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Baseball

Sep 28

The final night of Major League Baseball’s regular season was ridiculous, absurd, impossible, unbelievable, indescribable.

Thanks to a win earlier in the evening by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Atlanta Braves needed a win to force a one-game playoff for the NL wild card that they once seemed certain to win (having led by 10 1/2 games in late August). The Braves came within one out of the needed victory — only to lose in 13 innings, ending their season. And that was the undercard.

Over in the American League, the Boston Red Sox, trying to prevent the ignominy of possibly the worst September collapse in baseball history, led the lowly Orioles 3-2 heading into a 90-minute seventh-inning rain delay in Baltimore, while the Sox’s wild-card competition, the Tampa Bay Rays, trailed the mighty Yankees 7-0 in the eighth at home. Tampa and Boston had been tied for the AL wild card heading into the day, so with a Rays loss appearing all but certain, it looked like the Sox could clinch the wild card by holding on for the win, or at worst, lose and face a one-game playoff.

Then, well, several things happened.

Tampa rallied in the bottom of the eighth, scoring six runs to pull within 7-6. Then, down to their last strike in the bottom of the ninth, the Rays tied the game on a pinch-hit home run by Dan Johnson, sending the game to extra innings.

Around the same time, the Boston game resumed, with the Red Sox suddenly in a much more precarious position thanks to Tampa’s comeback. But they clung to their 3-2 lead, and got closer Jonathan Papelbon in, hoping to close it out in the bottom of the ninth. Boston, mind you, was 77-0 this season when leading after eight innings. And at first, it looked like this would be no exception. Papelbon struck out the first two batters, then allowed a double. But then he had the Orioles — stop me if this sounds familiar — down to their last strike before giving up a game-tying ground-rule double by Nolan Reimold to tie the game… followed promptly by Robert Andino’s game-winning single. 4-3, Baltimore, final.

And then, literally 3 or 4 minutes later, in Tampa… BOOM.

Unbelievable.

The Rays go to the playoffs. The Red Sox go home. As it should be, frankly. Boston didn’t deserve a playoff spot after its September choke job. And fate was clearly on Tampa’s side tonight. But man, what an unbelievably epic, horrible, wonderful, incredible, ridiculous way for it all to go down.

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Jul 21

Mental health break, Phanatic edition

Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 10:15 am Mountain Time

To take the edge off my latest rant against GOP debt-ceiling fanaticism — really, this issue gets me angry like nothing in politics since the emergence of Sarah Palin — here’s a post about a different kind of fanatic: video of the Phillie Phanatic getting hit by a foul ball.

Ha! (Hat tip: Jim Kelly. Apologies to Marty West. Well, not really.)

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May 15

Go Rockies!

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm Mountain Time

At Coors Field with Becky & the girls. Awesome seats.

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t end well. But we had fun! Highlight: dancing with Loyette to “Heyyy baby! (Ooh! Aah!) I wanna kno-oh-oh-ow! If you’ll be my girl.” Oh, and Loyacita repeatedly sticking her finger in my beer and then licking it off. (#PANIC?)

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Jun 03

Retroactively perfect?

Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:46 am Mountain Time

Bud Selig is reportedly “considering the unusual move of overturning the call at first base on Wednesday in Detroit that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.” The New York Times’s Tyler Kepner invokes an interesting analogy to make the case that Selig shouldn’t do it:

It was not a perfect game. The game continued after Joyce awarded Jason Donald first base. A perfect game is defined as a full game in which nobody on a team reaches base. It’s simple. And it didn’t happen. …

[T]his was not the first time an error cost a pitcher a perfect game.

Just last season, Jonathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants pitched a no-hitter against the Padres in which only one batter reached base – on an error by Juan Uribe. Sanchez himself allowed no one to reach base, but Chase Headley did. That happened, and it cannot be reversed.

In 1990, Terry Mulholland of the Phillies allowed only one baserunner against the Giants, when Rick Parker reached base on an error by Charlie Hayes. Parker was forced at second on an ensuing double play, meaning that Mulholland faced the minimum 27 batters and did not allow any to reach through fault of his own. But he had no perfect game. …

Nobody messed up except Joyce, and umpires cannot be awarded errors. … But it was imperfect because of Jim Joyce, just as much as Sanchez’s game was imperfect because of Uribe, and Mulholland’s because of Hayes. Galarraga has to live with it.

I’m torn on the issue. I can definitely see both sides of the argument. But if Selig is going to overturn the call, he should make his decision quickly and announce it this afternoon, during the Tigers-Indians game (the last in Detroit’s homestand) that’s currently in the third inning, so the team and the home crowd will have a chance to celebrate it. Hell, if the Tigers can build their lead — they’re currently up 2-0 — maybe they can bring out Galarraga with two outs in the ninth to get the save, and when he comes out onto the field, the P.A. system can announce Selig’s decision. Then when he records the final out, his teammates can mob him, like they should have been able to do yesterday.

