Wednesday, October 12
Editor's note: Eric Neel and David Schoenfield were doing a running Second Guessing throughout Wednesday's doubleheader. But the night came down to one play to second-guess...
Eric: Terrible call!
David: Let's hope this doesn't lose the game for the Angels...
Eric: Horrible. I think I'm going to throw up.
Eric: Greatest understatement of the season: "Both the White Sox runs were unearned."
David: Do we have to question Josh Paul not making sure the ball didn't hit the dirt before flipping the ball back to the mound?
Eric: The ball didn't hit the dirt.
David: Yeah, but maybe you have to MAKE sure. I'm saying, the umpire, Doug Eddings, will get all the blame, but Josh Paul could have just tagged Pierzynski and we're heading to the 10th. Yes, I know I'm grasping ... I'm ticked off ... I wanted extra innings, like this game deserved. I wanted Mark Buehrle out there in the 10th and K-Rod coming on for the Angels.
Eric: Scioscia's being very stand-up on ESPNEWS right now: "We didn't play well enough to absorb something like that."
Eric: The ump called him out twice, rang him up twice.
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David: Well, the first one was a flat hand ... was he saying the ball hit the dirt with that motion? I'm not sure the first motion was calling him out. And the second motion, as Harold Reynolds is saying right now, could be interpreted as a strike call, not an out call. It all depends on what Eddings verbalized. It's the verbal that matters here, not the hand signal.
Eric: It'd be interesting to hear from the ump.
David: The White Sox are probably buying him a round right now.
Eric: There's going to be a lot of wailing and rending of garments tonight, and we're all going to be thinking about Denkinger and Orta, and Reggie's big ol' butt swinging wide in the basepath back in '78, but if you'll forgive the cheap riff on a bad bumper sticker, stuff happens. Guys make bad calls (and it was a bad call, I think), but to me, the bigger, and ultimately more interesting, stories are these: (1) Heck of a play by A.J. Pierzynski. Seriously heads-up. If he doesn't push the issue, we're not talking about any of this and the Sox are down 0-2; (2) Very well-played press conference from Mike Scioscia after the game. He's got to get his boys to turn the page. Period. He can't let this thing fester for them on the plane ride home. When he made the outcome tonight about how well his club played throughout the game, he was giving the Angels the best chance to be where they need to be emotionally/psychologically for Game 3.
Eric: I thought the umps, and especially the umpiring supervisor guy, were defensive, unconvincing, and generally weak, in their comments just aired on ESPN.
David: Do you think Eddings needs to come out and say, "I watched the replay. I blew the call." Or does he stick to his guns and turn it on the Angels, saying they still had the chance to complete the play?
Eric: He's saying he thought Paul trapped the ball (and the stuff about "there was a change of direction," sounded dubious; they sounded like defenders of the single gunman theory somehow trying to explain the path of the magic bullet). So he's putting it on Paul. But the way he's putting it on him, like the way Jason Giambi "apologized," was utterly without content or explanation. "I'm looking at Josh Paul. Sometimes you want to see reactions," or some such mealy-mouthed nonsense doesn't really tell us anything about his read on the whole situation.
David: I guess I'll harken back to the Denkinger play. People forget that after he blew the call on Jorge Orta to start the inning, the Cardinals' Jack Clark proceeded to misplay a foul popup on Steve Balboni, who then singled, and Darrell Porter allowed a passed ball. Don Denkinger didn't lose that game; the Cardinals did. And Doug Eddings made the bad call, but he didn't allow Ozuna to steal second and he didn't allow Crede the double off the wall. Blaming Eddings is the easy way out if you're an Angels fan.
Eric: Agreed. And I think Scioscia's on that same tip. And like I said, I think maybe the most interesting thing to do here is consider credit as well as blame. So let's give Ozzie some credit for the stolen-base call, right off. It's not rocket science to make the decision, but it was smart because Paul was no doubt rattled back there. (He didn't look anything like a guy who was ready to throw someone out when the base was stolen). I wonder why Scioscia didn't try a pitchout in that situation -- Ozuna stole on an 0-2 count. And as for the ball Crede hit (and I guess now I'm getting back to blame, despite the fact that I'm a big, big Kelvim Escobar fan), what was that thing doing anywhere near the plate on an 0-2 count with Ozuna on second?
David: You know ... I'm still angry if I'm an Angels fan.
Eric: No doubt. And reasonably so. But there ain't a thing to do about it now. As an Angels fan, here's the thing that bothers me the most: The call was unclear when it happened on the field, and it didn't get any clearer when Pierzynski described what happened, and it didn't get any clearer when we looked at the footage, and it didn't get any clearer when the league sent those umps and that supervisor up there for a dog-and-pony show that produced nothing in the way of a genuine explanation and a whole lot in the way of defensiveness and hostility. That's what angers me.
Previous Second Guesses
• Oct. 11: Ozzie ball backfires on White Sox