By In Stuff

Game Six

The 10-year-old in me loves comebacks. Maybe that’s true of the 10-year-old in all of us, I don’t know, but for as far back as I can remember I have loved two kinds of teams more than any other. The first, of course, were the hometown teams, which for me were Cleveland teams, the Indians and Browns and Cavaliers, those heartbreakers I had inherited because my father found a job at a factory there before I was born.

The second, though, was the team trailing at any given moment. In other words, I have spent more or less my whole life rooting for comebacks. Maybe you have too? When I was 10, I had no real understanding about anything but I already had a vivid understanding of the calculus of the comebacks. A football team down 17 could score, onside kick, score again, onside kick again, and kick a field goal to force overtime. An NBA team down 8 with 30-seconds left, needed to foul and needed to move fast. A hockey team down a goal later needed to pull the goalie and overwhelm the final few seconds with numbers and desperation. My non-Cleveland heroes were the masters of those comebacks. I despised the Dallas Cowboys, but could not but love the ways Roger Staubach seemed to emerge in the final two minutes, like the cardboard shapes that emerge from pop-up books. I loathed Larry Bird except when the clocked ticked to oblivion when I wanted him to hit the game-tying shot and extend the game. I could not abide Reggie Jackson, but wanted to see him come up with two men on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

I think that’s why I rooted for comebacks: I never wanted the games to end. When games ended, real life began — school, tests, homework, paper-routes, chores, bed-time, boring adult television shows — but as long as the game went on, they wouldn’t show 60 Minutes, and all those things that I dreaded were postponed for at least a few more minutes. The game was still on. This time, the game really might last forever.

The 10-year-old in me danced again Thursday night. For two-plus hours, Thursday’s World Series Game 6 between the Cardinals and Rangers felt incompetent to me. I have a friend who says that the biggest difference between football or basketball and baseball is that in football and basketball two bad teams can play a wildly entertaining game if they are equally bad, but that in baseball it isn’t so. I guess it depends on your perspective, but I think he’s on to something. Bad baseball is bad baseball. After six innings, St. Louis and Texas were tied at 4, and Joe Buck went to break by saying, “What a game!” which is what you’re supposed to say, I suppose, when a World Series Game 6 is tied going into the seven thinning.

But I honestly believed that no matter how close the game was it was a stinker for the ages. The fielders had already committed five errors — some of them comical — and the pitchers had walked nine batters, and twelve hitters had struck out, and Matt Holliday had earned special mention for getting picked off third base with the bases loaded — where in the heck was he going? There already had been inscrutable managerial decisions, like Ron Washington’s bizarre pinch-hitter fake which ended up with starting pitcher Colby Lewis at the plate flailing helplessly with the bases loaded and the Rangers on the cusp of breaking the game wide open.

It felt to me more like a Game 6 rehearsal than an actual game, and I was sad that this baseball season — that at times had been so electrifying and wonderful; there will never be another day in baseball quite like Day 162 — would end with such a dreadfully played game. The Rangers seemed to put it away in the seventh when Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz hit back to back homers off Lance Lynn and then La Russa, perhaps because of his bad experiences with bullpen phones, left him in to give up a single to David Murphy. In time, and after some drama, the Rangers would score once more on Ian Kinsler’s single and give Texas a 7-4 lead.

A three-run lead seemed like more than enough on this cold night, and in the bottom of the seventh Albert Pujols hit a feeble ground out that looked like it might be his last at-bat of the season. That meant it might have been the last at-bat for Pujols in St. Louis. I thought about how unfulfilling that must have felt to Cardinals fans. I still think he will re-sign with the Cardinals because it just seems so obviously right for both sides, but I’ve also been hearing from some people that something broke there, something that won’t be easy to repair. We’ll see. Either way, his groundout to end the seventh seemed as dismal as the rest of the game. The Cardinals’ Allen Craig did homer in the eighth, and the Cardinals loaded the bases, but Rafael Furcal — who has looked helpless all postseason — helplessly grounded back to the pitcher to end the threat.

