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McClendon on Eldred

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This is a pretty silly and inconsequential article, but it does provide some insight into where Lloyd McClendon's head is. The article is about Brad Eldred batting cleanup. The fact that Eldred sometimes bats cleanup should not be a source of concern for you; after all, Eldred has by far the most power of anyone on the team aside from its only star, Jason Bay, so it would seem to make sense for Eldred to hit after Bay - unless you're the sort of person who breaks out in hives after hearing the words "rookie" and "cleanup" in the same sentence.

Paul Meyer is, as we all know, that sort of person, so the issue of Eldred batting cleanup apparently required a serious discussion with McClendon.

"Ideally, when you have a guy like this, you bring him to the big leagues and have him hit sixth or seventh so he's not in those pressure situations," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's down in the lineup fitting in where there's not a lot of pressure on him."

Wait, what? What "pressure situations" is McClendon talking about? The term "pressure situations" implies situations in which the outcome of the game is in the balance. But these situations - close and late situations and plate appearances with runners on base - arise for hitters at every spot in the order. The Pirates' cleanup hitter is likely to have slightly more opportunities with runners on base than their seventh hitter because Jason Bay hits third. But the six and seven hitters are hardly exempt from these situations, and when you've got a hitter with massive power potential, why would you prevent him from hitting with men on base just to avoid "pressure"?

Here, I don't think McClendon means game-changing situations when he talks about "pressure." I think he's talking about the "pressure" of hitting fourth. There is, as far as I know, no proof whatsoever that this type of "pressure" has any effect on young hitters. As far as I know, it's just superstition, and I hate to see McClendon relying on superstition rather than evidence. (For what it's worth, it would be fine with me if McClendon declared that he'd rather break a rookie in at the bottom of the order while he was finding out what the rookie could do, for example.) To his credit, McClendon has avoided his tendency toward the unproven conventional wisdom in this case. I suspect he may not have done this a few years ago. Good for him.

Incidentally - I went to espn.com to look up some situational stats for this article, and it reminded me how awful that site has become. Nearly all their articles that don't come off the wire are subscription-only now, and they often don't mention on their links which articles are for "Insider"s, which is an enormous pain for someone with a slow computer. Their ads make the wait even longer. If I even try to go to espn.com, I have to wait several minutes for their banner ad to load. This highlights the absurdity of their ads in much the same way as watching foreign-language TV commercials reminds you just how ridiculous commercials are in any language.

Speaking of which, and even more incidentally, Stephen A. Smith's new ads make him look like he's trying to steal the title of ESPN's Most Moronic Talking Head from John Kruk. (He'll fail, but it looks like he's really trying.) Here's the text of Smith's espn.com ad:

The Patriots are not of this world. They draft well, they scout well, they still have Tom Brady. Quite Frankly, that's all you need.

Oh really, Stephen A. Smith? Is that "all you need"?

What's amazing about this is not only that banalities like these are apparently somebody's idea of cutting analysis, but that the quote above was the best ESPN could come up with to promote Smith's show.

Then again, even the name of Smith's show, "Quite Frankly," is two unnecessary words. What does "quite frankly" say that "frankly" does not? And what does "frankly" say unless it's attached to a thought that might otherwise be construed as less than frank?