Mistakes at the Top Highlight the 2013 Postseason

Postseason baseball can be harsh for players, managers, umpires, and TV broadcasters. Every play, every decision and every comment is seen on network TV, then replayed, and then analyzed in further detail on sports media throughout the country.

Now that Boston is the World Series champs, we can point out that throughout the 2013 Major League playoffs it seemed that the ongoing theme was: People in Charge Making Mistakes.

But not (for once) the umpires.

In Game 1 of the World Series five other umpires disagreed with umpire Dana DeMuth's generous expansion of  the "vicinity play" by St. Louis Cardinal shortstop Pete Kozma in the 1st inning. Kozma tried to catch a ball thrown by second baseman Matt Carpenter but the ball never entered his glove before it dropped to the field.

That play provided increasing evidence that MLB umpires no longer see their initial decisions as falling somewhere between the Ten Commandments and  the Magna Carta.

The most painful thing about umpire Jim Joyce's obstruction call against Boston to end World Series Game 3 wasn't the call. That call was right on the money.

It was the asinine comments from those in the sports media and others who said, in effect, that "a World Series game shouldn't end this way…". 

Shouldn't end how? By following the written rules of the game?

So how many other ways should a World Series game not end? How about with a player being picked-off first base, or by an error, or maybe on a home run from a player who never hits home runs.

Here's a thought: the only way a World Series game shouldn't end is with a lot of whining and sniveling about the the game's rules being properly enforced.

Up in the TV booth, when-exactly-is-he-retiring Fox Sports TV "analyst" Tim McCarver provided a pre-Halloween jolt by being as scary as he ever was.

I know we're all supposed to be thankful for the 72 years he spent behind the mike, but it really feels more like 73 years.    

I can't tell you how many times Tim McCarver literally took my breath away with his comments and observations over the past several weeks. Tops on my list was McCarver's Boston-Detroit ALCS comment make during Game 5 about how the Red Sox players would approach Game 6.

"The Red Sox will be playing Game 6 like it was Game 7, and for Detroit now every game is like Game 7, as opposed to Game 5."

At that moment the universe stopped briefly to determine if life as we know it on earth should be allowed to continue. I grabbed my calculator and my "Yogi Berra Quotes" book so I could try and figure out what the hell Tim McCarver just said.

A couple of things became instantly clear: McCarver believes players participating in the American League Championship Series need additional motivation to perform. They apparently get too laid back and need to fool themselves into playing harder by pretending that Game 6 is Game 7.

But how do they play the real Game 7 if it occurs? Players certainly can't play it twice in their minds, so if they pretended that Game 6 was Game 7 they now need to pretend that Game 7 is a Game 8– which only exists in an cool alternate universe overseen by Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

MLB managers took the biggest hit throughout the American League and National League playoffs. Is it me or were there an excessive number of in-game managerial blunders this October?

Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers led the pack. (Although Dusty Baker, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds, may hold the modern record for most playoff series totally bungled.)

For some reason, throughout the playoffs Leyland couldn't wait to take his outstanding starting pitchers out of games to get into Detroit's malodorous bullpen.

In Game 2 of the ALDS with Oakland, Leyland removed Justin Verlander after 7 innings (and a mere 117 pitches) only to lose the game 1-0 when his bullpen gave up a run in the 8th inning.

Twice Leyland had enough of 21-game winner Max Scherzer– first against Boston in ALCS Game 2 when he pulled Scherzer after 7 IP, after which Boston proceeded to score five runs off the Tigers' bullpen to even the Series at 1-1.

Then in ALCS Game 6 Leyland pulled Scherzer after 6.1 IP with Detroit leading 2-1. Boston poured mustard over the Tigers' bullpen again and won the game 5-2 on their way to the 2013 World Series. Both times Scherzer hadn't thrown more than 110 pitches.

During the World Series Boston Manager John Farrell incredibly allowed several of his relievers to have at-bats late in tight games. The double switch can at times be challenging.

And the Dodgers' Don Mattingly had a stunningly impressive list of managerial gaffes.

Hard to pick the top two, but how about, 1) his removal of slugger Adrian Gonzalez for a pinch runner in the 8th inning of a 2-2 tie that St. Louis eventually won in the 13th inning. At least Mattingly didn't give Gonzalez the game ball when he pulled him.

Almost equally baffling was, 2) Mattingly's insistance in putting Hanley Ramirez in at shortstop behind Clayton Kershaw in NLCS Game 6. Even putting aside the fact that Ramirez had a broken rib (!), Kershaw needed Nick Punto's range much more than Ramirez's 0-3 bat.

The Cards won that game 9-0 and headed to the World Series. And Mattingly wants a multi-year contract from the Dodgers.

Next up: thanks to the designated hitter not being an issue throughout 2013 playoffs, get ready for the DH to be part of every inter-league game played during the regular season– not just those games played in American League cities.

And after that… ?

Richard Dyer

About Richard Dyer

Writer, bass player, carrot juice wrangler. His Twitter following is limited to one person at a time. "My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music." --Vladimir Nabokov