Joe Girardi, umpires and more October disasters
Bud Selig made a good call by deciding early to postpone Game 6
But it's been a bad October for others, including Joe Girardi
Several umpires and closers have also had performance problems
NEW YORK -- Good call by The Commish to bag Game 6 early Saturday night, and well before the deluge came, too. Maybe Bud Selig should be manning one of the bases tonight. Heaven knows, baseball could use an umpiring upgrade.
Selig must have learned his lesson last year, when we waited through the muck and sludge in Philly. No sense watching all these finely tuned professional athletes (plus Jose Molina) slipping around on a drenched field. This time, Selig called it early, and made everyone happy (well, everyone except a couple Yankees officials, who were hoping they'd seen the last of John Lackey).
Selig isn't quite alone in having a fine postseason so far (Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard, among others, have been superb). But there have been some very notable missteps by players, umpires and others. Here's a list of the roughest of the rough postseasons so far.
1. Joe Girardi, Yankees manager. It may be a little odd to put the manager of the team that's leading the ALCS 3-2 in games atop this list. But Girardi has had a very strange postseason indeed. Joe Torre wrote a bestseller this year, and I can't wait for Girardi's new tome, Over-Managing 101. Girardi apparently already has a dreary book of overwrought stats in the dugout, and he's gone to it once or two or maybe even three times too many. Perhaps the worst call of all was removing the tough David Robertson (who hasn't allowed a run in three extra-inning appearances this postseason) with two outs and nobody on in the 11th to bring in the immortal Alfredo Aceves. That book apparently suggested off-speed stuff against Howie Kendrick, who promptly singled against the soft-tossing Aceves, then scored the game-winning run on Jeff Mathis' double. I'm not sure what book told Girardi to keep A.J. Burnett in the game too long. But burn it. Same goes for the one that suggested Girardi remove The Great A-Rod for speedy pinch runner Freddy Guzman in case a ball is hit into the gap. A-Rod has decent speed, he's an excellent baserunner, and there was a greater chance the game was going to extra innings than Guzman's extra step would make the difference. Beyond all that, no sense messing with Rodriguez's head, as he (along with CC Sabathia) are the biggest reasons the Yankees are in the position they are.
2. Joe Nathan, Twins closer. Nathan has an excuse. He was obviously burned out from a brilliant regular season (0.93 WHIP), and had nothing left. It was kind of him not to mention that after two bad outings in which he allowed five big hits in two total innings. But he did prominently mention that umpire Phil Cuzzi blew it, too, in Game 1 of the Division Series. Which was true. "I wasn't the only one who blew one tonight,'' is the way Nathan put it. A couple nights later, he didn't help matters by allowing RBI hits to Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano. Cuzzi, on the other hand, got none wrong that night.
3. Phil Cuzzi, umpire. It's still tough to understand how Cuzzi blew the call in the corner on Joe Mauer's hit. Twice, actually. Mauer's high drive first tipped off Melky Cabrera's glove in fair territory, then landed in fair territory. Cuzzi appeared to be staring right at the plate. Crew chief Tim Tschida said Cuzzi felt terrible about the missed call, but most of the Twins were downright kind about it considering what an obvious call it was.
4. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox closer. He never got to dance, as the Angels pounded him to wrap up their ALDS and beat their own jinx. Papelbon was horrific, pumping straight fastball after straight fastball and never once trusting his breaking stuff. He fooled no one, allowing run-coring hits in both his innings, including one to Vladimir Guerrero, a longtime playoff disappointment who lined the series-winning hit into center field.
5. Matt Holliday, Cardinals outfielder. His terrific second half for the Cardinals is partly obscured now by the dropped fly ball in Dodger Stadium that allowed the Dodgers to come back and win Game 2. Whether it was the towels, the lights or anything else, the Cardinals never seemed to recover. They seemed beaten by Game 3, when Holliday whiffed twice.
6. Tim McClelland, umpire. Long regarded as one of the game's best umps, he blew two strange ones in Anaheim. Calling Nick Swisher out for leaving early was not good (you have to be sure if you're going to make that rare call). But calling Robinson Cano safe in the Yankees' two-baserunner boondoggle at third base was downright bizarre. We love that McClelland showed up at the press conferences, and he's been a great umpire for years. But this was not his best hour.
7. Huston Street, Rockies closer. Dependable during the year, Street was abominable in the NLDS, losing two games and posting that ever popular 13.50 ERA (same as Papelbon). He held a 4-2 lead with two outs in Game 4 before allowing three runs to the never-say-die Phillies.
MLB Truth & Rumors