Friday, April 9, 2010

The Worst Play in the World

Before we get started, let me say that the commenters on are patently insane.  Or at least absurd.  People are talking about Jhonny Peralta as if he is a valueless players: one went so far as to call him a "zero-tool player."  Does anyone remember LAST BLOODY NIGHT?  You know, when the Indians were down 3-2 in the 8th inning until a guy hit a double into the gap on a very good pitch by an excellent reliever with two strikes?  Come one, people.  Jhonny Peralta can be frustrating, but he's not a fungus.  Without his clutch hit, we lose on Thursday.  You want to trade one win for the other, I have to ask, "What's the point?"

And it's far from guaranteed that the Indians would have won today's game against the Tigers if he hadn't made the error.  Sure, we would have carried a 2-1 lead, but they scored another run.  Was our offense that potent that we were guaranteed another run?  Okay, maybe Jamey Wright isn't pitching with a 2-1 lead, but ... who's to say anyone else would have done better?  The fact is, the Indians were exhausted and did well to make a game of it, but that play by itself, although very important, wasn't the whole game.

This having been said, it was The Worst Play in the World.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Magglio Ordonez hit a smash to Peralta's left, but not even far enough that he had to backhand it.  In a sense, it was in the grey zone where it wasn't far enough to backhand, but far enough to be awkward to catch straight up.  Still, he got a glove on it and should have made the play.

He did not do this.

As the ball rolled away from him (roughly in the direction of the mound), he shuffled over, barehanded the ball, and rushed a very very very very very bad throw to first that bounced in the dirt in front of the bag, short-hopping Andy Marte.

Let us pause here for a moment: no, Marte is not a "natural" first baseman, but he has entered two games as a late-inning "defensive replacement" for Matt LaPorta, who is also not a "natural" first baseman.  In fact, neither is even a good first baseman.  But LaPorta was no more likely to come up with that throw than Marte.

However, either player should have stopped the goddam ball.  If you can't catch it, at least stop it.

And then Marte did something good first baseman probably do not do: he stood there like a lump.

I am trying to imagine Andy Marte's thought process at this point.  "I bet Luis is backing up the bag," perhaps.  "Shin-Soo Choo is very fast, he'll likely beat me to the ball," he might have thought.  "I am very tired and wish amphetamines were still legal," perhaps.  "Gumma gumma numma zumma wumma" would not surprise me.

Here is the thought that did NOT occur to Andy Marte: "Go get the ball."

It is one thing to make a one-run error.  With the bases loaded, by definition, if you make an error, a run will score.  No sweat.  And since there were two outs, the runners were going on contact: even if the ball got a little bit past Marte, that's two runs right there.

But a THREE-run error requires some very special circumstances.  It requires a fast runner on first base (Austin Jackson is fast).  It requires a spectacularly bad throw (Peralta's throw was lousy, to be sure) or something else Very Special (Andy Marte contemplating his navel).  See, when I read about the play in GameCast, I thought Peralta must have launched the ball at least ten feet over Marte's head, or perhaps so far off line as to comically bounce out past right field.  But no, it was a garden-variety throw in the dirt: in fact, it was on line.  It was just bad.  But when Marte stood there, transfixed as if by narcolepsy, well, the combination of all the factors led to the designation in the title.

Also, I didn't like it.

1 comment:

  1. I just knew that when Peralta muffed it the first time a bad throw was to follow. To give him credit, he made a great throw earlier in the game that saved a single so I am not going to crucify him for this. It is only game 4. Lets hope that he learns from this and TAKES HIS FREAKIN TIME on the next one. Tough loss but lets get em' tomorrow.