01 October 2003


Error n. A defensive fielding or throwing misplay by a player when a play normally should have resulted in an out or prevented an advance by a base runner.

OK, so I was wrong.

The Yankees set out to embarass themselves right off the bat this year as well. Bernie "Can You Throw This For Me?" Williams misplayed a flyball, which led to a 2-run "triple" by Torii Hunter that should have been a single, first and third, at worst. Matt LeCroy isn't exactly a speed demon, and they might both have scored on Koskie's double anyway, but the point is that Bernie's play is an error if I ever saw one. For the record, I didn't see this one, but I heard it on MLB radio over the internet. (Free for the playoffs if you try eight free issues of Sports Illustrated, which they're hoping you'll forget to cancel in November. I won't.)

In addition, Bernie's universally acknowledged misplay led to Alfonso Soriano knoblauching a throw past Aaron Boone when he was pressed to make the play on Hunter, trying for third.

SOAPBOX TIME: Isn't it high-time that the rules were changed concerning errors? I mean, every report you hear or read tells you that Bernie Williams screwed up yesterday, and yet the box score doen't even mention the "misplay". It just says "triple". And Mike Mussina is laden with three earned runs, instead of the one or two he really deserved.

For whatever reason, the Powers That Used-to-Be decided that a player has to actually touch a batted ball for the play to be ruled an error. Now this kinda makes sense, considering that it's pretty hard to screw something up if you never get to handle it. On the other mitt, though, after 150+ years of playing this game, pretty much everybody knows how a centerfielder is supposed to play that ball: i.e., if you can't get to it, cut it off and keep the batter from running to second, or, say, all the way around to home plate.

Bernie didn't do that. He screwed up the play, allowing a single to be streched into an RBI "triple" and forced another error (actually called as such this time) that allowed another run to score. So why is that not an error? Why is Mike Mussina blamed for that run instead?

Tradition. That's why.

Tradition says that he's got to touch the ball. So if a ball is hit up the middle, and the shortstop dives to his right, everyone would acknowledge that this was a stupid thing to do, but the official scored can't actually call it an error.

Tradition says "You can't anticipate the double play." This means that with a runner on first and less than two out, the middle infielder can step on second base and then knoblauch the throw all the way to Tibet and he's not credited with an error. It simply goes down as a fielder's choice and a putout at 2B. But in the 21st century (and for most of the last one) hundreds, if not thousands, of double plays are turned every year, and we all know that if you can't get the throw off cleanly, it's better to just hold onto the ball. Everyone knows that, and yet the Rules still say it wasn't an error.

It's time to give Tradition the boot and bring in some common sense.

The Yankees still lost, which is ultimately what matters, but let's call a spade a spade here, eh? Or, you know, an error.

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