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Monday, October 28, 2013

Something in the Air

Four games down…up to three remaining. The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are tied at two games apiece in the 2013 World Series. That the teams with the best regular season records in their respective leagues are tied after four games is not surprising. How these well managed, veteran teams got to this point is.

Games 1 and 2 of the series were steered to their outcomes by a bevy of costly errors by the Cardinals and Red Sox, respectively. Game 3 went to the Cardinals on Saturday night after Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia overthrew his third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, in an attempt to tag out Allen Craig of the Cardinals. After the error, Middlebrooks picked his legs up; Craig momentarily tripped over them but continued running toward home plate. The throw reached Saltalamacchia in time to tag Craig by multiple steps, yet Craig was called safe by means of an obstruction call against Middlebrooks by third base umpire Jim Joyce. 
Craig was already "safe". 1
Game 4 ended with Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran, one of the best postseason hitters of all-time, at bat with the Cardinals trailing by two runs with two outs and pinch-runner Kolten Wong on first base. The threat of Wong stealing second base or scoring seemed inconsequential, as there were two outs and Beltran represented the tying run. Yet Mike Napoli continued to cover first base as Wong took his lead, leaving a larger gap between the second baseman and Napoli in the infield. It ended up deciding the game as Wong was caught napping after taking a huge lead and was picked off by Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.

Wong's choice was wrong. 2


Game 5 of any playoff series tied at 2-2 in any sport is pivotal as the winner usually goes on to win the entire series. After the first two games were heavily influenced by careless and/or hyper-aggressive errors by the losing teams, Games 3 and 4 were ended under very unusual circumstances. These two teams played the best regular season baseball in their leagues, so the fact that the series is close was likely expected by many. The fact that the slightest change in circumstances late in games is deciding games is not surprising either. It’s is almost Halloween. We should expect the unexpected in the remaining games of the World Series.    

It's that time of year. 3
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