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Jun 02

Ump: “I just cost that kid a perfect game”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 8:49 pm Mountain Time

Baseball almost had its third perfect game in a month tonight. Correction: baseball did have its third perfect game in a month tonight, but the record books won’t reflect that fact, because an umpire blew the call on (what should have been) the game’s final play:

Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers lost his bid for a perfect game Wednesday night with two outs in the ninth inning on a call that first base umpire Jim Joyce later admitted he blew.

First baseman Miguel Cabrera cleanly fielded Jason Donald’s grounder to his right and made an accurate throw to Galarraga covering the bag. The ball was there in time, and all of Comerica Park was ready to celebrate the 3-0 win over Cleveland, until Joyce emphatically signaled safe.

The veteran ump regretted it.

“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

“It was the biggest call of my career,” said Joyce, who became a full-time major league umpire in 1989.

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered: “Fraud!”

No, but really. Good on the ump for admitting his mistake, and undoubtedly he feels worse than anyone, but jeez.

Now the question is being asked: Should Bud Selig reverse the call and award Galarraga the perfect game? I’m inclined to agree with the writer and say “alas, no.”

Meanwhile, this is just further proof that Detroit is not allowed to have nice things. So it has been decreed, by God, apparently.

UPDATE: Here’s the video. The announcer’s reaction: “What a travesty. What an absolute travesty.”

The New York Times’s Tyler Kepner calls it “easily the most egregious blown call in baseball over the last 25 years.” (Oddly, the headline writer apparently missed the memo, calling it merely a “Questionable Call.”)

UPDATE 2: Jennifer Granholm tweets: “As governor, I’m issuing a proclamation declaring Galarraga pitched a perfect game!”

Meanwhile, there’s funny commentary on Twitter under the tags #OtherJoyceCalls (my favorite: “Breaking: Jim Joyce declares British Petroleum safe in Gulf Oil Leak”), #JimJoyceFacts (e.g., “Jim Joyce absolutely hates raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” “Jim Joyce likes playing footsies with Larry Craig in public restrooms” and “Jim Joyce gave Old Yeller rabies”) and #gamesJimJoyceruined (“Jim Joyce kept Pedro in too long against the Yankees in 2003″).

UPDATE 3: Here’s audio of Joyce talking about the call.

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May 12

Fun at Fenway

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 11:10 pm Mountain Time

In case anyone’s wondering why the blog has gone even deader than usual, it’s because we’re back east, visiting my folks. We had a great time in Boston today — Becky, the girls, my parents and me — including at Fenway Park for the Red Sox-Blue Jays game.

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We had been worried about rain, but in the end, we got nothing more than a few misty drops. So that was definitely a blessing. Alas, the outcome wasn’t quite what we wanted, thanks in part to a terrible umpiring job (and, uh, terrible Boston offense until the ninth inning). Still, an exciting ending, and a very fun day at Fenway — my first time in that baseball cathedral since I was a little kid. Yay!

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Apr 05

Top & bottom plays

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm Mountain Time

Whatever happens in Indianapolis tonight between Butler and Duke, I think Chicago’s Mark Buehrle has already clinched SportsCenter’s “Top Play” of the day:

Last season, he pitched a perfect game. This season, on Opening Day no less, he starts things off with a perfect play. Nice.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure I know one thing that won’t be a “top play,” unless it’s included with a heaping of irony:

The best tweet-reaction award goes to Doug Powers, who wrote: “Obama’s pitch ricocheted off a flight inbound to Reagan Int’l; FAA investigating.” Heh.

(Hat tip: Doug Mataconis.)

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Oct 07

Chip Caray, idiot

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 9:24 am Mountain Time

Heh:

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In case you missed it, TBS baseball announcer Chip Caray made, er, a slight mistake in calling a potentially game-deciding play during the 10th inning of last night’s one-game playoff between the Twins and Tigers for the AL Central title:

Caray was presumably confused because, normally, a ball on that sort of trajectory to shallow left field would indeed drop in for a base hit. But of course, as Caray should have known, the Tigers’ outfielders were playing very shallow, precisely so that they could catch a ball like that and throw out the runner who tags up and tries to score the winning run. (In that sort of situation, it makes no sense for them to play deep, because a ball hit to the deep outfield will bring home the runner from third regardless, on a sacrifice fly. Only a shallow fly ball to the outfield has any chance of not ending the game.)

Anyway, if Nick Punto’s line drive had truly been a “base hit,” then obviously, Alexi Casilla would have scored from third base without a problem, and the Twins would’ve won the AL Central right then and there. As it was, the attempted sac fly still almost brought the runner home — in fact, I’m still not sure he wasn’t actually safe — but the called out at home plate extended the game.

