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World Series Blunders Throughout Time

Plenty of Fall Classic games have been decided by mistakes
10/27/2006 8:11 PM ET
By Steven Goldman / Special to YESNetwork.com
The Tigers' pitchers deserved better yesterday, their own errors not withstanding. There have been very few games in World Series history where fielding miscues were as determinative. As the game wrapped up, I was trying to come up with a top 10 list of similar games. No doubt I'm forgetting a dozen famous ones, but this is what I came up with:

1912: GIANTS VS. RED SOX, GAME 8
Yeah, Game 8. The World Series used to last longer than a German opera. In this case the Series was intended to last only seven games, but a tie in Game 2 forced an extra contest. Fred Snodgrass's error is what is remembered about this game, but the bigger error was Christy Mathewson's... Or Fred Merkle's... Or Chief Meyers'. The Series was tied 3-3. The game was tied 1-1 going to the 10th, but the Giants took a 2-1 lead in the top of the inning. In the bottom of the frame, pinch-hitter Clyde Engle popped up to center fielder Fred Snodgrass.

Snodgrass dropped it. Engle landed on second. Snodgrass followed up with a great catch on Harry Hooper. That's when things got really bad. Matty walked Steve Yerkes. Tris Speaker, future Hall of Famer and one of the best hitters in the game, came up next. He hit a pop foul in play near first base. First baseman Merkle didn't move, catcher Meyers couldn't reach it, and Mathewson didn't direct traffic. Given a second chance, Speaker singled and Boston's Series-winning rally was on.

1921: GIANTS VS. YANKEES, GAME 8
The Giants led the Series 4-3, which meant the Yankees had to win or lose their first World Series appearance. This was a home game for the Yankees, though both teams played in the same park. In the top of the first, the Giants had runners on first and second with one out, Waite Hoyt pitching. George Kelly's grounder to short should have been the third out, but Roger Peckinpaugh let the ball go through his legs. The Giants took a 1-0 lead. That was the only run Hoyt would allow, but it was one too many as lefty Art Nehf shut out the Yankees. The Yankees traded Peck that winter. It wasn't a coincidence.

1924: GIANTS VS. SENATORS
The Giants, playing in their fourth straight Series, fell apart in this game. The contest was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 12th. With one out, Senators catcher popped out to catcher Hank Gowdy — who dropped it after tripping over his mask. Ruel then doubled. Walter Johnson batted and grounded to shortstop Travis Jackson, who booted the ball. Ruel didn't move as the play was in front of him, so that put runners on first and second.

1925: SENATORS VS. PIRATES: EVERYTHING
Roger Peckinpaugh again. Named MVP before the Series, he choked in a big way, making eight errors in seven games. In the seventh game, the Senators led the Pirates 6-4 going to the bottom of the seventh at Pittsburgh. Peckinpaugh's seventh error of the Series launched a Pirates rally that tied the game at 6-6. The Senators went back ahead in the top of the eighth on Peckinpaugh's home run, but in the bottom of the frame, Peckinpaugh's last error put the go-ahead run in scoring position. The Pirates scored three in the inning and shut down the Senators in the top of the ninth. Earl McNeely bounced a grounder to third baseman Freddie Lindstrom. For the second time in the game, a ball struck a pebble and bounced over Lindstrom's head. Ruel scored, giving the Senators their only championship.

1931: A's VS. CARDINALS, GAME 2
This was called "Wilson's Boner" at the time, though it's been forgotten because the outcome of the game wasn't changed.

In the ninth inning of Game 2 at St. Louis, the Cards were up 2-0, having gotten excellent pitching from Wild Bill Hallahan. Jimmie Foxx led off the ninth and worked a walk. Bing Miller flied out, but Jimmy Dykes took ball four, putting runners on first and second. Dib Williams took a called third strike. The pitcher's spot was due up next, and A's manager Connie Mack sent up Jimmy Moore to pinch hit. Hallahan was up one ball and two strikes when Foxx lit out for third base. The pitch came in and Moore swung and missed.

