Saturday, October 06, 2012

WILD CARD GAME



The new wildcard format is a ridiculous idea destined to make the World Champion even more random than previous years.  There should never be a one-game playoff except when two teams have identical records at the end of the season.  Baseball has a 162 game schedule and you can't learn anything about the quality of those teams with a one game showdown.  Even the first round of the playoffs should be 4 out of 7 instead of 3 of out 5. 

Last night in Atlanta the umpire made a late call for the infield fly rule and the crowd was livid throwing bottles and other debris onto the field.  Joe Simpson led the announcers in denouncing the crowd.  He called it embarrassing.  That is an easy response watching for the free up in the skybox.  Imagine being a fan spending thousands over the course of the year to support your team and the game all comes down to a questionable call that is never properly explained to the crowd.  Football refs explain every penalty and the umpires would have benefited from the same practice last night.  A call such as that might make a crowd angry in a 4 of 7 series but in the 8th inning of an elimination game it naturally creates mayhem. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

1986 World Series and Bill Buckner


I was watching the MLB network over the summer and they were doing the show where Bob Costas looks at Classic Baseball games by showing key moments and interviewing the players in those moments.  There is something about the Game 6 episode of the 1986 World Series that keeps replaying in my head that I wanted to put down for posterity.

A lot of things went right for the Mets in the bottom of the 9th, but they key moment that history remembers is Buckner booting the Mookie Wilson grounder.  Buckner has had to live with that his whole life and it overshadowed his 2700 career hits.  To his credit he doesn't avoid the subject and his honesty about it reminds people that there are things more important than baseball and people who are better men than fielders. 

But this episode also revealed the shortcomings of then Boston manager, John McNamara.  Despite the fact that Mac subbed Dave Stapleton for Buckner in the late innings all through the season and playoffs, his explanation for Buckner in the game at that point was ridiculous.  It’s not hard to speculate that Mac wanted to allow Buckner to be on the field for the final out, but Mac’s explanation (pre-recorded) was that Stapleton was a horrible fielder with the nickname of “shaky.”  The players in the studio were incredulous.  They had never heard Stapleton called that.  And it doesn't explain why Stapleton subbed for Buckner so many times before that.   Whereas Bucker has always taken responsibility and still feels guilty over it, McNamara invents pejorative names for Dave Stapleton.  The contrast between the two is so great that I haven’t been able to forget it since.

The witticism “Sports do not build character, they reveal it” was never so well demonstrated than in the person of John McNamara.