted ball goes all the way down the line to the corner, the outfielder will never pick it up cleanly. It's as if the outfielder is given too much information with all that stuff in his vision. If this happens in the left field corner, the fielder will always just lollipop the ball back into the infield. Watch next time, you'll see.
When bad teams play good teams, one of the following things will always happen to the bad team: a runner will be picked off; a batter will pop up with the bases loaded; a relief pitcher will walk the first two batters he faces; an error will lead to a big inning; a wild pitch will occur with a runner on third. Guaranteed that one of those things will happen.
A broadcast will never show the K-Zone--or whatever you want to call it--on the pitch you really want to see if the ump got it right or not. The pitch will usually occur when the broadcast team is doing a promo for that network's upcoming programming.
At least once an inning, an umpire will call the exact same pitch a ball and then a strike. K-Zone will show the pitches to be in the exact same spot.
Whenever a home plate umpire takes it upon himself to determine if a checked swing occurred or not, he gets it wrong. Guaranteed.
Broadcasters will always say that speedy runners should be better bunters. This is the Gardner-Borjos Rule. It doesn't matter if the third baseman is close enough to shake the batter's hand, the fast guy should be a better at bunting.
A deep fly ball will never result in a runner tagging at first base. The only exception to this rule is if the Angels are playing.
On a bad baseball team, when a batter walks on four pitches, the next batter will always swing at the first one.
In the National League, if a runner is on second base with less than two outs, the pitcher will always try to bunt. Never mind that there is still a slight chance for the pitcher to get a hit. He will bunt.
With a runner on second and two out (in the National League), the eighth batter will always be walked to get to the pitcher.
When a young pitcher is pitching a great game, his manager will always leave that pitcher in for one inning too many. The last inning always ruins the outing.
Again in the National League, if a pitcher bats for himself late in the game (say the sixth or seventh inning), he will always struggle in the next inning and have to be pulled anyway.
On bad teams, if a relief pitcher comes in with the bases loaded, he will always either walk the first batter or throw a wild pitch or balk.
A pinch hitter will either swing at the first pitch wherever it is thrown or watch a meatball pass by for strike one. One of the two will always happen.
When there is a runner on first and one on third, the pitcher will always try that fake to third, fake to first move. The crowd will always boo.
Bad teams will always have a guy try to get to third from second on a ground ball to the shortstop. Happens every time. Or if there is a runner on third with less than two outs, the contact play will be on and the runner will be thrown out at home on a ground ball to the infielder.
In Fenway Park, any opponent who hits a wall-scraped double will result in the broadcaster stating, "That ball would be an out in any other ballpark." If a member of the Red Sox does the same thing, then it was a clutch hit and a great piece of hitting. This isn't just the great team of Orsillo and Remy. The same holds true for national announcers.
There is at least one bad call in every game the St. Louis Cardinals play. If it was a football game, this would be the Don Shula Rule.
Opposite field hits will always be termed: "A great piece of hitting."
Left handed batters will always be credited with great swings. You'll rarely hear the same thing about a right-handed hitter.
No announcer will ever mention C.C. Sabathia's girth. Never. Ever. Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval do not get the same treatment.
A foul ball will always be sliced or hooked. A foul ball is never called straight. A long fly foul will always be called a, "loud strike."
Oh, and in a detective show, the good looking, helpful lad or lass will always be the killer.