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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Game 136: Umpires blow game for Phils, Manuel doesn't argue (65-71)

With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the 6th inning last night and the Phils leading 1-0, Nate Schierholtz hit a line drive to center field. The ball clearly bounced into the glove of Drew Stubbs, but the second base umpire made no signal. The first base umpire, who for some reason made this call, ruled that it was a catch. As a result, the runner on second was doubled up (and since the second base umpire made no signal, the runner on third, Ryan Howard, was confused), and the inning was over. Had the second base umpire properly ruled the ball hit the ground, Howard would have scored, and the Phils would have had a chance at a huge inning.

Watching the game live, it was obvious that the ball bounced into his glove, simply based on the angle of the glove and the behavior of the ball. All four umpires missed the call. Had they gotten together and overturned the call, they could have awarded the Reds with one out at second base, and sent the other runners back to  their original bases (since no one advanced). A run wouldn't have scored on the play, but they still would have had bases loaded, two outs for Erik Kratz. Did Manuel vehemently argue this point? Did he at least complain about the hideous missed call? Nope, he did neither, instead opting for a short conversation with the crew chief, which was just an explanation of their call.

It is too bad that our manager was more confused than the umpires on that play. Otherwise, the umpires could have had the guts to overturn the call (it is very possible that one umpire saw it hit the ground, but didn't want to go through the trouble of placing the 3 baserunners after overturning it). Thanks a lot Manuel; it is disgusting that the fans watching on television not only understand what happens before you do, but they clearly care more as well. If you're here next year, Ryne Sandberg should be canonized into the sainthood before August if he is still in the organization.

Now, fast forward to the top of the ninth, when the Phillies, now trailing 2-1, had Ryan Howard, John Mayberry, Domonic Brown, and Schierholtz due up. LHP Aroldis Chapman, who has the fastest recorded fastball ever, was into the game for a save. With RHBs Ty Wigginton and Placido Polanco on the bench, it is clear that Manuel should use those two righties for his two least-effective lefties. Out of the 3 lefties due up, Howard is certainly the worst against left-handed pitching (and hideous against LH relievers). Brown had relatively even splits in the minor leagues, and Schierholtz is more effective than Howard against lefties: Howard has a career .308 OBP against LHPs; Schierholtz is at .320. Howard has a bigger SLG, but not by enough to discount the difference in OBP. It is also worth noting that since Schierholtz and Brown are entering/in their primes, while Howard is about 5 years removed from his prime, Howard is even less effective than his stats indicate. Finally, and most importantly, Brown and Schierholtz are much better in terms of plate discipline than Howard. Of course, Manuel allowed the least effective LHB to face Chapman, pinch-hitting for Brown and Schierholtz but allowing Howard to flail away, even after the count was 1-0. Howard predictably struck out, and the game was over soon after.



hk said...

Spot on analysis - other than the fact that it was the Reds, not the Braves who the Phils were playing - of one of the most frustrating plays I have ever witnessed. I could not decide which of the following pissed me off the most:

1. The ineptitude of the 1B and 2B umps in missing the call. I get missing a trap / catch play when it is close, but on this one, it was obvious that the ball bounced.

2. The ineptitude of the home plate ump, who called Howard out on a force at home plate. To make this call, the home plate ump must have seen that the ball bounced, but missed Brandon Phillips tagging 2nd base - a move that would have eliminated the force at home and made it necessary for the Reds to tag Howard out.

3. Tom McCarthy, who thought it was an 8-4-2 DP with force outs at 2B and home, even though the rules (as I described above) disallow that. Even after Sarge told him that Howard could not be forced out at home if Brown was forced out at 2nd, TMac seemed to struggle with what he just saw.

4. Charlie for not arguing or at least suggesting that maybe the umps should convene and determine what to do. After all, it seemed pretty apparent to me that the home plate ump was convinced that it bounced.

Anothe thing that I cannot decide is whether I want the Phils to lose games the rest of the way to increase the chances that (a) Charlie gets fired and (b) their draft choice is protected or to win games and make a run to within 5 games or so of the Wild Card, so we can look back at the 6-10 games that Charlie cost them this year and laugh or cry about it.

Andy Musser said...

Thank you for the correction. As for your second point about the home plate umpire: it looked like he was signaling "three" with his right hand when the catcher stepped on home plate, as if to say "there are already three outs due to the catch and the play at second" rather than calling Howard out. But, yes, McCarthy is embarrassingly incompetent when it comes to rulebook knowledge (I would rather slice my own ears off than listen to him try to explain the "transfer" rule on plays at second -- he somehow believes that outfielders and infielders are held to different standards when it comes to making a catch, which is just mystifying), and he was terrible last night. I still don't think he understands that the force at home would have been wiped out after the force at second.

To your last point, I'm still rooting for the Phillies to win every game. Their schedule is soft, and I'd rather delude myself into thinking that Kendrick can pitch this team into the playoffs than delude myself into thinking Amaro would do anything with the draft pick anyway.

hk said...

You might be right about the home plate ump, but my recollection is that he waited until the catcher stepped on home plate before he made the out call.

Scott Graham said...

Wasn't it the 4th inning? And I don't think the catcher ever touched home. He was screaming at the pitcher (?) to step on home, but the ump signaled 3 outs.

I rewinds several times, and I was furious the entire time. I knew they were going to call it a catch as soon as it bounced.

hk said...

I don't have the video saved, but I was sure he stepped on home plate. The article on the game also mentioned that Hanigan stepped on home plate.

Robby Bonfire said...

He is NOT going to be fired. He is doing, and always has done a superb job. He is the heart and soul of Philadelphia sports. He ranks with Connie Mack, Mike Schmidt, Robin Roberts, Lefty Grove, Dr. J., and Chuck Bednarik as one of the most beloved and revered all-time icons in Philadelphia sports history. We need to bring him back for this franchise to have a chance to get turned around.

God bless Charlie Manuel, our hope for the future. I have faith that RAJ will do the right thing, here, and extend Charlie another five years.

Robby Bonfire said...

It is probably remiss not to mention the names of Grover Cleveland Alexander, Steve Van Buren, and Steve Carlton, too, but where does one draw the line? I know when we get down to Ted Kazanski, Putsy Caballero, and Steve Jeltz and that "speedster" Jeff Stone, we have probably crossed over the line.

Ever notice that when a player gets the "speedster" tag, he can't hit his weight? Remember when the Phillies used to pencil in "all glove, no hit" Punch and Judy type middle infielders? God that Jeltz was an offensive sieve. Charlie would have loved him.