And one more time in my life, I entered a ninth inning hoping, against hope, for a comeback, and a Game 7 and more baseball. You know, baseball’s comeback calculus seems to me more complicated than in football or basketball because there’s is no clock to guide you, no timeouts to postpone what feels inevitable. Theoretically, comebacks are always possible in baseball — a team down 11 runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth could conceivably win (while a team down 42 points in the final minute seconds cannot even win theoretically in other sports). But baseball comebacks feel rarer to me. That may not be technically true — it might be that baseball teams come back in the final inning just as often, perhaps even more often, than football or basketball teams come back in the final seconds — but it doesn’t feel that way. Teams losing in the ninth almost always lose.

St. Louis’ Ryan Theriot struck out swinging to start the inning. The game was winding down. The credits were about roll, the champagne (or whatever pop the Rangers had on ice) was about spill. And I felt good for Dallas/Fort Worth baseball fans, the ones who love baseball’s rhythms and do not see the sports calendar only as a time when the Cowboys are playing, training, drafting or resting. They’ve never won a World Series in Texas. And this really is a lovable team.

Pujols came up again, and this time he doubled into the gap, a more fitting end if indeed this was the end. Then Rangers closer Neftali Feliz walked Lance Berkman. Feliz looked uncomfortable on the mound, but I think he tends to look that way. Part of the magic of Mariano is the placid look, the slumped shoulders, as if this is all just a formality, as if he had already saved the game a few hours before and is only performing it once more for those people who missed it. Feliz, though, is a bit twitchy, he expresses disgust, his motion is violent and impassioned, and I thought after he walked Berkman he looked unsure. His first two pitches to Allen Craig were also balls. But then he threw a 98-mph fastball over the middle of the plate, and that seemed to comfort him, and after a little battle he finished off Craig with a nasty pitch that was some combination of a slider and cutter. Craig, expecting a triple digit fastball, watched it go by for strike three.

And this led to David Freese and the Cardinals last hope. Soon, as announcers like to say, he was down to his last strike, and then he hit a 98-mph fastball hard to right field. And the beauty of it was that in the instant after the ball was hit, it had a chance to be anything. He had obviously hit it well — the ball cracked off the bat — but there was no telling how well. It had a chance to be a home run. It had a chance to be an out. I have written before that there is nothing in sports like the successful football Hail Mary pass, and the main reason I think that is that no two Hail Mary passes are alike. Sometimes they deflect from one receiver to another. Sometimes, they bounce off the defenders hands and back to a waiting receiver. Sometimes, the pass just drops into a pile and just sticks in a receiver’s hands. Really, there are countless geometrical possibilities. Baseball doesn’t usually have that kind of geometry. Home runs are home runs. Singles are singles. Pop-outs are pop-outs.

But Freese’s fly was something like a Hail Mary, there was just no telling how it would end while the ball was in the air. Cruz went back on it with the cautious nature of an outfielder who is about to make a catch. This is the thing that baseball people told me and I have told countless people — watch the outfielder. They will usually tell you the story. Cruz seemed ready to catch the ball. But this time Cruz’s apparent calm was an illusion — Cruz had misread the wall. He thought he was a lot closer to it. I have seen the replay a dozen times now, and it seems to me that he could have caught that ball, should have caught that ball, that the wall and the moment conquered him. He leaped for the ball but awkwardly and meagerly, like someone descending stairs in the dark who doesn’t realize that there is one more step. The ball crashed off the wall, bounced by him, and the Cardinals scored two runs to tie the game and the St. Louis crowd transformed into a jet engine.

