Yankees manager Joe Girardi is as good a candidate as any to win the Manager of the Year award. Before the Wild Card game against Minnesota on October 3, he was cheered loudly by the home faithful. At the next home game on October 8, he was subjected to boos.
In between, the Yankees lost the first game of the Division Series in Cleveland. In the second game, New York took a commanding 8-3 lead into the sixth inning. With two on and two out, pitcher Chad Green threw a pitch inside to Lonnie Chisenhall. Replays would later show that the ball hit the knob of the bat and landed in fair territory where it was fielded for what should have been the final out of the inning. Umpire Dan Iassogna incorrectly ruled that Chisenhall was hit by the pitch. The next batter, Francisco Lindor, hit a grand slam to close the gap to 8-7. Cleveland went on to win in 13 innings and took a 2-0 series lead.
Not very long ago, it would have been the umpire getting all the bame. In fact, before replay reviews, Girardi’s only recourse might have been to argue with the umpire, almost certainly without success. Alas, Girardi has the right to challenge such a call; a right he inexplicably chose not to exercise. As a result he was booed at home before game three.
But should Girardi have gotten all the blame? He didn’t throw the pitch, hit the ball, or make the call on the field. He watched the events unfold from the dugout, as managers tend to do. Surely the blame should be shared with others. Below is a breakdown of who else is at fault using a proprietary algorithm to determine balme percentage.*
Umpire Dan Iassogna
This may be the first case in the history of baseball in which the umpire is not getting enough blame. Usually umpires are everyone’s favorite scapegoat. Furthermore, he actually was wrong! Girardi’s decision not to challenge the call was only made possible because the call was blown in the first place. Girardi and Iassogna are the only two people who made an error in judgement on the play.
Pitcher Chad Green
Green threw the pitch that was considered to be a HBP. He didn’t really hit Chisenhall, but it was far enough inside that Iassogna thought he had. That’s not why he’s at fault. He’s on this list because two pitches later he yielded a game-changing grand slam. His final pitching line includes four batters faced: a fly out, a double, a (dubious) HBP, and a grand slam. Of all the players that participated in the game, Green is the most responsible for the Yankees’ loss.
Batter Lonnie Chisenhall
Chisenhall had to know the ball hit the bat and not his hand. He’s 29 years old and he’s played baseball his whole life. He must have been hit on the hands before. He certainly knows what it feels like, and how different it feels when it hits the knob of the bat. Based on this assumption, Chisenhall is a liar. When Iassogna told him to take first base, he did not protest. Perhaps it would have been more honorable for him to call himself out, but as Leo Durocher famously said, “Nice guys finish last.” Furthermore, making the calls on the field is not his job. Nearly every professional ballplayer would have done the same thing.
Grand Slam Masher Francisco Lindor
Lindor had the power to make all of the preceding events moot. If he had merely grounded out no one would be talking about the blown call while he was on deck. Instead, he slugged his team back into the ballgame with great indecency, setting off a chain of events that culminated with poor Girardi being jeered at home.
Bullpen Resident Aroldis Chapman
It’s a sign of the times that Chapman is on this list at all. He wouldn’t enter the game until a few innings later, and he threw two scoreless innings. After the game he infamously liked a tweet that was critical of Girardi. During the regular season this might be a non-story. However, these are the playoffs and the Yankees face elimination, and so fuel was poured on the fire.
Manager Joe Girardi
“…And we’re back on SportsTalk Radio; Daniel from Jersey is on the line. Howyadoin’ Daniel?”
“I’d like to talk about ALDS game 2. I don’t think Girardi deserves all of the blame. I think other peop-”
“ARE YOU CRAZY?!? DID YOU EVEN WATCH THE GAME?!! THERE’S NO WAY THE MANAGER DOESN’T CHALLENGE THE CALL!!! THIS IS OCTOBAH! HE DESERVES 10,000% OF THE BLAME!!!
“Next caller is Frank from Yonkers…”
*Like Chisenhall, I am also a liar. I just made them all up.Next post: Evaluating the 2017 Predictions & Projections
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