August is a month where talent takes over.I've long criticized pro basketball for the obviousness with which teams mail in games during the season -- all season in the NBA, not just down the stretch -- but watching as much baseball as I have since I started this blog, I just can't ignore the fact that it happens in baseball too. It's not as obvious -- there are no man-on-man defensive breakdowns which stick out like in the NBA -- but it happens, especially on getaway days.
Anybody who lives the baseball season knows that the last month or so is a "low energy time" in ball. The All-Star break is past, and you're far enough along that monotony is setting in but not close enough to the end that you're giving that final push. The good teams are playing hard, because every game counts, they're in races, all that stuff, but even for them it can be a struggle. For the rest of baseball, the game's lower class, it's impossible to bring the same energy everybody has in April or the contenders have in September . . .
. . . When everybody's effort dips, on both sides, teams win on talent and little else. Fewer guys are grinding at bats, or doing the things during, before and after games that most of us don't notice, so they're winning (or losing) based more on their talent. Talent doesn't go anywhere. So if teams are operating at 85 percent instead of 95 percent, talent makes up a bigger part of that.
A guy behind in the count may give up a little easier than he might have in May. A leftfielder may run a little slower to retrieve that ball rattling around in the corner. Even a manager might decided to just let a guy get creamed longer than he may have earlier in the season, maybe to save the bullpen, but maybe to move things a long a bit too. Is this quantifiable? I can't see how. I can only say that I get the feeling that it's happening, even if I can only rarely point to a specific example.
Am I alone in this? Anybody else recently seen this kind of dogging it? Non-Manny answers only, please.