Monthly archives: May 2007
A Short Trip off a Long Pier
Well, that was quick.
The Phils swept their way past the Braves in Atlanta all the way up to two games above .500. Then they return to Philly and get swept by the D-Backs in a series riddled with Phils miscues.
Yesterday's game ended with pinch-hitting Ryan Howard lining into a double play when potential tying run Michael Bourn strayed to far from second. Howard smoked the ball but right at second baseman Orlando Hudson who was in his Howard shift position in short right. I can appreciate that Bourn was trying to score from second, but going on contact when you are the tying run and double play will end the game? Bourn gave me agita just by stealing second just before the line out.
In the previous game Bourn ran into the wall going after a ball that ended up at his feet. He's symbolic of this team's inability to develop fundamentally sound ballplayers.
Anyway, the Phils trip into non-Loserdom lasted three games, three games above .500. Let's say they never establish a winning record for the remainder of the season. They would become just 216th team in baseball history to exceed .500 for three or fewer games in a season, and the 34th for exactly three games (the last being the 2001 Baltimore Orioles who ended up 63-98).
The Phils have now player 53 games, one more and they will have played exactly one-third of a season. They will have three games over .500 out of their first 54 games.
No playoff team or league winner has ever been over .500 fewer than 26 games and that was 1871 Philly A's who only played 28 games. None since the founding of the National League has been over .500 fewer than 31 games (1984 Royals).
Here are the playoff teams/league winners with the fewest games over .500:
The Phils have been over .500 just 5.6% of this season. Here are playoff teams who had a winning record for less than half the season. None come close to 5.6%:
By the way, here are the teams that did not make the playoffs but had a winning record for 162 or more games:
The Phils have one day to lick their wounds before the Barry Bonds show comes to town to continue his assault on the home run record. And, as always, Leon is getting laaaaaaaarger.
Sure Beats Losing
There are two great pleasures in gambling: that of winning and that of losing.
I go away for the weekend and what do the Phillies do? They sweep the Braves and finally go over .500. It took them 49 games, but they finally did it. They even discovered a lefty reliever (Mike Zagursky) who can get the ball over the plate.
Let's not get too excited. They are still in third place in the NL East, 7 games behind the Mets. The NL wild card, as always, is up for grabs with the Phils currently in fourth, 3.5 games behind the leader, the Dodgers.
So will the Phils continue to win or does this current surge presage a backslide typical of this monumentally streaky team? How do teams that take this long to cross the .500 mark typically perform over the long haul of a full season? Let's see
I took a look at when each teams in baseball history and for each noted the first game in which they had a winning record, their overall, and how they performed in the postseason.
Note that of the twenty-two hundred team years in baseball history, just 65 took as long or longer than the Phils to establish a winning record. Here are the latest to do so. Note that the '74 Pirates are the only ones to qualify for postseason play:
As for the overall results, here they are grouped in ten-game increments:
Note that of all the teams to clear the .500 hurdle, almost all (84.2%) did so in their first nine games. 91% had established a winning record by game 19.
Slightly over ninety percent of all playoff teams established a winning record before playing their tenth game. Just 1.56% made the playoffs when after taking at least 40 games to clear the .500 mark.
That said, there is very little correlation between when a team establishes a winning record and whether they will continue to win (coefficient of -0.284).
So what does it all mean? The Phils have an extremely remote shot at making the postseason, but there is no reason to think that their slow assault on a winning record consigns them to falling below .500 again. In other words, they will probably have another ever so slightly above .500, typical Phillies season. So what else is new?
Well, Mike Zagurski is. He got a callup from Double-A Reading over the weekend and pitched solidly for the Phils twice. Given that their previous lefties in the pen, Matt Smith (11.25 ERA and 11 walks in four innings) and Fabio Castro (12.27) have been execrable at best, Zagurski is a welcome addition. But before we get too fired up, keep in mind that this kid has just eight appearances above Single A for his professional career.