Luckily for Caray, the Twins eventually won, two innings later in the 12th, thus making his initial call — much like the various “Bush wins” headlines in November 8, 2000 newspapers — merely premature, rather than ultimately announcing the wrong outcome. Still, I daresay “line drive, base hit, caught out there” will live on, in at least minor infamy, among baseball fans for some time. Why, it’s the first “base hit” ever to result in a double play in baseball history! Heh.

P.S. And now, have called Caray an “idiot,” I must acknowledge that I too am an idiot, as I initially misspelled his name (in the title and throughout the post) as “Chip Carey.” D’oh.

P.P.S. At least I don’t misspell people’s names all the time (despite what former USC journalism director Loren Ghiglioni Ghiglione might tell you). Caray, by contrast, pretty much sucks all the time as an announcer. More here.

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Aug 25

I don’t believe what I just saw!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 1:05 am Mountain Time

Rockies Giants scoreboard

I just got home — a little later than I’d planned — from Coors Field, after watching, in person, “one of the strangest games ever in Denver,” a 14-inning affair that ended in the first walkoff grand slam in Rockies history (and the first grand slam I’ve ever personally witnessed, never mind a 14th-inning walkoff slam), with my Dad.

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Pretty damn awesome. And it wasn’t just the grand slam that made the game great. There was weird baserunning, bizarre umpiring, teams running out of players, a pitcher with a .000 batting average being inexplicably walked with the bases loaded (and ultimately scoring the winning run!), a batter badly hurting his knee with a foul ball but nevertheless finishing his at-bat and (gingerly) running the bases, a reigning Cy Young winner coming in as a pinch runner… it was a strange, weird, wonderful game. And here I was initially regretting having picked today’s game to go to, in light of what looked to be crappy weather. The rain cleared out, and then the Rockies gave us a real treat with a seemingly impossible comeback. Wow.

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It was the second time I’ve seen a walkoff home run in person, and the first time it was by the team I was rooting for. (The other time was Mel Hall’s three-run shot at Yankee Stadium to beat the Red Sox on May 27, 1991. Ugh.)

Oh, and the Rockies now have a 4-game lead over the Giants in the wild-card race, instead of the 2-game lead it looked like they’d have, when the Giants took a three-run lead in the top of the 14th. Nice.

P.S. The Rockies are now 3-0 this season in games that I attend.

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Aug 22

The Y2K bug lives!

Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:16 am Mountain Time

At one point yesterday, for a minute or two, the top of the countdown box in my blog’s sidebar at right briefly looked like this:

I quickly fixed it, and was amused when I realized what the problem was. I had accidentally entered the date of Monday’s Rockies-Giants game at Coors Field — which my Dad and I have tickets to — as “8/24/09” instead of “8/24/2009.” As a result, the countdown script was counting the number of days until August 24, 1909, which, because of leap years, would indeed be negative 36,522 days “after” August 21, 2009. Heh. Who’d have thunk it: the Y2K bug, still going strong almost a decade after the 1900s ended!

On an unrelated note… who’s excited for football season to start?!? Only 13 12 days left!! WOOOOO!!!!!

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Aug 19

D’oh!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 9:55 pm Mountain Time

I’m not sure if AppleCare covers this. Heh.

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Jul 27

Rickey & Nolan

Monday, July 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm Mountain Time

Rickey Henderson’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame got me thinking — as any mention of Rickey Henderson always does — of May 1, 1991, when Henderson’s record-breaking 939th stolen base was completely and utterly overshadowed a few hours later by Nolan Ryan’s incredible seventh career no-hitter.

I distinctly remember feeling, I suppose somewhat uncharitably, that Henderson deserved to have his big moment stolen in such a fashion, as karmic retribution for his blatant lack of humility in declaring that “today, I am the greatest of all time” after surpassing Lou Brock. Heh.

Anyway, here’s a video of Nolan’s no-no, including a complete replay of the entire 9th inning. The commentators make no mention of Rickey’s record earlier that day, but for me, the two events will always be inextricably linked. May 1, 1991 was definitely one of the most memorable baseball-watching days of my youth, right up there with the last day of the 1990 season, when Tom Brunansky’s diving catch clinched the AL East for the Red Sox, and the day of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, when we all learned the name Francisco Cabrera. (Link NSFPF — Not Safe For Pirates Fans.)

P.S. I freakin’ love Sean McDonough. “Hooking toward the corner, BRUNANSKY!!!” … “SAAAAFE!!! SAFE AT THE PLATE!!!” … Also, from the 1991 World Series, Game 3, Mark Lemke’s 12th-inning winner: “Here comes Justice… SAAFE!!! AND ATLANTA WINS IT!” … And of course, from 1993, the one everybody remembers: “Way back and… GONE!!!!!!

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Jul 23

Perfect!

Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm Mountain Time

President Obama will be excited about this one: White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game this afternoon, with a major assist from this amazing catch by outfielder Dewayne Wise in the ninth inning. Here’s the final out:

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