Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Things Like This Never....

Happen to the White Sox. They never benefit from controversial calls in tight games - they always seem to go the other way. That's the only thing that isn't the subject for debate.

The truth is that the umpire made the right call in the Sox's 2-1 victory over the Angels in Game 2 tonight. I've TiVo'ed the plan over a dozen times, and every time I see the replace, I see Josh Paul catching the ball on the short hop.

Going frame by frame from the centerfield camera, you can see Escobar's splitter drop towards the dirt as Paul turns his glove, webbing down, to catch it. The glove hits the ground and distorts at the bottom as it flattens out with contact. The ball dives towards the dirt, and hops up about four inches into Josh Paul's glove. That was unquestionably a short hop.

From the first base line angle, you can see the same thing. The ball and the shadow approach home, Pierzynski swings through it as the ball and shadow dive towards the dirt. Two frames before the ball disappears into Paul's glove, you can see the ball and shadow have met. Again, a short hop.

After the game in a press conference, the crew chief Jerry Crawford said that the umpires had gone to the truck, reviewed the replay, and had seen a clear change in direction. I'm not sure how anyone could say differently.

A lot will be made of Doug Eddings' right-hand pump. I looked at his calls earlier in the game and, quite frankly, there were some inconsistencies. When Konerko whiffed in the 8th inning on a ball in the dirt, Eddings made the "no contact" sign (right arm extended straight), and then clenched his left fist. After Konerko was tagged out, Eddings clenched his right fist to make an out sign. So he went with two clenched fists on the previous in-the-dirt strikeout call. He only had one on Pierzynski's call. Nevertheless, as John Kruk noted on Baseball Tonight, Josh Paul wouldn't be able to see Doug Eddings' hand signal at all - only the verbal signal would have been his clue. Eddings and Pierzynski both said there was no verbal out call.

I'm sure there will be much controversy about it - all of which will take away from Mark Buehrle's absolutely brilliant performance.

The remarkable thing about the game is how it so closely resembled Game 4 of the 1983 ALCS, where Britt Burns pitched 9 terrific innings against the Orioles before succumbing in the 10th. That game also featured a baserunning gaffe - Dybzinski's boneheaded play - that mirrored Rowand's ill-advised, nobody-out, attempt to score. I figured that history was repeating itself and the Sox would lose if Buehrle went out for the 10th.

Like I said, things like this never happen to the White Sox.

Now it's on to California and to face the Angels' toughest pitcher, John Lackey.

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