He did have extremely impressive stats to start the year at Single-A Clearwater, striking out nearly two men an inning (30 in 16.1 IP) and had five saves in twelve games. But let's allow the kid to establish himself as a legitimate major-leaguer before we anoint him the closer.
Besides given the Phils success with first-year lefty relievers, it doesn't look hopeful. Just two registered more than one save, Mac Scarce (in '72) and Wally Ritchie ('87). Here are the only first-year lefties to ever record a save for the Phils:
The Phils have just been able to muster a handful of lefties that have appeared in at least 20 games as a first-year reliever:
As a matter of fact, probably the best lefty specialist that they developed was Chuck McElroy who was a decent middle reliever for the Cubs for a number of years. Not much to build from in that tradition.
Crossing the Ruben Amaro-con
For a team that many picked to contend, this Phils team seems to have a fear of having a winning record. For the fourth time this seasonall within the course of seven games, the Phils lost after reaching the .500 mark last night, 5-4 to the Marlins in 11.
The Phillies lost two of three in the Marlins series due to various and sundry miscuesyesterday third base coach Steve Smith sending pinch-runner and potential tying run Michael Bourn who ended up being out at home by a good six feet, two separate miscues in two separate games by veteran defensive specialist Rod Barrajas each allowing a run, Greg Dobbs' brain fart of throwing home on Hanley Ramirez' bunt with a two-run lead and a man on third, leaving the bases loaded in the top of the llth yesterday. Oh, and they also lost their closer, their second on the year, for who knows how long.
The Phils seemed destined to reside at or below .500 all season. The record for games at .500 is 35 by the 1959 Cubs (see below), but this team seems destined to destroy it. Here are the teams with the most games at .500note that none made the postseason:
As for the closer or lack thereof, it seems that the Phils are seriously considering 37-year-old Troy Percival, who last pitched, and quite ineffectively, for Detroit in 2005. With no one else having "closer stuff", the Phils will inevitably turn to former closer Antonio Alfonseca, who has wavered between pitching very and well and residing in Charlie Manuel's doghouse all season. I would prefer that they turn to 26-year-old Anderson Garcia, who has been closing very effectively at Reading this year (7 saves, 3.12 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings, 0.98 WHIP). Whoever the Phils turn to will have to avoid the seemingly inevitable injuries that result from Charlie "I Need A Frickin'" Manuel's inability to use a bullpen and overuse of his relievers who produce.
The Phils seemed destined to be the first team in two years with a closer who has at least double-digit save totals. The last were the 2005 Tigers:
If they get another pitcher to save at least five to go along with Tom Gordon (5 saves) and Bret Myers (6), they will join this short list of teams without a ten-save closer but with at least three pitchers with five. Of course, they all predated the advent of the modern closer but then again, so does Pat Gillick:
The Phils also have a good shot of passing the all-time "record" for most relievers, 22, by the 2002 Padres. The Phils have used 12 through the first quarter of a season and, which will grow to 13 if and when Myers goes on the DL. Also, they currently have no left-handed specialists nor, apparently, a real closer on the roster so you should expect that number to balloon soon. Here's the competition for the most relievers ever:
Profiles in Mediocrity
The Phils won again today as Adam Eaton continued his recent turn at competency. In his last three starts, Eaton has allowed four runs in 20.2 innings and lowered his ERA from 8.18 to 5.70 even though he is just 1-1 over that span (though the Phils did win his no decision).
The Phils now find themselves again at .500 for the third time this season but have yet to have a winning record. Should this remain unchangedthat is, if the Phils never get over .500they will become the 18th team in major-league history to hit .500 three times in a season without ever surpassing it.Here are the previous 17:
The best teams to hit but never break .500 are as follows:
The '81 Royals won the "first half" title in that strike-interrupted season and then got swept in the division series by the Billy Ball A's. They are the only team on the list to make the playoffs.
One of these days this team is going to back into a winning record, but there's no reason to doubt that the Phils can't match the '83 Twins and '46 Browns for the "record" for most times reaching but never exceeding mediocrity.
