The next person who tells me (in person, online, in a text…) that what Chase Utley did to Ruben Tejada last night was okay by the rules of MLB so we shouldn’t blame him for what ended up happening is going to make my head explode.
Utley didn’t just come in with a hard slide and knock out the shortstop. He waited until he was practically on second base, ran out of the base path and then decided to slide and wipe out Tejada. (As Ron Darling puts it in the video clip below, “(He) Didn’t even start sliding until he was even with the bag.”)
You can watch it here because this is apparently a video no one wants us to embed.
There’s a questionable slide and Tejada ends up with a broken leg. As if that wasn’t devastating enough, the icing on this cupcake is that eventually the umpires ruled that Tejada didn’t touch the bag, the neighborhood play wasn’t in effect and even though he was originally called out, Utley was safe. After the game the umps said that Utley would have been out had any of the Mets tagged him as he left the field, leading David Wright to say:
“Once obviously the player is called out, you don’t go tag him, especially when you’re lying there with a broken leg.”
The Dodgers ended up taking the lead in this inning and the Mets didn’t come back so they head to Flushing with the NLDS tied at 1-1.
What everyone who is a Dodgers fan or who just wants to annoy Mets fans will tell you is that what Utley did is perfectly legitimate under MLB’s rules. What I (and many other people) will tell you is that is utter bullshit.
It isn’t bullshit that it’s allowed in MLB. OBVIOUSLY it is. It’s bullshit that MLB allows it and that a player like Utley (who has done this before, just not with such horrible results) feels perfectly fine going in that way with the knowledge (regardless of what he says) that someone could get seriously hurt.
“We’re going to have to reevaluate the way we go into second base.”
That was five years ago. No reevaluation. No admission from MLB last night that something needs to be done. Just a young player in the playoffs for the first time in the hospital with what could very well be a career-ending injury. Joe Torre tried to sound concerned but if you read this transcript from last night his concern sounds more for saving Chase Utley’s reputation and defending the umpires than worrying about Tejada or any other infielders getting hurt.
So I’m angry and I have no solutions except to stop allowing players to tackle other players. We hear all the time how bat flips or watching a home run disrespects the game. None of those things will end up with a player being broken. How do you not believe going at someone with no protection and usually no way to avoid you is a legitimately clean play? Maybe it IS finally time that Major League Baseball does some evaluating? I’m not holding my breath.
Okay, so here’s what happened, Dustin Pedroia flies out to Ichiro with Jacoby Ellsbury on third base. Ichiro rifles the ball back to the infield and Josh Bard tags Ellsbury out while Ellsbury practically wipes him out in the process. Bard rolls onto his back and the home plate umpire, standing directly over Bard’s body, calls Ellsbury safe because it looks like he dropped the ball. All of the Mariners practically attack the home plate umpire in protest and all the umpires get together and tell Terry Francona that, sorry, the home plate ump made the wrong call and Ellsbury is out. Tito, understandably, wigs out and gets himself tossed from the game. The Red Sox, already down 5-0 thanks to a God-awful Josh Beckett first inning, lose what turns out to be a very important run and go on to lose the game 5-4.
Watching the replay, Don and Jerry immediately take the “they made the right call when they overturned the home plate ump’s call” position (contrary to what some Mariners fans with the NESN feed were gabbing about last night) and watching the replay it is OBVIOUS the umpires ultimately got the call right. It stinks that it hurt the Red Sox as much as it did but, really, it was the right call and except for Tito who didn’t have the benefit of instant replay in front of him before he argued with the umps, anyone who saw the replay knew it.
What I found interesting and, yes, refreshing is that after this game. After the Red Sox mounted a comeback and failed to take over the lead and win the game, when asked about the play at the plate (after having seen the replay), Jacoby Ellsbury’s response was:
“It looked like he held onto the ball. He made the tag and then he pulled it out with his bare hand to show that he got me. From my angle, it looked like they got the call right.
Now, as painful as I suppose this could be, I bring this up for two reasons: The first being, it absolutely infuriates me when there is a call like the one last night where it seems another umpire had a better view of the play than the umpire making the call (which, as an aside, I still don’t get here. Watch the video, umpire Mark Ripperger was standing over Josh Bard and STILL got the call wrong) the umpires more often than not DON’T get together to make sure the right call was made. I don’t expect this on every play but for crying out loud is it so tough to do it on plays that are really significant? (Jim Joyce totally destroying Armando Galarraga’s perfect game is one and Jerry Meals, just this July, ending a 19-inning Pirates/Braves game by calling an obviously out Julio Lugo safe at home both come springing to mind.) Last night it happened in the fourth inning of a 5-0 game with two outs. While the call, ultimately, hurt the Red Sox because had it stood the score would have been tied, it still didn’t determine the outcome of this game. Joyce’s call and especially Meals’ call did just that. Every play in baseball is important but there are times when some hold a bit more importance than others and I know this isn’t lost on the umpires so why the heck don’t they take a couple of minutes more often to make sure they get the damn call right? I’m glad they got the call correct last night. Bard took quite the hit and still held on to that ball…between Ichiro’s throw and Bard’s response, that was one hell of a play. I’m just sorry what happened with the umpires last night doesn’t happen more often because, people who complain about how long baseball games are be damned, it really should.