What followed felt too awesome, like those imaginary games we all used to play in our backyard with impossible comebacks and ridiculous twists and all those things that real sports so rarely become. The Rangers took the two-run lead on a home run by Josh Hamilton, that made-for-TV movie star who seemed to throw his life and talents away on drugs but somehow found his soul and came back to the game and became one of the most magnificent players in the game. The Cardinals in the bottom of the inning were sending up Daniel Descalso, Jon Jay and a pitcher (La Russa had run out of bench players, of course) and so they had no chance at all, except that Descalso’s ground ball went through for a base hit, and Jay singled on a lazy blooper to left. Kyle Lohse’s sacrifice bunt was hit in the air and, if circumstances had been only slightly different, might have ended up a triple play. As it turned out, it slipped past third baseman Adrian Beltre, and only an alert play by shortstop Elvis Andrus made it an out.

So, second and third, one out, and Ryan Theriot grounded out — scoring one run, but the unimportant one — and that brought Pujols to the plate one more time. If this had been a Disney movie, as one Brilliant Tweeter said, he would have hit a home run that knocked down the Arch. Instead, this being something at least resembling real life, he was intentionally walked.

God, I hate the Intentional walk.

This brought up Lance Berkman with the tying run on second, and he was voted the Comeback Player of the Year in 2011. I’m not entirely sure what he came back from, other than a semi-lousy season, but I was happy for him just the same because Berkman is one of the good guys in baseball, and he’s also one of the game’s most underrated hitters, and I mean ever. He roped a base hit that scored Jay and the game was tied again.

There is, in life, something I have come to think of as the “rain line.” If you’ve ever played sports in the rain — football in the rain, tennis in the rain, running in the rain — you might have felt this, that moment when you are so wet and exhausted and thrilled that it no longer matters, you’ve crossed that line, and you don’t care it ever stops raining, you just want it to go on forever. That Berkman single is when this game crossed the rain line for me. It wasn’t beautiful. It wasn’t artistic. It wasn’t the best baseball. But it was wonderful. And I wanted it to go on all night.

It didn’t go on all night — didn’t go on much longer, in fact. But it ended just right. David Freese, who hit the Hail Mary triple back in the ninth inning, led off the 11th with the score tied. He had grown up in the St. Louis area, a Cardinals fan. He crushed the ball his senior year of high school — set a school record with 23 homers — but he was not regarded. He was not drafted. He went to St. Louis Community College, then South Alabama, and he was again not drafted after his junior year. It was the San Diego Padres, not the Cardinals, who took him in the ninth round when he came out as a senior, though he hit well enough in the minors that the Cardinals asked for him when they traded an old Jim Edmonds to San Diego. Freese is 28 years old now, and he he has yet to get even 400 at-bats in a season.

He has been electrifying this postseason. It isn’t just that he’s hit .393 with power for the postseason, but there has just seemed something sturdy about him, something that appeals to the many, many Cardinals fans I know. It is the something almost inexpressible that Ken Boyer had, that Terry Pendleton had, that, yes, David Eckstein had, something that has to do with visible effort. They may not really be trying any harder than anyone else. But damn it, they LOOK like they are.

Freese hit the home run that won the game, hit it to straight away center field, a blast that will make every drink free in St. Louis for the rest of his life. And the 10-year-old in me was still shaking with joy. That 10-year-old always believed in comebacks, always, even after I had seen a thousand of them thwarted and smothered. “Next time,” I have always thought because that’s the wonder of sports. And then came this imperfect game, bloated with mistakes and brain-lock and baffling choices, and then, absurdly, miraculously, it became the most wonderful game I can remember. “See you tomorrow night,” Joe Buck said after Freese’s home run landed in the grass over the center field wall, a tribute to his wonderful father, and it was true in St. Louis. But where I was watching the game it was already tomorrow.

49 Responses to Game Six

  1. Peter says:

    Murphy didn’t score in the 7th, Derek Holland did after he grounded into a fielder’s choice that put Murphy out.

  2. s says:

    Beautiful post Joe. I can’t wait for Game 7 tonight. I think this world series has been just amazing. So many different storylines, great baseball at times. Terrible error filled baseball at other times. I’ve enjoyed this season more than most. This post season is the best I’ve seen in my time of watching baseball, though I am younger.

