The paramount importance of getting it right

When Francisco Cervelli‘s throw to Derek Jeter arrived at the bag six feet ahead of Ian Kinsler, Jeter knew the Rangers’ second baseman had been caught stealing. He applied the tag on Kinsler’s shoulder and, without waiting for second base umpire Alfonso Marquez’s call, flipped the ball to Cano to start the around-the-horn. Cano caught the ball and stood there agape. Marquez had called Kinsler safe.

Somehow, in the ensuing moment of disbelief that followed, no one on the Yankees was thrown out of the game. Francisco Cervelli ran toward second base with an “Are you kidding me?” look on his face. Jeter says “Wait a minute” and starts conversing with the umpire. Joe Girardi, looking as mad as I’ve ever seen him, comes charging out on the field. But the outrage was to no avail. Marquez wouldn’t reverse his call, and baseball, mired in some traditionalist past where an easily correctible human error is allowed to rule the game, can’t figure out how to implement a sensible instant replay review. In the amount of time Girardi argued, the play could have been called correctly.

It’s not stretch to say that Marquez’s call changed the pace of the game. After Kinsler stole, Mitch Moreland walked, and Bengie Molina sacrificed the runners. Pedro Borbon hit a tapper to second that plated Kinsler, and then Javier Vazquez induced an Elvis Andrus flyout to end the inning. Andrus shouldn’t have been batting, and if the fallacy of the predetermined outcome were to hold true, the inning should have ended with the score knotted at zero.

Of course, the game ended up being a tense and endless one-run affair that ended in a walkoff in the bottom of the 13th. Of course, the Yanks failed to hit with runners in scoring position, going 3 for 17 and stranded 18 runners over the course of the game. Of course, Joba, oh so good lately, couldn’t escape The Eighth Inning with a lead. Of course, the Rangers used their expanded roster to send every person in Arlington to the mound. While the game turned on any one of these moves, the fact remains that Kinsler’s stolen base/caught stealing changed the game.

In 2010, Marquez simply as no excuse. He was standing above the play; he had a great view of the throw and the tag; and yet he missed it. Just as Jim Joyce blew the call in Detroit, so too did Marquez. It happens. But that doesn’t mean it should be allowed to stand. A simple review — one shot of the tag on instant replay — would have been enough to get the call right, and it’s moments such as these — isolated plays where the one event in question triggers a dead ball — are ripe for replay.

Major League Baseball continues to insist that any version of instant replay review would mess with the pace of the game. Fans don’t want to wait, they say, while the umpires huddle. Maybe that’s true for some people, but I’d rather see the umps get calls such as the one last night right. If it means waiting a minute or two, that’s a-OK with me. It’s far more enjoyable to see the game called properly than it is to see Ron Washington make five mid-inning pitching changes.

I went to bed annoyed at the Kinsler call last night, and I woke up still annoyed. The Yanks could have overcome it with just another hit or two with runners in scoring position, but they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. And that is fully on Alfonso Marquez and Bud Selig’s obsession with some misguided notion of nostalgia.

Saturday morning links

Some Saturday morning links for your pleasure:

Here’s an update on former Yankee Matt Nokes.  It’s pretty cool that he has stayed in the game and is so devoted to the art of hitting.  Usually you hear about guys like Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn being students of the game, but Nokes seems to fit right in.

Bonus link to Nokes’ website with video of him catching a Roger Clemens fastball in the ribs and throwing it back to the mound.

A post at takes a look at Andrew Brackman and the success he has had this year.  There are lots of quotes from the Brackmonster himself and the piece notes that he is close with Austin Romine and how well they work together.  We may see that battery in the Bronx in a few years.

A story about Roger Clemens and steroids that doesn’t immediately call him Former Yankee Roger Clemens.  I’m sure it will never become public, but I wonder if Bud Selig will have anything to say to the Blue Jays if they knew all along that Clemens was juicing (if he was).  I doubt the Blue Jays could have disclosed anything since it is personal medical records, but I wonder if there is/was any plan in place for what a major league team is supposed to do if they find proof that a player is using steroids.  Clearly everyone looked the other way in the past, but if it becomes public that the team knew and did nothing to stop it, Selig will be none too thrilled.

While the Yankees had a banner year down on the farm, the rival Red Sox took a step back.  While they appear to have had a solid draft to build some depth, many of the crown jewels of their system either didn’t take steps forward or took steps back in 2010.  Just remember this the next time organizational rankings come out, just because someone says Team A is better than Team B, it doesn’t mean that can’t change.

Trenton routs New Hampshire to advance to finals

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 loss to Columbus) Columbus leads the best-of-five series two games to one … Hector Noesi gets the ball and will try to stave off eliminate tomorrow
Reid Gorecki, CF: 1 for 4, 1 K – got picked off second … he led off the game with a single, and that was all they got in the hit department
Kevin Russo, 2B: 0 for 2, 1 BB – he walked following Gorecki’s single and that was it, 27 SWB Yanks went down in order to end the game
Everyone Else: combined 0 for 18, 11 K – Justin Christian’s hitting streak ends at 21, though he did throw two runners out at the plate in the seventh inning, when the game was still scoreless
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 3-9 GB/FB – 61 of 93 pitches were strikes (65.6%) … check out the K-Man with the big performance, he retired 18 in a row at one point
Eric Wordekemper: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 26 of 40 pitches were strikes (65%) … allowed the only run, but the replay showed the runner was out at the plate

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Game 141: Javy’s wing and a prayer

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

It seems like the Yankees were just in Texas to face the Rangers, and from what I remember, that was a frustrating series capped off by a dramatic, come from behind win. Kind of like the last four games of the homestand.

The pitching matchups don’t inspire much confidence this series, and it all starts tonight with Javy Vazquez. He’s bounced in and out of the rotation for the last few week weeks, alternating impressive long relief work with cumbersome starts. His nothingball was largely ineffective against Texas a few weeks ago, but he seems to have added some giddy-up to the pitch while in the bullpen. Really, no one knows what they’ll get out of Javy tonight, we just have to hope that whatever hole he puts them in won’t be too deep to get out of.

Here’s the starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Thames, DH
Kearns, LF
Cervelli, C
Gardner, CF

And on the bump, it’s The Pitcher Formerly Known As Javy Vazquez.

Texas is in another time zone, so this sucker doesn’t start until a little after 8pm ET. It can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

What’s it like to work in a front office?

At his RAB-recommended blog Yankeeist, Larry Koestler interviews Alex Langsam, a baseball operations assistant with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While there’s some interesting Pirates stuff in there, most of the interview involves Langsam’s function in the baseball operations department. This has gotten plenty of play, so you might have already read it. But if not, it’s a great way to conclude the work week.