This was written for the Minnesota Twins Radio Network's Extra Innings, and was broadcast last Sunday after the Twins game.
First impressions can count for a lot. Want proof? Answer this: Is Carlos Gomez a base-stealing threat?
You probably said yes, and so it might surprise you to find out that he has just six stolen bases this year, which is just two more than that speedster Michael Cuddyer. [Editors note: He now has seven.] Of course, we remember our first impression from last year, when he had six stolen bases by April 14th. So what’s happened?
Well, the opposing team is more careful, and unfortunately, so is Gomez, who has become exceptionally cautious about running on the first few pitches. But that’s often all a basestealer gets. Take Tuesday night. Gomez is on first, trying to get an insurance run when there are zero outs.
Pittsburgh tries to pick him off. Then he doesn’t run on the first pitch. Pitt throws to first again. He doesn’t run on the second pitch. Or the third. Or the fourth. After which Pitt throws to first twice. And he doesn’t go on the fifth pitch.
OK, by now two batters have been up and there are two outs. He’s gotta go now, right?
Nope. Stays on the sixth and seventh pitches. Another throw to first. Stays on the eighth, and finally steals second base on the ninth pitch. On a pitchout. That’s right, after being cautious on the first eight pitches, he ran EXACTLY when you shouldn’t have – and STILL stole the base.
And there’s a reason for that – it’s because he’s a guy with 60 stolen base speed - who is on pace for about 15 stolen bases this year. Teams are paying more attention to him – we get it. But it’s time for Go-Go to rediscover his gonads, and reaffirm our first impression.