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Greatest World Series Blunders

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  • Greatest World Series Blunders

    I’m brand-new to this forum, first post, and I didn’t want it to be starting a new thread. But I wanted to talk about a WS blunder that as far as I can tell, no fan or journalist ever noticed or commented on, and doing a search I couldn’t find an appropriate thread for it.

    OK, here’s the situation. 2005 WS, White Sox vs. Astros, Game 4. Ninth inning, White Sox are leading 1-0, and only three outs from a sweep. Astros get a man on second, Jason Lane, with one out. Chris Burke hits a pop foul that Juan Uribe makes an amazing catch of by diving into the stands.

    Here’s what I’ve never understood: why didn’t Lane tag up? Since it was a foul ball, there was no question of leading off second in case the ball dropped for a hit. He should have remained standing on the bag. As soon as Uribe disappeared over the railing, it was obvious that if he caught the ball there was no way he would be able to get up and throw it to third in time. So Lane could easily have gotten to third.

    But that’s not all. Uribe, as it turned out, had quite a bit of trouble extricating himself from the people in the stands. I’m quite sure Lane could have continued around third to score and tie the game. If the Astros third base coach had been on the ball, he would have been over at the stands checking on Uribe, and signaling to Lane whether to keep running.

    If Lane had scored, would it have changed the outcome of the WS? Almost certainly not. The game would have been tied, the Astros might still have lost the game, and even if they had won, no team has ever come back from 3-0 in a WS. For this reason, I don’t regard it as the worst WS blunder of all time. But it would have at least given the Astros a shot at winning one game, and extending the series. The only argument against this I can think of is that if Lane had scored, someone would have informed Uribe, and he would have conveniently "dropped" the ball before coming out of the stands. Maybe. But since the possibility of tagging up apparently occurred to no one on either one of these supposedly professional baseball teams, I suspect no one would have noticed that Lane had scored.

    My pick for worst WS blunder of all time—because it did affect the outcome of the series—was committed not by Johnny Pesky, but Lonnie Smith. 1991, Braves vs. Twins, game 7. Neither team scored during the nine innings, with the Twins winning the game and the Series in the 10th inning.

    But the Braves had a golden opportunity in the 8th. Smith was on 1st, and the hit and run was on when Terry Pendleton hit one into the gap in left center. Running with the pitch, Smith should have easily been able to score what would have been the winning run. But SS Greg Gagne and 2B Chuck Knoblauch pretended that they were fielding and starting a double play on a ground ball, taking advantage of the fact that Smith, running on the pitch, couldn’t see where the ball was. Smith hesitated, and when he resumed running, could only get to third. Though they got the bases loaded with I believe no outs, the Braves never scored in that inning, or in the game.

    Whether Smith did or did not know where the ball was is unclear. He claimed he knew it was hit to the outfield, but held up because he thought it might be caught. But if he had been looking over at the third base coach, he would have seen the signal to keep running. Seems pretty clear that this play blew the WS for the Braves.

  • #2
    Bill Buckner has to be way up there, of course.

    I think Pesky's hesitation before throwing home is very overrated as far as blunders go. Slaughter would have been safe anyway.

    One that seems to fly under the radar for some reason is Tony Fernandez's error in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. That just might be the worst World Series blunder of all time.

    Another one that we don't hear much about is Mariano Rivera throwing the ball into center-field in Game 7 in 2001.

    Welcome to Baseball-Fever, Stolensingle!
    My top 10 players:

    1. Babe Ruth
    2. Barry Bonds
    3. Ty Cobb
    4. Ted Williams
    5. Willie Mays
    6. Alex Rodriguez
    7. Hank Aaron
    8. Honus Wagner
    9. Lou Gehrig
    10. Mickey Mantle

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    • #3
      Interesting topic, Stolensingle. Are you referring to mental mistakes rather than mere fielding errors? There are lots of famous errors, but not as many well-known mental lapses.

      How about when the A's pretended they were going to intentionally walk Johnny Bench in the 1972 World Series, only to strike him out when he wasn't looking?
      Baseball Junk Drawer

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      • #4
        I think that Smith's blundeer is #1, but what a slick play by theTwins. That had to be pre determined.

        Another one is Willie Davis making 3 errors in one inning in a very critical game 2 of the 66 series, in what turned out to be Koufax's last game.
        This week's Giant

        #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

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        • #5
          Not too many people would tag from 2nd to 3rd on a foul ball on the third base side. The third base coach doesn't belong over by the stands to check to see what the fielder is doing. Hindsight is 20/20. If Uribe suddenly popped out of the stands, he'd have had a short throw to third provided someone was covering the bag.

          As far as Buckner being way up there, you do realize the game was already tied when Mookie Wilson hit the ball, don't you?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ian2813 View Post
            Interesting topic, Stolensingle. Are you referring to mental mistakes rather than mere fielding errors? There are lots of famous errors, but not as many well-known mental lapses.

            How about when the A's pretended they were going to intentionally walk Johnny Bench in the 1972 World Series, only to strike him out when he wasn't looking?
            Good point IAN, I was thinking the same.
            I think blunders and errors obviously two different world.
            I like blunders, errors, the number could go onand on...........