  3. nycgeoff says:

    That is one killer last line, sir. Thank you.

  4. bsg says:

    I’m happy you avoided fanbole by not proclaiming this as the greatest game of all time. The drama was top notch, but the defense was gawd awful. In the 75 Game 6, the defense was stellar. Evans’ Home Run stealing catch, Foster’s throw to home plate to keep the game tied (I seem to remember reading about this in a book…).

    Anywho, One thing that this game 6 had in common with game 6 in 75 was both games were postponed due to rain. Pete Rose talked about how game 6 in the 75 series had a Super Bowl feel, due to the media getting an extra few days to hype up the game.

    Baseball should take a look at giving an extra off day between World Series games 5 and 6. Good series are always at least 6 games, and in the event that a series is reaching this climax, an extra day off can help build tension and buzz. Strategically, it also lets both teams rest up their pitching for the 2 game home stretch.

  5. Joe says:

    “than football or basketball teams come bacon in the final seconds”

    Mmmm, bacon.

  6. I think the intentional walk to Pujols just made the story even more like a movie: just one more way to make the story’s villains seem villainous, taking the bat out of the hands of the hero star player and forcing the old man with the grey beard to hit.

  7. I feel so sorry for the “Peter”s of this world.

  8. Paul Zummo says:

    I felt the same way. I’ve been rooting for the Rangers to win, but I wanted the game and the series to go on. And now we finally have a game seven.

  9. TS says:

    I love a come bacon in the final seconds.

  10. TJMac says:

    Let’s hope Freese doesn’t get too many of those free drinks, as breaking free from that was part of his struggle to finally get to where he’s at now.

  11. TJMac says:

    By the way, incredible post.

  12. Unknown says:

    Game Six the bewitching hour of the World Series.

  13. marshall says:

    On the Holliday pickoff, I’ve seen people say that Beltre deserves credit for blocking the base with his foot. What’s the rule on that? How much blocking is allowed? It seems conceivable that the 3rd baseman, in fielding the throw, could make it virtually impossible for anyone to tag the base. If blocking bases is legal, why don’t we see it more (other than home plate)?

  14. BobDD says:

    Yes Beatrice, Peter’s can be such dicks

  15. jkak says:

    Beatrice, thank you.

    bsg: Add more off-days? Absolutely not. Baseball has already suffered enough harm as the result of the network television belief that it should be made to look more like football or basketball. No worthwhile purpose would be served by building in more pre-planned hype.

    If anything, some off-days should be eliminated from the playoffs and WS. With the multiple playoff rounds now in the game, not to mention Selig’s misguided determination to add yet another round, the multiple off-days built into every series already make those series feel like something other than baseball. Teams play almost every day for six months during the season, that is a defining characteristic of baseball. Eliminate one or even both off-days from each series, make the postseason more like the season. And allow the focus to be on the games, not the hype.

  16. s says:

    bsg I think the reason it’s getting so much hype is this series has had a bit of everything. It’s been dramatic and has so many story lines going for it, from Pujols impending free agency and what a world series would do to texas having never won. Great and terrible defense, in every game. Most games have had very good pitching and also, horrible pitching. If only the intentional walk wasn’t allowed for tonight…

  17. brhalbleib says:

    Marshall, great question. here is the applicable rule:

    OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and
    not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
    Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in
    flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he
    may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to
    whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and
    missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a groundball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner,
    he very likely has obstructed the runner.

    What does this mean? It probably should mean that if you don’t have the ball and it is not necessary for you to be in the way of the runner to field the ball, you shouldn’t be allowed to block the runner’s path, which would include placing your leg between the runner and the bag. Of course, umpires never call obstruction this way (if they did, we would have a lot fewer collisions at home plate, because after the umpires called a few runners safe at home due to obstruction, catchers would quit blocking the plate without the ball), so in reality, what Beltre did is OK.

