Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
The Royals really are the closest baseball thing to a Coen Brothers movie. With two outs, the Royals tried some sort of double-steal with Billy Butler at first and Eric Hosmer at third. If I got the play right, and can write this without breaking down in convulsions, Butler was supposed to get hung up between first and second, distracting the A’s long enough to allow Hosmer to steal home. This, of course, ended in humiliation, with Hosmer being thrown out at the plate by 800 million steps, but as is often the case the spectacular ineptitude of the play was doubled or trebled by the Ned Yost explanation, where he explained that Butler left early and Hosmer left late and, otherwise, the Royals would have score a run.
Any comedian will tell you that you can’t explain comedy, and every effort to do so will just dig you deeper into anti-comedy, and maybe that’s why the straight-laced Yost always comes across so absurdly in these situations. Eric Hosmer is a generally lumbering first baseman, and Billy Butler might be the slowest player in baseball, and any complicated running play with these two is destined to become a Will Ferrell movie. It would have made me feel so much better if Yost had not given a considered answer on how that madcap scheme might have worked but instead said, “Yeah, that was crazy, right? Woo hop! Brain cramp! Hey, it’s the first postseason for me too!”
An absolute must-read from Jeff Sullivan, with illustrative .GIFs showing exactly how Jarrod Dyson, a veteran basestealer, marked his man in Sean Doolittle, learned his “tell,” and took advantage. There’s more explanatory insight into the in-game situational awareness required to be a great basestealer than anything else I’ve ever read.
I want to talk about the biggest steal of the game. Maybe the biggest steal of the season? When Jarrod Dyson stole third base in the bottom of the ninth, it was worth .133 WPA to the Royals. When Josh Willingham opened the frame with a single, it was worth .133 WPA. When Aoki brought Dyson home, it was worth .133 WPA. Stolen bases are usually incremental factors, but Dyson got himself to third with one out in a one-run game, and the numbers tell you how important that was. Now let’s look at how Dyson stole the base off Doolittle, leaving Norris almost helpless.
Dyson led the American League this year in swipes of third, with ten. He was topped in the majors only by Billy Hamilton, and Hamilton was caught one more time than Dyson was. Dyson was rather famously picked off at second by Joe Nathan just a few weeks ago, but that wasn’t representative of his skills. Also, Dyson had just been inserted into the game, for a rather obvious purpose. Also, it happened before Dyson could get a good read. When Dyson was caught stealing this year, it was within the first one or two pitches. When he moved up to third, it was always after observing multiple pitches, sometimes several of them. Dyson got to see a lot of Doolittle before he finally took off.
Again: read, read, read.
Worth clicking on for nothing more than the video of a thoroughly endearing clubhouse interview with Cristian Colon and basestealing hero Jarrod Dyson:
Players and former players texted me that Yost should be fired after he pulled right-hander “Big Game” James Shields in favor of rookie righty Yordano Ventura in the sixth inning. Yost chose Ventura, a starting pitcher, over a bullpen full of accomplished relievers. Moss hit a three-run homer, his second of the game, triggering a five-run rally.
At that point, I started writing a column comparing Yost to former Red Sox manager Grady Little, who was fired after sticking too long with Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
Red Sox fans, who at that point were still waiting for the “Curse of the Bambino” to end, would not have tolerated Little’s return. And I’m not sure Royals fans would have tolerated Yost’s return if the night had ended in bitter defeat.
But it did not.
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