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And That Happened: Division Series Edition

Oct 8, 2010, 6:07 AM EDT

A picture is worth 1000 words. So, between that pic to the left and my rantings in this post, you've got 1,599 words to get through.

Giants 1, Braves 0: Congratulations, Major League Baseball: a playoff game was decided by a blown call. Sure, Tim Lincecum struck out 14 dudes — and I don’t want to detract from what was a clearly dominant performance on his part — but he would have been in the dugout with his very nice no-decision watching the bullpens battle in the 10th inning had the umpires made the correct call on Buster Posey’s stolen base in the fourth inning.  Posey admitted it after the game, going so far as to say “I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have instant replay right now.” That’s pretty much on the nose, is it not? Certainly we can’t change the outcome of baseball games that are in the books, but how Selig and the rest of the powers that be can continue to say everything is just dandy with umpiring and the state of replay is beyond me.

Setting that aside for now — and believe me, I’ll be saying more about it later — the Braves didn’t do themselves any favors whatsoever. Yes, Lincecum was good, but if the Braves had at any point in the game said “Hey, you know what? Maybe we should stop swinging at balls six inches out of the zone” it may have been a different game.  If Bobby Cox had not inexplicably intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval before the Cody Ross single that scored Posey, it may have been a different game.  But they didn’t and it wasn’t.

Ultimately, this was Tim Lincecum’s night. It was a fantastic performance by the guy, doing what he had to do to win a game in which his own offense wasn’t doing him any favors themselves. He went the distance, saving his pen for tonight’s game and putting the Giants in an excellent position to go up 2-0 before heading to Atlanta.

Yankees 5, Twins 2: More bad umpiring here, though this was balls-and-strikes bad, not calls-in-the-field bad. Maybe in a just world we have replay for disputed calls right now, but I don’t think any set of circumstances would have us living in a world with automated ball-and-strike umping at present. But jeez, look at Hunter Wendlestedt’s zone. Ick.  It all culminated, of course, in what should have been strike three to Lance Berkman
in the seventh. Instead, Wendlestedt called it a ball and Berkman
hit what ended up being the game-winning double on the next
pitch. He ended up scoring too, making it 4-2 ,and that was basically all she wrote.

But like with the Braves’ awful at-bats against Tim Lincecum, the Twins have a bigger issue to deal with here. Namely the fact that tattooed on the rear end of each and every Minnesota Twins player are the words “Property of the New York Yankees Baseball Club.”

Rangers 6, Rays 0: And for our third bad call of the day, we go to Tampa, where Michael Young’s three-run homer came one pitch after he stayed alive on a disputed — an ultimately incorrectly-called — check-swing.  Unlike the other two games, though, this wasn’t the deciding factor. James Shields was terrible, the Rays’ bats listless and Texas was never challenged.  Leave it to Mitch Williams of all people to correctly analyze the problem here: “there are three other guys who should have started that game over James Shields.” OK, maybe that overstates it a little — and I still don’t know that I’d want Shields starting in Texas — but Joe Maddon’s decision to go with him in Game 2 doesn’t look too spiffy at the moment. Not that he really had control over things . . .

  1. Jonny5 - Oct 8, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    All male Jews have the ability to conjure up “the eye of the Jew” if you ever see “the eye of the jew”, get the hell out of the way quick. I know this because my mother married a Jewish man and she warned me if you see a strange twinkle in his eye, that resembles the star of david, stay out of his way. Unless he was going to bed with me and you see it. In that case stuff cotton in your ears…. Very potent is the eye…..

  2. Utley's hair - Oct 8, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Totally fer sher.

  3. Woe is Mets - Oct 8, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Craig, i’m still sick so i can’t read that brooksbaseball zone. what do the green squares, red squares, green triangles and red triangles mean? my brain’s not working fast enough.
    also, even if he did apply the tag, we can all agree that Brooks Conrad was the least deserving starter out of any of the 4 Game 1s. he might’ve pissed his pants 3 times out there.

  4. Jeremy - Oct 8, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Craig, one of the things I love best about you as a writer is your ability to be objective and rational while also being a passionate Braves fan. It’s refreshing and honest. I too wish that call hadn’t been blown, and we were instead focusing on two wholly different and wholly awesome pitching performances today.
    That said, to read a Braves fan complaining about umpiring after twenty years of farcical strike zones is RICH. The Braves have benefited from literally hundreds of ball and strike calls over their amazing run. That’s part of what the Big Three did, part of their game, and fans of the other 29 teams knew it going in, but man, it’s tough to feel sorry for Braves fans right now.
    Oh, and about those ball and strike calls:

  5. Zidane Valor - Oct 8, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Sample size: The team with home field advantage has won 31 of 60 division series (51.7%) and 39 of 80 championship series (48.8%).

  6. nps6724 - Oct 8, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Like they’re the first pitchers to ever get favorable ball-strike calls? Gimme a break. Most top pitchers get favorable calls. As do most top hitters.

    And favorable ball-strike calls isn’t the same as calling someone out or safe. One is done subconsciously due to the talent and skill of the player and them getting the benefit of the doubt. The other is quite different.

  7. Jeremy - Oct 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    This was sarcasm, right? I don’t want to fall in the chasm.

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