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Macker View Post
              Not too many people would tag from 2nd to 3rd on a foul ball on the third base side. The third base coach doesn't belong over by the stands to check to see what the fielder is doing. Hindsight is 20/20. If Uribe suddenly popped out of the stands, he'd have had a short throw to third provided someone was covering the bag.

              As far as Buckner being way up there, you do realize the game was already tied when Mookie Wilson hit the ball, don't you?
              Also, we will never know for sure but some believe that "maybe" even if Bill handled the ball, Mookie may have beaten him to the bag.
              Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 12-19-2012, 07:52 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Macker View Post
                As far as Buckner being way up there, you do realize the game was already tied when Mookie Wilson hit the ball, don't you?
                Yes, I do realize that.

                That's why I said it's up there. I didn't say it's #1.
                My top 10 players:

                1. Babe Ruth
                2. Barry Bonds
                3. Ty Cobb
                4. Ted Williams
                5. Willie Mays
                6. Alex Rodriguez
                7. Hank Aaron
                8. Honus Wagner
                9. Lou Gehrig
                10. Mickey Mantle

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                • #9
                  I still believe that Nelson Cruz's drifting to catch Freese's hit in the bottom of the 9th in Game 6, 2011, was a deliberate attempt to make a memorable and stylish catch to end to the WS. But then it backfired on him.

                  I don't believe he was trying to make a sound, fundamental catch. I believe he was trying to make a "we've got this in the bag, no big deal" catch.

                  I know there's no way to prove it. And other valid explanations can be made way he didn't catch the ball. But this is what I believe from watching that play.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                    I still believe that Nelson Cruz's drifting to catch Freese's hit in the bottom of the 9th in Game 6, 2011, was a deliberate attempt to make a memorable and stylish catch to end to the WS. But then it backfired on him.

                    I don't believe he was trying to make a sound, fundamental catch. I believe he was trying to make a "we've got this in the bag, no big deal" catch.

                    I know there's no way to prove it. And other valid explanations can be made way he didn't catch the ball. But this is what I believe from watching that play.
                    I wouldn't go that far. But I did think the series was over when the ball was in the air. Now that you re-reminded me, he botched that play badly.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PVNICK View Post
                      I wouldn't go that far.
                      Yeah, I wouldn't necessarily expect others to think the same thing, but it's what I believe. Knowing how many players like to hot dog it in the field theses days (Manny, Prince Fielder, etc.), I can believe players do this on the largest stage possible. To me, it looked like one of those moments...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Macker View Post
                        Not too many people would tag from 2nd to 3rd on a foul ball on the third base side. The third base coach doesn't belong over by the stands to check to see what the fielder is doing. Hindsight is 20/20. If Uribe suddenly popped out of the stands, he'd have had a short throw to third provided someone was covering the bag.

                        As far as Buckner being way up there, you do realize the game was already tied when Mookie Wilson hit the ball, don't you?
                        Mack, If I recall the run that tied the score, what was called a Stanley wild pitch. Stanley taking the rap on that one.
                        At the very best, borderline call on that wild pitch, could have passed for a passed ball. Gedman didn't exactly exert himself. Looked to me like he could have at the least knocked down the pitch, kept it close to him.
                        Unless Gedman was crossed up.

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                        • #13
                          I almost forgot about Mickey Owen's dropped third strike in the '41 Series. That's gotta be way up there.
                          My top 10 players:

                          1. Babe Ruth
                          2. Barry Bonds
                          3. Ty Cobb
                          4. Ted Williams
                          5. Willie Mays
                          6. Alex Rodriguez
                          7. Hank Aaron
                          8. Honus Wagner
                          9. Lou Gehrig
                          10. Mickey Mantle

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                            I still believe that Nelson Cruz's drifting to catch Freese's hit in the bottom of the 9th in Game 6, 2011, was a deliberate attempt to make a memorable and stylish catch to end to the WS. But then it backfired on him.

                            I don't believe he was trying to make a sound, fundamental catch. I believe he was trying to make a "we've got this in the bag, no big deal" catch.

                            I know there's no way to prove it. And other valid explanations can be made way he didn't catch the ball. But this is what I believe from watching that play.
                            I totally a agree. In my mind it is without a doubt. It was what I thought watching his body language as the play unfolded. Only my opinion, of course.

                            I understand someone not wanting to accuse him of it without knowing for sure.

                            As the play unfolded:

                            Me: "It's over."
                            ...
                            Me: "Uh oh."
                            Buddy: "What a scumbag he tried to pimp it! Who tries to pimp that ball in game 6 of the World Series!"
                            Me: "Yea what a dummy."
                            "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

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                            • #15
                              ShoelessJoe3, I agree with your take on the wild pitch. Unless Gedman was crossed up, he should have put a glove on it. Always thought too much was made of the Owen error. If he holds the pitch, the Dodgers tie the series at 2 game apiece. Owen made the error, and the Yankees rallied to win the game and go up 3 game to 1 and then won Game 5 to take the series. Say what you want about momentum, but even if the Dodgers won that game, I don't think they'd have won the series.

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