A Split, The Hard Way
The Red Sox and Braves split two games today at Fenway by scores of 14-0 and 13-3. Aint interleague play grand?
It is the first time since 1978 that two teams split a doubleheader each with double-digit run differentials. It's the second time since 1946 that it's happened and the fourteenth time in baseball history.
Also, there have been just four such doubleheaders in which the overall run differential has been greater than the 24 run edge in today's doubleheader, and the last of those was in 1931:
.500—Prepare for Glory!
"Phillies! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty... For tonight, we dine in hell! (or at least at Pat's)"
Last Tuesday, a Tony Clark home run helped the Spartans, er, D-Backs felled the Phils, 3-2. The team was suffering through a 3-6 road trip and had fallen to 14-19 on the season. They were closer to the worst team in baseball (5 games ahead of the Nats) than they were to first place in the NL East (6.5 games).
In the last game of the road trip, the Phils road a Ryan Howard pinch-hit grand slam to a 9-3 victory. The Phillies have now won six of seven and with a win tonight, can complete a four-game sweep of the Brewers, who came into the series with the best record in the National League.
During the stretch, Cole Hamels has come into his own as the team ace, winning two games including a perfect game for six innings (which I again mooshed). Hamels now co-leads the NL in wins at 6-1 (with 6-2 Roy Oswalt) and is second in strikeouts (70). He now projects to 23-4 for the season with 270 Ks, which would be the best record for a Phils pitcher 25 years old or younger since Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts went 28-7 at the age of 25 in 1952.
The Phils have not had a history of success with young pitchers (Pat Combs, anyone?). In fact, there have been only ten seasons in which a Phillie youngster has won at least 15 since the 1950 Whiz Kids:
The Phils have had only six pitchers 25 or under who have won twenty games since the turn of the twentieth century:
But I digress from the headline you can tell that the Phils have reached the previously unattainable magic number of .500. It took them forty games to do it, but they finally have as many losses as wins. Since starting the season with six losses in their first seven games, the Phils did not come within one game of .500 until two days but came within two games of mediocrity seven times.
One quarter of the season is over, and they finally reached mediocrity.
Of course, the Phils never do what you expect them to do. After losing reigning MVP Howard and half the bullpen to injuries, that's when they go on a tear?!? Meanwhile Greg Dobbs channels the ghost Lou Gehrig with a .471 batting average and a 1.236 OPS in Howard's absence. Go figure.
They now become the 49th team in baseball history to reach .500 no earlier than their fortieth game. In the last ten years, just the 2005 Pirates (reaching .500 in game 60 en route to a 67-95 season) and the 2001 Marlins (game 66, 76-86 record) have reached .500 later.
Those teams have averaged an 82-80 record over the course of the season and just two, the 1914 Miracle Braves and the '74 Pirates have made the playoffs and just one (the Braves) have won a Series.
By the way, the 1985 version of the Phils (think John Felske and GlennBo) hold the dubious record of reaching .500 the latest of any team in major-league history, in their 136th game. After reaching 68-68, however, they went 7-19 down the stretch to end up fifth in the NL East. Here are the twelve latest teams to reach .500:
Below are the best records for all teams that reached .500 no earlier than game 40. The best are the '14 Braves who did not reach .500 until their 91st game (45-45-1) unbelievably went 49-14 (.778) thereafter. Don't expect that from the Phils:
The night after the Brewers bullpen lost their first lead of the season, the Brewersspecifically, former Phil Johnny Estradaforced newly minted closer Brett Myers to blow his first save in eight tries (i.e., four saves and three holds previously). Luckily for the Phils, they were able to pull out a victory on a Carlos Ruiz walkoff home run. What a way for the rookie catcher to rebut the Phils not resigning veteran Estrada in the offseason.
The Brewers entered the series with a 21-0 record when leading after six innings and were making a run at the all-time "record" 55-0 by the '97 Reds. Consider that the Brew Crew was 27th last season by keeping 43 leads and losing just 12 (78.2%) when leading after six.
