Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Day After

It's an off day. We've all had some time to relax and reflect. A lot has been said on both sides, and this might be a good time to lay out where I stand, in case it's not clear.
  • To begin with, I harbor no animosity toward Pierzynski, the White Sox, or anyone else associated with either team on the basis of this play. I've never liked AJ, but that has nothing to do with my analysis of this play. The Sox benefitted, just as the Angels would have if the roles were reversed. AJ made a heads up play and it worked.
  • Eddings showed everyone, this time on a much larger stage, that he simply is not a competent umpire, and should be nowhere near anything over double A, let alone a major league post-season game. He simply doesn't have the nads for the position. As the Chronicler pointed out, back in May he blew an obvious call against the Angels. Darin Erstad swung, and in doing so, knocked the glove off of the hand of catcher John Buck. The glove landed out in front of the plate, yet catcher's interference was not called. There was physical evidence right in front of him, and he still missed it. The guy is like a deer in the headlights out there. He simply doesn't have the stones to make the right call when he realizes he has screwed up.
  • Eddings missed last night's call twice. First, replays clearly show the ball never touched the ground. Did it change direction? Yes. It did so because the natural direction of the ball when it hits the top of the webbing is to move toward the center of the webbing. As Paul had the web of the glove inverted, the natural motion of the ball was to move up, into the deep part of the webbing, after it entered his glove. Think of it like dropping something into trampoline. It bounces toward the center. It's the same concept. This change of direction is the only shred the true believers (read: some Sox fans) have to cling to. Cognitive dissonance can be a scary thing, so I don't blame them. But the fact is, there is no replay which ever shows the ball hitting the ground. In addition, he blew it again when he screwed up the out call (see below)
  • In addition to being incompetent, he's also a bald faced liar. He lied in front of everyone on national television. He claimed that his motion was consistent with his calls all night. This is simply a lie. On every strike three that bounced in the dirt, he distinctly waited until after the batter had been tagged to make the fist pump call of out. When there wasn't any question, he made the motion right after making his "no contact" motion, just as he did on the strikeout of AJ. When asked about it by reporters, he lied in front of everyone.
  • Even today Eddings has shown what a pathetic excuse for an umpire he is. Asked about the call, he said
    "The only thing I'm down on myself is I should have sold it either way,...I should have either said, 'No catch,' or, if I did have a catch, that he was out. Which I never said: 'He's out,'".
    What a putz. 24 hours later and he's still not sure he made the right call. And I don't mean he's not sure he made the right gesture. The guy's still not sure whether he had a catch or not! Good God, man, make a call and stand by it! This is what passes for a post-season umpire?
  • The call was not the sole reason the Angels lost the game. They failed to advance runners, they didn't hit, and they made a mistake in the first inning that cost them a run. Escobar cannot hold runners, which Ozuna took advantage of, and Escobar hung a splitter to Crede, his only bad pitch of the night. But to claim that the play didn't have a major impact on the outcome of the game is to simply deny reality. The inning was over, the Angels were coming up, and the game was going to extra innings, where the Angels had beat the White Sox just a month before. The extra baserunner scored the winning run. So enough with the "that's not why they lost" crap. It's a major factor in why they lost. Let's call a spade a spade.
  • I have complete faith in Mike Scioscia and the men on the field to put this loss behind them and come out ready to play tomorrow. It's not as if they lost a game they were definitely going to win. This team suffered a more crushing defeat over the A's on August 11th when Frankie dropped the throw from the catcher, allowing Jason Kendall to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, pushing Oakland into sole posession of first place. The Angels responded by beating Oakland the next day, and going 30-18 down the stretch to run away with the division. Scioscia keeps his guys focused, and unlike their fans (like me), they don't dwell on this stuff.
I was at the Chicago Pizza Feed for Baseball Prospectus tonight, and both Nate Silver and Christina Kahrl said something that surprised me. Nate said this one of the 10 worst blown calls in major league baseball history. Kahrl (no fan of the Angels by any means) said that in her opinion, it blows away even Don Denkinger's blunder in the 1985 World Series, as that was an error in judgement, and wasn't compounded by complete and total indecision. Do I agree? I don't know. Let's see how the series turns out. It may not matter. The Angels could still win. The Sox could win the next three decisively. I do think, however, that if the Sox win this series, this will be placed right alongside Donnie Moore in Angels lore.

Five game series now, and the Angels have home field, and their ace starting it off (let's face it, Lackey was much better than Colon in the second half). They had an opportunity to win (not their only opportunity) stolen from them, but they still have the upper hand in this series. But I'll repeat, they need Vlad or Figgins, preferably both, to produce. They're both streaky, and maybe they'll break out, but the hour is getting late. The time to rise is now.

*UPDATE* - Rob posts this Sports By Brooks blog entry, which discussing Eddings and his incompetence. It was written by Brooks Melchior, a sports radio guy. I don't really know who he is. Sounds about right, though. Via L.A. Observed. While you're there, check out the blog entry on Smacksaw. Apparently he's not to happy with Romey. REACTION!!


Encino_celt said...

Cognitive dissonance my @Ss!! He trapped the ball. It hit the ground. You give that film to any of the reply officials in the NFL, who, unlike baseball folks, have decades of experience interpreting this kind of stuff, and they would say the thing.

I agree that the ump's call was ridiculous, but don't gloss over the facts, okay?

Seitz said...

I'm not. The facts are that there is no video which shows the ball hitting the ground, and the center field camera clearly shows it not hitting the ground.

Anyone who can predict what they think an NFL replay official will come up with on any play is simply fooling themself.