Friday, October 13, 2017

A great and terrible game

I was really. really hoping by the end of Thursday night's Game Five of the Nationals-Cubs NLDS that both teams would run out of pitchers.

The Cubbies survived, unfortunately. I had hoped that this year, the year of the superteams, the fival four would be the three 100-game winners and a 97-win ensemble. Instead the Yankees and Cubs, neither of which had a regular season nearly as successful as the teams they edged out, advanced.

So it goes. This playoff system devalues the regular season. That's no secret, and it's been my major complaint about the wild card for more than two decades. But this system what we have, and it produces some baseball that is both compelling and unwatchable.

Thursday was both. At one point in the fifth-inning rally in which the Cubs took the lead they had the four-batter sequence of intentional walk, strikeout-passed ball, catcher interference and hit-by-pitch. (The second play of that sequence, in my estimation, was a blown call by the umpires, who misinterpreted Rule 6.03. That says an unintentional backswing that hits the catcher is a dead call and a strike. Jerry Layne and company allowed play to continue and stand.) From Baseball Reference:

The bizarrity -- if that's a word, and it should be -- goes on. Jayson Werth lost a ball in the lights; that cost the Nats a run. Willson Contreras, the Cubs catcher, twice whiffed completely on pitches that nailed Layne, which is a hell of a thank-you for the biffed call. Then he picked off Washington's Jose Lobaton on one of those confounded sliders-foot-off-the-bag-for-a-millisecond replay reversals that should be a firing offense for whoever's in New York.

And four hours and 37 minutes of pitching changes and committee meetings. That is October baseball in the era of Girardi and Maddon, and I hate it. I know this one was in Washington, but leave the filibusters to the Senate and play some ball. I expect there will be limits placed on catchers visiting the mound next year, and hooray for that. It has become abusive.

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