I realize this is a football-oriented blog, and an East Bay centric one at that, but with Rali gone it’s a good chance to talk about the only sport that really matters: baseball.
I begin with a theological question: if God is all powerful and all good, how is it He permits the existence of the Los Angeles Dodgers? This one has nearly plunged me into atheism a number of times.
Well, last night the Almighty smiled on the San Francisco Giants for a change. What was supposed to be a pitching duel between two aces turned into a beanball fest as hitters kept getting plunked, intentionally or not, and Dodgers kept getting ejected. Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who was consistently wild, nailed Matt Kemp with a pitch inside, which resulted in a retaliatory beaning from Dodgers ace Kershaw with Rowand at the plate. (Football fans: beaning is when a pitcher throws a baseball at a hitter.). Dodgers manager Joe Torre claims Lincecum threw intentionally at Kemp, proving that your IQ drops the second you put on a Dodgers uniform. Lincecum was wild all night, at one point squirting a ball straight up in the air, and isn’t the type to retaliate anyway.
With Joe Torre ejected due to Kershaw’s retaliation, Don Mattingly took over as manager. With the score at 5-4 in the ninth, Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton loaded the bases. Mattingly came to the mound for a conference, departed, and when he had taken two steps onto the grass, returned to the mound. Whoops. Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was paying attention even during the interlude, summoned the umpires. You see, if a manager visits the mound twice in one inning, the pitcher has to leave. So, the Dodgers were forced to bring in George Sherrill, who is bad enough when he actually has a chance to warm up, and to start him throwing with only 8 warmup pitches. Andres Torres came up next and doubled, leading to the eventual Giants win.
Now, every Giants and Dodgers fan has become an expert on rule 8.06, which reads in part:
(b) A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher’s automatic removal;
A manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber.
That’s the rule, which seems clear, but baseball’s rule book, like classical texts, is surrounded by commentary, some of it useful, some of it a waste of paper. The commentary regarding rule 8.06 says:
In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a base runner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game.
Now Mattingly claims home plate umpire Adrian Johnson warned him as he was returning to the mound. “No, no, no,” the umpire is alleged to have said. If that’s the case, the according to the commentary, seemingly in contradiction to the rule, Broxton should have been left in until the next batter.
Now we all know Dodgers are as sneaky as serpents, and not generally trustworthy. Is it possible Joe Torre (giving orders from the clubhouse) knew about this ambiguity, and deliberately had Mattingly go to the mound twice while Broxton, his closer, was struggling? Now, since Broxton was pulled out, Torre has the option to protest the game, whereas if Sherrill had come in and gotten an out, Torre could have remained silent. I realize this contradicts my earlier statement about IQ and Dodgers, but I think it’s possible to be stupid and deviously brilliant at once.
The worst part of all of this is the penalty I know Rali will have in store for me when she gets back and sees what I said in my opening sentence: Translate Rule 8.06 into Greek!