A Merkling of the Mind

 

“If my drive into the gap gets us a walk-off win, do I really have to run all the way to 2nd base, just to get credit for a double”  ~ Charlie Brown.

2018 American League Batting Average Leaders

 Through Games of 6/19/2018:

# Leaders Team G AB H BA
1 Jose Altuve Astros 75 299 102 .341
2 Mookie Betts Red Sox 55 211 71 .3365
3 Jean Segura Mariners 70 292 98 .3356
4 Mike Trout Angels 74 257 86 .3346
5 Michael Brantley Indians 61 250 80 .320
6 Matt Duffy Rays 58 230 73 .31739
7 JD Martinez Red Sox 61 223 71 .31698
8 Eddie Rosario Twins 69 275 87 .31636
9 Andrelton Simmons Rays 63 231 72 .312
10 Nick Castellanos Tigers 71 290 89 .307

* Astros Players Above Featured in Bold Type.

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The Winning Streak Stops at 12. It pretty much ended when the 400 feet fly ball out to dead center retired pinch hitter Jose Altuve in the bottom of the 9th with the potential tying run on first base in the presence of Josh Reddick and the potential winning run at the plate in the presence of Himself, Altuve the Great. Had the ball gone to dead left, it would have easily cleared the Crawford Boxes as the confetti-unleashing climax to a victory # 13 on the Astros’ club winning streak that now ceases to be.

Mike Stassi followed Altuve and demonstrated the fine art of taking a called strike three on a full count and then Jake Marisnick did what he does so well. He followed his game ending infield pop fly out with a shrug of mock self-surprise and disgust and then walked quietly off to the clubhouse.

The Tampa Bay Rays had done what blind hogs always do eventually, according to former UT football coach Darrell Royal. They sniffed their way up to an acorn of opportunity and consumed it — in the form of a 2-1 victory over the far more talented Houston Astros on their own home turf.

Justin Verlander pitched well enough to have earned a win last night. He also lasted a mighty 120 pitches over 6 and 2/3 innings at MMP. He simply got no support on offense – and not much more than thin help on defense. As much as I like Yuli Gurriel as a hitter and first baseman, his fill-in game for Bregman at third was a wee bit slow-moving and costly. An 8th inning not-so-fast bounder over Gurriel’s upstretched glove tipped its way into shallow left, allowing the Rays to score a man from third for what then held up as the winning run in a 2-1 Tampa Bay victory.

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A Night Before Note Merkles My Mind. 

24 hours earlier, the Astros had won a 5-4 walk-off game over the Rays when Alex Bregman’s smash into the left field gap with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th scored the tying and winning runs from third and second. On his way to second, Bregman was overtaken by Astro player celebrants who wanted to dance and smile and hug. Bregman fell right into the spirit of the jubilant moment and never made it to second base.

Nevertheless, here is how the official scorer’s line accounts for Bregman’s hit at Baseball Reference.com:

2B: Carlos Correa (15, off Matt Andriese); Jose Altuve (19, off Matt Andriese); Alex Bregman (22, off Sergio Romo).

Bregman still got credit for the double, even though he never completed the double with a physical contact with second base.

Would Bregman have received a token credit for a home run, had he knocked the ball out of the park and similarly been prevented from making the trip around the bases by a celebration committee before he reached second base?

I don’t think so.

So, did Bregman get credit for the double by some kind of clear ruling today on such plays? Or was this scoring the result of casual and indifferent attention to the current rule about this kind of play?

The common ground between Alex Bregman and Fred Merkle of the 1908 Giants is that both men failed to complete base running trips to second base because it was obvious they each could make it there without any trouble from a timely response.

With Bregman, the game was won. There was nothing the Rays could do, anyway. With Merkle, however, he needed to touch second base to make his safety confirmed and his team’s win decided. Merkle still didn’t go. The Cubs took advantage and retired him at second on a complicated, much disputed force out at second base. Today, there can be no walk off wins if runners leave the field without closing all the doors on force out situations.

But what about Bregman’s double in Game One with the Rays? Should he really get credit for that 2BH? And, if so, why should a “walk off homer” batter be forced to run and touch all the bases to get credit for a  long ball? If the game cuts a short cut deal with runners who don’t bother completing runs to third and second on plays that end in pandemonium game celebrations?

Just wondering as I Merkle my way to the lunch hour. Who said you have to wait til noon?

 

Upon Further Review

Thanks to comments from Mike Vance and Greg Lucas, plus an even better shot of the “double” via a complete bottom of the 9th watch on YouTube, I am now convinced that I may been victimized for multi-tasking other column work with simultaneous live baseball game watching in this instance and, in this matter, failed to see it, clear as day.

The celebrating teammates caught up with Bregman between second and third, not between first near second. It doesn’t show him actually touching second base, but you can see by his gait and the third base line that appears ahead of him that he is sauntering in the direction of third base by the time the party starts.

Hope the hypotheticals posed above don’t plant any ideas with Commissioner Manfred. I would hate to see “walk-off homer” jogs around the bases eliminated as another baseball time-saving device.

Please forgive me too. I will try to be more observant next time.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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6 Responses to “A Merkling of the Mind”

  1. Mike Vance Says:

    I paid particular attention to Bregman, and could have sworn he touched second base before celebrating with his teammates around shortstop position.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      If anyone has a video of Bregman actually touching second base I would like to see it. What exists on Goggle now does not include any contact with the bag, nor does it show the shot I saw live. – Bergman is maybe seven feet from 2nd base when a teammate grabs him. They dance and hug. Then others sward him. No way he goes to second from there, nor did he appear to me he’d ever gone the full 90 feet from 1st to 2nd. Either way, I’d simply like to see something more conclusive than our differential memories. Either of us could be wrong.

  2. Rick B. Says:

    Bregman’s “double” reminds me of Robin Ventura’s grand-slam single in the 1999 NLCS. Ventura hit a homer but never made it to second because a teammate picked him up & started celebrating the walk-off win. Ventura ended up being credited with just a single.

    If Bregman never touched second, then his hit should be a single as well. It would be nice to see film of the play that confirms what happened one way or the other.

  3. gregclucas Says:

    I saw him touch 2b and he was not “mobbed” until after that.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, Greg. After viewing a more detailed tape of the play, I have added an “Upon Further Review” explanation to the body of today’s column. I’m convinced now. The party started between 2nd and 3rd.

  4. Michael McCroskey Says:

    I, also, watched him reach second before the celebration began; and then mentally flashed back to game 5 of the World Series, (as I am sure many viewers did, also),

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