Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Second Place. Sad Face.

If you gave up early on this one, you missed it go from 10-1 to 10-7, and had Adrian gotten on base with two outs in the ninth, we actually would have had the tying run at the plate. But he watched a borderline strike three to end it.

Don and Jerry weren't at the top of their game tonight. Two plays in particular. We now begin tonight's lesson.

Okay, man on first, less than two outs. Runner going, batter flies out to left. Runner slides into second base, gets up, still unaware of where the ball is, and leaves second base, taking a quick step toward third before finally realizing the ball's been caught and he needs to go back to first. As we learned as toddlers, the runner must then re-touch second base on his way back to first. You must retrace your steps. You can't skip bases whether you're running them forwards or backwards. Without this rule you could (along with hitting a ball and immediately stepping on home plate and claiming you just hit a home run) be all the way to third, realize the ball's been caught, and zip across the pitcher's mound to get back to first quicker.

We all knew this. Except, apparently, for two people. Longtime baseball announcer Don Orsillo and former professional baseball player Jerry Remy. When the above event happened with Carl Crawford tonight, there was confusion in the booth. Don and Jerry seemed bewildered by Carl's slight left turn at second. It was more of a flinch that took him off the bag--but it certainly wasn't a move back to first. By doing it, he was "past" the bag and needed to retouch, which he didn't. So when Remy explained you need to retouch, Don, thinking he was seeing a retouch (since Crawford kind of bounced when he reached second, touching the bad twice before leaving it and then not retouching it), asked Remy "so it matters whether he touches the front or the side of the bag"? Remy, now confused himself, then says that it must have been that the catch hadn't been made yet when Crawford had retouched. Or something. The point is, one of these guys thinks it matters what part of the base you step on, and the other thinks retouching has something to do with the timing of the catch--as if you could round second and go back to first without retouching second, so long as you do it after the ball's caught! I guess what it came down to is they just missed the fact that Carl had passed second when he made his flinchy left turn. But why they wouldn't have even thought of this as a possibility--before coming up with theories seemingly straight out of their asses--is what I don't understand. Seriously, if you heard a guy was called out for not retouching second, and that's all the info you had, wouldn't you imagine a guy rounding second and then going straight to first? I doubt you'd think, Hmmm, I wonder if his foot touched the wrong portion of the base....or...hmmm, I wonder if the ball was still in the air when he was rounding second. Because neither of those things matters and probably have never even been thought of by anyone in history.

It's like the time I heard some talk show caller ask why sometimes a run counts if the runner crosses home before the third out is made on the basepaths and sometimes it doesn't. And the host was flustered, and started embarrassedly babbling about the rule book before changing the subject instead of just saying "if the third out is a force out the run can't count." I think these guys sometimes just choke when they're put on the spot. It's like asking Chad Finn where the All-Star Game is with two seconds left on the Globe 10.0 clock. Zing!

Lost in all that commotion was the fact that Crawford would make such a mistake. As long as I'm criticizing the guy, I'll use this paragraph to bring up the fact that despite his fine defensive skills and ability to make the great catch, balls rolling or bouncing verrrry slowly to him seem to cause him trouble. Tonight there was a standard double down the left field line. Once the ball gets past the boxes, provided it misses the garage door, it's pretty easy stuff. Even with a fast runner, you're just gathering up the ball and getting it back in, knowing the guy's already got a double. Once you know there's no chance of throwing out the guy at second, take your time to make sure you get the ball and get it back to the infield. No need to sprint after it and slip or kick it or overrun it and turn a double into a triple. Manny knew this, though it would cause the average fan-next-to-you guy to sarcastically say "take your time, Manny," making his drunk friends laugh, not realizing that Manny's doing the exact right thing. But Carl, tonight, somehow found a way to bobble the ball all the way in the corner, to the point where the cutoff man shifted all the way over to line up with third base instead of second (with no one else on base). And it's very hard to go home to third on a ball hit about 200 feet past third base so a play at third shouldn't even be a glint in your eye. There have been a few other times when Carl just couldn't seem to pick up the ball this year, too. I'm guessing it's from "everybody's watching me now" syndrome, which he will fully emerge from soon. Or maybe it's just random. Or maybe corner outfielders just have more bobbleable balls to deal with. Bobbleable!