    One way to combat it as the runner diving into a base that you are being blocked off is to come in feet first with your spikes high. A lacerated ankle would probably teach the fielder a lesson.

  18. Dinky says:

    The typo: “42 points in the final minute seconds cannot even win theoretically in other sports” – probably s/b “42 points down in the final minute cannot even theoretically win etc.”.

    Loved the post, agreed with most, but a Cardinals loving post that talks up the merits of David Eckstein and doesn’t mention Ozzie Smith? I mean, yes, the wizard reached difficult balls as if they were easy, but he also reached impossible balls by running full tilt and making them look hard.

  19. Mark says:

    @marshall, Bill James talks about this in one of the Abstracts. Basically it’s cost/benefit ratio — you don’t block 2nd on a routine steal because one base isn’t worth getting your knee shredded by the runner’s spikes. The closer you get to the plate, and the more valuable the run is, the cost/benefit shifts…

  20. Navarchos says:

    @marshall re: base blocking–

    The rule is a fielder is allowed to block the basepath if he either has the ball or has to occupy the basepath in order to catch a thrown ball (as in he has to drift into the path on a wild throw or the like; you can’t just stand there and wait for the ball to come to you). This applies at all bases; home plate does not get any special rules.

    In this case Beltre was okay because he had the ball when Holliday hit his foot (slide-ball-impact-tag); had it been slide-impact-ball-tag, Beltre would’ve been guilty of obstruction and all runners would’ve been awarded a penalty base–away from the play, obstruction is a live-ball restitution foul and only the affected runner gets a base (or two, or three, or none depending on where the umpire thinks he would’ve ended up), but if you obstruct a player while a play is being made it’s a dead ball and everybody moves up. Obstruction is exceedingly rarely called but the umpires are almost always on top of it when it does happen, so fielders don’t often press their luck.

    About the game: That. Was. NUTS! I was at work throughout the game and couldn’t follow it closely but my emotions pingponged all over the place as the score updates came through. The Cards have to win tonight; never mind the baseball gods, the Homeric muses require that such drama not be undermined by a Game-7 stinker.

  21. Dinky says:

    Marshall, from the rules of baseball:

    “OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

    Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner,
    he very likely has obstructed the runner.”

    In this case, Beltre was definitely in the act of receiving the throw. What’s more, if Halladay had lifted his right hand up six inches, he’d have easily touched the bag before the tag.

    I don’t discredit Halladay for sliding head first, but it was a terrible head first slide; he should have been safe. When catchers block the plate successfully, runners cannot touch it at all, and routinely get away with it. If Halladay had come in like Pete Rose on Ray Fosse, shoulder first, he’d not only have been safe, but the ball would have gone down the left field line and he’d have scored. Of course, I think Halladay is more fragile than Beltre, but that was still a lousy slide.

    I recall one time when I was scoring in a softball league with an explicit “no blocking” rule and another “no sliding” rule (insurance, what can I say). The catcher stood astride the foul line like a free safety blocking the goal line, and this was a team that had already been involved in one major team on team fight. If I knocked him down, I was sure it would start another; if I ran around him, I might not reach home plate. So I ran up to him, picked him up by both shoulders, carried him across home plate, and since his arms were pinned, he couldn’t catch the ball. The catcher appealed, the ump, convulsed with laughter, said if I even brushed him was ruling me safe for obstruction, and the brawl was averted.

  22. bsg says:

    jkak, i am not advocating adding extra days off in the playoffs, only one extra day if the world series reaches game 6.

    i would be in favor of removing days off in the playoffs to facilitate this one extra day.

    if you have a closely matched series, it is better to have the pitching closer to full strength entering the final two elimination games. though the pitching last night wasnt particularly good, both teams having a fully stocked bullpen added to the game. the extra ink is an added bonus. i generally hate the melodrama of weekday NFL news, but it wouldnt hurt baseball to allow itself a little buzz before crowning its champion.

