Ervin Santana’s Revenge

So, you’re telling me that after one terrific start in Fenway Park that Santana is back? Uh-uh. No way.

There were several Angels followers (I will save names to protect the ignorant) with blogs and filling up message boards that they believed in Santana and the guy everyone saw in Boston two starts ago was the real deal.

Sorry, folks. What happened Tuesday is what this kid is all about.

This is the Santana everyone knows. This is the Santana nobody loves. This is the real Ervin Santana. Whose fault is this? Not mine, nor my fellow beat writers.

Thus wrote Riverside Press-Enterprise beat writer Matt Hurst on August 28, 2007, insulting people like me who had written that Ervin Santana’s problems were mechanical and eventually he’d figure it out.

Ervin, of course, has shown this year he’s one of the best pitchers in the American League. And those of us who were called “ignorant” were proven more knowledgeable about the game than a sports writer with a chip on his shoulder because Ervin gave an interview to a Hispanic Los Angeles Times reporter instead of the beat writers.

Here’s what I wrote last August in response to Hurst’s blog:

Let’s keep in mind he’s only 24 years old. Nearly all young pitchers go through growing pains. John Lackey was inconsistent his first two full seasons — he had a 4.63 ERA in 2003 and a 4.67 ERA in 2004. Certain fans on the Angels board called him “Lacknuts” and demanded the Angels dump him. Thank goodness Stoneman ignored them. Lackey was 26 years old a month after the end of that 2004 season, about two years older than Santana is now.

It would be pretty foolish to give up on a 24-year old kid with Ervin’s stuff just because he’s behind the maturity curve due to his upbringing in third-world squalor.

Read through the replies posted to Hurst’s blog and you see the same clueless instant-gratification garbage that shows up on some fan boards. It’s so easy to be a fan when a player is doing well. But some of these self-proclaimed “fans” will stab a player in the back at the first sign he’s human. Garret Anderson has more holes in him than a voodoo doll, a favorite target of those who are more interested in attaching themselves to a winner than offering support when it’s needed most. GA started out slow, but in his last ten games is batting .444 and has hit three homers. Quick, everybody, back on the bandwagon!

Ervin so far is 6-0 with a 2.63 ERA. In eight starts, he’s thrown 54.2 IP, struck out 45, walked ten, and has a 0.97 WHIP (Walks + Hits)/(Innings Pitched). He has a complete game shutout. He’s 7th in the A.L. in strikeouts, and one of only three 6-0 pitchers in the league. His AVG/OBP/SLG are .214/.251/.303.

Everyone is entitled to post an opinion, but that doesn’t grant you an exemption from criticism when your “opinion” turned out to be flat wrong. People who call themselves “fans” but jump ship at the first hint of trouble have no cause for complaint when held accountable for their words.

Meanwhile, whipping boys like Ervin Santana and Garret Anderson go about their business, successful major leaguers, while their critics remain seated in the stands, hoping their ill-informed rants are lost in the anonymity of the crowd.

1 Comment

The following is excerpted from today’s PE. Here is the link to the full article: http://www.pe.com/sports/baseball/breakout/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_ja_col_18.410109e.html
Alexander: Struggles Could Show the Real Santana
11:37 PM PDT on Saturday, May 17, 2008
By JIM ALEXANDER–The Press-Enterprise
“ANAHEIM – Now we will find out if Ervin Santana really is a changed pitcher. Or maybe, in a subtle way, we already have.”

“But after 71 pitches in three innings, in heat that was pushing triple digits, against a team that seems to have adopted the Joe Torre mantra of patience and persistence, Santana regrouped. He made it through the sixth, throwing 38 pitches through the next three innings and allowing no more runs.”
“Santana does seem to be in a different place mentally than he was a year ago, which may be a combination of maturity breeding success breeding confidence.”
“Santana will get his next shot Friday in Chicago, against the White Sox. Maybe then we’ll have a better idea what his last three innings Saturday truly represented.”
- – -
The above quotes are from today’s story in the PE. It’s not bylined Matt Hurst per se, however it sure shares his bias. Then again, I’m biased too, not to mention “ignorant” as labeled by Hurst’s quote in Stephen’s blog.

You know, I’m a big girl who’s not ashamed to admit that I just don’t understand some things. I’m so CLUELESS when I note the reporter has to admit more than once that Santana’s rough first 3 innings were the exception during an otherwise perfectly decent outing–109 pitches over 6.1 innings, meaning that for the subsequent 3 innings he threw 39 pitches to 9 batters, allowing only 2 to reach base and none to score.

Obviously, it is my IGNORANCE that makes it difficult for me to see how 3 bad innings out of a total 60.2 innings pitched thus far is an ominous portent of things to come. Du-oh! How could I have overlooked the subtlety of “6-0 with a 2.63 ERA. . . 54.2 IP, struck out 45, walked ten, and has a 0.97 WHIP. . . a complete game shutout. . . 7th in the A.L. in strikeouts, and one of only three 6-0 pitchers in the league,” in 8 starts?

My LACK of expertise is clearly why I don’t see how the headline “Struggles Could Show the Real Santana” and story lede are supported by the content within the rest of the article and results posted in the boxscore. And why I inexplicably interpret them as a misleading (and cheap) attempt to grab reader attention. Even a cub reporter would see how a lede, “Now we will find out if Ervin Santana really is a changed pitcher. Or maybe, in a subtle way, we already have,” is a model example of the inverted pyramid style of solid journalism. It is so obvious that this lede provides the reader with as many relevant facts as possible, as early in the story as possible. There’s no axe to grind in this story, just the facts, ma’am.

I readily admit having a soft spot for the player who flashed the most beautiful smiles to us bush-league fans here in Salt Lake. Guess that makes me human. Albeit an ignorant one whose compassion for a young man struggling to navigate a career path littered with franchise also-rans completely obscures my ability to see the truth for what it is. When I read the stats, this is what I see: W-L/ERA/BB/SO for 6-1/2.97/13/50, in 60.2 innings pitched. Duh, anyone with two brain cells to rub together would question these numbers, as the reporter did thusly, “. . .were the fourth, fifth and sixth innings a clue that this was just a blip on the radar?”

That’s right, I’m ignorant and biased. But at least I’m honest. Geez PE, give me a break!

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