Game over — but it wasn't. Catcher Jimmie Wilson whipped the ball to third to catch Foxx. The throw was high and Double-X slid in safely. It should have been academic — fans were on the field, players were shaking hands. Instead, A's third base coach Eddie Collins grabbed Moore and dragged him to first base. Collins confronted the umpiring crew and argued that Wilson hadn't caught the third strike — it had bounced. That meant that Moore had to have been tagged by Wilson or thrown out at first.

Instead, he was standing there. The umpires bought the argument and the game continued. The "Wild" Hallahan now had the bases loaded and Max Bishop, who walked 120 times a year, at the plate. Hallahan pitched, and Bishop hit a pop foul on the first base side. Foul territory had been diminished by the addition of temporary stands. First baseman Jim Bottomley raced over, leaned into the stands... and fell in. He popped up holding the ball. The Cardinals win — finally. Hallahan's final line: 9/3/0/0/7/8.

1941: YANKEES VS. DODGERS, GAME 4
Playing at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers led 4-3 going to the top of the ninth. Dodgers closer Hugh Casey was in the game. He got two easy outs on grounders, bringing Tommy Henrich to the plate. With two strikes on Henrich, Casey unleashed a spitter, and catcher Mickey Owen couldn't hold on. Henrich swung and missed but the throw got away. Henrich reached, giving the Yankees new life. The Bombers drove a truck through that opening. Joe DiMaggio singled, Charlie Keller doubled, Bill Dickey walked, Joe Gordon doubled. By the time the frame was over, the Yankees were up 7-4. Johnny Murphy closed out the game in the bottom of the ninth.

1958: BRAVES VS. YANKEES, GAME 4
Norm Siebern's really bad day. He kept missing fly balls in left field. Meanwhile, Warren Spahn had the Yankees tamed, shutting them out on two hits. In a low moment for Casey Stengel, when the young Siebern made his second miscue, the manager came out on the field and imitated his outfielder staggering around looking for the ball.

1986: METS VS. RED SOX, GAME 6
Bill Buckner. No more need be said.

2001: YANKEES VS. DIAMONDBACKS, GAME 7
Mariano Rivera. The bunt. The throw. You know what happened next, and what hasn't happened since.

BLUNDERS THROUGHOUT TIME AND, WELL, NOW
Today's entry is being written under difficult conditions. A little earlier, a doctor dilated my one good eye. My monitor is now strobing and twinkling and jogging about, making it difficult to see what I am typing. Some readers will no doubt find it hard to discern a difference in quality, having never discerned any in the first place. One charming fellow wrote in the other day to inform me that "you are not as interesting as you believe yourself to be." That raised a compelling question I have been trying to answer ever since: how interesting do I believe I am? I have asked myself many questions in my time ("How did I get here?" "There are so many charming girls in my high school class, so why am I pursuing her?" "Why did I just eat that?" ) but never, "How interesting do I think I am?"

Thinking about it now, just based on the evidence, I'd have to think that I'm approximately as interesting as I thought I was if I had bothered to think about it, which must still pretty interesting because someone actually took their valuable time to tell me that I wasn't. It seems to me that most of the time if you don't find something interesting, you tend to ignore it. If you were going to make everyone you didn't think was interesting (or at least not as interesting as they thought they were), you'd end up sending a postcard to nine-tenths of the television producers in Hollywood.

I definitely think I might be more interesting were I a pirate, and since I seem to be heading for an eye patch instead of an eye, I can only hope that we can reconsider how interesting I think I am. But I won't be thinking about it. Really.

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THURSDAY, October 26, 2006: Posted at 12:42 p.m.
MADAM, WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
Gary Sheffield is upset. Is there an emoticon for "I am completely unsurprised by that information?

It would be so nice if the objects of our most cunning plans cooperated with us now and again.

