LDS Day Five: The Three Most Important People

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With the Yankees and Dodgers and Angels completing their sweeps over their respective opponents over the weekend, we're down to one division series to analyze. For now, let's look at three folks from yesterday who contributed to their team's success and/or demise:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: What's that? Wasn't Jonathan Papelbon the dude who blew the Red Sox lead with two outs and two strikes on three straight batters in the top of the ninth? Wasn't the parade of Angels hitters who drew walks and hits more important that the Red Sox center fielder? Shouldn't credit be given to Angels closer Brian Fuentes for actually doing a good job with a 1-2-3 ninth for the save? Why am I asking so many hypothetical questions? The fact remains, on Vlad Guerrero's bases loaded, two-run single to center that not only tied the game but gave the Angels the lead, Ellsbury was playing so deep in center field he could smell the exhaust on I-90. Ellsbury was so deep that there was no chance to catch a ball that, had he played in his normal spot, he would have held the Angels to just one run via sac fly and given the Sox another chance.

  • Nick Punto, Twins: The Twins played a risky game of aggressive baserunning all season long; sometimes it worked and sometimes the team fell flat on their face like Punto did last night. Nick Punto committed a conspicuous RIVERA, rounding third base through a stop sign in the eighth inning and killing a rally dead. Just like the Rays in 2008, the Twins lived and died via aggressive baserunning, finishing very high in extra bases taken but also high in outs recorded on the paths. Punto's RIVERA not only ruined a great chance of the Twins winning Game Three, he added to the Jeter Mystique.

  • Jerry Meals and Ron Kulpa, Umpires: Sheesh, do we have to keep talking about this? The Phillies scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning last night thanks to the rare double-missed-call on a Chase Utley "single". Utley smacked an infield hit that actually bounced off his leg; Meals missed the call at home. Rockies reliever Huston Street snagged the baseball and threw to Todd Helton at first just beating Utley; Kulpa blew that one by saying Helton was pulled off the bag. Folks, I've railed against instant replay in the past but all these egregious errors by umpires in the past week have really given fuel to Bud Selig's plan to round up and murder all the umps and replace them with computerized bionic baboons.

How would you like to shame my choices today?

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The ball definitely hit Utley, but it really did appear as if Helton got pulled off the bag by Street's throw. Maybe I was just seeing things because it was 2AM and I was watching a FUCKING PLAYOFF GAME. If all of the other umpiring atrocities hadn't occurred this week, we probably let that call go.

Also, nobody will top Liakos' work in the 2008 All-Star game, but Tuffy did a bang up job in the wee hours last night.

I was thinking the same thing about Ellsbury, Rob, but good luck getting the TBS guys to mention anything worth listening to. And not only was he playing too deep, he also scooped up the ball and threw it - not in one fluid motion, but in about 3 choppy motions. A top-notch CF would've got rid of that ball much quicker (which confused me slightly because I was under the impression that Ellsbury was considered a good defensive CF).

Oh, and "computerized bionic baboons". I may not like it, but that could be worth watching...

TBS showed several camera angles for the play on Utley at first base. I didn't see any that conclusively proved he was out, although the play was VERY close. Having seen enough NFL calls go the opposite way from what I thought was the obvious choice, I'm not really sure if that would have been overturned. Of course it would have never gotten that far since the ball obviously hit Chase. I thought it was interesting no was arguing about it. If no one on the Rockies saw it happen, I don't think it's surprising that the umps missed it as well.

Ball definitely hit Utley, I thought Helton's foot came off the bag at first.

Balls and strikes were awful, too; a count on Matt Stairs went to 3-2 when every single pitch was a couple inches off the plate.

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