ALCS Game 7: The Tag or Joel Skinner?
Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 October 2007
The Tag: Lofton attempts to stretch a Fenway single into a double but is called out sliding into second. Replay shows he safe. Indians only score one run in the inning instead of two. Two runs would have tied the game.
Joel Skinner: Indians trail by one run with Lofton on second. Gutierrez singles down the left field line, the ball caroming of the wall in front of Manny Ramirez. Lofton rounds third but is held up. Ramirez is still twenty feet from the ball. One run would have tied the game.
Take your pick, Indians fans, on which designation will enter the lexicon alongside The Drive, The Fumble, and Jose Mesa.
Both were critical plays that resulted in the Indians losing at least one run. Had either gone differently the entire fabric of the game would have changed. Had both gone differently the Indians would have entered the seventh inning leading by at least one run. As it is the Indians suffered a small implosion and the rest, as they say, is history.
My vote: Joel Skinner. Hard to fault the ump for missing an admittedly tricky call. Skinner just screwed up in the biggest way imaginable. No excuse.
[Editor's note: We're making the executive decision that the game turned on Skinner holding Lofton at third in the top of the seventh. That's what killed the game. If you think Manny would have thrown him out your insane. After the game he was asked what he would have done had Lofton turned for home. His answer? “I would have thrown it to the cutoff man and let him deal with it.” Yes folks, that was the ballgame right there. If you're Skinner you have to send Lofton. Jonathan Papelbon was set to pitch the next two innings. The chances of making up that run against Papelbon were much smaller than the chances that Manny would throw out Lofton at home. Even if he had thrown him out Gutierrez would be at second. Joel Skinner, you messed up. Now go take your place alongside Jose Mesa and Ernest Byner.]
That said…96 wins, tied for the best in baseball, even with four fewer home games than every other team in the league. Sabathia is the likely Cy Young winner and Carmona will finish in the top five. Garko showed he can man first base for years to come. Betancourt transformed into the best set-up guy in baseball. Lewis and Perez emerge as scary arms in the bullpen even though they both began the season in the minors. The rally pies and Kenny Lofton turning back the clock. This was a great season, which is why it hurts so much right now.