Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Anaheim Vs. Pittsburgh, 15 June 2004

Sometimes I watch games and feel as if either I or the people calling the game must be crazy, our perceptions of what's going on are so different.

Case in point: Jack Wilson. Look, the guy's not a good defender. He made one admittedly cool-looking but not amazing play in the middle of tonight's game, and the Fox Sports broadcasters raved about his glove and how the fans should vote him into the All Star Game, all the while failing to point out that he botched a much more routine play earlier in the game.

...And then there was the ninth inning. Darin Erstad started the inning with a single, and Jose Molina sacrificed him to second. Then Adam Kennedy walked. Jeff DaVanon hit into an inning-ending double play, except that Jack Wilson couldn't get the ball out of his glove to throw to first. Then, with Erstad on third, DaVanon scampered to second on a play that was ruled a steal, but was actually the sort of fielder's indifference play of which every team takes advantage in the late innings. Chone Figgins then doubled to right, scoring Erstad and DaVanon.

In their recap of the inning, Fox Sports flashed the graphic "SMALL BALL" to explain why the Angels had scored. What?! Molina's sacrifice was rendered completely irrelevant by the walk to Kennedy. I'll grant that Molina might have hit into a double play if he were allowed to swing away, but his sacrifice had the same effect as a strikeout. No help there. I suppose that DaVanon did make a "productive out" of some kind by moving Erstad to third, but what he actually did was dare the Pirates to turn an inning-ending double play. The fact that Jack Wilson was unable to do so was certainly not something the Angels counted on. The "steal" of second was just indifference on the part of Jason Kendall, who didn't make a throw. And then Figgins hit a double.

So why did the Angels score those runs? Because Erstad, Kennedy and Figgins got on base, and because of Jack Wilson's poor defense. Neither of these factors were ever acknowledged.

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