The second reason I bring this up is Jacoby Ellsbury’s reaction to it. “They got the right call.” Interestingly enough, that was Julio Lugo’s reaction as well when Jerry Meals made the wrong call. I, and many others, defended Lugo just by saying “Well, did you expect him to say it was the wrong call?” but look what Jacoby did. Lugo watched the replays (and if you watch them, Lugo’s reaction betrays his post-game confidence) and still came out with “He made the right call” (adding, according to reporters, a smile). So I refuse the whole “What is he going to say” argument because, really, it’s not so terrible to tell the truth in those situations is it? The umpire admitted it was the wrong call, the League admitted it was the wrong call. They aren’t going to take away the run or your win so why be a jackass about it? Jacoby gives me reasons every day to like him more. MLB umpires, not so much.
So we get a rubber game today. In August, the Red Sox have tied a series (two wins bookended by losses against the Indians) and won two series (losing the first game of the series against the Yankees and the last game of the series against the Twins). They are having a good August. They’re having a good season. I’m not about to let one late night loss ruin my weekend. Tim Wakefield brings the knuckleball today in another attempt at his 200th win. Have at it, fellas!
A bunch of randomness…
~ The Jerry Meals call that ended the Pirates/Braves game last night was just really God-awful. Meals admitting he blew the call does nothing to help the Pirates and I’m getting to the point where I don’t give the umpires “credit” any more for admitting they were wrong. It was so obvious he was wrong that I don’t understand why the rest of his umpiring crew didn’t get together and point out to him that he was wrong. I don’t think MLB needs robot umpires or expanded instant replay…I think umpires should be held more responsible for their bad calls publicly. We know when players and managers and coaches get reprimanded and we should know when umpires do as well. They should know that publicly they will be taken to task for messing up. Games should not be decided because an umpire screws up (or just wants to end a 19-inning game). The only amusement I got from this was here…well played Grant Brisbee.
~ I have put a block on the name “Carlos Beltran” in my Twitter feed. I don’t care if he goes, I don’t care where he goes, I don’t care if he leaves New York and starts his own baseball team. No one knows anything right now and the incessant tweeting about it does nothing but clutter up my feed with ridiculousness. I save that spot in the feed for people who still joke about Dustin Pedroia’s height. (see below)
~ I’m sure I have probably been guilty of this and I apologize for it without looking back for specific examples (and knowing it’s possible I haven’t done it) because reading it now makes me apoplectic. Dustin Pedroia is an American League MVP and Rookie of the Year and has a World Series ring to boot. He is, to put it simply, a damn fine player and, seemingly, a leader on the team. There is no reason to mention his height every time you write about him. It’s hackneyed and old and a terrible way to establish yourself as a writer.
~ I don’t care how ugly it was, last night’s game was a thing of beauty. Sox won (without extra innings) and Dustin Pedroia was a home run away from the cycle and he and David Ortiz were both 4-5. Jacoby Ellsbury came in as a pinch hitter and went 2-3…these are the things I want to see in my Red Sox games. Ultimately, though, if I’m giving my heart to a player this season that player is Alfredo Aceves. I want an Aceves shirt to wear around so I can tell people how much I adore watching this man pitch. He gets bonus points for being part of the brought back to life bullpen band as well.
~ John Lackey is on the mound tonight. Monday’s extra-inning loss aside, this is the Royals, fellas, and the least you can do is help Lackey get a win. Bruce Chen will be on the mound for the Royals which could mean a third very long night ahead for both the teams and their fans with more scoring than we had last night. Get the Red Bulls ready!
I’m not particularly proud of this, but last night when home plate umpire Tom Hallion bent over and didn’t upright himself until they walked him off the field, I had two thoughts. The first was, “Man, I hope he’s all right” but the second (and longer) one was “Great. Now we have to wait for another ump to suit up while Papelbon stands on the mound getting cold with two outs behind him”.
Like I said, I’m not proud. I’m not proud but I’m happy. According to MLB.com, the tests on Hallion came backn negative, so he’s okay, and Papelbon got Nick Markakis to ground out to end the game. All’s well that ends well.
At the very least, Sox won’t be getting swept by the Orioles this week. Tonight, Daisuke is on the mound to try and eke out a series win. Last night’s game was another example of how much fun this team is to watch and why I’m compelled to keep doing so.
