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Maybe it’s not them, it’s me

April 24, 2010

Maybe my memory is failing me, but the strangest play I’ve ever seen was during last year’s ALCS between the Yankees and the Angels when Tim McClelland forgot that little technicality where if a guy is not on a base and is tagged out, he’s, well, out. I didn’t get it, I still don’t get it, he never really gave a clear explanation of why he called one guy safe and one guy out, but whatever. It is what it is. Sometimes it’s okay for an umpire’s call to be influenced by an arguing manager. It’s better for the game and for the ump when he reverses his call if he’s wrong.

Every strange play you’ve ever seen, perhaps with the exception of the viral “Fordham Flip,” is borne from error, whether it be mental or physical. When Paul Lo Duca tagged out Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew in succession, it wasn’t because he made a spectacular move, it was because of, to put it lightly, a mental error. Likewise with when Chipper Jones and Brian McCann managed to botch an infield fly last night against the Mets.
With Angel Pagan on second and Luis Castillo on first, Jose Reyes lofted a popup that originally looked like it was headed towards shortstop Omar Infante. Infante then realized he had to run in to catch it, and Chipper took over, only to drop the ball and have it roll across the infield. Pagan and Castillo advanced, as they are allowed to do if an infield fly is dropped. The only person automatically out on an infield fly is the batter; no one else. No runners have to tag up to advance if the ball is dropped, and even if they did have to, Pagan and Castillo still waited for Chipper to touch the ball with his glove before they took off.
So why catcher Brian McCann ran out to retrieve the ball and toss it nonchalantly to first is beyond me. While said play was happening, Pagan dashed from third towards home and scored on the open net. Strange and boneheaded as McCann’s move was, stranger and more boneheaded was every other person on the infield, especially first baseman Eric Hinske, who had nothing to say to McCann the entire time he was busy running away from home plate, pointing to first base as if to say, “You, sir! I am going to throw to you now because it is my belief that the infield fly rule dictates I will benefit from such a move,” and then throwing to first base. But maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s just me.
I commend MLB.com’s Doug Miller for starting off his kitschy “Freaky Friday” article, summing up the wackity-shmackity-doo happenings on Friday, with Andruw Jones’ walkoff home run. Jones, who I forgot played for the White Sox nowadays, even had two home runs in the game including his go-home dinger. Jones, who faded into fat nothingness after his dismal contract year with the Braves, now has six homers on the year. That, folks, is quite strange. But good for him; I always liked Andruw. Far more than Larry.
Jayson Werth got to circle the bases last night on a four-base error, and rightfully he should have. At Chase Field in Arizona, Werth lifted a deep fly ball to center. D-Backs centerfielder Chris Young settled under the ball and appeared to catch it, but the ball fell out of his glove as he went to transfer it. Young, thinking he’d caught the ball and that it was ruled as such, didn’t even bother making a move as Werth circled the bases for a four-base error.
I don’t care, nor do umpires, what a player thinks the ruling should be. You play it out and argue your case afterwards. Far too often have I seen an outfielder wave his arms at the ump when the ball gets stuck under the fence, not bothering to retrieve it as the batter motors around the bases. If the ump doesn’t rule it, then it’s not the call. That’s how baseball works.
Just look at David DeJesus of the Royals last night, who hit an inside-the-park homer on what ended up actually being out of the park. Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer, similar to Young, didn’t do anything on the play, despite the umpires clearly signaling that the ball was in play. Yes, replays did show the ball barely went out and hit off a fan, but until the ump says it’s a homer, it ain’t a homer. This play was especially disgusting because no matter how honest you are, if you as an outfielder have a chance to play a homer off as a ball in play, you do exactly that until the ump rules otherwise. It’s called helping your team and playing smart.
This last one isn’t strange, but it’s important. I‘ve mentioned before that I love hard-nosed baseball. While I do feel bad for Angels’ catcher Bobby Wilson and hope that he is okay, I harbor no ill will toward Mark Teixeira. This was good, hard-nosed baseball in an absolutely necessary, appropriate manner. Teixeira was doing what he could to knock the ball loose if Wilson had actually caught the ball to tag him out; it’s not like he could’ve stopped his slide once he saw the ball carom off of Wilson. Okay. I’m done.
Short hops: Strange enough as the Mets game turned out to be, it was a bitter win for the Mets, who saw a probably-already-injured John Maine leave the game with an injury. They may have already found his replacement in the rotation, though, as Hisanori Takahashi threw three innings of one-run ball in relief and struck out seven batters. … Also in Mets news, Jerry Manuel finally backed up his words and batted Jose Reyes third. Congrats, big guy. Now call me crazy, but seeing how well the move worked, I think once Beltran gets back, sticking Castillo first, Beltran second and Jose third may work. Your thoughts? … I have to commend former Major League manager and current Tampa Bay Rays broadcaster Kevin Kennedy for helping to subdue a potential hijacker on a redeye flight from L.A. early Friday morning. Apparently, said hijacker was talking Satan and said he’d blow up the plane, but was taken out by Kennedy and seven others while making his way to the cockpit. Satanists fail again! … The Giants’ Tim Lincecum won again on Friday, beating the Cardinals to improve to 4-0. However, his ERA blew up all the way to 1.00. … Bruce Banner Ortiz hit his first home run of the season last night after sitting out the previous two games against lefty pitchers. Are things turning around? Perhaps. If Carlos Delgado could do it in 2008, I have no doubt in my mind that the Hulk can do it in 2010. But he’d better start proving himself now.
As always, if you like what you read, please keep coming back and follow the blog daily (there’s a link in the sidebar), and please pass the JOB on to friends to help me get one!
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