Games » Tampa Bay RaysApr30
Guillen’s play at the plate…
Dave Owen sent Jose Guillen home on Mitch Maier’s single in the ninth and Jose was out by so much, global warming got worse while the catcher waited for Guillen to arrive. Two species went extinct, I paid off a home loan and one of my kids went through puberty between the time the catcher caught the ball and Guillen was tagged out.
Pretend you’re the third base coach in this situation for a second. Here’s what’s going through your mind: outs, stage of the game, score, who’s on deck and the abilities of the players involved.
In this case there was one out, it’s the top of the ninth (so this is probably your last shot at runs) you’re up by one run, Betancourt’s on deck hitting about .300, but doesn’t have good plate discipline (so can you count on him to drive in a run from third with one down?) and Bloomquist is on third, Guillen at second and Kendall at first.
And that’s just your guys. You also need to know arm strength of the Rays outfielders, whether they throw right or left-handed and their current positioning.
The bases are loaded, so you remind everyone of the outs and that there’s a force everywhere and they need to move on ‘down-angle’ (a ball coming down off the bat), freeze on a line drive and that the runner at third should come back to the bag on a fly ball and the runner at second should take a lead (I’ll explain why some other time). You’ve also got to watch for pickoffs and deliver signs, but this is getting complicated enough, so let’s leave those alone for now.
Maier singles to right: Bloomquist will score standing up, so now you’re attention is on Guillen. You’re back-pedaling towards home plate. This delays the point at which you have to make a decision and allows the runner to run hard through the bag. If you stay up by third, you’ve got to make the decision sooner (and this may be where the play fell apart, since Owen says he threw up the stop sign too late).
You want to see the play in the outfield before making the call. If the runner hits the bag before the ball is picked up, he’s generally got a good chance of scoring (but other factors can change this). Grounders are easiest to score on, nobody has to wait to see them fall, line drives hang the runners up. You add in how hard the ball was hit (it affects how soon it gets to the outfielder) and whether the outfielder is making the play coming toward home (that makes for a strong throw) or moving laterally (that makes for a weak throw).
If there are no outs to you have to be 100% sure the runner will be safe at home if you send him, one out 66.6% sure, two outs 33.3% sure. In this case, there was one out, so by sending Guillen you’re saying he’d be safe two out of three times on this play. With Guillen’s speed, he would be out four out of three times on this play, so even though I wanted you to appreciate how complicated Dave Owen’s job is…this was a crappy call.
P.S. There’s one other factor: salary.
A baseball buddy of mine got promoted to third base coach and another friend told me how much more responsibility the job entails. He added, “And they don’t like it when you get those high-priced players blown up at the plate.”
Maybe Dave was distracted checking W-2s when he sent Jose.
Different strokes for different folks, different stats for different cats…
The Polk system records some plays differently than major league baseball. For instance, double play assists: Coach Polk said the intention there was to reward good footwork and ball handling around the bag with a runner bearing down, but not the first baseman who records the final putout just by catching the ball.
Same on the strike-out-throw-out double play, only the catcher gets points, nothing for the middle infielder who receives the throw. If someone receiving a throw and making a tag does something outstanding, it’s rewarded under outstanding defensive play.
Game winning hit is reserved for an at-bat in the final inning, top or bottom, that puts a team that is tied or behind, ahead. Like Callaspo’s sac fly in the top of the 9th in this game.
Outstanding defensive plays and mental mistakes are strictly judgment calls that people are free to disagree with.
I gave one to Bill Butler for his diving…OK…falling…stop of a hard shot in the first. I don’t know how many chances Billy’s going to get for points in this category, but anytime a guy gets dirty making a play, it should be appreciated.
Pods got one for his catch in the 9th, but that play was more athletic than technically correct. The idea is for the outfielder to get to the wall early, finding it by reaching out with the glove or bare hand while watching the ball (the warning track is just that…a warning track…once the outfielder hits that, he should know how many steps to the wall) and then gathering himself for the leap.
Podsednick was drifting (going less than full speed following the ball’s movement) instead of racing to get behind the ball and didn’t appear to know how close to the wall he actually was. He saved the play with an athletic leap, but this is the third time I’ve seen him get a little shy around a wall (twice in Kauffman down in the left field corner).
On the other hand, he caught it.