Okay, as for the second Don/Jerry issue:

Fly ball right near Pesky's Pole. Right fielder misplays it, jumps, and the ball's behind him, but still right about even with the fence. Fan touches it, and it lands on field. Batter gets two bases (though a sprint would have gotten him three, I think). Once Don realized a fan touched the ball, he said that if that was indeed the case, it's a home run. For some reason, he didn't consider the possibility that a fan could reach out over the fence and touch the ball, which would make it...not a home run. Another thing he should have pointed out was how the fan was in the second row, which makes it harder to reach all the way over, giving the home run theory more credence. After a pitching change, they've regrouped and now Don tells us they've decided one of two things could be the case: either it's a home run, OR the fan reached out and touched it, making it an out. What? You almost had it, Don, but then you lost it. If a fan interferes with a player, or if the fan touches a ball about to be caught by a fielder, sure, the ump should call the batter out. But Hey Don, in this case, the fan's hand was BEHIND the fielder. The ball actually passed the fielder's glove, then hit the fan's hand. So the fan did prevent a would-be home run (if the ball was going to clear the fence, no angle did ever definitively show this), but he didn't prevent an out. Therefore, the ump could have called it a fan interference double (or placed the runners where they would have been had he not touched it). Just like when a fan reaches out over the Monster--it's not "a home run or an out," Don. So, again, I just don't see how these guys don't consider these possibilities. It seems pretty obvious to me.

To add bullcrap to crap, right after our game ended, I switch to the Yanks on MLBN, and Jeter grounds the first pitch of the game to second, and the guy botches it. But in today's baseball society, there are no errors. If the home team effs up a play, the scorer says, Eh, it was a tough play, base hit. Wouldn't wanna give our own guy an E. And if the road team effs up a play, Eh, it was a tough play, base hit. Wouldn't wanna deprive our own guy of a hit. Yes, we've discovered my latest pet peeve. To watch a man blatantly make a mistake, and then to hear that another person in charge of recording fucking history said, Nah, that's not what happened...well, I feel the same way I did when those two fat dudes would cross out the news stories in Good Morning Vietnam. (And imagine how pissed you'd be if those cross-outs led to...success for Derek Jeter!) Anyway, the next guy hits a dong and as I type this, the pieces of living turd lead Oakland 10-3 in the 9th. And now it's over. And even on the A's feed, as soon as the last out is made, they cut to Jeter. Well, hey, he did go two for four with two singles to the second baseman, so I'd say he's the fucking star of that fucking game. One day that guy's gonna screw up, and when he does, I'm gonna be front and center, laughing my fuckin' ass off. He'll cheat on his taxes, or pretend to get hit by a pitch that didn't touch him, or....oh wait, he did do those things. But go ahead, dads of Boston, keep telling me how you want to model your kid's game after him, because you've heard other people say it.

Day baseball Wednesday. 1:35. No sweep.

Not only agreement with everything you said, Jere, but deeply moved agreement, to paraphrase John Maynard Keynes.

The hit/error issue drives me cracked, too. I remember many moons ago (1982), Bill Gullickson was being interviewed and was asked about the "hits" that had beaten him. "Oh, were those hits?" he asked. "You know, the official scoring this year has been terrible. I mean, a hit's a hit and an error's an error. Those guys (the scorers) can't kiss everyone all the time."

I thought it was a brilliant answer. It pissed off the leaden-gloved guys playing second and short and left field who were responsible for the loss, but they should have bloody worn it anyway.

If it makes you feel any better, I have four children, and all of them know - not just believe, but know - what a cheating nincompoop Derek Jeter is.
The forgetting-the-rules-when-being-put-on-the-spot thing happened recently in one of my softball games when the other team (temporarily) convinced the umpire that an infield fly was a dead ball and thus, the runners could not advance. Come on, man!

What happened to Aceves? Should we look forward to getting Lackey back? Becuase I'm not.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States