September 1, 2008

Vladimir Nunez Hates Moneyball

In the midst of unprecedented back-to-back sweeps of the Dodgers and Braves, I could have let this slide. It's really such a minor story that it smacks of gossip-mongering even to mention it. But hell, if it's good enough for Rocket Bill Ladson, it's good enough for me.

As we all know, the Nats beat the Braves 9-8 Saturday night on a 10th inning walk-off walk by Elijah Dukes. Dukes came up with two outs and worked the count full before Atlanta reliever Valdimir Nunez sailed what looked to be a slider low and outside to walk in the winning run. You can see video of that last pitch here.

Unremarkable up to this point, right? Every team loses on a walk-off walk now and then. It might be the least dramatic way to win a game in all of baseball, but it counts just the same. Apparently Vladimir Nunez disagrees. Quoth the pitcher:

I think it was disrespectful. If it's a double, triple or grand slam, he can do whatever he wants to celebrate. But after a walk, with a good pitch, and you make a jump like you hit a grand slam, that's unprofessional. I did not agree with what happened. He took the pitch, and I take my hat off to him if I have to. But at that moment, the guy is not even swinging. He jumped as if he hit a grand slam.
Perhaps Vladimir is unfamiliar with the expression "A walk's as good as a hit." Though to be fair, he did specify that not even a single would have been grounds for celebration, notwithstanding that it would have been every bit as much the game-winning play as a grand slam, or a walk. Personally, I like my relievers to have a better grasp of situational baseball. I could also quibble with his characterization of that ball as a "good pitch." But why kick a guy when his team's just been swept by the Nationals?

This is why:

Photo by Nick Roberson/AP

The caption on this photo is, I kid you not: "Rockies reliever Vladimir Nunez reacts after retiring Ramon Martinez to end the eighth." So yeah, our boy Vlad here is all about decorum and a sense of proportion.

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