In 2006 the average lead retention rate over the last three innings was 85.2%. The Mets lead all teams retaining 94.4% of all leads (67 of 71). The Royals were the worst (surprise!) with just a 71.4% retention rate (40 of 56).
Here are all the lead retention rates for last season, from best to worst:
As for the best teams at retaining leads (since 1901):
The worst are lead, of course, by the abysmal '62 Mets whose best reliever was probably their alleged number-one starter, Roger Craig:
Now for the most leads retained led by the Kerry Lightenberg-era Braves:
And the '62 Mets retain the lead in least leads kept after six but those awful Phils teams of the past pepper the list:
As for the least leads lost, 14 lost tow or fewer. Remarkably, the 52-87 1901 Reds were able to retain all but one of their leads after six. I guess not leading that many games helps especially with a team with no saves:
As for the most leads lost, there are some pretty good teams on the list (like the 2004 A's and '75 Dodgers). I guess lots of leads and some problems in the bullpen (like Octavio Dotel as your closer) will do that:
So what does a team's lead retention rate tell you about their overall success? Well, not all that much it turns out. There is a slight correlation between lead retention rate after six and its winning percentage (coefficient of 0.600). Actually, winning percentage correlates a whole lot better to the number of leads retained after six (.867 coefficient), which makes senseyou have to have leads late in game, even if you blow some, to win ballgames. The number of leads lost have absolutely no correlation (-0.192) to overall winning percentage.
And finally, to totally beat this dead horse, winning percentage does correlate slightly better to leads retained after six (.867) than to total leads held, whether they were lost or retained (0.813). So it may be better to have lead and lost than to have never lead, but lead's labour's lost can bite you in A's.
Come Back at the Fenway Park, Julio Lugo, Julio Lugo
The Red Sox came back from an 0-5 deficit in the bottom of the ninth to win, 6-5, yesterday at Fenway for a Mother's Day special. The rally started with one out and then O's catcher Ramon Hernandez dropped a Coco Crisp popup for an error. Six runs, three hits (including two doubles), three walks (one intentional), one out, two pitchers, and one additional error later, Boston won.
It was just the ninth time in baseball history that a team trailing in the ninth by at least five runs came back to win the game. The last time it happened was April 29, 1979, when the visiting Cubs scored six runs in the top of the ninth to defeat the Braves, 6-5. The Cubs got their first two men on (Dave Kingman singled and Steve Ontiveros walked) but were then on the ropes after two straight fly balls to second baseman Glenn Hubbard by Jerry Martin and Gene Klines. A walk to Ted Sizemore to load the bases brought the hook for Braves starter Larry McWilliams. Gene Garber, the man the greatest delivery in baseball history, gave up to straight singles (to Tim Blackwell and Larry Biitner) to run the score to 5-3 and then served up a homer to Bobby Murcer to put the Cubs ahead to stay, 6-5.
The last time a home team overcame a five-run deficit in the ninth was July 24, 1978 when the Astros beat the Expos, 6-5 with all their runs coming in the ninth. The Expos were leading 4-0 at the start of the ninth when Ken Forsch replaced Mark Lemongello to mop up the last inning. Forsch, the eventual winning pitcher, allowed a Tony Perez single, hit Larry Parrish with a pitch, walked Gary Carter intentional after a groundout to load the bases, and finally a Chris Speier single to plate the fifth Montreal run. The 'Stros led off the bottom of the ninth with a Rafael Landestoy walktake that Speier!, a Terry Puhl single, and an Enos Cabell double to score their first run. Darold Knowles replaced Mike Garman and allowed a run on a sac fly by pinch-hitter Jesus Alou. After Bob Watson walked and Art Howe struck out, the Astros came within one run of Montreal after two straight singles. Knowles was lifted for Gerry Pirtle (who?) after the Expos failed to get an out on a Bruce Bochy fielder's choice, the bases were loaded. Landestoy then singled home the tying and winning runsDie Speier!for a 6-5 two-out victory.
