As we were saying, that A.J. Burnett guy is really something, isn’t he? Those of you hoping for an interesting World Series can thank Yankees pitcher Burnett, who looked as good as I’ve ever seen him last night in salvaging Game 2 for his ballclub. Not sure what Fox analyst Eric Karros was smoking before the game when he declared that this wasn’t a “must win” for the Yanks. Uh, are you kidding? A 2-0 deficit heading to Philly, where the home team is 11-1 the past two years in the playoffs? Eric, the series was over if Burnett didn’t pitch the game of his life. Not sure what it takes to be a TV analyst these days, other than having played some ball. Apologies to Mike Blowers, Jeff Nelson, etc., but seriously, dude, Burnett just saved his team’s season and legacy — at least for another 24 hours.
The thing with Burnett is, he’s always had that curveball and that stellar movement on his fastball. He just could never control it. Barely controlled it at times in this game. But when he does harness it — about as often as you see a solar eclipse — he looks like the best pitcher in the game. It takes a sharp head on your shoulders to control stuff like that. Which explains a lot about what’s gone on with Burnett over the years.
Speaking of saving legacies and stuff, anyone who watched this game would be hard-pressed not to admit that the time for video replay in baseball has arrived. You can work out the particulars later on, but poor first base ump Brian Gorman would be under police protection right now had the Phillies somehow managed to pull this game out. And they nearly did, with manager Charlie Manuel’s refusal to start the runners prior to that double-play grounder by Chase Utley in the eighth playing a key role.
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Let’s rewind to the inning prior, when Gorman ruled that a line drive had been caught by first baseman Ryan Howard, who then threw to second to double off Jorge Posada. Instead of bases-loaded, one out, the Phillies escape the inning and trail by only two runs.
And they came awfully close to tying things up the next inning when, with two on, one out and the count full on Utley, Manuel left the runners glued to the bases and saw the inning-ending double-play unfold with Howard in the on-deck circle. Yes, Gorman blew the call at first base as well. Maybe he was still thinking about the previous inning. Thing is, if Manuel starts the runners, the inning is still alive for Howard regardless of the ump.
For me, the replay argument came on the blown line drive call.
It was a tough play for Gorman to have any view of and happened so fast that nobody’s blind eye could really see what was going on. Gorman, though, was the last guy in the country to know what really happened because he had no replay access.
It’s time to give him — and other umpires — that view.
This is not a criticism of umpires. It’s an admission of the reality that modern technology now has given us video that is clear enough to identify what happened on even the closest plays. Never mind the strike zone charts that now embarrass some umpires on a pitch-by-pitch basis. Not sure what the zone was last night and the hitters seemed just as confused. We can discuss that issue another day.
But in this case, had the Phillies won, you can bet we’d be hearing about the missed line drive for decades to come.
And we shouldn’t have to because this is a situation that’s entirely preventable.
Time to do something to prevent it before another missed call ruins an entire season and some umpire’s life.
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