SIMILARLY
Derek Jeter, back from a lost weekend in Europe with Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, says there's nothing more he can do to support A-Rod. I suggest flowers and a nice gift basket, something with some imported cheese. Jeter says he expects changes to the Yankees roster, but with A-Rod he will "stay the course."

He didn't use those words. I'm paraphrasing with intent.

TO THE MATS WITH READER MAIL
Just one today, a long one, and I ain't gonna say a word. Charlie, below, took the Seattle after A-Rod discussion from this week's Pinstriped Bible and ran with it. Thanks, Charlie!

THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, UH, A-ROD
I am a big fan, and I especially loved reading the Pinstriped Bible today because it included part of the argument I make with A-Rod haters as to why teams get better when A-Rod leaves.

You argued the first part better than I ever have, about the position players, which I expected. However, I think you missed the major points of the second half, which your readers might appreciate. You mentioned that the pitching staff was "healthy" and that "Moyer shaved more than two runs off of his ERA," which doesn't truly show what really went on there.

In fact, the 2000 team ERA went from a respectable 4.50 to an unbelievable 3.54 in 2001! There were seven pitchers who threw more than 60 innings with an ERA under 3.50, and two of them started all year.

Throw in (Aaron) Sele's 33 starts with an ERA if 3.60, (Norm) Charlton's 47 relief innings with a 3.02 and you have quite a pitching staff. Don't forget, included in those stats are (Joel) Pinero, (Arthur) Rhodes and (Jeff) Nelson, who all threw a bunch of innings with an ERA under 3.00. Simply a great staff, dropping their total runs allowed from 780 in 2000 to 627 in 2001, which explains the majority of the turnaround (and your mentioned of the defensive changes may have had something to do with the improved pitching).

While we're at it, a quick analysis of the Rangers during the A-Rod transition years shows something similar. Replace A-Rod with (Alfonso) Soriano (as Michael Young moved from 2B to SS), replace some really light-hitting outfielders with Shane Spencer and Ryan Christenson with slightly light hitting guys like Dave Dellucci and Laynce Nix, make Young an MVP candidate with his bat, and you have more runs scored. But once again, we must look to the pitching staff to see the real change.

An ERA of 5.67 (last in the AL) while allowing 969 runs in 2003 made them hard pressed to win many games. But in 2004 they dropped the team ERA to 4.53 (5th in the AL) and allowed 794 runs and that is why the wins really came. They still weren't a great team, as evidenced by the 800 pitchers they used that season, but they 89 wins instead of 71 is certainly a marked improvement.

The truth is, these teams got better when A-Rod left because their pitching improved. Maybe the Rangers could afford more pitching once the big paycheck left, but that isn't something the Yankees really have to worry about. The only conclusion that I take from this is that A-Rod is, by far, the worst pitcher in the last decade of baseball.

Well put, Chuck. And we can even dismiss your half-hearted suggestion that the Rangers might have been able to afford better pitching with Rodriguez's salary off the books, as the Rangers didn't break the bank on pitching once he left. They added Kenny Rogers and that was about it.

Of course, the haters are going to come back and say that the pitchers improved because Rodriguez was no longer around to depress them...

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WEDNESDAY, October 25, 2006: Posted at 8:40 p.m.
DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN
On Tuesday night, the Tigers swung against Chris Carpenter the way the Yankees swung against them: pitch-pitch-ground out. It was the least compelling shutout ever as the Tigers didn't even put up a fight. The bigger news was the announcement of the new collective bargaining agreement. Even if this World Series doesn't suit, we'll get four more tries before the next one is potentially disrupted.

As reported, the deal seems to be a good one for the Yankees, though the luxury tax will continue to take a big bite out of the team's revenues. Because the team has consistently violated the taxing threshold, the Yankees will pay in at a high 40 percent rate, the only team doing so. Should the Yankees get their farm system hitting on all cylinders to the point that they can turn some $10 million players into $400,000 players they can begin to bring that rate down.

