Tagged: Ozzie Guillen

The Retirement of Divinity and the Perfect Imperfection

Ken Griffey Jr. picked the wrong night to retire. On any other night, his retirement would be a huge story, but it got overshadowed by the drama in Detroit. Give Jim Joyce credit, however–he handled himself gracefully, admitted that he messed up when he saw the replay, and didn’t throw anyone out of the game (I was really thinking that Miguel Cabrera was going to get ejected after the botched play with the way he was jawing at Joyce.) Credit Armando Galarraga as well–he didn’t get angry once, even though he had a perfect game stolen from him. It’s unfortunate what happened, but it’s also a shining example of good sportsmanship on all fronts. Joyce is behind the plate for this afternoon’s Tigers-Indians game, although he was offered the chance to take the game off, and Galarraga came out to give him the lineup card. Wouldn’t you know it, the first out of the game was a close play at first.

Also, about that close play…my first instinct, even before seeing the safe call, was “oh no, I think he (Galarraga) missed the bag!” They’re considering overturning the call and awarding him the perfect game, but I can’t help but wonder if, failing an intervention by Commissioner Selig, the official scorer might not be willing to reclassify the play as an E-1, resulting in a non-perfect no-hitter. I really think it would be justifiable.

On a more positive (?) note, Joycegate or Perfectgate or whatever they’re going to call this may be the impetus needed to get the use of instant replay in Major League Baseball expanded. This morning on SportsCenter, a call for this was made by someone who knows from bad calls first-hand–Don Denkinger, the infamous first-base umpire in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, whose blown call leading off the bottom of the ninth sparked a two-run rally as the Royals came back to win the game and the Series in 7 games. Joyce, who has been umpiring since 1989 and was named the second-best umpire in MLB in Sports Illustrated polls in 2003 and 2006, worked with Denkinger. Joyce was…well, his postgame speech was as profane as an Ozzie Guillen tirade, but it was all self-loathing, and he admitted his mistake. He knew as soon as he saw the replay that he blew it. Finally, when he went to apologize to Galarraga personally, Galarraga replied, without a hint of irony, “Nobody’s perfect.” That was perfect.

UPDATE: WABC’s Warner Wolf brought up another point regarding the play. Umpires are trained to watch for the foot and listen for the ball. In addition to the overwhelming crowd noise at what appeared to be the 27th out of a perfect game, Galarraga snowconed it. If Joyce was doing his job right, he’d have never actually seen the glove–and thus, would have had reason to believe that Donald beat the ball, especially since Galarraga supposedly adjusted the ball after making the play. If Joyce looked up and saw Galarraga adjust the ball and mistook it for the ball just arriving, it’s only natural that he’d make the wrong call. This is why instant replay is needed.

So hot, it can only be summer

Which two likely future Hall of Famers made their major league debuts
in the same game? The date was  April 3, 1989 (literally a
lifetime ago for me, give or take a few days), and the Seattle Mariners
were starting their season off in Oakland. The visiting M’s had a pair
of rookies in the lineup that day: Ken Griffey Jr., slugger supreme, in
centerfield. and defensive whiz (and a fairly good singles hitter to
boot) Omar Vizquel at shortstop. Griffey hit his 600th career home run
in the first inning of yesterday’s 9-4 win over the Marlins, a game in
which the Reds had a homer in each of the first three innings. Paul
Bako, who homered in the second, added a second home run in the ninth.
He wasn’t the only player with two home runs on the day, as Evan
Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays punctuated his return to Southern
California with a pair of jacks against the team he grew up rooting
for, the California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Griffey became just the sixth player in major league history to hit 600
home runs. The one hit also temporarily broke a tie with the
aforementioned Vizquel for 68th on the all-time hits list. Like I said,
both of them are pretty good hitters. Did you know that Vizquel at one
point looked like he could tie the single-game hits record? August 31, 2004,
when the Indians visited the Yankees. As the visiting Tribe pounded the
host Yankees, Vizquel already had two singles, a double, three RBIs,
and two runs scored by the end of the third inning, and would add
another run scored and RBI as he started off the game 6-for-6, four
singles and two doubles. However, he flied out in the ninth inning, his
seventh at-bat, and had to settle for a 6-for-7–one hit shy of the
record for a nine-inning game.

(Cue up music: “Walk Like an Egyptian”) You know that a bad pun is coming, right? Yes, Miguel Cairo–incidentally,
the Yankees’ second baseman for all nine innings of that game mentioned
earlier–had the first bases-loaded extra-inning suicide squeeze by a
visiting player since 1976, providing the winning run in the tenth
inning for the Mariners at the Rogers Centre. (Statistics courtesy of
XM’s “Baseball This Morning”) Extra-inning bases-loaded squeeze plays
are rare in any event–when Melvin Mora sealed the Red Sox’ AL East
championship with a two-out 10th-inning bases-loaded bunt base hit to
beat the Yankees following a ninth-inning that saw the Yanks blow a
three-run lead when Mariano Rivera gave up a two-out, bases-loaded
triple to Jay Payton, on September 28th of last season, it was the first extra-innings bases-loaded bunt
in three years–but with the uncertainty that being a visiting team in
extra innings can produce, it’s even rarer for a visitor to squeeze.

