So, about that no-hit bid …
I’m not looking to start an argument here about thankless jobs. I know a lot of people who would give just about anything to get paid to watch a ballgame. This isn’t about that. But when it comes to people in a baseball press box during a game, the official scorer has one of the more thankless jobs.
The pay is nice, but it’s not like you can make a living doing it. Above all, people do it because they love baseball. They’re generally good at scoring games, and they’re very good at remembering the scoring rules, because there are a lot of them. And if they’re good, they’re able to take the rules that they read and apply them to what they see on the field. But they generally don’t get a lot of credit for it.
Which brings us to Saturday’s game.
I’ve never heard a crowd react to a call as loudly, or as immediately, as they did to Ron Kleinfelter’s call that Brent Morel’s sixth-inning grounder was a hit rather than a Brandon Inge error. I mean, the words were barely out of his mouth when about 35,000 fans booed. I can’t imagine what that’s like, to hear that many people react at the same time, in the same place, to a decision you make. I have a nice, loyal Twitter following, and they’re only about one-seventh of that crowd size. Besides, you don’t hear noise on Twitter.
But here’s the thing: For all the second-guessing this call is going to get, it’s more of an interpretation than a decision. The borderline on a play like that is reasonable effort. And while we’ve all seen Inge make plays like that down the line often enough that it seems like an ordinary effort for him, I have a hard time calling that a reasonable effort for most third basemen. And that’s the criteria.
I look at the replay, and I see Inge make the stop with enough time to set his feet for a throw, but I don’t see him able to get his weight behind it. For a throw that far across the infield, that seems key.
Inge didn’t want to make an excuse, but he also hinted it was a factor.
“If you can plant there, you get all your weight transfer going, and then the ball comes out fine,” Inge said. “But when that back foot falls out, you have to use all arm, so then maybe it tails a little bit on you.”
When asked if that was the case, Inge said, “My foot slipped a little bit when I went to plant, and maybe that had something to do with it. But I don’t like using anything as an excuse. I still had plenty to get it over there. My aim was slightly off.”
Inge said third-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth told him just three third basemen he knew could make that play. Inge was one of them. But there’s a difference between could and should, and where Inge’s expectations lie compared to those of others.
“It’s not an average play,” he said, “but I should’ve made the play.”
And there’s the problem: It’s hard to call an above-average play an error if it isn’t made. I can think of some decidedly average third basemen in the big leagues, and I imagine you can, too. No need to name names, because that’s a whole other discussion. Now think: Could they make that play?
“It’s a fine line. I can imagine it’s tough on a scorer,” Inge said. “They do a pretty good job. I know I’m not helping them, saying what I’m saying, but I’m always going to be honest.”
Here’s another way to look at it: Take the situation out of it. Think of it in the first inning of a scoreless game, or the eighth inning of a 12-3 game. Don’t think of it with a no-hitter riding on it. If that’s called a hit, are you still disagreeing so strongly. Because like it or not, you can’t factor the game setting into the ruling. Some argued otherwise on Twitter, and I strongly disagree.
As for the call itself, I agree that it was a hit. I can understand those who say it should be an error, but the more I replays I watched, the more comfortable I feel about it being a hit.