by John Walters
Anthony Rendon Saves Baseball
The score was 3-2 in favor of the visitors with no outs in the top of the 7th inning of Game 6. The Nats had a man on first when Trea Turner hit a dribbler to the left of the pitcher’s mound. And you know what happened next.
So what should have been 2nd and 3rd with no outs for the Nats moves to man on first with one out. If the next batter, Adam Eaton, hits into a double play and the half inning ends 3-2, we’ve got an entirely different ballgame.
Instead, Eaton made an out but then Houston area native Anthony Rendon jacked a two-run homer to make it 5-2. Rendon added a two-run double in the ninth for the final score of 7-2 to give us fans a Game 7.
Thankfully for baseball. True, Nats ace Stephen Strasburg was pitching one of the best games of his life, but a one-run game with nine more outs for the Astros? Anything can happen. And if it had, had the Astros won, all that the 2019 World Series would be remembered for is the umps getting it right by getting it wrong (we’ll explain below).
So, yeah, Anthony Rendon kind of saved baseball with his four late-game RBI last night. We don’t know who will win MVP of this series, but on Park Avenue (and at Fox), they probably would vote for him.
As we said, baseball caught a lucky break. The umpire interpreted the rule correctly, which only exposed the fact that the rule (Rule 5.09) has an inherent flaw. Baseball is fortunate that it did not decide the outcome of the World Series.
Why is the rule flawed. Because in essence it says that as the batter runs to first base he must be, for the final 15 yards (or 45 feet) between the foul line and the 45-foot line, which runs parallel to the foul line but is three feet to the right of it. The problem is that the base is fully to the left of the foul line. So you’re asking a runner sprinting to first to take an odd step to hit the bag cleanly, and almost no one ever does run to the right of the foul line.
The only reason Trea Turner “interfered” with the play, which is also obvious, is because Houston pitcher Brad Peacock made a poor throw to first base, forcing the fielder Yuri Gurriel to stop into the lane where Turner was running.
So what’s the solution? Well, first, baseball needs to change its rule because on almost every infield ground ball a right-handed batter takes the same route to first that Turner did. And it’s never called. And it shouldn’t be the batter’s obligation to not interfere with a throw to first simply because he is taking the most direct possible route to first.
So, one of two things can be done. Put an extra base to the right of the foul line the way they do in Little League or softball. That would be the runner’s base while the other would be the fielder’s base. But that sort of ruins the aesthetic of the diamond, and we like that.
Here’s the better idea. Make the running lane that is the width of the base and extends from both ends of the base toward home plate the designated safe area for a runner to be able to matriculate himself down to first base. So he may be to the left of the foul line but he needs to stay within the parameters of the width of the base. Makes sense, no.
Any fielder making a play, say on a bunt or a dribbler down the third base line, has to put his throw to the left of the runner’s left shoulder. And if the fielder fails, that’s the fielder’s fault, not the runner’s.
Another problem solved by MH. You’re welcome.
We believe Joe Buck said tonight will be the first Game 7 in which both starting pitchers, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke, are former Cy Young Award winners. We’re not sure if we heard that correctly, but we’ll take a more cautionary stand and say it’s the first Game 7 featuring former Cy Young Award winners who both have a “Z” in their names.
It’s also the first Game 7 of a series, in any sport, in which the previous six games were all won by the visiting team. We happen to like the Nats tonight, by the way, because there is simply no one on the mound we’d rather have in 2019 than Max Scherzer, the heterochromatic hero.
Meanwhile, let’s talk Stephen Strasburg versus Justin Verlander. By winning last night’s game Strasburg, whom to this point in his career has not been Hall of Fame-worthy, moves to 5-0 this postseason. This October, certainly, he has lived up to all the hype with which his baseball debut was festooned back in 2010. Strasburg also has the second-lowest ERA in postseason history, minimum eight starts, with 1.56. Only Christy Mathewson, one of five charter members of the Hall of Fame, has a lower one with 0.97.
Meanwhile Justin Verlander moves to 0-6 in World Series decisions, which sets a new standard for pitching futility in the Fall Classic. Wild. Based on totality of careers almost every baseball cognoscenti would say Verlander is far more of a shoo-in for Cooperstown that Strasburg. And yet, those postseason numbers.
Call Of Duty
It’s going to be the hottest new musical for 2020, Vindman. Here’s a tease:
“Alexander Vindman/My name is Alexander Vindman/Caught some shrapnel in my neck, man/Near Kuwait, near Kuwait“
Like Alexander Hamilton, Alexander Vindman was not born in what is now the United States (he was born in Ukraine) and like Hamilton, he serves in the military. Vindman is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, a combat veteran in the Iraq War who received a Purple Heart, and someone whom Mike Pompeo promoted to Director of European Affairs for the National Security Council.
And now Fox Right hosts and loyalists, as well as the president, are attempting a smear campaign on him for testifying in front of the impeachment inquiry. This is all they have left: character assassination.
I imagine some Fox’ies will only hear the profanity and clutch their pearls.
Meanwhile, we heartily urge you to read this essay by Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times.
Film Five: 1944
- Double Indemnity Fred MacMurray (Is this really the same guy who’d later play the kindly dad in My Three Sons), Barbara Stanwyck and the all-time great character actor Eugene Robinson in the definitive film noir caper 2. Laura For us, Gene Tierney belongs in the top tier of most beautiful film actresses, and then we have Dana Andrews and the wonderful snooty Clifton Webb, here aged 54, a full 19 years removed from his last role in a feature film (a silent movie). Another classic film noir 3. The Miracle Of Morgan’s Creek/Hail The Conquering Hero We’re cheating some by putting these two Preston Sturges comedies as one. 4. To Have And Have Not Sure, it’s “Casablanca In The Caribbean” with a young Lauren Bacall in the Bergman role, but it’s got the “You know how to whistle don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow” line.
- It also has Hoagy Carmichael as the pianist. He’ll get a bigger spotlight in an even better film two years from now. And if that’s not enough, it has Walter Brennan, who won three Oscars without ever carrying a film himself 5. Gaslight Who knew that the term would outlive the greatness of the film? This is where it originated. Starring Charles Boyer as the husband who tells his wife, Ingrid Bergman, that she may be crazy for believing the things that she’s seeing and sensing.
World Series, Game 7
8 p.m. Fox
These don’t come around every year. What a great time to be a baseball-loving-kid. Game 7 tonight, Halloween tomorrow night.