Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
By now you have seen or heard about the play. Bottom of the first, nobody out, Blue Jays – Yankees at the Stadium in the final game of a four-game series. Derek Jeter walks, goes to second on a Randy Romero balk and then, inexplicably, with the count 2-1 on second batter Nick Swisher, Jeter tries to steal third. The throw from catcher Rod Barajas easily beats Jeter to third. But Jeter makes a nifty move with his hands on his head-first slide and Jays’ third baseman Scott Rolen misses the tag. Nevertheless, third-base umpire Marty Foster calls Jeter out.
Jeter correctly argues that he wasn’t tagged and, according to Jeter, umpire Foster inexplicably told Jeter that since the ball beat him to the base, he was out. That’s pretty funny, because if you’ve played a lot of baseball or even watched a lot of baseball, you know that happens, especially at the lower levels.
But that in no way takes away from the stupidity of the play itself.
DON’T MAKE THE FIRST (OR THIRD) OUT AT THIRD BASE
Again, if you played or watched baseball and have any knowledge of the game, you understand why you can never make the first out at third. You’re already in scoring position. The plus you get by getting to third is minimal versus the huge minus you get by getting thrown out. That was particularly true in this case, when the Yankees had Swisher, Teixeira and A-Rod coming up, two-three-four in the order.
It’s not that you can never steal third with nobody out. It’s that you have to make it easily, you have to make it virtually standing up. There can be no doubt as to whether you are out or safe.
And that’s where Jeter misses the boat. While he was safe, the issue on this play is not whether you are out or safe. The issue is whether you can make it to third EASILY. Anything short of that is a huge base running mistake (in other words, even if Jeter was called safe, it was a dumb play).
WHERE’S JOE GIRARDI IN ALL OF THIS?
Well, Girardi did the right thing in going out to protect his captain. Everybody who watches the Yankees knows that Jeter rarely argues that kind of call. Girardi didn’t have to get thrown out (the pointing finger at the ump was the clincher). But Girardi also knew that this was a base running blunder.
After the game, he called it a “base running error.” Jeter acknowledged that but, according to MLB.com, Jeter said, “In that situation, you try to be aggressive.” Well, Jeter mostly gets a pass for this mistake from the media but, “in that situation” (man on second, nobody out), you absolutely do NOT have to be aggressive. You have to be smart, you have to understand the situation, you have to be confident in your teammates, you have to think that the two-three-four hitters of the New York Yankees can get you two more bases so you can score.
It’s hard to believe, given the same situation tomorrow, that Derek Jeter would make that big of a mistake again.
DON’T BE FOOLED BY SWISHER’S SINGLE
After Nick Swisher followed Jeter’s out with a single, one announcer said, “now that looms larger, getting thrown out at third.” Well, not exactly. It was a big mistake whether the next three guys struck out or the next three guys hit homers. The game is completely different if Jeter stays at second. For just one example, Randy Romero would have worked from the stretch if Jeter’s on second. With him in the dugout, Romero used the full wind-up to pitch to Swisher.
That’s just one of many different variables that can never be duplicated. We’ll never know what would have happened if Derek Jeter stayed at second
DID IT REALLY MATTER?
Well, again, that was a dumb play no matter what the later batters did in the inning. But it would become really important if it turned out to be a close game.
Final score: Toronto 7, Yankees 6.
You get the point.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.