Raul Ibanez has got to work on his walk-off home run styling on his final approach to home plate. Did you watch the guy? He never broke stride as he rounded third base, cruising along at the same steady pace he uses for his run-of-the-mill round trippers. No helmet toss. No defensive crouch or hands covering his face. No feint to one side. No leap onto the plate. And certainly no slide at the last moment. Just your garden variety home run trot. Positively boring. No wonder the East German judge gave him a four!
In his defense, he did give a little fist pump rounding first and he wound up pretty good for that handslap with first base coach Davey Lopes. Still, the judges look at that last ninety feet when they score a walk-off dinger and right now Ibanez needs to really nail the next one if he hopes to get back in this thing.
Meanwhile, Ryan Howard is doing his best to confound the judges, too. First of all, he isn't striking out nearly as much as we expect of him. Second, what's with the leather he's throwing out there!!?? Is he angling for some kind of Gold Glove? Diving into the hole. Over the shoulder basket catches. And third, since when does he go with the pitch, putting the ball in play like he did on that clutch single in the bottom of the ninth, just before Ibanez' ho-hum home run trot? Next thing you know, Howard is going to try and steal a base or lay down a sacrifice bunt. What's up, big fella?