Right Field

Reveille 11/5/13

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your first post-postseason Tuesday of 2013 a bit more bearable:

  • The 2013 World Series featured two strange endings — one finishing on an obstruction call at third base, the other on a successful pickoff attempt at first. Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times found twelve others over the years that qualify for “bizarre” status, including:

8. Walk-off double play: Oct. 20, 1972: Game Five: Reds 5, A’s 4

This wasn’t just a walk-off double play; this was an incredible walk-off double play. Folks, this wasn’t a ground out, but a double play that ended with a play at the plate.

The A’s held a three-games-to-one edge and could win it all with a victory here. However, the Reds had rallied to tie it in the eighth and take a 5–4 lead in the ninth. But it was just a one-run lead, and the Mustache Gang was known for producing some timely hits. Why, just the night before, Oakland had a walk-off win in a wild bottom of the ninth featuring two runs courtesy of three pinch hitters (all of whom scored) and two pinch runners. So they felt they could win it again here.

Early on, it looked like Oakland was going to do just that. They put runners on the corners with one out. They had a pinch runner on third (pitcher Blue Moon Odom) so it shouldn’t take much to score him.

At the plate was star shortstop Bert Campaneris. He hit one into foul territory in right. Second baseman Joe Morgan ran out to make the play and caught it for the second out.

Then Morgan promptly fell down.

That was all it took. He was way over in foul territory and on the ground, so Oakland sent Odom home. It must’ve been an electrifying moment. The hometown crowd felt that, at worst, their club would tie the game here and probably had the edge in extra innings. The A’s dugout was similarly excited. Their scouting report said that Morgan’s arm wasn’t that good.

That scouting report was wrong. Morgan threw a strike to the plate and nailed Odom. The game that looked like it was about to be tied up was instead all over. In a few seconds, people went from thrilled to deflated.

I might be missing something, but I think this is the only World Series game to end with a guy thrown out at the plate.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Coming off their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1992, the Pirates are now legitimate contenders, but they’ll need to find ways to improve in order to get past the Cardinals and stave off the Reds in the NL Central. Replacing free agent A.J. Burnett with Price would be a big upgrade, and with Andrew McCutchen the only player signed long-term, Pittsburgh should be able to offer the lefty a substantial contract extension — if it can convince him to stay.

Even if righty Jameson Taillon is untouchable, the Bucs could structure a deal around outfielder Gregory Polanco, shortstop Alen Hanson or righty Luis Heredia in order to secure Price. Doing so would be a big change from their recent trend of nurturing their homegrown talent, but then again, the same could be said for the Royals prior to the Shields deal, and they weren’t coming off a playoff appearance. A trade for Price wouldn’t be painless, but nobody’s giving away ace southpaws for free.

Washington Nationals

After winning 98 games in 2012, the Nationals were picked to win the World Series by many, yet they didn’t climb above .500 for good until late August and finished 10 games back in the NL East, eight behind in the wild card race. They’ve already got an enviable “Big Three” in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, all of whom are under club control through at least 2015, but it may take even more to get over the top.

Washington doesn’t have any upper-level prospect who could headline a deal — Anthony Rendon, who took over the starting second base job in midseason, was their only player to crack the Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus Midseason Top 50 Prospects list — but the club does have well-regarded pitching prospects further down, such as Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole. The Nats also have the player Rendon displaced at second in Danny Espinosa, whose 2013 season was a disaster due to injuries but who will be a popular target this winter given his ability to play shortstop and his three years of remaining club control.

  • Over at Gammons Daily, David Golebiewski serves up a best-case scenario for a 40-year-old Derek Jeter that doesn’t look pretty.
  • I think it’s safe to say that “DIPS [defense-independent pitching statistics], Springsteen, and why offense is declining” is not a headline you see very often. (Apparently, Lewie Pollis of Beyond the Boxscore is a pretty big Bruce fan.)

  • Welcome to the world of big-league managing, Brad Ausmus! Let’s hope your hair doesn’t turn as white as Jim Leyland’s anytime soon.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.

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