An addition, courtesy of an article on ESPN.com about why “home field advantage” appears to be at an all-time high:

“I have always thought,” said White Sox GM Kenny Williams, “that
outside of Boston, New York and Minnesota — yes, Minnesota, due to the
House of Horror Dome — there are no great advantages for home teams in
baseball.”

Yes, “House of Horror Dome” is inside the quotation marks. Have the
White Sox ever been this entertaining? And so far, it’s just been
manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Kenny Williams. Imagine how much fun
they’ll be if A.J. Pierzynski makes a return to form.

The woeful state of the American League

If it wasn’t such a pressing issue that the AL is horrible this year,
the title of this entry would probably be a reference to the scorching
start that Jay Bruce has had in the major leagues. Thought I should
mention him before things get depressing.

I am one hundred percent certain that a team that doesn’t deserve to
make the postseason will make it anyway. Why should that be so? They
give out four postseason berths per league. The AL doesn’t have
four worthy teams. Before the season started, I wouldn’t have been
surprised to hear that Ozzie Guillen was in a state of constant
foul-mouthed frustration by the time Memorial Day came around. However,
that’s because the place that I expected them to be trying to hold off
the Twins for was fourth, not first. Okay, maybe third–Royals, White
Sox, no difference to me. The Royals have shown their true colors once
more, as evidenced by their recent twelve-game losing streak, but the
Indians and Tigers…well, the Indians at least still have a chance. If
everyone gets healthy, they could become a worthy fourth. The West, on
the other hand, has already been won…almost. Seattle, my preseason
pick to edge out Los Angeles for the division, is mired in last place,
the worst record in the American League. The rebuilding Athletics won’t
hold up long, which leaves the Angels’ only threat…Texas. I’d say
that this was crazy, but they’ve got the offense to do it…and their
pitching has improved…and in this season, anything is
possible. The AL East champion and the wild card are playing each other
right now, though I’m not sure which one is which. This is because the
Central is clearly no threat, with only one decent team that happens to
be in third place right now, and, well…Texas. This is also because
the Orioles have taken to their “rebuilding” tag much more readily than
Minnesota or Oakland. The Yankees, whose starting pitching was expected
to be a question mark at best, has been infinitely worse. The highly
hyped first start by Joba Chamberlain (They held out until June. Guess
I was wrong about them making the desperation move by the end of May)
was nothing short of…well, it wasn’t abominable. He only gave up two
runs, one of them both unearned and scored after he left. The problem?
That was in the third inning. In the first, he walked the leadoff
batter, who then ended up on third following a balk and a passed ball
and scored on a groundout, the second out. The passed ball, though not
Joba’s fault, did not make the run unearned, as he then proceeded to
give up a single and walk the bases loaded. He was then pulled after a
one-out walk, and the runner on first then stole second and went to
third on a throwing error by the catcher on the steal, scoring on a
groundout. No hits followed and the bases weren’t loaded, so that was
unearned…but two-and-a-third innings? Toronto has the potential to be
decent if they ever get healthy, but they haven’t had a healthy team in
Toronto since the nineties. I think that both of these teams can make
it through the LDS round to face each other. The Rays match up well
with the Angels, I think, and if they face the Central champion
instead, it means that they’re the AL East champion and have home field
advantage throughout the AL playoffs. Boston, like Tampa Bay, is all
but unbeatable at home and is good enough to handle the Angels–aren’t
they always good enough to handle the Angels in October? However, if
home-field advantage runs out when the ALCS is over, I have my doubts
that even those two titans could take the NL champion in the World
Series. Chicago or Arizona, I think? While as a Red Sox fan I of course
want Boston to repeat, I think the funniest possible scenario would be
the Cubs finally making it back to the World Series and losing to the
Tampa Bay Rays. You know, it’s theoretically possible for the Cubs to
go all the way to the World Series and play a trio of teams with less
combined seasons in the majors than the length of time since the Cubs
last played in the World Series. It wouldn’t happen as the standings
are now, but it wasn’t long ago that the Marlins were the ones in line
to play the Cubs in round one (instead of the Phillies)…actually, the
problem is that the Marlins were almost destined to fall, and it would
have to be a trio of teams that were founded in the LCS era. Extend it
to the length of time since they last won a World Series, though, and
you could get away with Mets–>D-Backs–>Rays (still unlikely, I
think, but it could happen–especially because I’m not convinced the
Cardinals will hold up as the wild card). Actually, come to think of
it, you wouldn’t be off by much with Mets–>D-Backs–>Angels. Now
that’s funny.