The deal will allow them to do that, because one aspect of the deal that was previously reported, a strict slotting system for draft picks, appears not to have made the final cut. This means the Yankees can continue to do what they did this year, and pay above slot for hard-to-sign players bypassed by other clubs. By doing so, the Yankees can buy access to a slightly better class of talent than that which their typically lowly draft position usually entitles them.

For those not familiar with the slotting system, MLB has recommended signing bonuses for each round of the draft, and teams have generally adhered to them in recent years, though doing so is not compulsory. The Yankees, and other clubs, have from time to time signed a lower-round player to higher-round money. The new deal was rumored to foreclose that possibility.

As compulsive free agent buyers, The Yankees also benefit from the redefinition of Type A and B free agents. Fewer players will now receive these designations. This is actually overdue as some very weak players have been classified as top tier free agents over the years. Heck, the Expos once had to give up a first-round pick to sign the reserve catcher Tim Blackwell (why they chose to do so is a different matter). If the Yankees sign a Type B player, he will no longer cost them a draft pick. Instead, extra picks will be added to the sandwich round.

There are other aspects of the new deal, including revised arbitration, free agency, and draft schedules, which are a little more complicated to sort out. In some ways, the hot stove season will be more compact, with arbitration offers and acceptances and contract tenders all happening at an accelerated pace. Simultaneously, the failure to offer or accept arbitration no longer terminates the relationship between a free agent and his club, so negotiations could drag on. The changes to the draft, in which a club gets an equivalent pick in year B for failing to sign it's top pick in year A, sounds like an excuse to kite players like bad checks...

HOT IRON SHEFF
Bill Madden reports that the Yankees will pick up Gary Sheffield's option just to deal him, and that bidders are already lined up around the block. Sheffield is coming off a wrist injury, should probably DH most of the time at this point, and is turning 38 on Nov. 18 — and he's going to be angling for another contract from the moment he lands, because that's what Sheffield does.

Whereas the old Yankees might have traded Phil Hughes for that package, it's hard to imagine anyone else trading their Phil Hughes for it now. Madden mentions the Angels, Orioles, Cubs, Giants, Astros and Rangers as possible suitors. The Angels and the Rangers have some good young pitching available. If Mr. Cashman can get an Ervin Santana or a Thomas Diamond for Ol' Sheff, he gets my vote for Executive of the Year.

It sounds too good to be true and probably is (fairy tales are reported as fact all the time, especially in our sports pages). Still, if the Yankees execute an old-for-young trade, surely anything is possible.

JUST ANOTHER DAY IN THE BUSINESS...
I headed into chilly New York this morning for a meeting with the publisher of a new project I'm working on this winter (more on this in the near future). As I walked down Park Avenue South with the wind at my back I regretted not wearing a heavier coat. I shivered until at 22nd Street, stepped out from under the canopy of dark clouds that extended all the way uptown and crossed into pure sunlight. Instantly the weather changed from mid-winter to mild early Autumn.

At the Union Square greenmarket there were vendors selling cups of hot apple cider for a dollar. I bought one and walked happily on until I ran out of land. This failed to dissuade me on such a pleasant day and I strode on until I sank gently into the waters lapping the foot of the Battery. I come to you from there now, sitting in the bottom of the rotting rowboat that carried the mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton back across the water from Weehawken. You can tell it's his because he scratched his initials in the side with the bullet that killed him after they pulled it out of his liver...

...The day felt like that, anyway. My meeting didn't happen; the publisher's man took ill but didn't think to warn me off, so I traipsed into the city for nothing. This has been done to me before, but not by this fellow, and so though I'm inclined to be grievously offended, the truth is I can't hold him responsible for things other people have done. I have to smile and say "Aw shucks," and move on. What can you really do except accept an apology when it's proffered? Insist they double your fee? Expect a basket of bath soaps when they reschedule? You just have to move on.

