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Baseball Bits 21 Aug 17
by Tony Medley
Doesn’t anybody know how to play this game?, Continued:
#1. In the bottom of the 8th inning of Tuesday night's game with the
White Sox and the score tied 1-1, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one
out and 2nd baseman Logan Forsythe was at bat. He hit a slow ground ball
to the White Sox 3rd baseman who threw to the plate to force the runner
on 3rd for one out. Then the catcher, who had plenty of time to throw
the ball to first base to complete the double play, was basically
blocked because Forsythe was running outside the zone that a runner must
run in on a ground ball to the infield. Had he known the rule, all
catcher Kevan Smith had to do was throw the ball. Ideally his throw
would hit the runner making the interference obvious, and the runner
would have been declared out completing the double play, ending the
Smith is apparently ignorant of the rule because he did not throw the
ball and Forsythe was appropriately not called out because the rule
requires that a throw be made. This allowed the bases to remain loaded.
Joc Pederson then got hit by a pitch driving in the winning run, and the
Dodgers proceeded to add 4 additional runs before the White Sox finally
got the last out. The White Sox lost the game by those five runs, but if
the catcher had just known a basic rule of baseball they could still be
playing. Smith is paid over a half million dollars a year; maybe in
today’s world that’s not enough to inspire him to learn the rules.
postscript, the Dodgers announcers did not mention this, nor did their
studio commentators, nor the LA Times crack game reporter.
#2. In the top of the 6th
inning with the Dodgers leading the Tigers 7-3 last Friday night, my
choice for Dodgers’ MVP, Chris Taylor, was on 2nd, Justin
Turner on first with 2 outs, and team-leading home run hitter Cody
Bellinger at the plate. Taylor stole 3rd. Stealing 3rd with 2 outs is
nonsensical, especially with a good hitter at the plate. It only takes a
single to score a base runner from 2nd or 3rd. The sacrifice fly is not
available with two outs because it would constitute the final out of the
inning. So Taylor's theft of the 3rd was a truly dumb play with 2 outs
and your leading home run hitter at bat. He could be thrown out, ending
a budding rally. I saw Phillies’ Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt do the exact
same thing a couple of decades ago and that play poisoned my opinion of
his baseball intelligence, too.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did it again. He pulled starting pitcher
Rich Hill after Hill had pitched 5 innings (but had thrown 84 pitches;
egads!). The first batter that his replacement, Josh Fields, faced,
Victor Martinez, blasted Fields’ first pitch into the stands for a home
run. I don't know how many times Roberts has pulled a starting pitcher
for no reason other than pitch count and had the very next batter hit a
home run off the relief pitcher, but it seems to me it’s happened at
least five times this year already, a remarkable statistic.
Are players affected
by the cheers or jeers of fans?
Last weekend at a party I sat next to Anthony Sanchez, who is a Dodgers
season-ticket holder. He told me that after Yasiel Puig was recalled
back to the Dodgers after being demoted to the minor leagues last year
he was roundly booed by the fans. Anthony, however, was close enough to
the field that he could yell encouragement to Puig. Every time Yasiel
came to bat he was greeted with boos and catcalls, but Anthony was
cheering him. After one of Yasiel’s at-bats Anthony felt that Puig had
looked to see who was cheering him and made eye contact. As it happened,
the next time Puig was in the on deck circle, a foul ball trickled over
to him. He picked up the ball, turned around and tossed the ball to
Anthony. So don’t think players don’t hear fans. What fans yell can be
hurtful, but Puig’s actions show that positive comments are appreciated.
Kudos to Yasiel for a nice gesture!