The only time a larger deficit was overcome in the ninth (with no runs for the home team) was August 22, 1947 when the Tigers beat the Senators 7-6 on seven ninth-inning runs.
Here are the greatest ninth-inning comebacks from a previously scoreless home team. The Red Sox's was just the sixth comeback of five or more :
There were two other ninth-inning deficits of six runs overcome by a team with no runs, but the other two were visiting clubs. Here are the previous comebacks of five or more runs:
Now, before anyone points out that the Dodgers beat the Padres 6-5 April 30 of last year after trailing 5-0 in the ninth, but the Dodgers took two innings to do it. They tied the game in the ninth and won it in the tenth. The Reds had a five-run comeback in the ninth last year as well (July 6) but ended up losing to the Braves in the tenth. The Twins also had an eighth-inning comeback of five runs to tie the M's last June 7 but lost in eleven.
Finally, the greatest ninth-inning comeback by a home team was on April 25, 1901 (opening day) when the Tigers beat the old Milwaukee Brewers (now the Orioles) 14-13 after entering the bottom of the ninth trailing 13-4. The Tigers ended up sweeping four games from the Brewers by a combined score of 45 to 38. The Brewers ended up 48-89 and moved to St. Louis the next year. Here are the comebacks by a home team of at least five runs:
The Phils lost again yesterday by one run, 3-2 to the D-Backs on a Tony Clarkyes, he's still playingpinch-hit home run. It was the second straight one-run loss for the team and their record in one-run games is 1-6 for the year, just ahead of the Cubs' major-league worst 1-7.
They not only wasted their monthly decent Adam Eaton start, the Phils again allowed the winning run late in the game after tying the game. On the bright side, at least it wasn't the bullpen's fault this time. The Phils do seem to be catching teams late just to give up the go-ahead/winning run the next half inning. I hate to quote Joe Morgan, but it seems like they are playing by his proverbial "Playing good enough to lose" paradigm.
The Phils are now on a pace to win just 69 against 93 losses and 5-29 in one-run games. It's still early and this is a team that perennially starts slowly, but their usual surge to resuscitate their fortunes has come and gonea five-game win streak April 20-25 to get them within two games of .500 (9-11). Since then they have alternated a win with a loss or two. A malaise has again settled on the team aided by the injury/ineffectiveness of Ryan Howard and the execrable and now injured bullpen.
For a team that started the season with such high expectations, they seem certain to be the worst Phillie club since the Terry Francona days. A loss today would close out a 3-7 road trip.
Fortunately, perhaps, for the Phils, they will face a flagging Randy Johnson (0-2, 6.50 ERA). With 44-year-old Jamie Moyer facing Johnson (43), the game will feature the two oldest left-handed starters in (recorded) major-league history, barely topping the much ballyhooed Johnson-David Wells (43) pairing earlier this season. It will feature the oldest pairing of any pitchers since Charlie Hough (39) faced Phil Niekro (48) on July 25, 1987.
Here are the oldest pairings of all-time.
And as for lefties starters:
You can chalk the Phils' poor one-run record to small sample size, but if they do keep up their current pace, their 5-29 (.143) record would be the worst since the 1800s:
Here are the worst since 1900. The Phils and Cubs blow them away:
At the other end of the spectrum, the Tigers (9-5 in 1-run games, projected 47-26), Arizona (10-6, 46-28), and Cleveland (8-3, 43-16) are all on a pace to break the all-time one-run win record:
By the way, the Phils and D-Backs are neck and neck in the all-time one-run standings. Here are the up-to-date records for all active franchises. Another one-run loss and the D-Backs pass them. I'm sure that is their incentive going into tonight's game:
Roger and Repeat Were in a Boat…
You have to hand it to the Yankees—they sure know how to promote and they're not shy about it. During the seventh stretch of yesterday's ballgame, the greatest living pitcher and professional snowbird (Roger Clemens) announced from the owner's box that he was coming out of semiretirement to again pitch for New York.