Over a solo luncheon, I wondered what level of success you had to achieve in publishing to have people actually cancel meetings on you as opposed to leaving you stranded and confused like some pimply adolescent who backed the wrong mare on prom night. "I know," I thought. "I will work even harder. I will write many bestsellers in multiple genres, and then I will never be left waiting outside of an empty office again!" This is just one small shade of crazy away from the kind of mad scientist villains found in old movies and comic books. "They MOCKED my GENIUS! Now they will QUAKE with FEAR before DOCTOR SPORTSWRITERDOOM!"

Come to think of it, megalomania might be healthier for me than my usual outlook, which is a consuming feeling of imminent disaster. I empathize with the little pegs that get swept aside by a Foucalt pendulum. My version of a Stan Lee villain is humble. "They MOCKED my GENIUS! Now I will CRUMPLE as if STRUCK by a GIANT HAMMER, though no HAMMER is to be SEEN!"

It gets to me, these missed meetings. I wonder if they do this to Stephen King. He probably doesn't even take meetings, or editors. Someday... Someday I will get that level of respect... And after that I will grow feathers and fly to Capistrano with the other swallows. Chirrup. Chirrup.

AND ANOTHER THING
I think I'm missing something important. Why is it that when I walk down the streets of New York with my music player, I am the only one I see who is snarled in wires like a dolphin that swam into the wrong tuna net? Why is it that my ear buds always fall out at the same moment my shoelaces become untied? Why does it seem that everyone else is cueing up new playlists via telepathy while I'm unable to avoid listening to Bob Dylan's "Silvio" for the fourth straight time without removing my jacket and tie? I understand you're supposed to be subtle about your music player lest muggers pick you off, but I can't help twitching around with the thing like I've got St. Vitus' Dance.

That may be the only thing keeping the muggers away. I have asked my music player, "Now, is this dignified?" but there is no answer. Perhaps one will come with the next firmware update.

The real problem with my trips to New York, one I've been working on for a few years now without success, is how to be subtle about checking out all the beautiful women loose in the city when you only have one working eye. I'm basically a human Tucker Torpedo. I follow my single headlight, so I have a tendency to careen suddenly towards anyone or anything attractive that enters my limited field of vision. This usually gives the game away. Often as a couple of women pass me going in the opposite direction, I will hear one of them say to the other, "Ginger, that cyclops was smiling at me."

They think I can't hear, but I can. With the 50 percent reduction in my vision, my other senses have become 50% more acute, especially my aforementioned sense of impending doom. It's hard being a cyclops.

SPEAKING OF WHICH...
Dear Jeff Suppan:

Go Tigers.

Sincerely,
The Cyclops

SONGS FOR THE VERY YOUNG AND THE CHRONICALLY DISTRACTED
Baseball Prospectus has been running diaries written during the World Series' games, and while I haven't fronted one myself (my turn will come if there is a Game 6), I've found it pleasant to pop in via IM and contribute a line or two. Some of these exchanges made it verbatim into Jay Jaffe's Game 2 Diary, while others were simply summarized, as Kevin Goldstein did during Game 3:

10:00 pm: Things Steven Goldman and I have talked about in between innings: The 1946 World Series, Italian food with staples in it, why there is no baseball in Brazil, the short-lived Trevor Crowe at second base experiment, how some people in southern New Jersey have a drawl, the career of Peter Sellers. There's some baseball in there.

...That accurately describes any three minutes of conversation I'm likely to have with anyone. Heck, it's potential pillow talk. It's tough being a cyclops with a dissonant multi-channel brain.

NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION
I think I have to go to Amarillo. What does one do in Amarillo?

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MONDAY, October 23, 2006: Posted at 5:26 p.m.

I've gotten a few e-mails asking if we will be blogging and bible-ing all winter long. I've repeated the answer a couple of times, but not everyone reads every day. The answer is yes. This is a year-'round feature, just as it has been every year since we started back in those thrilling days of yesteryear, when dad wore a cloak, momma was the queen of the prom, and Clay Bellinger was a Yankee.