Baseball has an interesting rivalry brewing between the Nationals and the Marlins. I didn’t see it last night but if you go here, MLB has a good compilation video put together with both broadcasts covering the melee. Keith Olbermann nails why Nyjer Morgan, the player who was hit last night and then got a purpose pitch behind him is the one getting all the grief today (and he agrees with the Marlins broadcasters who think MLB needs to do something about Morgan). I enjoy the contrast of the Marlins announcers blaming Nyjer Morgan for starting the fight and the Nationals announcers worrying about his teammates getting Morgan out from under the pigpile. What Olbermann doesn’t specifically write in his piece is that Tuesday night, because of one of those “brutal” collisions with a catcher, Morgan caused Marlins rookie catcher Brett Hayes to suffer a separated shoulder and ended his season. Can’t say it’s tough to blame the Marlins for their reactions last night. (See the video here – can’t believe the kid held on to the ball. And for folks defending Morgan, as the announcers said, had he actually slid like he should have he probably would have been safe.)
I have one question: Who decided that we need to be given play by play of the fights on the field? I don’t mind it. It actually cracks me up. It makes me laugh that these guys are giving us play by play of a game as tame as baseball and then switch gears and become announcers for the WWE.
I will not lie…I enjoy a good basebrawl once in a while. But the problem with basebrawls is that even though people laugh at them (usually most “brawls” are players milling around the field not really engaging each other too physically) someone could get seriously hurt. Having written that, Hayes was just doing his job and got wrecked. I can completely understand the Marlins doling out a little street justice.
Today is 9/02/10 (or “90210”) so pop culture nerds (which I am) will be flooding your Twitter feeds and Facebook pages with this information (which I won’t). I found it interesting that when Beverly Hills 90210 began in 1990, I was 21 years old and TWELVE of the guys on the active roster for the Red Sox weren’t even 10 years old. Maybe interesting isn’t the right word? Maybe depressing is?
I’m on a mini-vacation for the next few days. The plan is to keep posting but I suppose that depends on how much fun I have! Hope everyone stays safe this holiday weekend and avoids anyone named “Earl”.
All I’ll say is it was a frustrating game and Wake deserved better (once again). Two outings in a row the man has pitched balls out (even in his state of being unhappy with his situation) and he has no wins to show for it. It’s lousy.
Adding to the aggravation were the men around me who seemed more interested in how loudly they could yell at each other than they were the game. Two of them argued that the standing ovation for Wake was “random” and “stupid” even after they announced what it was for on the scoreboard (and after I told them). I actually yelled at someone yesterday – a Sox fan – because I’m so tired of being near people at the park who don’t have a bloody clue what’s going on in the game. Don’t talk to me about “pink hats” because it’s been my experience that more MEN go there pretending to know about baseball and the team when they really don’t know anything.
While the Red Sox can boast another “sell out” game, there were certainly plenty of seats in the stands that had no bottoms in them. I ended up sitting with Kelly O’Connor (we both had single seats in different sections of the park) for the end of the game in Field Box seats off to the third base side of home plate because and entire four seat row was empty (and had been for the entire game). I’ve been cynical of the sell out record for a while but this really clinches it for me. Selling out your tickets to ticket brokers who can’t sell them off doesn’t = a sell out to me.
One thing about Dale Scott…I think, as an umpire, he sucks. He’s on the short list of umpires currently working who I really can’t stand (and that list honestly is relatively short). BUT as much as he sucked yesterday…he didn’t lose the game for the Sox. Not scoring until the 9th inning lost the game for the Sox. I totally understand Papi getting mad yesterday (and Beltre and Tito and, to a certain extent I’m told, even JD Drew) but I don’t “blame” Scott for the loss – just for shitty umpiring in general.
Okay enough with the crankies. Sox get a day off and travel to Detroit for the weekend and look to Clay Buchholz to give us a win. I can live with that.
One random note about yesterday: After having dinner at Remy’s (third time there – I’m more impressed with their breakfast buffet than their food, if I’m being honest, and it still bugs me there is no tv in the women’s room but multiple tvs in the men’s room) we saw John Lackey across the street with his wife flagging down a cab. I’ll just say this: There are some players who uniforms don’t do them any justice. Lackey seems to be one of them. He looked trim in his pressed jeans and bright white shirt and, dare I say, a little striking. I mention this mostly because I keep reading people criticizing him for his looks which bothers me not only because I think it’s a lousy way to judge someone but because I don’t think he’s this hideous cave creature who needs to cover his face in shame. In any event, it was a kick to see him even for a moment and it was a nice way to end the day.
I don’t have plans to be at Fenway any time soon (my most current live baseball plans involve the PawSox and the SeaDogs) so I was hoping for yesterday to be a little special. I’ll have to settle with being able to see Tim Wakefield getting his 2000 strike out. I’ll take it!