Come on, given that his bosom buddy Andy Pettitte went back to the Yankees this season and the Astros all but said they weren't interested in paying $20+ M for a part-time pitcher at the end of last season, it seemed a fait accompli that he would end up in New York. (And he would never go back to the Red Sox after the way then-GM Dan Duquette and the old ownership drove him out of town in 1996.)
The Yankees thereby fill its greatest need with the best possible option. That's why they are the Yankees.
Clemens becomes the eleventh ex-Yankee pitcher from their current golden era (1995 to present) to return to the club after playing elsewhere (twelfth if you count El Duque Hernandez's 2003 foray in the Florida State League with the Expos). When you consider just 30 pitchers in Yankee history have had two separate stints with the club, it seems that they are going back to the well a little too often lately:
Anyway, what can be expected from Clemens this year? I saw an ESPN debate—between John Kruk and a brownish stain—as to how many games Clemens will win in 2007. I know that the Football & Sports Programming Network loves to pander to their fantasy and gambling base, but c'mon, we deserve better than this.
I took a look at all players who pitched both when they 43 and 44 years old. There were 23 in total. Then I took a look at how they aged between the two years. Here they are:
On average a 44-year-old's ERA went up 16%, his WHIP went up 6%, and his strikeout-to-walk and strike-per-nine-innings ratios remained largely unchanged.
Applying the average aging factors for his age, here is a comparison between Clemens 2006 and his projected 2007:
Fewer wins and slightly higher ratios, that's not bad for a prorated $28M salary. When are these guys taking John Lieber, another ex-Yank, off the Phils' hands anyway?
Un-Man the Helms
The Phils won 8-5 today behind Cole Hamels, thereby splitting their series with the Giants, but the game would not have been nearly that close if it had nor been for the brick-mitted Wes Helms. Helms had two errors: The first gave the Giants their first run in the second and led to a three-run inning and 3-2 Giant lead. The second helped the Giants tie the score 5-5 in the fifth.
Helms now projects to 31.4, that though it is not nearly a record, is among the worst in the last fifty or so years and combined with Helms' sub-par offense has been a drag on this team all year.
The most errors all time for a third baseman were recorded error-laden 19th century:
Now, here are the worst since 1950:
You'll note that a number of these players (Sheffield, Perez, Bonilla, Allen) were shifted to other positions, usually first base or the outfield, later in their careers. The Phils though in their infinite wisdom chose to shift the error-prone Helms to third.
Currently, Helms has no homers and just ten RBI and a .661 OPS to go with his empty .284 average. His .661 OPS ranks just 19th among starting third baseman (min 50 ABs). Thank goodness for Kevin Kouzmanoff!
To put his poor offense in context, here is Helms' 2007 projected offensive and defensive stats compared to the average third baseman's from last season:
The problem is that the alternative at third is Abraham Nunez, who is a no-hit wonder, not to mention the only viable backup at short and second. Given that his career OPS is just .771 compared to a .820 average for all starting third basemen.
He just is not a talented enough player to start at third at the major-league level. It was a mistake on Pat Gillick's part to believe he was. At some point unless Helms picks up his offense and matches his career 2006 seasonI don't expect his defensive to improve muchthe Phils will have to cut their losses and let Helms and his $2.3M contract go. I hope Chris Coste is working out at third in Triple-A.
Starting to Get Ri-God Damn-diculous Ridiculous
The Yankees reactivated Mike Mussina to pitch one end of a doubleheader today. They have used nine starters in their first 25 games. That translates to 58.32 by the end of the season. So not only will the Yankees completely deplete the starting rotations throughout their minor-league system, they will have to one pitcher in thirds.
I'm joking, of course, but they could continue to drive up the number of starters especially if they continue to look outside of the organization for help, which is their M.O. Roger Clemens anyone?The single-season team record for starting pitchers used is 24 by the Connie Mack-depleted A's in 1915:
I don't expect the Yankees to top the '15 A's, but cracking that list is definitely within their power.