  23. Wm. Don says:

    “Bad baseball is bad baseball.”

    Truer words have never been spoken, but damn it, bad baseball is always better than NO baseball, and I was cheering for a Game Seven.

  24. Neal in KC says:

    Sensational article, Joe.

    This may be redundant but that game last night was the single-greatest, most epic, most emotional, most entertaining, most historic sports event I have ever attended. Not even my own team. This is why baseball is #1. Still in awe. Wow.

    Side note — I spoke with my 101 year old grandfather (yes, 101 who stayed up til 1:55am EST) and he told me that last night’s game was the most entertaining baseball game he’s ever seen in his LIFE. He told me that he remembers watching Ruth, Gehrig, etc etc in NY but none of the games had the drama and excitement that this one did. He said to me, “You won’t see another game like this in your lifetime”. We also talked about how we both felt like little boys watching the greatest sport in the world.

    Neal in KC (but HUGE Cleveland Indians fan so I can relate to your references, Joe P!)

  25. The imperfection was part of the interest. If you watch enough baseball, you will see everything and the imperfections are part of that (except, of course, the next thing). In this case, somehow, the imperfections didn’t keep the game from staying even into the eleventh.

  26. Peter says:

    Easy guys — wasn’t trying to be a dick, just offering Joe a quick correction. I of course loved the post.

  27. Michael says:

    A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “That was the best poorly played (and managed) baseball game I’ve ever seen.” That description struck me as apt. It was a fascinating game in so many ways, and it took so many turns. It reminded me of Game 4 of the 1947 World Series in two ways:

    1. Joe Buck has used the tribute line to his dad before, and it’s perfectly appropriate (and I am not fan of Joe, who strikes me as an apple who has fallen so far from the tree that it can never find its way back). But when Freese got the triple, I thought of Red Barber–“He can’t get it. It’s off the wall. Heah comes the tying run and heah comes the winning run!” Close, but not quite–and Lavagetto’s double was an exciting ending to a no-hit game that included 10 (count ’em) walks by Bill Bevens.

    2. The other thought was, how would you write this if you were doing it as a story the next morning, and I thought of the great line about the Bevens/Lavagetto game from Red Smith (Joe, you are close, in my mind, to that greatness). Smith closed his story by saying the unhappiest guy in Brooklyn at that moment was a sportswriter whose V didn’t work on his typewriter. How CAN it be described?

  28. Mark Daniel says:

    This game, and game 5, have me wondering about Tony LaRussa. In game 5, he had the bullpen phone snafu which prevented him from switching pitchers as quickly as humanly possible, as is his habit. Many people have criticized him in the past for this constant use of double switches and so forth, saying that he’s overmanaging or trying to insert himself (and his ego) into the game. At best they say what he does offers no actual benefit and may even hurt the team.
    Suddenly, in game 5, he’s unable to do what he usually gets criticized for, and the media is criticizing him for it! It’s like we all suddenly became devotees of LaRussa’s strategy and we think he seriously blundered when he didn’t needlessly change the pitcher.

    In the 8th inning last night, LaRussa sent awful-hitting Gerald Laird to pinch hit for the pitcher against Holland. Laird is right handed, so of course he was chosen to pinch hit. I thought this was good for the Rangers because, as I said, Laird can’t hit well at all.
    In response, Ron Washington brings in a righty, the purpose of which, apparently, is to face Laird. In response to this, LaRussa pulls Laird and brings in lefty Descalso, who is a better hitter than Laird.

    Do you think it’s possible that LaRussa figured if he sent in a right handed batter then Washington would bring in a righty pitcher, and then he (LaRussa) could in turn bring in his preferred pinch hitter Descalso? Is it possible LaRussa manipulated things to such a degree?

