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Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This is the second in a two part series about the disbelief, good and bad, produced by the 2012 Major League Baseball Playoffs.


The American League Championship Series produced a different kind of disbelief in its first two games. Both occurrences elicited disgust, one for Yankees fans and the other for baseball fans (if not fans of sports) as a whole. The Yankees trailed 4-0 against the Detroit Tigers in the bottom of the ninth inning but rallied to tie the score and force extra innings. After completely taking the momentum away from Detroit, the Yankees would give it back and lose to the Tigers in 12 innings, 6-4. Adding injury to insult, Yankees team captain, shortstop Derek Jeter, broke his ankle during the extra frames and was lost for the postseason.

An opportunity for a great comeback in Major League Baseball history was missed. The Yankees ninth inning rally was a footnote in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS. The heart and soul of their team was lost to injury. This was nothing compared to the disgust that all fans of baseball should have felt the following day.

Think it can't get any worse? 1
With the score 1-0 in the top of the eighth with two outs, Omar Infante of the Tigers ran from first base to second base following an Austin Jackson single. Infante overran second and slid back to second. Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher threw the ball in to second baseman Robinson Cano, who applied the tag under Infante on his chest. The problem was that second base umpire Jeff Nelson thought Cano completely missed the tag and that Infante went completely over Cano’s glove. Nelson admitted, after the game that he missed the call. Yankees manager Joe Girardi came out to argue the call in a very flared manner and was ejected from the game.  The Tigers would go on to score two runs in an inning that should have been over.

I personally do not blame the umpire. When you look at where Old Blue was positioned and consider the full speed of the play and that Cano missed Infante’s arm when he attempted the tag, the umpire’s call was humanly understandable. What is not understandable is Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s insistence on refusing to expand the instant replay system to one that could have corrected the call, gotten Nelson off of the hook, kept Girardi in the game, and improve the integrity of the outcome of MLB games.

The Tigers’ 3-0 victory in Game 2 (and the fact that the Yankees did not score any runs, making the Tigers’ two runs inconsequential after the fact) became a footnote in the dubious history of bungled calls in the history of postseason baseball caused by the stubborn refusal of a Commissioner longing for a time in sports that ended within the last 20 years in every other major professional North American sport. Yankees fans and any fan of baseball, except for the fans of the Tigers, should have been disgusted and in disbelief that the landscape is such in 2012.


The Major League Baseball postseason has produced many moments of disbelief over the years. Disbelief in the form of timeless, memorable moments that can endear people to the game are priceless assets of baseball. Moments like Game 2 of the American League Championship Series should become footnotes by the way of action to correct the problems that they magnify. They should not be the latest in a series of recurring headlines illustrating what’s wrong with the game once unequivocally known as “America’s Pastime”. 

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