I spent most of my afternoon attempting to teach a little-league team of 8-to-10 year olds how to chase down a ball in the outfield and hit the cutoff man. After a few hours, there’d been some improvement, albeit a slim amount — now, nearly every time, we were executing the plays without impromptu, hollered advice from the supervising coaches.
Maybe the Brewers should have attended. Or the Mets. Or the umpires. Or anyone — meaning, most everyone — who completely failed to understand how we came away with a second run that still doesn’t feel completely legitimate.
Here’s how it went, to the best of my understanding, which I will say in all honesty is pretty comprehensive, based almost entirely of my obsessive perusal of books like Baseball Brain Teasers as a kid:
Reynolds lines a ball to Jonathan Villar. Villar drops it. Runners are all forced.
Villar tosses to Scooter Gennet; Gennett catches it, comes off the base, steps back on the base. Kelly Johnson, the runner on first, is forced at second. He’s out. No one seems to realize.
Wilmer Flores now has a right to second base, because Gennett stepped on second without tagging Flores first, which if I’m not mistaken would have resulted in a double play, as Flores no longer had a right to the base. But now he does again, because Gennett stepped on second. So he can stay on second. But he doesn’t: he goes on to third. Again, nobody seems to notice.
Meanwhile, Asdrubal Cabrera comes home, and as far as I saw was relatively uncontested.
The Brewers chase Kelly Johnson, who you will remember is already out, back to first, where he is tagged out for the second time, by a Brewers team that — you may have caught on to a pattern here — does not realize. Meanwhile, Flores, who is not yet already out, goes to third completely unencumbered, although I should note that Aaron Hill at third was holding his hands up for the ball, as if he had any more sense of what was happening than anyone else did.
Meanwhile, Matt Reynolds has already crossed first — in fact, he crossed first long before most of the confusion started.
So, in the end, here’s what you’ve got: Fielder’s Choice, 6-4-3, one runner retired (twice!), one other runner advances, one run scores.
Or, to save time, you could just sum it up the way Keith Hernandez did: “Send everyone back to school.”
Perhaps it wouldn’t have been notable — in a game that saw, say, sixteen or twenty runs score. But this game was different. Over eleven innings, three runs scored.
So, this absolute miscarriage of sense and sensibility, not to mention fundies, accounted for a third, and ultimately, the most important third, of the game’s total scoring.
It’s almost karmic: earlier in the game, the Brewers had appeared to score, then, after a terrible slide — “That’s a terrible slide!” Keith had said, his righteous anger at the awful baseball being played in front of him quite evident — had, after two reviews, or maybe a review and a half, lasting a combined six minutes, lost the run, and then had the loss of the run confirmed.
People wonder what problems others have with replay: well, today, I hope, demonstrated those problems amply. Here, as I understand it, is what happened with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the third:
Aaron Hill is on second. Jonathan Villar hits a ball that deflects off Matt Harvey, and toward the shortstop hole. Asdrubal Cabrera attempts to barehand it, but misses. Hill rounds third and comes home. Cabrera throws home. Hill is called safe.
Then, Terry Collins comes out. He challenges the call. After a review of the play, culminating in a not-so-spectacular tag by Plawecki and an even more mediocre slide by Hill, the run is erased, and the inning is over on the tag play at the plate.
Now things start to get interesting.
Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell comes out looking for a rule clarification. Specifically, he wants to know whether Plawecki’s block of the plate was challengeable in its legality.
In essense, the Brewers are challenging whether a play can be challenged.
It’s not completely ridiculous: “record keeping” is included under aspects of the game that are challengeable, and record-keeping includes application of the rulebook. But the Brewers aren’t actually challenging: they’re just asking for a clarification, and apparently, the umpires agree to provide one purely out of the goodness of their hearts.
And the weirdest part is, the clarification takes almost three more minutes to come through the headphones. Then, it turns out that the play can be challenged, and the Brewers are offered the opportunity to challenge. And they decline.
Keith summed up these six minutes of inaction aptly: “The managers should know the rules.”
Oh yeah, and mixed in with these seven or so minutes of complete absurdity, there was also another good-almost-great start from Matt Harvey, a towering shot from Cespedes, and three hits from Wilmer.
But honestly, who’s really going to remember those? These moments of ridiculousness so far off the spectrum of sensibility that they make your jaw drop and your eyes flutter — those are the moments we’ll remember. And that we take moments like that, like today, so well, is perhaps the most important reason I’m so glad that I’m a Mets fan.