    Or is it more likely that LaRussa’s double switches don’t make sense sometimes, and often seem counterproductive, but the opposing manager sometimes lets him off the hook with an equally counterproductive move of his own? So sometimes LaRussa looks like a genius, other times a dolt, but in reality he’s just coming out even because his strange moves and the other manager’s strange moves cancel each other out.

  29. Dan Shea says:

    A little code for things meant to be helpful that could be interpreted as dickish would be helpful.

    Loved the post, Joe. DN: 6/6, Murphy/Holland; 8/10, bacon/back.

    Mmm, back bacon.

  30. Viki says:

    I can’t believe I went to bed in the 7th. I got all the bad baseball and missed the incredible ending. (AND I went to bed before the amazing drama of Day 162 unfolded, too! ARGH!)

    And yes, Wm. Don, I’ll take BAD baseball over NO baseball any day. Won’t go to sleep tonight until it’s all over.

  31. jkak says:

    Mark, no question LaRussa was hoping Washington would bring in a righthander to face Laird, managers make those moves all the time.

    The bigger question for me is why Washington took out Holland. Actually, the even bigger question is why Washington brought in Holland in the first place. Holland would have been able to start tonight on full rest. Even though it’s Harrison’s turn in the rotation, Holland has been great the past several months and was almost untouched in game 4; Holland hasn’t made it through five innings in the postseason. Why burn Holland in the 6th last night? And then after making the decision to burn hime, why would Washington take him out with two out in the 8th when the other team brings in its worst hitter? Why not ride Holland all the way, especially given Feliz’s dedication to making every appearance a tightrope act?

    With the exception of one swing, St. Louis has been helpless against Holland. If you’re going to kill the chance to use your most effective starter in game 7 by bringing him into game 6, you should be prepared to let him pitch three innings and finish the game.

  32. Keatang says:

    David in Toledo is right: the errors and snafus were part of what made it such an entertaining game. That Freese made the most ridiculous error of the game before his two slugs…that Holliday played like a Bad News Bears player…that Jon Jay flailed at pitchers and missed cut-off throws before his bloop single (how great was LaRussa in the dugout: “Oh Jon!”). Throws sailing into dugouts and centerfield. It’s enough to make a coach cry, but I loved every second of it.
    Also, I thought McCarver called a great game.

  33. adam says:


    I was thinking something similar. When Wash brought in Holland, I thought “ok, ballsy move, can’t use him for game 7 now, but he can ride him out this game and go for the kill.” Then Wash pulls him!! If Holland had started the game, you wouldn’t pull him for that, so why do that in relief?

    I’ve been thinking that Wash must really be a great leader of men for the Rangers front office to be willing to put up with his tactical goofs, but it’s getting rather awful. His managing is painful to watch. I’d love to get a Rangers fan’s take on this. If it was my team I don’t think I could handle even a week of it, let alone a full season.

  34. MATTHEW says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. MATTHEW says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. Anoss says:

    Circle me “Sandlot and Tackling of the beast”

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. You wrote a great article here Joe, the only slight downside, is your whining about the IBB to Pujols in the 9th. This narrative or yours is noble I suppose, but is getting old. Lets be very clear on this, YOU would have done the exact same thing. Time to let it go. Its a legitimate strategy that is a gamble, and a close call, but often is the right decision. When its not, the caller deserves whatever he gets every time, but I dont think any Texans were complaining about it last night. If Pujols is allowed to compete and beats you in dramatic fashion there, Ron Washington is the biggest fool in America. Not a risk worth taking.

  39. adam says:

    You wrote a great post here McGoldencrown, the only slight downside, is your whining about Joe writing about the IBB to Pujols in the 9th.

  40. adam says:

    Curious what all the BRs thought of Fox’s coverage, or lack thereof, of the dwindling bullpens/benches throughout the game. There should have been constant graphics/information about this. I found out today that LaRussa’s bench was completely empty (I think that’s right) but no mention of this last night. I will admit it’s possible some of it was delivered verbally and I missed it, because sometimes the fox team has to be tuned out.