Actually, it was technically before Clay Bellinger was a Yankee. He wasn't a major league Yankee, anyway. I remember the day well. The then-editor of Yankees.com and I were walking around Wall Street. We passed Trinity Church, and I was momentarily distracted from the conversation by the thought that I might be able to spy Alexander Hamilton's final resting place from the street. "…I liked that Derek Jeter thing you did for us," he was saying, "on all the shortstops between him and Rizzuto. It was like what Neyer does, that 'Stats Class' stuff. That's what I want from you. I want you to be our Rob Neyer."

"I can't do that," I said. "I can only be me. Maybe that will be good enough." We shook hands. More than seven years later we're still here, five days a week and sometimes more. There's no reason to stop for something as transient as winter. There's always something to talk about. We'll have the usual mix of stuff — baseball, pop culture of all shades, the occasional bit of history or politics (the, um, sweet science), and whatever else seems important. There's this girl who turned me down for a date 18 years ago that's been on my mind…

KICKING THE TELEVISION SET
Those Tommy Lasorda commercials on FOX reek of desperation (We paid a lot for these games! WATCH THEM, please! Our lousy jobs are riding on it!), but as Jay Jaffe and I discussed last night, these have been great games. Still, as a Yankees camp follower, I feel a bit frustrated that the ballgame was a pitcher's duel between Jeff Weaver and Kenny Rogers, two pitchers who had disastrous tours in pinstripes. Same deal last year with Jose Contreras.

Of course, I'm still feeling aggrieved about how Doyle Alexander killed the Yankees in 1985 after going 1-9 with a 6.16 ERA as a Bomber in 1982 and 1983. And Rick Reuschel still owes the city of New York an apology. He was Yankees property for over a year and he could keep his arm attached for just 11 games. Two years later he heals up and becomes the National League's great overweight ace, putting up a 3.17 ERA over nearly 1,200 innings.

Longtime readers know I always kept an open mind about Mel Stottlemyre, even in the dark latter days of his reign. It's tempting now to say, "Well, maybe there was something to that." Yet, it's too pat an answer. Consider Weaver. He hasn't pitched well from the time the Yankees acquired him until September of the regular season. Along the way he passed through the hands of the Angels' Mike Scioscia and Bud Black, both of whom know something about working with pitchers. Weaver then had the good fortune to land with another strong pitching coach, Dave Duncan. Even then, it took two months of beatings and 6.00 ERAs for whatever Duncan was preaching to sink in.

Ideally Stottlemyre would have had more answers than he proved to have, but that's not incompatible with saying that these were particularly tough nuts (appropriate term, perhaps) to crack. Weaver has been doctored by everyone except Leo Mazzone, and you can probably get good odds on his needing Mazzone's help next year.

I don't know if Stottlemyre or Joe Torre or Brian Cashman are paying attention to the World Series — it might be too painful — but there's little reason to doubt that they're feeling a fair bit of frustration just now as their failures parade on the October stage.

SIX YEARS AND FREEDOM
The list of minor league free agents has been posted. Here are the Yankees on the list. I'll put the familiar names in bold:

Danny Borrell, LHP
Jeremy Brown, C
Francisco Butto, RHP
Gerardo Casadiego, RHP
Matt Childers, RHP
Jesus Cólome, RHP
Mark Corey, RHP
Caonabo Cosme, INF
Richard Cremer, LHP
Bubba Crosby, OF
Ben Davis, C
Jorge DePaula, RHP
Felix Escalona, INF

Vince Faison, OF
Danny Garcia, 2B
Victor Hall, OF
Russ Johnson, 3B
Carlos Leon, SS
Terrence Long, OF
Carlos Mendoza, SS
Ramiro Mendoza, RHP
Frank Menechino, 2B
Wil Nieves, C
Scott Patterson, RHP
Tommy Phelps, LHP
Edgar Ramirez, RHP
Anthony Rawson, LHP
Randy Ruiz, 1B
Aaron Small, RHP
R.J. Swindle, LHP
Ferdin Tejeda, RHP
Kris Wilson, RHP
Tommy Winrow, OF