Non-Continuous Non-Eloquence II—Was Gladstone Right?
Justice delayed is justice denied.
The estimable Bob DuPuy denied the Indians protest of their 7-4 loss on April 28 to the Orioles. In the game, a botched call on a run scoring before the completion of a non-continuous double play caused a game erroneously tied 2-2 to become a retroactive 3-2 O's lead three innings later.
DuPuy reached his decision "because the umpires' mistake did not involve a judgment call, and because there is nothing in the Official Baseball Rules to address when umpires can make a correction, the umps can act at their own discretion."
I also would have mentioned that the delay did not affect the outcome of the game. The Indians went on to grab a 4-3 lead on a "Why Can't Jhonny Spell" Peralta homer in the sixth just after the run was posthumously added to the score. The Indians lost 7-4. So what would have been the difference if the 2-2 tie had been a 2-3 deficit for three innings? Would the Indians have tried that much harder to score a run from the third to the fifth? I think not. Why not blame it on the decision to use Aaron Fultz with the game on the line in the eighth.
Baseball's official statement cited "'the first requisite is to get decisions correctly,' [therefore,] this umpire crew was within the authority that Rule 9.01 (c) gave them to correct the game score when they did." I guess they can't say in an official statement that the umps involved are complete doofises.
Baseball's statement is based on the General Instructions To Umpires at the end of the Umpire section of the rule book (section 9):
Each umpire team should work out a simple set of signals, so the proper umpire can always right a manifestly wrong decision when convinced he has made an error. If sure you got the play correctly, do not be stampeded by players' appeals to "ask the other man." If not sure, ask one of your associates. Do not carry this to extremes, be alert and get your own plays. But remember! The first requisite is to get decisions correctly. If in doubt don't hesitate to consult your associate. Umpire dignity is important but never as important as "being right."
"Umpire dignity"? No that's an oxymoron. Unfortunately (and amazingly) here none of the umps, some seasoned professions like Ed Montague, knew this very basic rule. They didn't know they got it wrong until they bothered to check the rulebook three innings later. If I were a manager, I would have one of my coaches carry the rulebook (instead of tobacky) in his back pocket for just these sorts of situations.
Rule 9.01(c) is a quick one: "Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules.". I love that one. It's perfect for giving boneheaded umps a Mulligan whenever needed. It's great that the baseball gods in formulating the rules of the game acknowledged Gödel's Theorem , which tells us that any system is inherently incomplete.
I couldn't find an example in which a decision, especially one that affected the score, was delayed for anything like three innings, but Rich Marazzi's The Rules and Lore of Baseball had an interesting one, though it was a shorter delay (I'll mercifully skip Merkle's boner):
In a game against the St. Louis Browns in 1922, with two out in the top of the ninth inning and the Yankees ahead 2-1, the Browns' Johnny Tobin grounded to Yankee first baseman Wally Pipp, with Chick Shorten on second and Pat Collins on first. Pipp tossed to Yankee chucker Sam Jones, covering first base. Umpier Ollie Chill waved Tobin out, and the Yankee players along with the large crowd of 49,152 assumed the game was over.
You're Blind Ump…But Then Again Isn't Justice?
The ultimate umpire of all things in life isFact.
I'll set aside the tragedy of Phil Hughes going from a no-hitter in the seventh inning to a month (hopefully) on the DL and how I again mooshed a no-hitter bid. I have been building an umpire database based on a few sources including Retrosheets wealth of game log data.
I know, exciting topic. Anyway, I quickly ran the numbers for the most games umpired (through 2006) and came with the top-20 list below.
Five are still active. Given the number of teams and games played today, current umps get to call a lot more games. Also, I'm proud to say that Ed Montague, the guy who was unsure how to call a run scoring on a non-continuous double play over the weekend (he had someone look it ump in the rulebook even though it is explicitly stated there three times), he is number 7 after Hall-of-Famer Al Barlick. Mercy:
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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