Whether it was an excuse or a crutch, whether it was a distraction or a smokescreen, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was still chirping about the missed call at second base in the eighth inning shortly after Detroit’s 3-0 win in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Coaches or managers do this tactically. Find something else to talk about, to get everybody’s eye, to turn the discussion away from a team’s failures in a playoff series – especially with an off-day today.
Yeah. Yeah. Bad call. Get instant replay.
In Girardi’s case, it probably wasn’t hatched as such, and he made it clear there’s no guarantee the right call would have made a difference – referencing, also, another arguably bad call in Game 1. Girardi was likely just steamed, as he can be. He did, after all, get ejected shortly after seeing the replay and going back out to argue after making a pitching change.
And darn if umpire Jeff Nelson, who made the safe call after Nick Swisher threw behind runner Omar Infante and Robinson Cano tagged him out – as Cano said, “by five feet” – said he thought the tag was to the chest after Infante’s hand hit second base; only to then admit he later saw the replay and “the call was incorrect.”
Fuel for the fire.
But there are a whole bunch of bottom lines here. The Yankees didn’t score a run, so they would have lost Game 2 anyway, despite Girardi’s argument that the call helped Detroit tag two runs onto a 1-0 lead, and the 1-0 lead might have been much more difficult for Detroit – with closer Jose Valverde demoted – to protect. Same as in Game 1, if Cano had been called safe instead of out at first on his bases-loaded grounder in the second inning.
There sure is no arguing that the Yankees are in a bleak place not because of those calls, but because Cano has been awful (he set a MLB postseason record by stretching his streak to 0 for 25, then 0 for 26, on two dribblers – neither of which were important enough for him to break out of more than a trot).
Nor can this be just on Cano, since Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher have been nearly as bad statistically, and worse aesthetically.
Cano also lost the handle on a potential double-play ball that allowed the first Detroit run – the winning run — to score.
The Yankees get Justin Verlander next in Detroit. That’s how you spell bleak.
But they want instant replay.
“In this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it’s got to change,” said Girardi, whose bad week got worse, and who will attend his father’s funeral today in Illinois. “These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure. It is a tough call for (Nelson) because the tag is underneath and it’s hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than (to replay it and) get the call right. Too much is at stake. We play 235 days to get to this point, and two calls go against us. We lose it by one run last night.
“And I’m not saying if Robby Cano is safe last night that it changes the game. The outcome may be the same, but I like to take my chances. There is more pressure on the pitchers when it is 1-0 in the eighth inning and your club is hitting than 3-0. I would like to take my chances.”
Joe Torre said he and commissioner Bud Selig have discussed replay, and that MLB put cameras in the two New York parks for experimental purposes the last month. But he said nobody wants to “knee jerk” replay into rule.
What if: Bases loaded, line drive to right. Fielder dives. Umpire rules catch, all the baserunners retreat. Umpires go to replay. Call is overturned? What do you do with the baserunners? Or a ball is called foul, everybody stops running. Replay changes it to fair? Or bang-bang play at the plate. Catcher gets bowled over, runner called out, ball comes loose, catcher is hurt, other runners score, replay reverses it?
Anyway, they have replay for home run calls, and Baltimore’s Nate McLouth hit one over the foul pole in Game 5 Friday. The replay was unconvincing at best.
So what do you think? Replay or no replay? How do you amend situations after a call is reversed?
Also, do you believe Girardi’s complaints were him A) blowing off steam; B) legit; or C) setting a smokescreen to divert the focus from his team’s offensive failures?
Associated Press photo