Unlike in previous years, where there were a few players you hoped the Yankees might retain, this year's group is composed of players who wouldn't be a big loss to the organization if they moved on. Mendoza, 34, is a never-ending reclamation project. De Paula is the same thing. Small was a one-hit wonder. Crosby is a very limited 30-year-old. None of the catchers can hit at a minimally acceptable level. A couple of the Trentonians on the list — Vince Faison and Randy Ruiz — have some pop in their bats, but it's Double-A pop, and in any case they're over-aged. Faison is 26, Ruiz 29.

Among the free agents possibly leaving other organizations that might be interesting are the righty swingman Steve Andrade; Red Sox catcher-first baseman-outfielder Jeff Bailey (28 next season, with career averages of .266/.368/.451 he could out-hit Sal Fasano); Jack Cust, 28 next year, still can't field, still has that useful lefty bat — he hit .293/.467/.549 for Portland; Keith Ginter (sure, he's 30, but he'll reach base more often than Miguel Cairo); Adam Greenberg, 26-year-old outfielder, is trying to get past having his block knocked off by a pitch in his first and so far only big league plate appearance, but if he gets through it he might be a better pinch-runner/outfield reserve than Bubba was — for one thing, he's faster; the wild, wild lefty Stephen Randolph; and the mildly powerful outfielder Stephen Smitherman.

There may be more. Those jumped out at me on first look at a very long list… Funny to see Graham Koonce on this list. I guess his day as a hot free talent acquisition has come and gone.

TO THE MATS WITH READER MAIL
Just a quick one:

There are major flaws in your argument that Joe Torre did the same thing (or worse) than Willie Randolph by going to Jeff Weaver in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series instead of Mariano Rivera. Unlike Randolph leaving in his setup man for a second inning in a Game 7 at home, Game 4 of the 2003 World Series was AT Pro Player, making it a much different situation. At that point, Torre had to save his big gun because if the Yankees got a lead, they still needed to shut down the home team in the bottom of the inning.

Also, Rivera had pitched two innings the night before, meaning he wasn't available to pitch two innings in Game 4. They were going to get one inning out of him tops. Apples and oranges. When the Yanks did play Game 7 at home in the ALCS, what did Torre do? He brought in Rivera in the ninth. Then he kept sending him back out there until Aaron Boone ended it. — Brian

Thanks for writing, Brian. I respectfully disagree. This was the same explanation that was trotted out at the time and we discussed it extensively here. As Leo Durocher once said, "Never save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it might rain." Similarly, don't save your best pitcher to protect a lead you might never get, or prolong a game that might already be over. Weaver was the worst pitcher on the staff. He was absolutely disoriented. His mechanics were gone, his confidence was gone, his attitude was bad, and Torre hadn't pitched him for something like a month. It was an extremely low-percentage move. You have to pitch Rivera in that spot and take your chances on putting up a crooked number when you get to bat again-but you have to get to bat again. The Yankees didn't get to.

It's fascinating to me that one would defend a policy that was not only flawed in the planning, but failed when actually tried. Then again, you can see the same thing with so many people in regards to — oops, I almost mentioned the real world.

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Steven Goldman's Pinstriped Blog appears daily on YESNetwork.com. "Forging Genius," Steve's biography of Casey Stengel, and "Mind Game," the story of the Red Sox' 2004 championship, and "Baseball Between the Numbers," from the authors of Baseball Prospectus, are now available at Amazon.com. More Steve is available on YESNetwork.com in the Pinstriped Bible, and the Baseball Prospectus Web site. Your questions, comments, suggestions welcomed at oldprofessor@wholesomereading.com. The opinions stated above are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to anyone connected in an official capacity with the YES Network.
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