  41. Mark Daniel says:

    jkak and adam, so you’re saying that LaRussa’s goal in sending Laird to the plate in the 8th was to force Ron Washington into taking out Holland?

    I believe it. Because tonight the Rangers had Endy Chavez coming to the plate as a pinch hitter for the pitcher. LaRussa pops out of the dugout and takes Carpenter out of the game, bringing in a lefty, presumably because Endy Chavez bats from the left side. Ron Washington then replaces Chavez with Yorvit Torrealba, a righty of course, who we we were informed (thanks to Fox) was 1 for 29 (now 1 for 30) when pinch hitting.
    Endy Chavez batted .301 this year, Torrealba .273. Chavez batted .354 against lefties, albeit in limited PAs. Torrealba batted .256 against lefties.

    It really seems to me that Ron Washington is just sitting in the dugout reacting to what Tony LaRussa does. I bet if Babe Ruth was on the Texas bench, he’d be sent up as a pinch hitter, but when LaRussa brought in a lefty to face him, Washington would bring Ruth pull Ruth out in favor of Torrealba.

  42. adam says:

    A quick trip to baseball reference indicates that Endy Chavez is a league average hitter (OPS+ 100) with no noticeable platoon split, and Torrealba is a significantly below average hitter (OPS+ 83). So Wash replaced an average hitter with a worse one, and burned a bench spot in the process (in a game without a DH!). Just today we had that and the intentional walk to load the bases. Is Wash using a magic 8 ball to make decisions?

  43. NMark W says:

    I realize that Ron Washington is the Rangers manager but is he getting no helpful input from his bench coach (Jackie Moore) and/or Pitching coach (Mike Maddux) or does he tune others out in crunch situations? The TV cameras showed him talking with Maddux frequently when the Rangers were in the field but when they were batting was Moore talking to Wash thru some of the possibilities?

    I hurt for the STRangers. Nelson Cruz’ (mis)play in right was the difference in Game#6. However, it wasn’t anywhere near the Bill Buckner “through his legs” miscue in 1986. I thought Tom Verducci was over the line in that comparison and I normally like and trust Verducci’s comments.

    So which is it? Was Derek Holland an excellent pitcher down the stretch for the STRangers or was he very inconsistent as I heard a reporter from DFW area state on radio today. What I liked about Holland was how he took the ball and with very little wasted effort had the pitch coming in before one was prepared to hit. AND, HE THREW STRIKES!!! Maybe some manager will break all of rules that the new bullpen usage has developed into and just pitch the guy with the hot hand. I would have kept Holland in longer in Game #6. Holland must be drowning the bad karma he provoked by impersonating Harry Caray and Guv Arnold during Game #6.

  44. NMark W says:

    Miss typed above – Holland did his impersonations on FOX during Game #5 Monday eve. His voices were excellent – He must be a fun young guy to have around the clubhouse, especially when he’s pitching well.

  45. Ed says:

    You description of Freese’s hit as being like a hail mary was perfect. Well done. Excellent choice of words.

  46. Trent Phloog says:

    Joe, you should check out the recent Radiolab on “Games” (segment “On The Winning Side” —

    Apparently the fact that you always root for comebacks just means you are a normal human being. Only 1 out of 5 people are psychological weirdos that root for the “winners.” We know those people as “Yankee fans.”

  47. theklaffer says:

    Joe, if you are a big fan of comebacks and never-ending games, I assume you’ve read The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, by W.P. Kinsella. Once you’ve read it, you realize that there’s a limit to how much you should wish for games to keep going.

  48. […] Posnanski captured the sentiment of that night in ways that few could. Roughly a month later, he did it again, this time, discussing Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. I was directed to the Game 162 article on […]

  49. […] did the same thing roughly a month later, this time recapping Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, which saw the Cardinals defeat the Texas Rangers in 11 […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *